The Moody Blues http://www.moodybluestoday.com Official Site Fri, 22 Aug 2014 22:44:46 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 Hayward and Moody Blues on another sojourn http://www.moodybluestoday.com/hayward-moody-blues-another-sojourn/ http://www.moodybluestoday.com/hayward-moody-blues-another-sojourn/#comments Fri, 22 Aug 2014 22:29:51 +0000 http://www.moodybluestoday.com/?p=1890 postbulletin.com Justin Hayward and the Moody Blues take nearly 50 years of history with them when they go on stage. “It’s something you don’t want to give up easily,” Hayward, the band’s lead singer and chief songwriter, said last week. “I suppose it comes down to a shared love of the music,” he said in Read More...

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Justin Hayward and the Moody Blues take nearly 50 years of history with them when they go on stage.

“It’s something you don’t want to give up easily,” Hayward, the band’s lead singer and chief songwriter, said last week. “I suppose it comes down to a shared love of the music,” he said in reference to the enduring partnership between himself and longtime Moodies John Lodge and Graeme Edge.

“Of course, it requires an audience,” Hayward said. “But for me, if nobody was buying my solo stuff, I’d be at the park doing it anyway.”

There’s little danger of that, either with Hayward, 66, who has just released a live solo album on the heels of a well-received solo album, or the Moody Blues, who have sold 70 million records and whose current tour brings them to Minneapolis on Tuesday and La Crosse, Wis., on Sept. 2.

Hayward, who wrote and sang the Moody Blues hits “Nights in White Satin,” “Tuesday Afternoon” and “Your Wildest Dreams,” talked in a phone call from a tour stop in Boston.

Hayward was born and raised in Swindon, a major railroad junction west of London (as were Rick Davies of Supertramp and the members of XTC).

“I couldn’t wait to leave,” he said. “Music was exactly the ticket out. There weren’t many choices there in the ’50s and ’60s. When I heard Buddy Holly, my whole mind was focused on what I wanted to do.”

Hayward left school and Swindon at age 16 and headed for London, where the Beatles had just broken big and were inspiring an entire generation of British musicians. Eventually, Hayward found his way in late 1966 to the Moody Blues, and with “Nights in White Satin,” helped steer the band away from rhythm and blues toward a more orchestral, psychedelic sound.

The band’s breakthrough album, “Days of Future Passed,” originally was recorded to demonstrate the stereo capabilities of their record company. It became a huge hit, and Hayward still marvels at it.

“Even now when I listen to it, I think ‘How the hell did we do that?’” he said.

Subsequent albums — “On the Threshold of a Dream,” “To Our Children’s Children’s Children,” “Every Good Boy Deserves Favor,” “Seventh Sojourn” — were equally as successful.

Many of the songs on those albums were written by Hayward. He was asked about the bittersweet, melancholy nature of much of his material.

“I’ve noticed that, and I’ve tried not to analyze it, not to go into therapy,” he said. “I’m stuck with that kind of style.”

It’s a style that has served Hayward, and the Moody Blues, well for nearly five decades.

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‘NIGHTS IN WHITE SATIN’ AND FIVE DECADES OF THE MOODY BLUES http://www.moodybluestoday.com/nights-white-satin-five-decades-moody-blues/ http://www.moodybluestoday.com/nights-white-satin-five-decades-moody-blues/#comments Thu, 21 Aug 2014 22:44:22 +0000 http://www.moodybluestoday.com/?p=1895 Journalstar.com Justin Hayward, Graeme Edge and John Lodge of The Moody Blues will be performing in Pinewood Bowl on Monday. If you go What: The Moody Blues Where: Pinewood Bowl, Pioneers Park When: 7:30 p.m. Monday Tickets: $33 to $172. Tickets available at Pinnacle Bank Arena ticket office, Ticketmaster locations, ticketmaster.com and at 800-745-3000.   Name the Read More...

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Justin Hayward, Graeme Edge and John Lodge of The Moody Blues will be performing in Pinewood Bowl on Monday.

If you go

What: The Moody Blues

Where: Pinewood Bowl, Pioneers Park

When: 7:30 p.m. Monday

Tickets: $33 to $172. Tickets available at Pinnacle Bank Arena ticket office, Ticketmaster locations, ticketmaster.com and at 800-745-3000.

 

Name the Moody Blues’ first hit.

No, it wasn’t “Nights in White Satin.” Nor was it “Tuesday Afternoon.”

It was “Go Now,” a 1965 R&B number that put the Moodies in the same bag with the other British Invasion bands.

But Merseybeat wasn’t the Moodies’ sound — at least after Justin Hayward joined the group in 1966.

“I came to the group, actually, as a guy who wrote songs,” Hayward said. “Mike Pinder of the Moody Blues called me because he’d heard my songs (via Eric Burden of the Animals). I sort of see myself as a guy who writes songs who got to be in a band that plays them.”

The band immediately began playing, recording and releasing Hayward songs. But the Moodies didn’t get a hit until he brought in a composition he called “Nights in White Satin.”

“I was at the end of a love affair and starting another one,” Hayward said. “I was 19-20 years old, and I just wrote this simple song. They didn’t think much of it when I played it. Then Mike Pinder, who had one of the first mellotrons, said, ’Play it again.’ He played it with me, and there it was.”

“Nights in White Satin” first appeared on “Days of Future Passed,” the band’s 1967 album that also contained Hayward’s “Tuesday Afternoon.” But “Nights” wasn’t a hit until five years later, going to No. 2 on the Billboard charts on its rerelease in 1972.

By that time, the Moodies had released six more albums, establishing themselves as a true classic rock band — with their inclusion of classical music concepts and sounds in their music.

But it was “Nights” circa 1967 that made the Moodies.

“It was the song, along with ‘Tuesday Afternoon,’ that defined us and our sound,” Hayward said. “It gave us a unique kind of style. That’s still important for groups today — to clearly define their own style and sound. ‘Go Now’ was a cover song. When we started doing our own stuff is when we really became the Moody Blues.”

Hayward, who plays guitar and sings; bassist John Lodge, who joined the band with Hayward in 1966 and penned “I’m Just a Singer/in a Rock and Roll Band”; and drummer Graeme Edge, who has been with the band from the beginning, now make up the Moody Blues.

They’ll be at Pinewood Bowl Monday for a concert that likely will be just what fans turn up to hear.

“The first half of the show is our newer stuff, by which I mean the ‘80s and ‘90s,” Hayward said. “The second half of the show is the stuff we have to play, our greatest hits. There are things from just about everything we’ve done. There should be something for everyone.”

The Moodies, who took a late ’70s hiatus and saw some personnel changes at the end of that decade, made a comeback in the ‘80s, turning up on MTV and generating hits like “Gemini Dream” and “Your Wildest Dreams,” two more Hayward compositions.

