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Pop - Released January 1, 2008 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
This album marked the formal debut of the psychedelic-era Moody Blues; though they'd made a pair of singles featuring new (as of 1966) members Justin Hayward and John Lodge, Days of Future Passed was a lot bolder and more ambitious. What surprises first-time listeners -- and delighted them at the time -- is the degree to which the group shares the spotlight with the London Festival Orchestra without compromising their sound or getting lost in the lush mix of sounds. That's mostly because they came to this album with the strongest, most cohesive body of songs in their history, having spent the previous year working up a new stage act and a new body of material (and working the bugs out of it on-stage), the best of which ended up here. Decca Records had wanted a rock version of Dvorak's "New World Symphony" to showcase its enhanced stereo-sound technology, but at the behest of the band, producer Tony Clarke (with engineer Derek Varnals aiding and abetting) hijacked the project and instead cut the group's new repertory, with conductor/arranger Peter Knight adding the orchestral accompaniment and devising the bridge sections between the songs' and the album's grandiose opening and closing sections. The record company didn't know what to do with the resulting album, which was neither classical nor pop, but following its release in December of 1967, audiences found their way to it as one of the first pieces of heavily orchestrated, album-length psychedelic rock to come out of England in the wake of the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's and Magical Mystery Tour albums. What's more, it was refreshingly original, rather than an attempt to mimic the Beatles; sandwiched among the playful lyricism of "Another Morning" and the mysticism of "The Sunset," songs like "Tuesday Afternoon" and "Twilight Time" (which remained in their concert repertory for three years) were pounding rockers within the British psychedelic milieu, and the harmony singing (another new attribute for the group) made the band's sound unique. With "Tuesday Afternoon" and "Nights in White Satin" to drive sales, Days of Future Passed became one of the defining documents of the blossoming psychedelic era, and one of the most enduringly popular albums of its era. © Bruce Eder /TiVo
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Rock - Released November 10, 1967 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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This album marked the formal debut of the psychedelic-era Moody Blues; though they'd made a pair of singles featuring new (as of 1966) members Justin Hayward and John Lodge, Days of Future Passed was a lot bolder and more ambitious. What surprises first-time listeners -- and delighted them at the time -- is the degree to which the group shares the spotlight with the London Festival Orchestra without compromising their sound or getting lost in the lush mix of sounds. That's mostly because they came to this album with the strongest, most cohesive body of songs in their history, having spent the previous year working up a new stage act and a new body of material (and working the bugs out of it on-stage), the best of which ended up here. Decca Records had wanted a rock version of Dvorak's "New World Symphony" to showcase its enhanced stereo-sound technology, but at the behest of the band, producer Tony Clarke (with engineer Derek Varnals aiding and abetting) hijacked the project and instead cut the group's new repertory, with conductor/arranger Peter Knight adding the orchestral accompaniment and devising the bridge sections between the songs' and the album's grandiose opening and closing sections. The record company didn't know what to do with the resulting album, which was neither classical nor pop, but following its release in December of 1967, audiences found their way to it as one of the first pieces of heavily orchestrated, album-length psychedelic rock to come out of England in the wake of the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's and Magical Mystery Tour albums. What's more, it was refreshingly original, rather than an attempt to mimic the Beatles; sandwiched among the playful lyricism of "Another Morning" and the mysticism of "The Sunset," songs like "Tuesday Afternoon" and "Twilight Time" (which remained in their concert repertory for three years) were pounding rockers within the British psychedelic milieu, and the harmony singing (another new attribute for the group) made the band's sound unique. With "Tuesday Afternoon" and "Nights in White Satin" to drive sales, Days of Future Passed became one of the defining documents of the blossoming psychedelic era, and one of the most enduringly popular albums of its era. © Bruce Eder /TiVo
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Rock - Released May 19, 2017 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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Rock - Released November 10, 1967 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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Pop - Released January 1, 2008 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

