CLEVELAND, Ohio – John Lodge is not one to waffle about the importance of the Moody Blues‘ “Days of Future Passed.”
“It was inventing prog rock,” said Lodge, in a call to talk about the band’s current tour playing the 50-year-old album in its entirety, including some songs that have never been done onstage, as well as other tunes from the band’s vast catalog.
The tour stops at the Hard Rock Rocksino for a sold-out show on Sunday, July 2.
“The approach we had to all the songs was so different in those days to what everyone else was doing,” he said. “Most people started at a tempo and finished at that same tempo. We were doing different tempos in a song.
“When you’re young and you’re inquisitive, particularly as a musician and a writer, you’re trying to push the boundaries of things that did not exist,” he said. The result was music that went beyond the whole ’60s-standard ” ‘I love you, you love me, everyone loves everyone’ for two-and-a-half minutes,” Lodge said.
Hearing the music again to prep for the show has been as much a learning experience for Lodge and his band mates, singer and guitarist Justin Hayward and drummer Graeme Edge.
“It’s been an incredible journey for me really, and I’m sure for the rest of the guys,” he said. “Some of the tunes from the album, we’ve never played onstage, like ‘(Evening) Time to Get Away.’
“The last time I heard that song was when we recorded it,” Lodge said.
The band has been reacquainting itself with all the songs from the album, originally put together as a way for London’s Decca Records to test newly invented stereophonic recording equipment by blending rock and classical music.
“Decca had this company that built hardware as well and wanted to introduce this new record player, with full frequency, which actually meant ‘stereo,’ ” Lodge said. “They wanted someone who could perform with an orchestra and put a ‘pop band’ with an orchestra.
“Our type of music . . . used lots of harmonies vocally and with the instrumentation, with Justin on his guitar and me on bass, we had a very intricate situation between the two of us,” he said. “And when you included flutes and Mellotrons and the harmonies we were creating, you were covering a huge spectrum of music.”
Being recorded on newly invented machinery could have left the album open to the glitches that always seem to plague new technology. But to Lodge, that did not happen with “Days.” Nor would he call for any “do-over” with today’s digital technology.
“I think you do it with integrity and truthfulness that is right at the time,” he said. “It’s all about the energy you put into the music and the record.
“People feel that energy, whether it’s emotional energy or whether it’s physical, and if you go back and change it, you go back and miss the point,” Lodge said.
Still, it’ll be interesting to see the difference in how the music is played today, after the band has been a unit for half a century, vs. what came out of the speakers in 1967. In some quarters, familiarity can breed contempt, but for the Moodys, all it has done is strengthen the bond, both as friends and as musicians.
In essence, they’ve been together long enough so that they essentially are completing each other’s musical sentences, Lodge agreed. And being Moodys has become just about as integral to them, even though each has done solo projects.
“When you write a song and you sit down for the first time to record it, you think, ‘I’m going to record this differently than what we normally do,’ ” he said. “But when you set up and get your headphones on and the mics, and Graeme’s softly playing and Justin’s softly playing, you think, ‘Yeah, that’s the Moody Blues.’
“It gives you that comfort to know that your song is in safe hands again,” he said.
Meaning that we – and the band – can enjoy the “Days of Future Passed” … and the days of the future to come.