“People think the ’60s were our best time,” he said. “But, to be honest, the most fun was that time in the ‘80s — to have that opportunity to be on TV and have all the times of having hit singles in your early 40s. I was a kid in the ’60s, with my head down and a little too stoned. In the ’80s, I was able to enjoy it. Believe it or not, a lot of our audience today came from that time, not the ’60s.”

The Moody Blues last released an album in 2003. That’s likely to be the band’s final record.

“I think this is probably it,” Hayward said. “I did the solo record because I had so many songs, and I could not see a Moody Blues record on the horizon. People want DVDs from us now. I think any product we do will be along that line.”

The solo album Hayward mentioned is “Spirits of the Western Sky” that came out last year.

Now he’s on the road with the Moodies for about 100 shows a year and is doing another 90 or so solo dates.

“That’s why I’ve been married so long,” he said. “If I’d have been home more, you never know.”

The solo dates are smaller affairs than a Moody Blues concert. But Hayward said he would still be playing, even if it was to passersby on the street.

“I kind of feel a duty to do it,” he said. “Number one, it’s a lot of fun doing it. I wouldn’t want to give that up lightly. But I do feel a duty to the music. I’ve got a feeling I’d be doing it somewhere no matter what.”

“Nights in White Satin,” however, has ensured that Hayward will continue to have a large audience for as long as he continues to play. He wouldn’t have guessed that when he wrote the song.

“I would have run a mile if you’d have told me what happened,” he said. “I would have been scared.”

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Justin Hayward’s Live Solo Release Out Now http://www.moodybluestoday.com/justin-haywards-live-solo-release-now/ http://www.moodybluestoday.com/justin-haywards-live-solo-release-now/#comments Thu, 21 Aug 2014 16:50:35 +0000 http://www.moodybluestoday.com/?p=1888 Justin Hayward steps outside of the Moody Blues again today (August 19) with the release of “Spirits…Live — Live at the Buckhead Theatre, Atlanta,” a CD and home video souvenir of his solo performance on August 17, 2013. Hayward was promoting his 2013 album “Spirits of the Western Sky,” his first solo outing in 17 years, and he Read More...

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Justin Hayward steps outside of the Moody Blues again today (August 19) with the release of “Spirits…Live — Live at the Buckhead Theatre, Atlanta,” a CD and home video souvenir of his solo performance on August 17, 2013.

Hayward was promoting his 2013 album “Spirits of the Western Sky,” his first solo outing in 17 years, and he tells us that even though the show also featured Moody Blues songs, he wanted it to be very different than one of the band’s concerts:


“I knew for a start that even though I had full production on the ‘Spirits’ album, that on stage I just wanted to do it like it was in my music room and to do it like the original versions of my songs, or even like my demos, so that I could bring my home guitars out and do it in an acoustic format. I knew from the Moodys that if you introduce the drummer and you’re trying to do acoustic guitar and have that sensitivity, it doesn’t work. And even though I love playing with drummers — that’s, y’know, been my whole life — but to do it where you just have to focus on the song, you need some kind of quiet and some kind of aura around the acoustic guitars and to be able to feel every nuance of it. So I wanted…to do a quiet show and really concentrate on the little, the feelings and the emotions around the song in their sort of purest kind of form.”

“Spirits…Live” finds Hayward playing with a quartet that includes another guitarist and two keyboardists. The 15-songs set includes several Moodys favorites, including “Tuesday Afternoon,” “Your Wildest Dreams,” “Questions,” “Nights in White Satin” and “I Know You’re Out There Somewhere.” Hayward is currently touring North America with the Moody Blues.

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‘How the hell did we do this?’ Moody Blues frontman Justin Hayward looks back http://www.moodybluestoday.com/hell-moody-blues-frontman-justin-hayward-looks-back/ http://www.moodybluestoday.com/hell-moody-blues-frontman-justin-hayward-looks-back/#comments Thu, 21 Aug 2014 16:33:35 +0000 http://www.moodybluestoday.com/?p=1880 digitaltrends.com   Justin Hayward is not one to dwell on days of future passed, but he sure knows how to add to a storied legacy. Since 1966, Hayward has fronted The Moody Blues, a band synonymous with heady, progressive arrangements, sweeping harmonies, and an exacting standard for sound quality in their mixes, especially when it Read More...

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moody-blues-justin-hayward-live-970x0Justin Hayward is not one to dwell on days of future passed, but he sure knows how to add to a storied legacy. Since 1966, Hayward has fronted The Moody Blues, a band synonymous with heady, progressive arrangements, sweeping harmonies, and an exacting standard for sound quality in their mixes, especially when it comes to live recordings and surround sound.

Last year, a massive 17-disc box set, Timeless Flight, documented the band’s legendary six-decade career. It included six stellar 5.1 mixes done by Paschal Byrne and Mark Powell that were built on early-’70s quad mixes overseen by original Moodies producer Tony Clarke and constructed by engineer Derek Varnals. Hayward, who supervised the overall mixes for Timeless Flight with his longtime production partner Alberto Parodi, was quite pleased with the results: “I didn’t have the courage to go back to any of the masters and try to recreate those beautiful, real echoes myself,” he notes.

“There’s nothing like the beauty of just a guy and his guitar onstage.”

But occasionally, Hayward does get the itch to step outside of The Moodies and go it alone, a challenge he quite enjoys: “There’s nothing like the beauty of just a guy and his guitar onstage,” he says. “And you have to mean it as well. If it doesn’t come from the heart, it doesn’t work.” Without percussion or electric guitars to back him up, Hayward and a sparse trio embarked on a solo tour last year to support his fine 2013 solo release, Spirits of the Western Sky. That tour is superbly documented in HD on Spirits…Live – Live at the Buckhead Theatre, Atlanta, released today on Blu-ray and other formats. Parodi’s crisp surround mix captures the beautiful acoustic guitar blend between Hayward and second guitarist Mike Dawes, best exemplified by Dawes’ percussive slap-taps on his fretboard counterbalancing with Hayward’s own furious chordings during the perennially hard-charging Moodies classic, Question.

Hayward, 67, recently sat down with Digital Trends to discuss the requirements for the mix of Spirits…Live, his favorite 5.1 moments, and why he needed to update some early-’80s CD transfers. If there’s one thing Hayward has mastered over the years, it’s how to answer questions of balance.

Digital Trends: Since your solo tour is acoustic-oriented, you must have had some different goals in terms of how you had it mixed.