On the Threshold of a Dream was the first album that the Moody Blues had a chance to record and prepare in a situation of relative calm, without juggling tour schedules and stealing time in the studio between gigs -- indeed, it was a product of what were almost ideal circumstances, though it might not have seemed that way to some observers. The Moodies had mostly exhausted the best parts of the song bag from which their two preceding albums, Days of Future Passed and In Search of the Lost Chord, had been drawn, and as it turned out, even the leftover tracks from those sessions wouldn't pass muster for their next long-player project -- but those albums had both been hits, and charted well in America as well as England, and had overlapped with a pair of hit singles, "Nights in White Satin" and "Tuesday Afternoon," on both sides of the Atlantic. Their success had earned them enough consideration from Decca Records that they could work at their leisure in the studio through all of January and most of February of 1969; what's more, with two LPs under their belt, they now had a much better idea of what they could accomplish in the studio, and write songs with that capability in mind. Equally important, they'd just come off of an extensive U.S. tour (opening for Cream) and had learned a lot in the course of concertizing over the previous year, achieving a much bolder yet tighter sound instrumentally as well as vocally, and they could now write to and for that sound as well. So this album is oozing with bright, splashy creative flourishes in two seemingly contradictory directions that somehow come together as a valid whole. On the original LP's first side (which was the more rock-oriented side), the songs "Lovely to See You," "Send Me No Wine," "To Share Our Love," and "So Deep Within You" all featured killer guitar hooks (electric and acoustic) and fills by Justin Hayward; beautiful, muscular bass from John Lodge; and vocal hooks everywhere. It's also a surprisingly hard-rocking album considering the amount of overdubbing that went into perfecting the songs, including cellos, wind and reed instruments, and lots of vocal layers -- yet it even found room to display a pop-soul edge on "So Deep Within You" (a number that the Four Tops later recorded). Side two was the more overtly ambitious of the two halves -- after a pair of songs dominated by acoustic guitar and heavy Mellotron, "Never Comes the Day" and "Lazy Day" (the latter a piece of social commentary showing that Ray Thomas, at least, still remembered his roots in Birmingham), the remainder of the record was devoted to the most challenging body of music in the group's history. Justin Hayward's deliberately archaic "Are You Sitting Comfortably?," a piece that sounds almost 400 years out of its own time, evokes images out of medieval and Renaissance history laced with magic and mysticism, all set to Hayward's acoustic guitar and Thomas' flute, leading into Graeme Edge's poetic contribution, "The Dream," accompanied by Mike Pinder's Mellotrons in their most exposed appearance to date on a record. And all of that flows into Pinder's three-part suite, "Have You Heard, Pt. 1"/"The Voyage"/"Have You Heard, Pt. 2," a tour de force for the band -- check out Edge's and Lodge's rock-solid playing on "Have You Heard" -- and for Pinder, whose Mellotrons, in conjunction with Thomas' flute and supported by some overdubbed orchestral instruments, push the group almost prematurely into the realm of progressive rock. This synthesis of psychedelia and classical music, including a section featuring Pinder on grand piano, may sound overblown and pretentious today, but in 1969 this was envelope-ripping, genre-busting music, scaling established boundaries into unknown territory, not only "outside the box" but outside of any musical box that had been conceived at that moment -- perhaps it can be considered rock's flirtation with the territory covered by works such as Alexander Scriabin's Mysterium, and if it overreached (as did Scriabin), well, so did a lot of other people at the time, including Jimi Hendrix, the Doors, the Who, et al. To show the difference in the times, the Moodies even brought this extended suite successfully to their concert repertory, and audiences devoured it at the time. Amazingly, On the Threshold of a Dream was their first chart-topping LP in England, and remained on the charts for an astonishing 70 weeks, a feat made all the more remarkable by the fact that the accompanying single, "Never Comes the Day" b/w "So Deep Within You," never charted at all. © Bruce Eder /TiVo
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Pop - Released October 8, 1974 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

