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

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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.”