The release of The Moody Blues’ In Search of the Lost Chord 50th Anniversary Box Set is sure to excite Moodies devotees. For those unaccustomed to the Birmingham five-piece’s third album, or to the band themselves, In Search of the Lost Chord was a marker in the progression of The Moody Blues. Their 1965 debut The Magnificent Moodies, released on Decca Records and produced by Denny Cordell was classic British wave R&B. However, with the band failing to produce new material, both money and Decca’s patience were in short supply. Approaching the end of their deal and in debt to the label, Decca A&R manager Hugh Mendl set up new imprint Deram Records. Mendl offered the band a deal. Make a rock and roll version of Antonín Dvořák’s New World Symphony to promote the company’s new Deramic Stereo Sound audio format, and. For Decca in return would let them off the hook for their debt.
The resulting Days of Future Past became a Prog-Rock classic and a slow burning success. Fusing elements of R&B, Rock & Roll and classical sounds, the record spawned the massive Nights in White Satin and Tuesday Afternoon. But with the label unwilling to finance another orchestral endeavor, their third album In Search of the Lost Chord is the result of experimentation with both sound and psychotropics. Its extensive use of the mellotron evolving into The Moody Blues’ signature sound. With Jeremy Hayward saying:
“The piano just wasn’t working with the songs we were writing at the time. The Mellotron fit. It was a sound effects machine with sounds like trains & dogs, very Spike Jones. But it had some orchestral sounds on it—cellos and flutes & violins. Mike decided to duplicate the orchestral sounds. It really gave us that identity.”
There’s more to the album though than the psych wig-out of single Ride My See Saw, the Piper at The Gates of Dawnesqe Best Way to Travel and cosmic consciousness of Voices in The Sky. In Search of The Lost Chord has some village green R&B in Dr. Livingstone I Presume. Ode to the LSD Guru Timothy Leary Legends of a Mind rings with sitars akin to the sound The Beatles were experimenting with at the time. And the album plays out to a lush soundscape with Visions of Paradise, The Actor and the very of the era Om. In Search of The Lost Chord as an album is a masterful creation of sound that easily stands with its contemporaries of the era.
However, it’s the additional material contained within this box set, which will excite those familiar with this album. The only Moody Blues album not to be released in 5.1 Surround, the master tapes of In Search Of The Lost Chord were believed lost forever. CD 1 contains the original stereo mix of Lost Chord, along with mono mixes of Voices in the Sky, Dr. Livingstone, I Presume, and A Simple Game, later covered by The Four Tops. The disc also features previously unreleased mono mixes of Legend of a Mind and Ride My See Saw, seeing its first outing on CD.
CD 2 however, utilizes the recently rediscovered masters to offer a brand new stereo mix of the album. This new mix delivers a clearer drum sound that gives the record a deeper, more powerful tone. CD3 offers up six live session recordings for BBC’s Top Gear show. As well as Lost Chord sessions of tracks that have previously featured on 1977’s Caught Live & Five.
It’s the first DVD disc that will be the biggest delight for die-hards. With a high-resolution 96 kHz / 24-bit, 5.1 mix of the original record, this is the aural trip that many Moodies have waited a long time for. It’s a revelation to those accustomed with the original recording and it’s a sound spectacular for the newcomer. With the final disc carrying a host of visual and live content, this 50thAnniversary edition also comes with a 76-page book. Containing extensive sleeve notes from compiler Mark Powell and a rare haul of photographs and memorabilia images.
This box set is a trove for any Moody Blues fan. While most additional audio content has been available on different releases, it’s the addition of the new mixes and the 5.1 that makes this indispensible for any devotee. Well packaged and presented, the additional visual and photographic content make this the ultimate format of In Search of The Lost Chord. Also available in psychedelic 180gram vinyl format, both formats are an essential for Prog-rock junkies.
The 5-Disc 50th Anniversary Box Set can be purchased here.
The Limited Edition psychedelic vinyl can be purchased here.