It might surprise those coming in late to their story that the original double-LP version of this album from 1974 was the first compilation devoted to the Moody Blues' work. That's seven years after their switch from R&B-based British Invasion rock & roll to psychedelic music, and ten years into their overall history, an awfully long time for a successful band to avoid the compilation route. That fact alone speaks volumes for how healthy their album sales were -- only the group's decision to take a hiatus seems to have prompted the assembling of this collection. The Moody Blues had actually had enough hits and charting singles between England and America since 1967 so that a good best-of could have been assembled, but the makers went far beyond that, encompassing LP tracks that had become favorites on FM radio between 1967 and 1973 and also ignoring the actual release order of anything here. So instead of a tour through their history, listeners get a kind of collage of most of their best work, the songs nicely representative of the various members' most important contributions to the group's work. That said, however, it should also be pointed out that so much of the band's music is connected, conceptually and thematically, with the surrounding songs on their albums that inevitably the listener will feel rushed through some of this history; additionally, there is one excellent number left off for every three that are included. © Bruce Eder /TiVo
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Pop - Released January 1, 2008 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

The best-realized of their classic albums, Every Good Boy Deserves Favour was also the last of the group's albums for almost a decade to be done under reasonably happy and satisfying circumstances -- for the last time with this lineup, they went into the studio with a reasonably full song bag and a lot of ambition and brought both as far as time would allow, across close to four months (interrupted by a tour of the United States right in the middle). Virtually everywhere you listen on this record, the lush melodies and the sound of Michael Pinder's Mellotron (augmented here by the Moog synthesizer and a brace of other instruments) just sweep over the music, and where they don't, Justin Hayward's guitar pyrotechnics on pieces like "The Story in Your Eyes" elevate the hard rocking side of the music, in tandem with John Lodge's muscular bass work -- which still leaves plenty of room for a cello here, and a grand piano there, on top of Ray Thomas' flute, and Graeme Edge's ever more ambitious percussion. "Emily's Song." "Nice to Be Here," and "My Song" are among the best work the group ever did, and "The Story in Your Eyes" is the best rock number they ever cut, with a bracing beat and the kind of lyrical complexity one more expected out of George Harrison at the time. Sad to say, the group would never be this happy with an album again -- at least not for a lot of years -- or with their commitment to being a group, though they would leave one more highly worthwhile album before taking a hiatus for most of the rest of the 1970s. © Bruce Eder /TiVo
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Pop - Released January 1, 2008 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