Justin Hayward: I did nothing! (chuckles) Well, my front-of -house sound engineer, Steve Chant, puts his mix onto ProTools every night. For this particular show, we had another guy on the side of the stage who put his mix into a later version of ProTools. Steve listened to what the other guy had collected and then sent it to Alberto Parodi in Genoa [in Italy] along with his own rough mix balance of the night. And that was it, really; nothing too complicated.

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The next day, Alberto said, “I just put the faders up. It sounds great! And I put some nice little echoes on it too. I don’t know what else you want to do. Do you want to change anything?” And I said, “Well, I don’t think so. Is it all in tune?” He said, “Yes, leave it. If we tune it, it’ll sounds like we tried to fix something.” So we just left it. For the CD, I probably should have done some tuning, but for the DVD/Blu-ray, I just left it. Alberto gave a little bit of “aura” around the sound and did some other stuff sonically, but that’s all.

There’s a notable difference between your presence in a Moody Blues live mix and your solo live mix. You’re a little more naked in this acoustic setting — your voice is very much upfront, with just acoustic guitars and keyboards and no percussion. You’re deliberately going for different arrangements here.

Totally. I can feel every nuance on it. The guitars are different because I brought my home guitars out on this tour with me — that is, I’m using the same guitars I wrote on and did my original demos on. That was the feel I wanted to get — how it feels in my own music room, just as it was when I finished the song and was about to make the demo. I knew all of the parts, even in the Moodies songs, that I wanted to explain to the band as it was done. So it was basically a question of transferring my living room feeling out there onstage. At home, I just double-track myself, and then I go to a little studio in Nice near where I live in the south of France, and put my vocals down. They’ve got some lovely old [Neumann] 87s there, the right microphones.

“I’m using the same guitars I wrote on and did my original demos on.”

It’s the other way ’round from the way we’d do a Moodies record, where we’d work for several days on the backing track, and then work on the keyboards and electric guitars. Here, I put my stuff down first with my voice, trying to capture the moments where I really thought I’d finished the song, and then I put the other elements around it.

Another big difference is that you don’t have a drummer with you onstage.

Yes, there are no drums. God forbid, I love drummers, and some of my best friends are drummers. (laughs) But drums and acoustic guitar, and drums and vocal mics — they don’t mix. I’ve mixed five or so Moody Blues live DVDs for Universal over the last 25 years, and I’ve found that you’re stuck with the drum sound that’s on the vocal mics. That’s the big difference. And with The Moodies, you can have upwards of 76 tracks, and that needs a lot of sorting out, repairing, and fixing. I don’t have a lot of tracks on my solo live recordings to work with. So it was a very different experience.

Is there one particular Moody Blues song in this live set that, to you, shows a dramatic difference between the Moodies version and the Justin Hayward version?

There’s a little medley we do at the beginning of the show — It’s Up to You/Lovely to See You — that comes across exactly like how I first put down the demos for those songs in Decca Studios [in West Hampstead, London] in the early days, ’68 or ’69, whenever that was. [Lovely to See You was recorded January 14, 1969, for In Search of the Lost Chord, and It’s Up to You was recorded in early 1970 for A Question of Balance.]

I noticed that you extend the syllables in certain words, like “da-ay” in Tuesday Afternoon and “he-ere” in Forever Autumn. Is that a conscious choice?

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Yes. I think that happens when you have a synergy with the acoustic guitar and the way that resonates through your body. It just seems right to sing those words that way. I’d forgotten that Forever Autumn is such a powerful song. [Forever Autumn is a song Hayward performed on the 1978 album Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of War of the Worlds, which went Top 5 in the U.K.] I so rarely get to do it. In fact, I’ve only done it on one Moodies tour, and even then I needed written permission. (both laugh) It’s such a great song, and it really resonates with people. I’m so grateful to be able to do it.

Please keep doing it. It’s a nice moment of transition before you move into the main set’s end run and the encore.

Oh yeah. It’s a winner. It’s like Nights in White Satin. I find that there are couple of songs you can go anywhere in the world and play on acoustic guitar, and people will go, “Oh, I know that; that’s great.” Forever Autumn and Nights are up there like that. 

Night in White Satin is one of those songs that benefits from being listened to in hi res, whether it’s via a 96/24 download from HDtracks or its amazing surround sound mix. The breadth of that recording is even more evident in hi res.

“I realized we’d spent almost 30 years with a digital version that just wasn’t very good.”

I did that mix myself. But I can’t take full credit, because all I had was the quad version done by Tony Clarke, the original producer, and Derek Varnals, the engineer. They’d done it in 1971 in the Threshold studio, so they had exactly the same echoes. Decca never threw anything away, so they were able to bring in a whole section of the original mixing desk, about 12 faders, to get exactly the same EQ and mix on it. So I did nothing on those surround sound mixes except add some ambience things in the 5 channel.

Would you agree 96/24 or even 192/24 is the best way to hear your recorded output?

I would. I was stunned with the quality of all of those early mixes — Days of Future Passed, particularly. I was just sitting there in the studio with Alberto working on the 5.1 for the box set, thinking, “How the hell did we do this? How the hell was it done?” But I can’t take any credit for it, because in those days, you weren’t invited into the control room. It really was Tony and Derek who did it — and I’m so glad they did the quad version in such beautiful quality, because it saved me a lot of time and pain. It was a responsibility I don’t think I’d liked to have taken on.

I happen to like that some of the more, shall we say, “dated” mixes of yore that were updated on Timeless Flight.

There were a couple of things I knew they’d rushed into the digital domain in the early ’80s that I’ve mentioned to you before, and quite badly. I really noticed it on [1968’s] In Search of the Lost Chord, with Graeme [Edge]’s ride cymbal. At first, I had just assumed it hadn’t been recorded very well, until I went back to the original master and listened to it again. And I thought, “No, it’s beautiful.” And then I realized we’d spent almost 30 years with a digital version that just wasn’t very good.

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I know I’m guilty, like everyone who works in the studio, of pandering to current sonic trends and how things sound, and what things sound nice. Alberto and I have received some “How dare you do this — you make it sound like it’s from 2011!” kind of comments. “You should have left it like it was!” It’s such a temptation to lift it a little bit and bring it in line with the way people’s ears are now. Time in a recording is so much more important now. You can’t have sloppy drumming or timekeeping like you had in the ’60s. People won’t accept that anymore. So we’re guilty of following some sonic trends that may make it sound a little different. But in years’ time, things may sound a little warmer or harder.

Can you give me two examples of what you felt may have gotten overlooked sonically but, listened to today, people might get something different out of, good or bad? Give me one from The Moodies, and one from your solo catalog.

“From top to bottom, the sound is just right, and lovely.”

