A bit of Prog devant la lettre I discovered tardily as my first introduction to Marillion was the later Punch and Judy. I soon delved into their back catalogue. This was track two on their first album Script for a Jester’s Tear and had given the band a no 35 hit in the UK in 1983. I like the way the last lines of the verses are different but rhyme with each other (as well as the “poison in your head.”)
A small hit in the UK (no 36) but a no 8 in Germany. The track has echoes of The Troggs and The Who of I’m a Boy and prefigures the Roy Wood era Electric Light Orchestra. The video features “guitarist” Eddie Phillips playing his instrument with a violin bow – reputedly the first to do so – a major contributor to the record’s sound. Another antecedent of Prog Rock?
Phillips had also used this technique on their previous single, Making Time.
Tuesday Afternoon was followed as a single by Voices in the Sky (with its flute flourishes and distinctive vocal from Justin Hayward) which, like its follow-up, the hard-driving perennial favourite Ride My See-Saw, featured on the next LP, the even more pretentious concept album, In Search of the Lost Chord. That was the first Moody Blues LP I bought – possibly my first ever and there’s barely a dud on it – with the possible exception of the spoken passages and the final track Om. Its standout is the Ray Thomas song Legend of a Mind embedded within the House of Four Doors sequence with its classical pretensions placing the group’s output firmly in Prog territory.
By this time the Moodies were firmly established as my favourite band.
Then we had this song – later to feature on On The Threshold of a Dream – which I remember in its review of the single the NME referred to as “beautifully constructed.” Here the group plays it live.
I didn’t buy the Moodies’ next single, Tuesday Afternoon, a song which – like Nights In White Satin – appeared also on the LP Days of Future Passed but I remember hearing it on the radio and thinking it was almost as good. It seems the single version was edited down to a ludicrous 2 minutes 16 seconds – missing out the repeat of the opening riff and “Tuesday Afternoon” chorus.
This is how it appeared on the LP and so contains the orchestral afterpiece tagged on by conductor Peter Knight. Knight’s “classical music” interludes linked all the songs on the LP – supposedly to demonstrate the record label Deram’s new “Deramic Sound System.” The story that the band were asked to record an album based on Dvorak’s New World symphony but instead recorded their own songs without the label’s knowledge has been disputed.
Edited (7/6/14) to add:- Those orchestral interludes and the fact that it was a concept album probably make Days of Future Passed one of the first prog rock albums.