The Moody Blues' first real attempt at a harder rock sound still has some psychedelic elements, but they're achieved with an overall leaner studio sound. The group was trying to take stock of itself at this time, and came up with some surprisingly strong, lean numbers (Michael Pinder's Mellotron is surprisingly restrained until the final number, "The Balance"), which also embraced politics for the first time ("Question" seemed to display the dislocation that a lot of younger listeners were feeling during Vietnam). The surprisingly jagged opening track, "Question," recorded several months earlier, became a popular concert number as well as a number two (or number one, depending upon whose chart one looks at) single. Graeme Edge's "Don't You Feel Small" and Justin Hayward's "It's Up to You" both had a great beat, but the real highlight here is John Lodge's "Tortoise and the Hare," a fast-paced number that the band used to rip through in concert with some searing guitar solos by Hayward. Ray Thomas' "And the Tide Rushes In" (written in the wake of a fight with his wife) is one of the prettiest psychedelic songs ever written, a sweetly languid piece with some gorgeous shimmering instrumental effects. The 1997 remastered edition brings out the guitar sound with amazing force and clarity, and the notes tell a lot about the turmoil the band was starting to feel after three years of whirlwind success. The only loss is the absence of the lyrics included in earlier editions. © Bruce Eder /TiVo
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Rock - Released November 10, 1967 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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This album marked the formal debut of the psychedelic-era Moody Blues; though they'd made a pair of singles featuring new (as of 1966) members Justin Hayward and John Lodge, Days of Future Passed was a lot bolder and more ambitious. What surprises first-time listeners -- and delighted them at the time -- is the degree to which the group shares the spotlight with the London Festival Orchestra without compromising their sound or getting lost in the lush mix of sounds. That's mostly because they came to this album with the strongest, most cohesive body of songs in their history, having spent the previous year working up a new stage act and a new body of material (and working the bugs out of it on-stage), the best of which ended up here. Decca Records had wanted a rock version of Dvorak's "New World Symphony" to showcase its enhanced stereo-sound technology, but at the behest of the band, producer Tony Clarke (with engineer Derek Varnals aiding and abetting) hijacked the project and instead cut the group's new repertory, with conductor/arranger Peter Knight adding the orchestral accompaniment and devising the bridge sections between the songs' and the album's grandiose opening and closing sections. The record company didn't know what to do with the resulting album, which was neither classical nor pop, but following its release in December of 1967, audiences found their way to it as one of the first pieces of heavily orchestrated, album-length psychedelic rock to come out of England in the wake of the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's and Magical Mystery Tour albums. What's more, it was refreshingly original, rather than an attempt to mimic the Beatles; sandwiched among the playful lyricism of "Another Morning" and the mysticism of "The Sunset," songs like "Tuesday Afternoon" and "Twilight Time" (which remained in their concert repertory for three years) were pounding rockers within the British psychedelic milieu, and the harmony singing (another new attribute for the group) made the band's sound unique. With "Tuesday Afternoon" and "Nights in White Satin" to drive sales, Days of Future Passed became one of the defining documents of the blossoming psychedelic era, and one of the most enduringly popular albums of its era. © Bruce Eder /TiVo

Rock - Released January 28, 1997 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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In 2002, Decca released Very Best of the Moody Blues/Hall of Fame, which contained two albums -- Very Best of the Moody Blues (originally released by Decca in 2002) and the live record Hall of Fame (released in 2000 by Ark 21) -- by prog rock veterans the Moody Blues on one compact disc. © Tim Sendra /TiVo
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Pop - Released January 1, 2008 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

The 1997 remastering of this disc somewhat improves the sound on the band's most personal album, although the difference is less dramatic than on the other classic seven albums, and fans may miss the lyrics that were formerly included. Oddly enough, this was also the group's poorest-selling album of their psychedelic era, taking a lot longer to go gold -- for all of their presumed connection to their audience, the band was perhaps stretching that link a little thinner than usual here. The material dwells mostly on time and what its passage means, and there is a peculiar feeling of loneliness and isolation to many of the songs. This was also the last of the group's big "studio" sound productions, built up in layer upon layer of overdubbed instruments -- the sound is very lush and rich, but proved impossible to re-create properly on-stage, and after this they would restrict themselves to recording songs that the five of them could play in concert. There are no extended suites on this album, but Justin Hayward's "Watching and Waiting" and "Gypsy" have proved to be among the most popular songs in the group's history. The notes in the new edition also give a good account of how and why the Moody Blues founded their own Threshold label with Children's Children and their growing estrangement from Decca Records. © Bruce Eder /TiVo
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Rock - Released July 26, 1968 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

In Search of the Lost Chord is the album on which the Moody Blues discovered drugs and mysticism as a basis for songwriting and came up with a compelling psychedelic creation, filled with songs about Timothy Leary and the astral plane and other psychedelic-era concerns. They dumped the orchestra this time out in favor of Mike Pinder's Mellotron, which was a more than adequate substitute, and the rest of the band joined in with flutes, sitar, tablas, and cellos, the playing of which was mostly learned on the spot. The whole album was one big experiment to see how far the group could go with any instruments they could find, thus making this album a rather close cousin to the Beatles' records of the same era. © Bruce Eder /TiVo
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Pop - Released January 1, 2008 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