I think To Our Children’s Children’s Children [1969] is the one Moodies album that didn’t come across on the radio. It didn’t jump; it was soft, it was quiet. Everybody was so delicate with it and handling it with kid gloves. The way it was mastered was quiet, and the way it was transferred to disc was delicate. In the end, it ended up getting a little lost. Watching and Waiting — when we heard that song in its studio beauty, we thought, “This is it! All of those people who had been saying to us for the past 3 or 4 years, “You’ll probably just do another Nights in White Satin with it” — no! We had shivers up the spine, and that kind of stuff. But when it came out and you heard it on the radio, you kept saying, “Turn it up! Turn it up!! Oh no, it’s not going to make it.” So it didn’t happen.

And then there’s one of my solo albums, Moving Mountains [1985], which I was totally into, but when I listen back to it now, I think, “Maybe it was just a few too many over-recordings. Maybe a bit too much was done in my front room. Maybe I did snuggle it too much afterward.” Sign of the times, yes, really.

Do you have a favorite mix that Alberto has done for you, one you’d consider his golden-ear best?

I have to say “One Day, Someday,” on Spirits of the Western Sky. That was really the top of his game. He and Anne Dudley did that together. She did the orchestration, and he was responsible for the mix. He let me play all over it, and then he got rid of the stuff he didn’t like and kept the stuff that he did. I turned up the next morning, after I went to the hotel in Genoa the night before and had left him still working in the studio. He was having a cup of tea and said, “Come and have a listen to this,” and it was like, “Wow.” From top to bottom, the sound is just right, and lovely.

My favorite lyric in that song is, “Trying to get ‘I love you’ in every song.”

Yes, that’s right — I am still trying to get “I love you” in every song! (laughs)

 

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Justin Hayward speaks with 105.3 WOW! FM http://www.moodybluestoday.com/justin-hayward-speaks-105-3-wow-fm/ http://www.moodybluestoday.com/justin-hayward-speaks-105-3-wow-fm/#comments Tue, 19 Aug 2014 14:13:20 +0000 http://www.moodybluestoday.com/?p=1876 Justin spoke with 105.3 WOW! FM in Lincoln, NE recently to get geared up for the Moody Blues show at the Pinewood Bowl on August 25th.  Check out the interview – Click Here!

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Justin spoke with 105.3 WOW! FM in Lincoln, NE recently to get geared up for the Moody Blues show at the Pinewood Bowl on August 25th.  Check out the interview – Click Here!

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Playing the hits: Moody Blues drummer knows what band’s fans want to hear http://www.moodybluestoday.com/playing-hits-moody-blues-drummer-knows-bands-fans-want-hear/ http://www.moodybluestoday.com/playing-hits-moody-blues-drummer-knows-bands-fans-want-hear/#comments Mon, 18 Aug 2014 18:30:58 +0000 http://www.moodybluestoday.com/?p=1874 lacrossetribune.com Alan Sculley For the La Crosse Tribune IF YOU GO WHAT: The Moody Blues WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 2 TICKETS: $39.50 to $85, call 608-789-7400 Moody Blues drummer Graeme Edge says he’s perfectly happy to play the classic songs by his band — even if it’s the 2,000th time he has played a Read More...

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Alan Sculley For the La Crosse Tribune

IF YOU GO

WHAT: The Moody Blues

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 2

TICKETS: $39.50 to $85, call 608-789-7400

Graeme Edge

Photo By Jim ‘JT’ Gilbert

Moody Blues drummer Graeme Edge says he’s perfectly happy to play the classic songs by his band — even if it’s the 2,000th time he has played a song like “Nights in White Satin.”

In a recent phone interview, he said he learned long ago that what the musicians on stage want to play isn’t what matters.

“You’ve got to do the hits, and I don’t disagree with it,” Edge said, citing a time some three decades ago when he learned that lesson. “I went to see a favorite artist, and he’d just gotten a new album out and he just did the new album. And I was so disappointed because I wanted to hear the songs that I knew. That’s when I realized you have the responsibility to play those songs because that’s what people come for.”

What Edge also has found is that he can always find something special in playing a song like “Nights In White Satin.”

“I use it to steal energy from the audience, because when we start to play it, I look down at the people in the audience and see the ones that turn and look at each other and will do something funny,” he said. “It’s special to them, and then I watch them and I play for them typically and watch them enjoy it and sort of leech energy from them.”

Edge joked that he’ll need all the energy he can find on the band’s tour, which includes a Sept. 2 show at the La Crosse Center, because the live set figures to be more demanding for a drummer than would be typical of many Moody Blues shows.

“This tour is almost entirely full-out belting rock,” Edge said.

“There’s not too much about the lyrical, gentle, folky side of the Moodies on this tour. It just happened that way. We picked the songs we enjoy and want to play. And I also think secretly those two are prone to trying to kill me off.”

Those two would be singer-guitarist Justin Hayward and singer-bassist John Lodge, the two other musicians who have been in the Moody Blues for most of what, as of next year, will be a 50-year history.

Edge is actually the lone remaining original member of the lineup that debuted in 1964 in Birmingham, England. Hayward and Lodge joined in time to make the album that saw the Moody Blues evolve from an R&B-based pop band into a far grander style of pop-rock — 1967’s “Days Of Future Passed.” Featuring the aforementioned Hayward original, “Nights in White Satin,” the album is considered by many the first progressive rock album, and its lush, melodic and expansive songs gave the Moody Blues a stylistic template the group built on as it turned out another six albums of intricate and melodic rock music before going on hiatus in 1974.

The band returned four years later with “Octave.” And while that album featured the hit single “Steppin’ In a Slide Zone,” the band members have frequently said the group didn’t really hit stride artistically again until the 1981 album “Long Distance Voyager.” The 1980s saw three more studio albums and hit songs such as “Your Wildest Dreams” and “I Know You’re Out There Somewhere,” before the pace of studio recordings slowed in the 1990s. “Strange Times,” released in 1999, is the most recent studio CD.

As it is, the Moody Blues have enjoyed a long, successful and influential career. The group’s entire 50-year career has been collected and summarized with a lavish box set, “Timeless Flight.” Its 17 discs include 11 CDs of album cuts, outtakes and live tracks. Plus the set includes three DVDs of rare television performances and the official release of what was a widely bootlegged 1970 concert from the Olympia in Paris and three DVD-audio discs of the six albums released between 1967 and 1972 that cemented the Moody Blues as a major force in rock — “Days Of Future Passed,” “On The Threshold of a Dream,” “To Our Children’s Children’s Children,” “A Question of Balance,” “Every Good Boy Deserves Favour” and “Seventh Sojourn.”

Ironically, Edge said, he wasn’t sure he was on board with putting out “Timeless Flight.”

“I initially wasn’t even that excited about the box set,” he said.

