- Chock full of Moodies Magic: warm, full-bodied, rich and smooth, with tremendous space and plenty of rock energy
- The first Moody Blues album to feature their trademark mellotron arrangements, and what a glorious sound that is when it sounds like this
- “…the album on which the Moody Blues discovered drugs and mysticism as a basis for songwriting and came up with a compelling psychedelic creation, filled with songs about Timothy Leary and the astral plane and other psychedelic-era concerns.”
This early Deram British Import LP has STUNNING SOUND and fairly quiet vinyl. It has higher resolution, is more dynamic, sweeter and clearer than most copies, WITHOUT SACRIFICING the richness, warmth and lushness for which the Moody Blues recordings are justifiably famous. I’ll put it this way — this pressing is correct from top to bottom, so present and alive, while still retaining all the richness and sweetness we expect from British Moody Blues records, that I find it hard to believe you can do any better.
This copy has all the elusive elements that we search for: vocal clarity, real weight down low, great energy, tight punchy bass, and lots of texture to the keyboards and synths. This copy is full of Tubey Magic and, importantly, it doesn’t sound too murky or muddy. That’s a neat trick for any copy of this album, as those of you who’ve been playing it for years certainly know by now.
If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.
What The Best Sides Of In Search of the Lost Chord Have To Offer Is Not Hard To Hear
- The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
- The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1968
- Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
- Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
- Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space
No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.
Achieving just the right balance of Tubey Magical, rich but not too rich “Moody Blues Sound” is no mean feat. You had better be using the real master tape for starters. Then you need a pressing with actual extension at the top, a quality rarely found on most imports. Finally, good bass definition is essential; it keeps the bottom end from blurring the midrange. No domestic copy in our experience has ever had these three qualities, and only the best of the imports manages to combine all three on the same LP.
On the best of the best the clarity and resolution comes without a sacrifice in the Tubey Magical richness, warmth and lushness for which the Moody Blues recordings are justifiably famous. In our experience the best LPs are correct from top to bottom, present and alive in the midrange, yet still retain the richness and sweetness we expect from British (and Dutch) Moody Blues records. They manage, against all odds, to remove the sonic barriers put up by most pressings of the Moodies’ unique music. Who knew, after so many years and so many bad records, that such a thing was even possible?
What We’re Listening For On In Search of the Lost Chord
Here are some of the things we specifically listen for in a late-’60s Pop/Rock record.
Our hottest Hot Stamper copies are simply doing more of these things better than any of the other copies we played in our shootout. The best copies have:
- Greater immediacy in the vocals (most copies are veiled and distant to some degree)
- Natural tonal balance (many copies are at least slightly brighter or darker than ideal; those with the right balance are the exception, not the rule)
- Good solid weight (so the bass sounds full and powerful)
- Spaciousness (the best copies have wonderful studio ambience and space)
- Tubey Magic, without which you might as well be playing a CD
- And last but not least, transparency, the quality of being able to see into the studio, where there is plenty of musical information to be revealed in this sometimes simple, sometimes complex and sophisticated recording.
Mint Minus Minus and maybe a bit better is about as quiet as any vintage pressing will play, and since only the right vintage pressings have any hope of sounding good on this album, that will most often be the playing condition of the copies we sell. (The copies that are even a bit noisier get listed on the site are seriously reduced prices or traded back in to the local record stores we shop at.)
Those of you looking for quiet vinyl will have to settle for the sound of other pressings and Heavy Vinyl reissues, purchased elsewhere of course as we have no interest in selling records that don’t have the vintage analog magic of these wonderful recordings.
If you want to make the trade-off between bad sound and quiet surfaces with whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing might be available, well, that’s certainly your prerogative, but we can’t imagine losing what’s good about this music — the size, the energy, the presence, the clarity, the weight — just to hear it with less background noise.
The beginning of this track is fairly quiet and noise will be audible behind the music. Side two will suffer likewise.
Also, for some reason this track tends not to sound as good as those that follow. We never really noticed that effect before but during the shootout it became obvious that the real Moody Magic starts with track two.
Ride My See-Saw
Dr. Livingstone, I Presume?
This is THE key track for side one. The chorus “we’re all searching…” can sound shrill and hard on some copies. When it sounds ABSOLUTELY MAGICAL you have a Hot Stamper for side one.
House of Four Doors
Legend of a Mind
This is the famous Timothy Leary song. Every studio trick in the book is used on this track, brilliantly. This song perfectly encapsulates everything that’s good about The Moody Blues in this period. If you have any audiophile friends visiting, and you have a top quality, big speaker system, play them this song from this pressing and blow their minds. I guarantee you they have NEVER heard it sound like this! (Or the Moody Blues for that matter.)
House of Four Doors, Pt. 2
Voices in the Sky
The Best Way to Travel
An outstanding psych arrangement — turn it up good and loud and let it rock!
Visions of Paradise
In Search of the Lost Chord is the album on which the Moody Blues discovered drugs and mysticism as a basis for songwriting and came up with a compelling psychedelic creation, filled with songs about Timothy Leary and the astral plane and other psychedelic-era concerns. They dumped the orchestra this time out in favor of Mike Pinder’s Mellotron, which was a more than adequate substitute, and the rest of the band joined in with flutes, sitar, tablas, and cellos, the playing of which was mostly learned on the spot. The whole album was one big experiment to see how far the group could go with any instruments they could find, thus making this album a rather close cousin to the Beatles’ records of the same era. It is all beautiful and elegant, and “Legend of a Mind’s chorus about “Timothy Leary’s dead/Oh, no — he’s outside, looking in” ended up anticipating reality; upon his death in 1996, Leary was cremated and launched into space on a privately owned satellite, with the remains of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry (another ’60s pop culture icon) and other well-heeled clients.