Despite the presence of a pair of ballads -- one of them ("New Horizons") by Justin Hayward the latter's most romantic number since "Nights in White Satin" -- Seventh Sojourn was notable at the time of its release for showing the hardest-rocking sound this band had ever produced on record. It's all relative, of course, compared to their prior work, but the music is comparatively stripped down here, and on a lot of it Graeme Edge's drumming and John Lodge's bass work comprise a more forceful and assertive rhythm section than they had on earlier records, on numbers such as "Lost in a Lost World," "You and Me," and "I'm Just a Singer (In a Rock & Roll Band)." The latter, authored by Lodge, was -- along with Lodge's "Isn't Life Strange" -- one of two AM radio hits that helped drive the sales of this album, issued in early November of 1972, past all previous levels. Indeed, it was with the release of this album that the Moodies achieved their great commercial success in America and around the world, with a "Grand Tour" that kept them on the road for much of the year that followed. The irony was that it was all about to end for them, for years to come, and the signs of it were all over this record -- Seventh Sojourn took a long time to record, and a lot of the early work on it had to be junked ("Isn't Life Strange" was one of the few early songs to get completed); it was clear to all concerned except the fans that, after six years of hard work in their present configuration, they all needed to stop working with each other for a time, and this was clear in the songs -- many have a downbeat, pensive edge to them, and if they reflected a questioning attitude that had come out on recent albums, the tone of the questioning on songs like "Lost in a Lost World," "You and Me," and "When You're a Free Man" had a darker, more desperate tone. Perhaps the group's mostly youthful, collegiate audience didn't notice at the time because it fit the mood of the times -- the album hit the stores in America the day before Richard Nixon's landslide presidential re-election victory (the culmination of events behind the scenes that would subsequently drive him from office). But the members were not working well together, and this would be the last wholly successful record -- difficult as it was to deliver -- that this lineup of the band would record, as well as the last new work by the group for over five years. And oddly enough, even amid the difficulties in getting it finished, Seventh Sojourn would offer something new in the way of sounds from the group -- Michael Pinder, in particular, introduced a successor to the Mellotron, with which he'd been amazing audiences for six years, in the form of the Chamberlin, which is all over this album. © Bruce Eder /TiVo
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Pop - Released May 15, 1981 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

Progressive rock bands stumbled into the '80s, some with the crutch of commercial concessions under one arm, which makes the Moody Blues' elegant entrance via Long Distance Voyager all the more impressive. Ironically enough, this was also the only album that the group ever got to record at their custom-designed Threshold Studio, given to them by Decca Records head Sir Edward Lewis in the early '70s and built to their specifications, but completed while they were on hiatus and never used by the band until Long Distance Voyager (the preceding album, Octave, having been recorded in California to accommodate Mike Pinder), before it was destroyed in the wake of Decca's sale to Polygram. In that connection, it was their best sounding album to date, and in just about every way is a happier listening experience than Octave was, much as it appears to have been a happier recording experience. While they may steal a page or two from the Electric Light Orchestra's recent playbook, the Moodies are careful to play their game: dreamy, intelligent songs at once sophisticated and simple. Many of these songs rank with the band's best: "The Voice" is a sweeping and majestic call to adventure, while the closing trio from Ray Thomas ("Painted Smile," "Reflective Smile," and "Veteran Cosmic Rocker") forms a skillfully wrought, if sometimes scathing, self-portrait. In between are winning numbers from John Lodge ("Talking Out of Turn," the pink-hued "Nervous") and Graeme Edge ("22,000 Days"), who tries his hand successfully in some philosophizing worthy of ex-member Mike Pinder. Apart from the opening track, Justin Hayward furnishes a pair of romantic ballads, the languid "In My World" (which benefits greatly from a beautiful chorus heavily featuring Ray Thomas' voice), which distantly recalls his Seventh Sojourn classic "New Horizons," and the more pop-oriented, beat-driven romantic ballad "Meanwhile." In typical Moodies fashion, these songs provide different perspectives of the same shared lives and observations. "Gemini Dream," which was a big hit in the U.S., does sound dated in today's post-Xanadu landscape, but never does the band lose the courage of their convictions. Although the title and the cover art reference the then-recent Voyager space probe, only half of the songs have a "voyager" connection if you apply it to touring on the road; apologetic love songs consume the other half. Still, not everything has to be a concept album, especially when the songs go down this smooth. This album should make anybody's short list of Moodies goodies. And, yes, that's Patrick Moraz who makes his debut here in place of original member Mike Pinder. © Dave Connolly & Bruce Eder /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 1969 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