“But when I saw what a piece of quality work they (Universal Music) were doing, I changed my mind. But at first, I thought, what are you going to call it, ‘The Second Best Album’ or ‘Our Last Despairing Grab For Cash’?”

Instead, Edge likes the overall picture “Timeless Flight” presents of the Moody Blues and its career.

“I’m very proud of what we’ve attempted, and once or twice we actually got close to achieving it,” Edge said with a laugh. “I’m proud and very glad that we never followed trends. Like I always feel sorry for the Bee Gees. They were a great band, great vocal group. But they made the mistake of going out in the platform shoes in that (disco) era.

That was it, they got stuck there. They did some lovely stuff afterward, but nobody took any notice of them. I’m glad we never fell into that trap, more by luck than by judgment.”

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The Moody Blues performs at the Zoo Wednesday http://www.moodybluestoday.com/moody-blues-performs-zoo-wednesday/ http://www.moodybluestoday.com/moody-blues-performs-zoo-wednesday/#comments Mon, 18 Aug 2014 17:40:34 +0000 http://www.moodybluestoday.com/?p=1868 Next month marks the 50th anniversary of the Moody Blues’ first single, Go Now, an R&B-meets-pop lament over a failed relationship that, sonically at least, sounds like it was recorded in a small garage. As far as milestones go, Go Now’s Golden Jubilee is the equivalent of the throwback jersey: nostalgia for diehard fans only. It’s generic British invasion, and in no Read More...

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Next month marks the 50th anniversary of the Moody Blues’ first single, Go Now, an R&B-meets-pop lament over a failed relationship that, sonically at least, sounds like it was recorded in a small garage.

As far as milestones go, Go Now’s Golden Jubilee is the equivalent of the throwback jersey: nostalgia for diehard fans only. It’s generic British invasion, and in no way a forerunner of the psychedelic musical journey the Moody Blues would embark upon only a few years later.

Even the band isn’t planning anything special for the occasion.

“No, I’m afraid not,” said Moody Blues singer-guitarist Justin Hayward. “I think we’re probably looking to the [50th] anniversary of Days of Future Past when it comes up in a couple years of time. That might be interesting. It’s more of a promotional tool than something the band is eager to do.”

IF YOU GO
The Moody Blues
When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday
Where: Circle K Concert Series at the Toledo Zoo
Tickets: Tickets are $42.50, $59.50, and $79.50, and are available at all TicketMaster locations, livenation.com, by phone at 800-745-3000 or 419-385-5721, or visit the Toledo Zoo main box office Monday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Besides, Hayward didn’t join the band until 1966, the same year as bassist-singer John Lodge. Drummer Graeme Edge, the only other classic Moody Blues member left, was in the original line-up.

“I was lousy at rhythm and blues when I joined,” Hayward recalled in a recent phone interview with The Blade. “I don’t know why they asked me. I think Mike [Pinder, the band’s original keyboardist] asked me because I was a songwriter and I think … he had a feeling the group needed to change, from the cover versions to our own material.

“We had some success with a song called Fly Me High, before Days of Future Past, and that was nice.”

Of course, it was 1967’s pioneering Days of Future Past that changed everything for the Moody Blues.

Among the first commercially successful fusions of psychedelic rock and roll and classical music, the landmark album spawned the classics Tuesday Afternoon (Forever) and Nights in White Satin, and introduced Pinder’s use of the Mellotron, the hallmark sound of the band through the early 1970s.

It also launched a remarkable run of seven albums in seven years — Days of Future Past, In Search of the Lost Chord, On the Threshold of a Dream, To Our Children’s Children’s Children, A Question of Balance, Every Good Boy Deserves Favor, and Seventh Sojourn — that placed the Moody Blues at the top of the charts and as a vanguard in the progressive-rock scene.

But even as the band pushed the limits of popular music in the studio with a larger and larger sound, it found recreating those songs live to be increasingly difficult.

“There was an album called To Our Children’s Children’s Children which we loved but it got so impossible to play on stage that we followed it up with A Question of Balance that was really trying to pull back to a kind of live position, something that we could do live easily,” Hayward said. “It’s so much easier now with the balance and the in-ears [monitor] instead of having monitors on stage to try and get that … In truth I think we’re more faithful to the records now than we ever were in the ’60s.

“A couple years ago we were on the bus — I was remastering something for Universal and going through these tracks — and we just said, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to work some of these songs up that we only played for like one or two days in the studio and see how they work on the stage.’ And we’ve got a few things in the show now that were not big hits but they really work as songs on stage and it’s lovely to rediscover the catalog like that.”

The Moody Blues haven’t recorded an album of all-new material in 15 years, since 1999’s Strange Times. Hayward, however, released a solo disc last year, Spirits of the Western Sky, with a live concert recording from that tour due out this month.

“I could not see a Moody’s album on the horizon or an opportunity to make a Moody’s album and so I had so much material left, I thought, I’ve got to do it properly and make a good album. All of these songs deserve to be recorded and heard,” he said.

And when will Hayward collaborate on a new Moody Blues record? Fans shouldn’t get their hopes up. Hayward said the band is enjoying the status quo of touring frequently and releasing live recordings.

“If we do any kind of big production it will be in the DVD audio-visual kind of format,” he said. “I think that’s probably where the future lies for the Moodys. Just to do another album [means] we’re always competing with our own catalog.

“But the three of us are so enjoying our old catalog and having this freedom of not having the pressure to do that. Our dilemma always — and it will be at the zoo there — is not what to play but what to leave out. There’s just too much material.”

Contact Kirk Baird at: kbaird@theblade.com or 419-724-6734.
Read more at http://www.toledoblade.com/Music-Theater-Dance/2014/08/17/Veteran-band-The-Moody-Blues-performs-at-the-zoo-Wednesday.html#V46uw47C8B7lBfFc.99

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VETERAN’S BENEFIT DRIVE PLANNED AT THE MOODY BLUES CONCERT Pinewood Bowl Theater on August 25 http://www.moodybluestoday.com/veterans-benefit-drive-planned-moody-blues-concert-pinewood-bowl-theater-august-25/ http://www.moodybluestoday.com/veterans-benefit-drive-planned-moody-blues-concert-pinewood-bowl-theater-august-25/#comments Sat, 16 Aug 2014 15:37:15 +0000 http://www.moodybluestoday.com/?p=1866 (Lincoln, NE) – The Moody Blues, SMG Lincoln, and the Lincoln Vet Center have teamed up for a Veteran’s Benefit Drive prior to The Moody Blues concert at Pinewood Bowl Theater August 25. Concertgoers are encouraged to bring a new personal care item or nonperishable food item to the booth just inside the venue entrance Read More...

