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Cover Story: The Moody Blues - In Search Of The Lost Chord

Artist Phil Travers recalls meditating on the theme for the Moodies third album…

The Moody Blues - In Search Of The Lost Chord

(Deram, 1968)

This was the third album from the Moody Blues, and the first time they worked with Phil Travers, with whom they collaborated on six albums in all. He also worked on the sleeves for solo albums from Justin Haywards and Ray Thomas, as well as The Blue Jays. For further info, go to www.philiptravers.co.uk

How did you meet the band?

“I spent two years at Decca, working on album sleeves, then got a job in a design office down in Wimbledon. I was then contacted by someone I knew at Decca who said the Moody Blues manager liked an illustration of mine and wanted me to meet the band to discuss doing the sleeve for their new album. I met the Moodies in a London pub, and we worked out the details of the commission.”

Had you heard the music beforehand (and what did you think)?

“They invited me down to the studio shortly after that first meeting to listen to the album. So I got an early taste for what they were doing. I liked it. And that’s the way it always worked with them. I’d get to listen to the record, then discuss the themes and ideas behind it, before any art concepts were developed.”

Explain the concept

“The band wanted me to illustrate the concept of meditation. This was not something that I had much personal experience of, and so my early thoughts about the subject were, unfortunately, insubstantial. My first rough designs really reflected a lack of ideas. I began to panic a bit as time was running out, when that image I mentioned in the glass window, of a figure ascending, came back to me and everything then fell into place. I had days rather than weeks to complete the illustration, and submit it for approval. I used Gouache and some water colour to get the effect I was after.”

What was the reaction (from band, management, label, fans)?

“I assume everyone liked it, because I did the next five album covers for them. The Moodies were a good bunch of guys, and we got on well. Usually, they left me to come up with the visual approach for any cover.”

Malcolm Dome had an illustrious and celebrated career which stretched back to working for Record Mirror magazine in the late 70s and Metal Fury in the early 80s before joining Kerrang! at its launch in 1981. His first book, Encyclopedia Metallica, published in 1981, may have been the inspiration for the name of a certain band formed that same year. Dome is also credited with inventing the term "thrash metal" while writing about the Anthrax song Metal Thrashing Mad in 1984. He would later become a founding member of RAW rock magazine in 1988.

In the early 90s, Malcolm Dome was the Editor of Metal Forces magazine, and also involved in the horror film magazine Terror, before returning to Kerrang! for a spell. With the launch of Classic Rock magazine in 1998 he became involved with that title, sister magazine Metal Hammer, and was a contributor to Prog magazine since its inception in 2009. He was actively involved in Total Rock Radio, which launched as Rock Radio Network in 1997, changing its name to Total Rock in 2000. In 2014 he joined the TeamRock online team as Archive Editor, uploading stories from all of our print titles and helping lay the foundation for what became Louder.

Dome was the author of many books on a host of bands from AC/DC to Led Zeppelin and Metallica, some of which he co-wrote with Prog Editor Jerry Ewing.