The 1997 remastering of this disc somewhat improves the sound on the band's most personal album, although the difference is less dramatic than on the other classic seven albums, and fans may miss the lyrics that were formerly included. Oddly enough, this was also the group's poorest-selling album of their psychedelic era, taking a lot longer to go gold -- for all of their presumed connection to their audience, the band was perhaps stretching that link a little thinner than usual here. The material dwells mostly on time and what its passage means, and there is a peculiar feeling of loneliness and isolation to many of the songs. This was also the last of the group's big "studio" sound productions, built up in layer upon layer of overdubbed instruments -- the sound is very lush and rich, but proved impossible to re-create properly on-stage, and after this they would restrict themselves to recording songs that the five of them could play in concert. There are no extended suites on this album, but Justin Hayward's "Watching and Waiting" and "Gypsy" have proved to be among the most popular songs in the group's history. The notes in the new edition also give a good account of how and why the Moody Blues founded their own Threshold label with Children's Children and their growing estrangement from Decca Records. © Bruce Eder /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 2005 | Polydor

The Moody Blues get the two-disc treatment on the latest installment of Polydor's surprisingly thorough Gold series. Rather than just assemble the usual suspects around staples like "Tuesday Afternoon" and "Story in Your Eyes" (which are here), the compilers dove deep into the group's career, providing tracks from solo recordings like "Remember Me My Friend" from Justin Hayward and John Lodge's excellent Blue Jays album and their gorgeous follow-up single, "Blue Guitar," as well as lesser-known late-'70s/early-'80s cuts from Octave, The Present, and Sur la Mer. Gold also includes some of the superior, somewhat neglected album tracks from the group's heyday, such as "Never Comes the Day," "Candle of Life," and the beautiful "Watching and Waiting," any of which could have been singles, and the last a far better track than the oft-compared "Nights in White Satin." Also significant is the dramatic improvement in the sound on these newly digitized tracks, which take full advantage of 24-bit mastering and are vastly superior even to the same cuts on 1996-vintage remastered versions of the group's first seven albums -- textures, timbres, instruments, and musical parts that were formerly buried in the mixes of the songs and only hinted at in playback are suddenly audible in sharp relief here (which leads one to ask when those, plus Octave -- which was out of print as of the start of 2005 -- and the other later albums, might be due for another upgrade). Listeners looking for an easy, affordable, and comprehensive guide to the Moodies will be hard-pressed to find anything better outside of 1994's Time Traveller box set, and its sound quality can't match what one hears on this set. © James Christopher Monger & Bruce Eder /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 1968 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

In Search of the Lost Chord is the album on which the Moody Blues discovered drugs and mysticism as a basis for songwriting and came up with a compelling psychedelic creation, filled with songs about Timothy Leary and the astral plane and other psychedelic-era concerns. They dumped the orchestra this time out in favor of Mike Pinder's Mellotron, which was a more than adequate substitute, and the rest of the band joined in with flutes, sitar, tablas, and cellos, the playing of which was mostly learned on the spot. The whole album was one big experiment to see how far the group could go with any instruments they could find, thus making this album a rather close cousin to the Beatles' records of the same era. © Bruce Eder /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 1969 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