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(Lincoln, NE) – The Moody Blues, SMG Lincoln, and the Lincoln Vet Center have teamed up for a Veteran’s Benefit Drive prior to The Moody Blues concert at Pinewood Bowl Theater August 25. Concertgoers are encouraged to bring a new personal care item or nonperishable food item to the booth just inside the venue entrance where Lincoln Vet Center volunteers will accept donations. New personal care items can include toiletries, underwear, socks, et cetera. Anyone donating an item, may sign up to win a Moody Blues merchandise package that will be given away.

SMG Lincoln General Manager, Tom Lorenz said “The Moody Blues management wanted to do something for local veterans. Giving back is something we like to do and The Moody Blues were terrific to offer us the chance.”

The Moody Blues is one of the most enduring and beloved rock bands in music history, going 40+ years strong. Still rocking in 2014 with original members Justin Hayward, John Lodge and Graeme Edge, The Moody Blues have released 24 albums in a career spanning nearly five decades. They have sold more than 70 million albums, earning them 18 platinum discs and all manner of awards including Playboy “Group of the Year,” the “Golden Ticket” award for selling the most tickets at Madison Square Garden and an Ivor Novello for Outstanding Contribution to British Music. The band has even appeared in an episode of “The Simpsons.”

Their classic album Days of Future Passed (featuring the Moody Blues’ signature song “Nights in White Satin”) heralded the era of the concept album and elaborate sleeve artwork that would epitomize the Progressive Rock movement that followed.

Formed in 1964 in Birmingham, The Moody Blues came from the same gene pool that would give the world Traffic, the Move, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Slade. The original line-up of the band (Denny Laine, Graeme Edge, Clint Warwick, Ray Thomas and Mike Pinder) scored a global number one hit with “Go Now,” but unable to follow up this success, Warwick and Laine left the group – to be replaced by John Lodge and Justin Hayward respectively in 1966. For the next few months, the band crafted a new set of original compositions that would change their fortunes.

The Moody Blues are touring in relation to their definitive career-spanning box set titled “Timeless Flight” on Universal Music Enterprises. The 17-disc set includes digitally remastered CDs, DVDs of rare television performances, audio discs, a hard back collector’s book, and more. The Moody Blues–Justin Hayward, John Lodge, and Graeme Edge – carry on their magical musical legacy to generation after generation, year after year.

WHAT: The Moody Blues
WHEN: Monday, August 25, 2014
SHOW TIME: 7:30 p.m. Show/Gates open at 6:30 p.m.
RESERVED TICKETS: $36, $46, $59.50, $86.50, $95, $125, $175 Front Row (subject to applicable fees)
VENUE: Pinewood Bowl Theater, Lincoln, Nebraska

MORE INFORMATION: www.pinewoodbowltheater.com

Tickets can be purchased at the Pinnacle Bank Arena Ticket Office, online at ticketmaster.com, all Ticketmaster locations, or charge by phone at 1.800.745.3000.

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Moody Blues leads nostalgia trip at the Tent http://www.moodybluestoday.com/moody-blues-leads-nostalgia-trip-tent/ http://www.moodybluestoday.com/moody-blues-leads-nostalgia-trip-tent/#comments Sat, 16 Aug 2014 14:31:35 +0000 http://www.moodybluestoday.com/?p=1864 capecodonline.com By Doug Fraser HYANNIS – If you reached double digits in the 1960s, and there were many on hand at the Melody Tent Friday night, you knew the Moody Blues. They had monster hits, spread across decades, spanning two continents, that dominated the airwaves. People found their mixture of hard rock, sentimental melancholy and Read More...

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capecodonline.com
By Doug Fraser

HYANNIS – If you reached double digits in the 1960s, and there were many on hand at the Melody Tent Friday night, you knew the Moody Blues. They had monster hits, spread across decades, spanning two continents, that dominated the airwaves.

People found their mixture of hard rock, sentimental melancholy and romance, and a kind of vague mysticism, appealing. And they really did stretch pop boundaries at the time while cranking out some pretty rocking tuneful songs.

And so, in the 50th year of their existence, how good did they sound playing to a sold out Melody Tent crowd? Pretty good, sometimes great, although John Lodge’s bass seemed turned up so loud that it sometimes muddied the sound quality.

Original members Lodge and lead guitarist Justin Hayward are approaching 70, and drummer Graeme Edge is 73, but it would have been hard to tell that time had passed listening to their final set, which included many of their hits.

The band wrapped up the night with a hard-driving “Ride My See-Saw.” Lodge, looking the part of rock god with a Rockin’ Roddie hairdo, skinny jeans and boots, is a nimble fingered bassist and, although Hayward trods many well-worn paths with his guitar solos, he can still rip off a strong lead.

“See-Saw” is a hymn to the underclass but always seemed a kind of psychedelic song with echoey vocals and the mystical spoken word preamble. Friday night, it was just a great piece of rock and roll history, played by guys who know how.

The band started out the night playing to the deep fan base on hand, with songs that would be relatively obscure to those who didn’t buy the albums but danced to the hits. With two drummers, a sax and flute player who also sang vocals, and a keyboardist/synthesizer, the Moody Blues were capable of duplicating the spacious harmonies and lush, almost orchestral sounds that often served as an interesting counterpoint to the rock.

As the hits filtered in, the band also seemed to pick up the pace and the audience became more engaged. “I Know You’re Out There Somewhere” brought the audience to its feet with its jangly, upbeat rhythm. “In Your Wildest Dream” was a rollicking tune, that seemed a little disjointed in execution with a jumbled sound that was rescued by some nice harmonizing by the band.

“Isn’t Life Strange” with its kind of Bee Gees-esque quavery lead solo by Lodge showed some nice shifts from the melancholic to rock anthem. This song really kicked off the sing-along portion of the evening with the audience freely participating as the hits rolled on, including two of the most familiar “Tuesday Afternoon” and “Nights in White Satin.”

When you have so many hits, it’s pretty easy to please and Friday night’s big nostalgia trip was well done, technical glitches aside. Maybe it was telling that the line for T-shirts at intermission was longer than the lines for beer.

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Justin Talks with 97.1, The River http://www.moodybluestoday.com/justin-talks-97-1-river/ http://www.moodybluestoday.com/justin-talks-97-1-river/#comments Fri, 15 Aug 2014 21:38:20 +0000 http://www.moodybluestoday.com/?p=1862 Moody Blues frontman Justin Hayward recorded his new CD/DVD, “Sprits…Live, Live at The Buckhead Theater, Atlanta” here last year, and it is now available. Kaedy Kiely spoke with him recently, and he says he will be back at the Buckhead Theater this October! listen here [7:42] Past Interviews: Justin Hayward of the Moody Blues has Read More...

