The Infinite Jukebox: The Moody Blues’ ‘The Story in your Eyes’

Not many people remember when Top of the Pops introduced its short-lived album slot. It came at the start of that year for weird music, 1971, in response to the Underground music that permeated 1970 and led to the creation of Radio 1’s 6.00pm strand, Sound of the Seventies.
It didn’t last. Audiences for a singles oriented pop programme did not react enthusiastically to a slot that, initially, gave serious rock bands three tracks to perform. The first change was to cut the album slot down to one song and then, unloved and unmourned, it vanished as if it had never been there.
Though I watched the show every week, I can only remember two bands who appeared in this slot, The Groundhogs, with something fast, bluesy and completely lacking in anything I recognised as a tune, and The Moody Blues, playing a track from the new or immediately forthcoming album, Every Good Boy Deserves Favour.
It passed me by then, as did anything of the Moodies’ except ‘Go Now’ and ‘Nights in White Satin’. I heard that a fair amount, enough to be surprised, once I got Simon Frith’s Chart Files, to discover it had barely scraped into the Top 20, reaching only no 19.
That was the back end of 1967/the early weeks of 1968. For some reason, the single was re-released in 1972, one among many Sixties tracks that kept coming out again and again in that era. I started hearing it several times a day on the radio, and in the charts as it outdid its previous success, going to no 9.
So I started wanting to hear more of the Moody Blues. To begin with, I bought their most current album, which was still Every Good Boy Deserves Favour, instead of the album that actually had ‘Nights in White Satin’ on it (given how stiff and stilted Days of Future Passed turned out to be, I may have saved myself much subsequent musical shame if I’d gone for that one).
No single was released from Every Good Boy Deserves Favour in the UK, though the one they’d played that time on TOTP, ‘The Story in Your Eyes’, was released as a 45 in America and was a modest Top 30 hit.
Based on the sound and the feel of the album as a whole, ‘The Story in Your Eyes’ was the stand-out track on the album in many ways: excluding the pretentious opener it was the shortest track, it was an out-and-out uptempo rock song in a way the other seven tracks decidedly weren’t, and when I last, curiously, tried to listen to the album again, it was the only one I didn’t want to sling out the window with my boot up its jacksie.
So what makes this track something to celebrate instead of bury so deep in memory that twenty-five years of counselling should be needed to extract it?
Firstly, it’s a Justin Hayward composition, as was ‘Nights in White Satin’. If you are strapped to a chair and threatened with having a Moody Blues album track played at you, insist on it being one of Hayward’s. Hayward has a more pop-oriented tone when he wants to employ it, and an ability to construct songs that are meant to be played fast. He also has a remarkably lush but burning guitar tone at his command, and both of these attributes are on show in ‘The Story in your Eyes’.
And, even this late in the run of the Moodies’ ‘Classic Seven’ albums, he is capable of brevity: a lot of songs at this time and in the solo album period are extended by having the band ‘finish’ the song and repeat the whole thing from start to finish again.
And that’s what ‘The Story of your Eyes’ is: a surprisingly tight, blisteringly fast and, for the Moodies at least, raw in sound as Hayward works his guitar solidly in service to a real, effective tune. It might sound like faint praise but after allowing the Moodies to dominate my musical thinking for the first half of the Seventies, before the spell was exploded in an instant, that there are songs that can light me up with the old enthusiasm is a remarkable thing.
The Moody Blues are the only ones of my past favourites I now want to disown. If they’d been a bit less cosmic and fey, and a lot more inclined to tracks of this power, I may well not feel that way about them.

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