On the Threshold of a Dream was the first album that the Moody Blues had a chance to record and prepare in a situation of relative calm, without juggling tour schedules and stealing time in the studio between gigs -- indeed, it was a product of what were almost ideal circumstances, though it might not have seemed that way to some observers. The Moodies had mostly exhausted the best parts of the song bag from which their two preceding albums, Days of Future Passed and In Search of the Lost Chord, had been drawn, and as it turned out, even the leftover tracks from those sessions wouldn't pass muster for their next long-player project -- but those albums had both been hits, and charted well in America as well as England, and had overlapped with a pair of hit singles, "Nights in White Satin" and "Tuesday Afternoon," on both sides of the Atlantic. Their success had earned them enough consideration from Decca Records that they could work at their leisure in the studio through all of January and most of February of 1969; what's more, with two LPs under their belt, they now had a much better idea of what they could accomplish in the studio, and write songs with that capability in mind. Equally important, they'd just come off of an extensive U.S. tour (opening for Cream) and had learned a lot in the course of concertizing over the previous year, achieving a much bolder yet tighter sound instrumentally as well as vocally, and they could now write to and for that sound as well. So this album is oozing with bright, splashy creative flourishes in two seemingly contradictory directions that somehow come together as a valid whole. On the original LP's first side (which was the more rock-oriented side), the songs "Lovely to See You," "Send Me No Wine," "To Share Our Love," and "So Deep Within You" all featured killer guitar hooks (electric and acoustic) and fills by Justin Hayward; beautiful, muscular bass from John Lodge; and vocal hooks everywhere. It's also a surprisingly hard-rocking album considering the amount of overdubbing that went into perfecting the songs, including cellos, wind and reed instruments, and lots of vocal layers -- yet it even found room to display a pop-soul edge on "So Deep Within You" (a number that the Four Tops later recorded). Side two was the more overtly ambitious of the two halves -- after a pair of songs dominated by acoustic guitar and heavy Mellotron, "Never Comes the Day" and "Lazy Day" (the latter a piece of social commentary showing that Ray Thomas, at least, still remembered his roots in Birmingham), the remainder of the record was devoted to the most challenging body of music in the group's history. Justin Hayward's deliberately archaic "Are You Sitting Comfortably?," a piece that sounds almost 400 years out of its own time, evokes images out of medieval and Renaissance history laced with magic and mysticism, all set to Hayward's acoustic guitar and Thomas' flute, leading into Graeme Edge's poetic contribution, "The Dream," accompanied by Mike Pinder's Mellotrons in their most exposed appearance to date on a record. And all of that flows into Pinder's three-part suite, "Have You Heard, Pt. 1"/"The Voyage"/"Have You Heard, Pt. 2," a tour de force for the band -- check out Edge's and Lodge's rock-solid playing on "Have You Heard" -- and for Pinder, whose Mellotrons, in conjunction with Thomas' flute and supported by some overdubbed orchestral instruments, push the group almost prematurely into the realm of progressive rock. This synthesis of psychedelia and classical music, including a section featuring Pinder on grand piano, may sound overblown and pretentious today, but in 1969 this was envelope-ripping, genre-busting music, scaling established boundaries into unknown territory, not only "outside the box" but outside of any musical box that had been conceived at that moment -- perhaps it can be considered rock's flirtation with the territory covered by works such as Alexander Scriabin's Mysterium, and if it overreached (as did Scriabin), well, so did a lot of other people at the time, including Jimi Hendrix, the Doors, the Who, et al. To show the difference in the times, the Moodies even brought this extended suite successfully to their concert repertory, and audiences devoured it at the time. Amazingly, On the Threshold of a Dream was their first chart-topping LP in England, and remained on the charts for an astonishing 70 weeks, a feat made all the more remarkable by the fact that the accompanying single, "Never Comes the Day" b/w "So Deep Within You," never charted at all. © Bruce Eder /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 1986 | Polydor