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Moody Blues frontman Justin Hayward recorded his new CD/DVD, “Sprits…Live, Live at The Buckhead Theater, Atlanta” here last year, and it is now available. Kaedy Kiely spoke with him recently, and he says he will be back at the Buckhead Theater this October! listen here [7:42]

Past Interviews:

Justin Hayward of the Moody Blues has a sold out concert at the Buckhead Theater on August 17th. Kaedy interviewed him recently, listen here.
Although they’re best known today for their lush, lyrically and musically profound (some would say bombastic) psychedelic-era albums, the Moody Blues started out as one of the better R&B-based combos of the British Invasion. The group’s history began in Birmingham, England with Ray Thomas (harmonica, vocals) and Mike Pinder (keyboards, vocals), who had played together in El Riot & the Rebels and the Krew Cats. They began recruiting members of some of the best rival groups working in Birmingham, including Denny Laine (vocals, guitar), Graeme Edge (drums), and Clint Warwick (bass, vocals).

The Moody Blues, as they came to be known, made their debut in Birmingham in May of 1964, and quickly earned the notice and later the services of manager Tony Secunda. A major tour was quickly booked, and the band landed an engagement at the Marquee Club, which resulted in a contract with England’s Decca Records less than six months after their formation. The group’s first single, “Steal Your Heart Away,” released in September of 1964, didn’t touch the British charts. But their second single, “Go Now,” released in November of 1964 — a cover of a nearly identical American single by R&B singer Bessie Banks, heavily featuring Laine’s mournful lead vocal — fulfilled every expectation and more, reaching number one in England and earning them a berth in some of the nation’s top performing venues (including the New Musical Express Poll Winners Concert, appearing with some of the top acts of the period); its number ten chart placement in America also earned them a place as a support act for the Beatles on one tour, and the release of a follow-up LP (Magnificent Moodies in England, Go Now in America) on both sides of the Atlantic.

It was coming up with a follow-up hit to “Go Now,” however, that proved their undoing. Despite their fledgling songwriting efforts and the access they had to American demos, this version of the Moody Blues never came up with another single success. By the end of the spring of 1965, the frustration was palpable within the band. The group decided to make their fourth single, “From the Bottom of My Heart,” an experiment with a different, much more subtly soulful sound, and it was one of the most extraordinary records of the entire British Invasion, with haunting performances all around. Unfortunately, the single only reached number 22 on the British charts following its release in May of 1965, and barely brushed the Top 100 in America. Ultimately, the grind of touring, coupled with the strains facing the group, became too much for Warwick, who exited in the spring of 1966; and by August of 1966 Laine had left as well. The group soldiered on, however, Warwick succeeded by John Lodge, an ex-bandmate of Ray Thomas, and in late 1966 singer/guitarist Justin Hayward joined.

For a time, they kept doing the same brand of music that the group had started with, but Hayward and Pinder were also writing different kinds of songs, reflecting somewhat more folk- and pop-oriented elements, that got out as singles, to little avail. At one point in 1966, the band decided to pull up stakes in England and start playing in Europe, where even a “has-been” British act could earn decent fees. And they began building a new act based on new material that was more in keeping with the slightly trippy, light psychedelic sounds that were becoming popular at the time. They were still critically short of money and prospects, however, when fate played a hand, in the form of a project initiated by Decca Records.

In contrast to America, where home stereo systems swept the country after 1958, in England, stereo was still not dominant, or even common, in most people’s homes — apart from classical listeners — in 1966. Decca had come up with “Deramic Stereo,” which offered a wide spread of sound, coupled with superbly clean and rich recording, and was trying to market it with an LP that would serve as a showcase, utilizing pop/rock done in a classical style. The Moody Blues, who owed the label unrecouped advances and recording session fees from their various failed post-”Go Now” releases, were picked for the proposed project, which was to be a rock version of Dvor’s New World Symphony. Instead, they were somehow able to convince the {@Decca producers involved that the proposed adaptation was wrongheaded, and to deliver something else; the producer, Tony Clarke, was impressed with some of the band’s own compositions, and with the approval of executive producer Hugh Mendl, and the cooperation of engineer Derek Varnals, the group effectively hijacked the project — instead of Dvor’s music, they arrived at the idea of an archetypal day’s cycle of living represented in rock songs set within an orchestral framework, utilizing conductor/arranger {$Peter Knight’s orchestrations to expand and bridge the songs. The result was the album Days of Future Passed.

The record’s mix of rock and classical sounds was new, and at first puzzled the record company, which didn’t know how to market it, but eventually the record was issued, first in England and later in America. It became a hit in England, propelled up the charts by the single “Nights in White Satin” (authored and sung by Hayward), which made the Top 20 in the U.K.; in America, the chosen single was another Hayward song, “Tuesday Afternoon.” All of it hooked directly into the aftermath of the Summer of Love, and the LP was — totally accidentally — timed perfectly to fall into the hands of listeners who were looking for an orchestral/psychedelic recording to follow works such as the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Better still, the band still had a significant backlog of excellent psychedelic-themed songs to draw on. Their debt wiped out and their music now in demand, they went to work with a follow-up record in short order and delivered In Search of the Lost Chord (1968), which was configured somewhat differently from its predecessor. Though Decca was ecstatic with the sales results of Days of Future Passed and the singles, and assigned Clarke and Varnals to work with them in the future, the label wasn’t willing to schedule full-blown orchestral sessions again. And having just come out of a financial hole, the group wasn’t about to go into debt again financing such a recording.

The solution to the problem of accompaniment came from Mike Pinder, and an organ-like device called a Mellotron. Using tape heads activated by the touch of keys, and tape loops comprised of the sounds of horns, strings, etc., the instrument generated an eerie, orchestra-like sound. Introduced at the start of the ’60s as a potential rival to the Hammond organ, the Mellotron had worked its way into rock music slowly, in acts such as the Graham Bond Organisation, and had emerged to some public prominence on Beatles’ records such as “Strawberry Fields Forever” and, more recently, “I Am the Walrus”; during that same year, in a similar supporting capacity, it would also turn up on the Rolling Stones’ Their Satanic Majesties Request. As it happened, Pinder not only knew how to play the Mellotron, but had also worked in the factory that built them, which enabled him over the years to re-engineer, modify, and customize the instruments to his specifications. (The resulting instruments were nicknamed “Pindertrons.”)

