If the main thing you remember about The Moody Blues is “Nights In White Satin” or “Go Now”, have a look at this.
Housed in a heavy-duty LP-sized hard-back slipcase, the new Moody Blues boxed set Timeless Flight is an impressive piece of work, one that will have Moodies diehards drooling (and saving up!).
Timeless Flight is a lavish box set contains seventeen (!) discs including:
- eleven remastered CDs featuring key album tracks, previously unreleased mixes, out-takes and complete live concerts
- three DVDs of rare television performances from around the world, promotional videos and the previously unreleased live concert from Olympia, Paris in 1970
- three DVD audio discs containing the long-deleted 5:1 surround sound mixes of key albums 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
- a 120-page hard-back book including a new essay by Moody Blues researcher Mark Powell plus rare and previously unseen photos on heavy weight paper
- a replica full colour tour poster and discography
- a replica ‘Threshold’ press pack containing photos and memorabilia and
- a ‘Timeless Flight’ fabric patch
A band from the English West Midlands, along with Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Judas Priest and Slade – spot the odd one out? The Moody Blues topped the UK singles charts in 1964 with “Go Now”, but this compendium of their output doesn’t begin until three years later. This then is the story of the Mk II Moodies, after the departure of front man Denny Laine (Paul McCartney and Wings), and a move away from the band’s R&B roots.
Indeed, the arrival of Justin Hayward and John Lodge took the group in quite a different direction. The first album from the new line-up Days Of Future Passed was originally an attempt to record a rock version of Dvořák’s New World Symphony. What the band produced instead would become a sign of things to come for the next decade and confirmed the Moodies as either bold risk-takers or full of overblown mysticism. Days Of Future Passed was recorded in “Deramic Stereo’ (!) and shares the spotlight with the London Festival Orchestra, containing adventurous instrumentation, themed lyrics and spoken word.
The band’s canvas was epic and focused away from the ordinary (no “how’s your Bert’s lumbago” here!). The six albums listed above and one other (In Search Of The Lost Chord) were released between 1967 and 1972.
The intense workload of both recording and touring took its toll, however, and the rest of the decade brought only one subsequent album Octave (1978), Hayward and Lodge spending more time on their solo and off-shoot projects. The advent of punk wouldn’t have helped to continue the band’s acceptance either.
In 1981 The Moody Blues returned to the spotlight proper with the high-water mark Long Distance Voyager, its pop-minded progressive rock with classical overtones. I remember reading a piece sometime in the late 70s I thought was pretty astute (when the band was in a hiatus) – were they still together they would sound like Electric Light Orchestra.
I started to follow the Moodies about the time that Seventh Sojourn was released, which I couldn’t listen to enough – it featured “Isn’t Life Strange” and the somewhat pointed note about their public perception – “I’m Just a Singer (in a Rock and Roll Band). Then I collected their back catalogue and followed their solo and duo (The Blue Jays) side projects. Octave was the last purchase and then The Moodies and I drifted apart – pre-recorded cassettes lost and vinyl accumulating dust. Exposure to live DVDs – at Red Rocks and Royal Albert Hall over the past decade reminded me of how good they still were/are.
Two years ago I had the chance to see them live for the first time but it required an early morning bus trip from Byron Bay (where I had just completed six consecutive days of Bluesfest) to Brisbane, a flight to L.A. and then onto New Orleans, arriving late afternoon the same day and then a walk to the Mahalia Jackson Centre where they were performing that night. Did I do it? Yes. Was it worth it? Absolutely! It was a great night with three of the original members remaining – Hayward, Lodge and drummer Graeme Edge. Justin Hayward’s voice remains excellent and they still have the capacity to achieve their soaring, falsetto notes, as well as plenty of worthy material from which to choose. Also, it’s not every gig you attend where roses are placed on stage by fervent fans. Unfortunately none of the new tour dates coincide with my tour plans in the U.S. in September and October. But I haven’t given up hope of a reunion, after all we’ve been through a lot together.
Timeless Flight will be released on June 25 in both seventeen-disc and four-CD configurations. The former is available for on-line pre-order for around $US300 or £200. Not cheap but more than a little tempting….
September 26 Palace Theatre Louisville, KY
September 27 PNC Pavilion at Riverbend Music Center Cincinnati, Ohio
September 28 Soaring Eagle Casino Resort Mt. Pleasant, MI
September 29 Jacobs Pavilion At Nautica Cleveland, Ohio
October 1 Honeywell Center Wabash, Indiana
October 2 Lerner Theatre Elkhart, Indiana
October 4 The Riverside Theater Milwaukee, Wisconsin
October 5 Horseshoe Casino Hammond, Indiana
October 7 Peoria Civic Center Peoria, Illinois
October 8 Fox Cities Performing Arts Center Appleton, WI
October 9 Des Moines Civic Center Des Moines, Iowa
October 11 Grand Casino Mille Lacs Onamia, Minneapolis
October 12 Bismarck Civic Center Bismarck, North Dakota
October 14 The Midland By AMC Kansas City, Missouri
October 15 Hartman Arena Park City, Kansas
October 16 Bellco Theatre Denver, Colorado
October 18 Northern Quest Resort & Casino Airway Heights, Washington
October 19 Paramount Theatre Seattle, Washington
October 21 Keller Auditorium Portland, Oregon
October 22 Hult Center for Performing Arts Eugene, Oregon
October 24 Marin Center San Rafael, California
October 25 Nob Hill Masonic Center San Francisco, California
October 26 Silver Legacy Resort and Casino Reno, Nevada
October 27 San Jose Civic Center San Jose, California
October 29 Vina Robles Amphitheatre Paso Robles, California
October 30 Humphrey’s San Diego, California
November 1 Nokia Theatre at L.A. LIVE Los Angeles, California
November 2 Agua Caliente Casino Rancho Mirage, California