The Moody Blues' best album in five years benefited mostly from the presence of the Top Ten single "Your Wildest Dreams," authored by Justin Hayward, which turned their status as survivors from the '60s psychedelic era into a plus, with a great beat to boot; it also debuted with a very entertaining video featuring young British psychedelic rockers the Mood Six playing the young Moody Blues to promote the song on the newly dominant MTV and rival video outlets. Unfortunately, nothing else that Hayward or anyone else turned in for this album was remotely as catchy, and, in fact, much of the rest of the album -- apart from the closer, John Lodge's "It May Be a Fire," which recalls his and Hayward's collaboration on the Blue Jays album -- shows signs of a group running on empty creatively. Ray Thomas is totally absent as a songwriter, and Graeme Edge and Patrick Moraz between them offer one lackluster song. Lodge and Hayward together furnish a pair of serviceable if not dazzling rockers, "Talkin' Talkin'" and "Slings and Arrows," the latter benefiting from a great beat, chorus, and vocal arrangement more than anything in the lyrics, but their "Running Out of Love" is a terrible song with a great chorus; and Lodge's "Rock 'n' Roll Over You" ultimately runs about a minute too long for its own good, and mostly succeeds in recalling older (and better) hard rock numbers by him, such as "Gemini Dream" and "Stepping in a Slide Zone." And Hayward's title track is more lugubrious than lyrical. The album, thanks to the video and the single, was good enough to tour off of, and help pull in the group's most enthusiastic audiences in a half-decade, but this would end up being much more the high-water mark commercially for their post-'70s work than a fresh start. © Bruce Eder /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 1972 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

Despite the presence of a pair of ballads -- one of them ("New Horizons") by Justin Hayward the latter's most romantic number since "Nights in White Satin" -- Seventh Sojourn was notable at the time of its release for showing the hardest-rocking sound this band had ever produced on record. It's all relative, of course, compared to their prior work, but the music is comparatively stripped down here, and on a lot of it Graeme Edge's drumming and John Lodge's bass work comprise a more forceful and assertive rhythm section than they had on earlier records, on numbers such as "Lost in a Lost World," "You and Me," and "I'm Just a Singer (In a Rock & Roll Band)." The latter, authored by Lodge, was -- along with Lodge's "Isn't Life Strange" -- one of two AM radio hits that helped drive the sales of this album, issued in early November of 1972, past all previous levels. Indeed, it was with the release of this album that the Moodies achieved their great commercial success in America and around the world, with a "Grand Tour" that kept them on the road for much of the year that followed. The irony was that it was all about to end for them, for years to come, and the signs of it were all over this record -- Seventh Sojourn took a long time to record, and a lot of the early work on it had to be junked ("Isn't Life Strange" was one of the few early songs to get completed); it was clear to all concerned except the fans that, after six years of hard work in their present configuration, they all needed to stop working with each other for a time, and this was clear in the songs -- many have a downbeat, pensive edge to them, and if they reflected a questioning attitude that had come out on recent albums, the tone of the questioning on songs like "Lost in a Lost World," "You and Me," and "When You're a Free Man" had a darker, more desperate tone. Perhaps the group's mostly youthful, collegiate audience didn't notice at the time because it fit the mood of the times -- the album hit the stores in America the day before Richard Nixon's landslide presidential re-election victory (the culmination of events behind the scenes that would subsequently drive him from office). But the members were not working well together, and this would be the last wholly successful record -- difficult as it was to deliver -- that this lineup of the band would record, as well as the last new work by the group for over five years. And oddly enough, even amid the difficulties in getting it finished, Seventh Sojourn would offer something new in the way of sounds from the group -- Michael Pinder, in particular, introduced a successor to the Mellotron, with which he'd been amazing audiences for six years, in the form of the Chamberlin, which is all over this album. © Bruce Eder /TiVo