The Moody Blues - Every Good Boy Deserves Favour (1971)

Growing up, my friend Ethan and I had a running joke that went like this:

Me: Hey Ethan, what's the best band in the world?
Ethan: I don't know, but it sure as hell isn't The Moody Blues.

No wonder we're both famous comedians and professional music critics. (Neither one of us is either of those things.)

Every Good Boy Deserves Favour is neither Bluesy, nor Moody (though this could be argued). It's, at first listen, a prog-rock album. I think the first word that comes to mind is "lush." For a band that I always thought was a blues band, it's downright surprising. In fact, when my dad first played it for me, I admit that I did not enjoy it. Maybe it was the fact that they were at one point simply a punchline, but I had a hard time taking them seriously. I mean, listen to the first track, Procession, in which nominalizations are eerily shouted, General Zod-like, over an ominous, building orchestration....

[ mp3 ]: The Moody Blues - Procession

But, as Rod Stewart never sang, the first cut is the weirdest, and right after that bizarre opener, The Moody Blues hit you with what might be their best song, The Story In Your Eyes.

[ mp3 ]: The Moody Blues - The Story In Your Eyes

I feel like this song is the true litmus test. If you like it, if you allow yourself to like it, then you're going to like The Moody Blues. It's like that movie Avatar. If you allow yourself to get emotionally attached to blue aliens, you're going to end up getting a lot more out of it than a skeptical friend. Every Good Boy Deserves Favour is anything but casual. You need to really listen to it, and if you make the choice to, parts of it will blow your mind. Take the closer, My Song, which makes the Elton John number by the same title seem like a commercial jingle.

[ mp3 ]: The Moody Blues - My Song

It's powerful stuff, but only if you've already downed the Kool-Aid. It's impossible to say that The Moody Blues aren't good songwriters, especially on this record. The orchestrations are incredibly dense, guitar layered on pianos, sprinkles of organ, flute, and ambient sounds. And the middle of this album is full of great tunes as well. Check out Emily's Song and After You Came, both perfect.

Ethan and I may have been right - The Moody Blues may not have been the best band in the world. But not for lack of trying.

Let me know what you think in the comments.

- N.W.

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