Song of the Week – Strange Times, Moody Blues

Ignored           Obscured            Restored

The Moody Blues were finally inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame on April 14, 2018.  In the opinion of their multitude of fans, it was long overdue.  Other perennial “bridesmaids” have also crossed the finish line in recent years — Yes (2017) and Chicago (2016).  That leaves Todd Rundgren as one of the last artists that have been wrongfully omitted, though you may also have a favorite that is still in waiting.

But back to the Moodys.  One thing you have to say about them is that they have been very consistent with their sound.  They hit with “Go Now” soon after their formation in 1964 and settled on their classic lineup – Graeme Edge (drums), Mike Pinder (keyboards, vocals), Ray Thomas (vocals, flute, percussion, harmonica), Justin Hayward (guitar, vocals), John Lodge (bass, vocals) – by 1966.  This is the group that recorded their catalog of well-known albums, from Days of Future Passed (1967) to Seventh Sojourn (1972).  Beyond the ‘70s, the band in various configurations recorded high quality releases.  Some even yielded hit singles like “Gemini Dream” and “The Voice” (1981) and “Your Wildest Dreams” (1986).

Today’s SotW is the title track from the 1999 release, Strange Times.

This song is well played by the classic lineup, less Mike Pinder.  A highlight is their use of acoustic guitars and (as always) the harmony vocals.  The lyrics are hokey, hippy gibberish, but hey, this is the Moody Blues.

This was the last album that included the work of Ray Thomas.  Thomas died just after the New Year 2018, so he missed the band’s Rock Hall induction.  Too bad.

Enjoy… until next week.

Honey Lantree has died.

The Honeycombs were an English beat band from the early 60s, with jangly guitars and catchy tunes, good looking guys in suits and, surprisingly, a female drummer, Honey Lantree, who died in 2018 just before Christmas.

According to the NY Times obituary, Anne Lantree showed up for her guitar lesson, sat down at the drum kit in the studio and was such a natural that she was soon asked to join the Sheratons, an amateur band that then changed it’s name to the Honeycombs after Lantree changed her first name to Honey.

The Honeycombs were gifted with the perfect and enduring Have I The Right? by its songwriters, Alan Blaikley and Ken Howard. Have I the Right? is a pounding love song that I would say is not so much beloved by daylight, but is shouted along with, feet stomping, in any bar or pub that nears closing time. Which makes it near perfect, some of the time.

Have I the Right? topped out at No. 5 in the US and No. 1 in the UK. 

The Honeycombs had one other hit, That’s the Way, on which Honey shared vocals with regular singer Dennis D’ell.

Ellen Foley, Torchlight

I love this elpee.

Ellen Foley, Meatloaf backup singer, Night Court cutie, falls into bed with the Clash’s Mick Jones around Sandanista time, which is also Armagideon Time, if I’m right.

And makes a record that is individual, catchy, and well worth a listen for reasons beyond the historical ones.

For one, she can sing. 

For two, Strummer Jones write tunes.

And this band can play. Maybe not what you’d expect, but what you should give a listen. The Wikipedia page is like two sentences long, no one gives a crap, but I like this album warts and all. The best cuts are great, the weak ones are interesting. 

And it was made by the greatest band of all time, maybe, in mufti. Don’t believe the lack of hype.

Lawr Michaels, Rest in Peace

On first meeting I remember his red Cons. Lawr looked at me and smiled like “Who are you, nice to meet you.” I said “You must like The Ramones.” That was that, we were friends, and we stayed friends for 20 years. I’ll take that to my own grave, and you will too if he was your friend. 

We also lost Steve Moyer this year. These two deaths brought home a lesson to me and I want to share it. As it happens, a few years ago Steve and Lawr had a falling out. They were both highly opinionated human beings and not shy about letting you know those opinions. Steve and Lawr disagreed on a lot and went at it often. At one point one of them crossed the line – actually since I heard both sides of the story I’d say they both crossed the line – and they stopped speaking. They were each royally pissed at the other and I’m sure I’m not the only one who got an earful from both of them. But the story has a happy ending: they reconciled and died as friends.

Bury the hatchet. Forgive each other, for we all need to be forgiven. Gonna miss you, brother Lawr.