In Search of the Lost Chord (1968) put the Mellotron in the spotlight, and it quickly became a part of their signature sound. The album, sublimely beautiful and steeped in a strange mix of British whimsy (“Dr. Livingston I Presume”) and ornate, languid Eastern-oriented songs (“Visions of Paradise,” “Om”), also introduced one psychedelic-era anthem, “Legend of a Mind”; authored by Ray Thomas and utilizing the name of LSD guru Timothy Leary in its lyric and choruses, along with swooping cellos and lilting flute, it helped make the band an instant favorite among the late-’60s counterculture. (The group members have since admitted at various times that they were, as was the norm at the time, indulging in various hallucinogenic substances.) That album and its follow-up, 1969′s On the Threshold of a Dream, were magnificent achievements, utilizing their multi-instrumental skills and the full capability of the studio in overdubbing voices, instruments, etc. But in the process of making those two LPs, the group found that they’d painted themselves into a corner as performing musicians — thanks to overdubbing, those albums were essentially the work of 15 or 20 Moody Blues, not a quintet, and they were unable to re-create their sound properly in concert.

From their album To Our Children’s Children’s Children — which was also the first release of the group’s own newly founded label, Threshold Records — only one song, the guitar-driven “Gypsy,” ever worked on-stage. Beginning with A Question of Balance (1970), the group specifically recorded songs in arrangements that they could play in concert, stripping down their sound a bit by reducing their reliance on overdubbing and, in the process, toughening up their sound. They were able to do most of that album and their next record, Every Good Boy Deserves Favour, on-stage, with impressive results. By that time, all five members of the band were composing songs, and each had his own identity, Pinder the impassioned mystic, Lodge the rocker, Edge the poet, Thomas the playful mystic, and Hayward the romantic — all had contributed significantly to their repertoire, though Hayward tended to have the biggest share of the group’s singles, and his songs often occupied the lead-off spot on their LPs.

Meanwhile, a significant part of their audience didn’t think of the Moody Blues merely as musicians but, rather, as spiritual guides. John Lodge’s song “I’m Just a Singer (In a Rock & Roll Band)” was his answer to this phenomenon, renouncing the role that had been thrust upon the band — it was also an unusually hard-rocking number for the group, and was also a modest hit single. Ironically, in 1972, the group was suddenly competing with itself when “Nights in White Satin” charted again in America and England, selling far more than it had in 1967; that new round of single sales also resulted in Days of Future Passed selling anew by the tens of thousands.

In the midst of all of this activity, the members, finally slowing down and enjoying the fruits of their success, had reached an impasse. As they prepared to record their new album, Seventh Sojourn (1972), the strain of touring and recording steadily for five years had taken its toll. Good songs were becoming more difficult to deliver and record, and cutting that album had proved nearly impossible. The public never saw the problems, and its release earned them their best reviews to date and was accompanied by a major international tour, and the sales and attendance were huge. Once the tour was over, however, it was announced that the group was going on hiatus — they wouldn’t work together again for five years. Hayward and Lodge recorded a very successful duet album, Blue Jays (1975), and all five members did solo albums. All were released through Threshold, which was still distributed by English Decca (then called London Records in the United States), and Threshold even maintained a small catalog of other artists, including Trapeze and Providence, though they evidently missed their chance to sign a group that might well have eclipsed the Moody Blues musically, King Crimson. (Ironically, the latter also used the Mellotron as a central part of their sound, but in a totally different way, and were the only group ever to make more distinctive use of the instrument.)

The Moodies’ old records were strong enough, elicited enough positive memories, and picked up enough new listeners (even amid the punk and disco booms) that a double-LP retrospective (This Is the Moody Blues) sold extremely well, years after they’d stopped working together, as did a live/studio archival double LP (Caught Live + 5). By 1977, the members had decided to reunite — although all five participated in the resulting album, Octave (1978), there were numerous stresses during its recording, and Pinder was ultimately unhappy enough with the LP to decline to go on tour with the band. The reunion tour came off anyway, with ex-Yes keyboardist Patrick Moraz brought in to fill out the lineup, and the album topped the charts.

The group’s next record, Long Distance Voyager (1981), was even more popular, though by this time a schism was beginning to develop between the band and the critical community. The reviews from critics (who’d seldom been that enamored of the band even in its heyday) became ever more harsh, and although their hiatus had allowed the band to skip the punk era, they seemed just as out of step amid the MTV era and the ascendancy of acts such as Madonna, the Pretenders, the Police, et al. By 1981, they’d been tagged by most of the rock press with the label “dinosaurs,” seemingly awaiting extinction. There were still decent-sized hits, such as “Gemini Dream,” but the albums and a lot of the songwriting seemed increasingly to be a matter of their going through the motions of being a group — psychedelia had given way to what was, apart from the occasional Lodge or Hayward single, rather soulless pop/rock. There were OK records, and the concerts drew well, mostly for the older songs, but there was little urgency or very much memorable about the new material.

That all changed a bit when one of them finally delivered a song so good that in its mere existence it begged to be recorded — the Hayward-authored single “Your Wildest Dreams” (1986), an almost perfect successor to “Nights in White Satin” mixing romance, passion, and feelings of nostalgia with a melody that was gorgeous and instantly memorable (and with a great beat). The single — along with its accompanying album, which was otherwise a much blander affair — approached the top of the charts. They were boosted up there by a superb promotional video (featuring the Mood Six as the younger Moody Blues) that suddenly gave the group at least a little contemporary pop/rock credibility. The follow-up, “I Know You’re Out There Somewhere,” was a lesser but still impressive commercial success, with an even better secondary melodic theme, and the two combined gave them an essential and memorable pair of mid-decade hits, boosting their concert attendance back up and shoring up their contemporary songbag.

By the end of the ’80s, however, they were again perceived as a nostalgia act, albeit one with a huge audience — a bit like the Grateful Dead without the critical respect or veneration. By that time, Moraz was gone and the core group was reduced to a quartet, with salaried keyboard players augmenting their work (along with a second drummer to back up Edge). They had also begun attracting fans by the tens of thousands to a new series of concerts, in which — for the first time — they performed with orchestras and, thus, could do their most elaborately produced songs on-stage. In 1994, a four-CD set devoted to their work, entitled Time Traveller, was released. By that time, their new albums were barely charting, and seldom attracting any reviews, but their catalog was among the best-selling parts of the Polygram library.

A new studio effort, Strange Times, followed in 1999 and the live (at the Royal Albert Hall) Hall of Fame was issued a year later, but it was the 1997 upgrades of their original seven albums, from Days of Future Passed to Seventh Sojourn, that attracted far more attention from the public. In 2003, Ray Thomas retired, and the Moody Blues carried on as a core trio of Hayward, Lodge, and Edge. They were still going strong as a touring band in 2009, the same period in which their live performance from the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival was released as a CD and a DVD. That same year, Hayward’s “Tuesday Afternoon” began turning up as an accompaniment to commercials for Visa. In 2013, the Moody Blues were the subject of a four-disc box retrospective from Universal entitled Timeless Flight. ~ Bruce Eder, Rovi

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