After he Moody Blues released "Seventh Sojourn" late in 1972, they took a hiatus during which each of them released at least one solo LP, and Hayward and Lodge collaborated on "Blue Jays". By this time the mellotron had been put out to pasture permanently with the departure of keyboard player and 'tron expert Mike Pinder; as a fan of their late'60s - early '70s style I regard this as mostly unfortunate, but most of the solo LPs contained some superbly orchestrated material like this song, which really is glorious! All manner of strings, horns, and flute (not by Ray Thomas, I don't think) combine to make this one of the best-arranged songs in rock history. Moodies veteran producer Tony Clarke did the honours here, although he didn't last beyond 1978's "Octave", which coincidentally (or not?) was their last really good LP!
John Lodge's "Natural Avenue" was overall the best of the Moody Blues' solo ventures of the mid-1970s, being almost up there with the "Blue Jays" effort on which he collaborated with the band's guitarist Justin Hayward (whose own solo LP "Songwriter" was the biggest disappointment of the lot). This track has a wonderfully exotic feel to it, what with lyrics like "Show me your island of a thousand names" as well as orchestration including strings, oboe and bassoon, and some kind of bubbling thingy which may be a synthesizer. On a darker note, some of the other lyrics seem to indicate the alleviation of an addiction to certain substances, e.g. "Paint all the clouds the colour of 'No'" and "Gone is the white horse that carried us home", but hell, every band was addicted to stuff back then and I'm happy that 99% of them seem to have survived intact. Anyway, it's a lovely exotic song that if you haven't heard it, it's about time you did!