The Moody Blues album by album thread

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Glenn Christense, Sep 18, 2017.

  1. Lonesurf

    Lonesurf Forum Resident

    Philadelphia, Pa
    For me: Keys Of The Kingdom, while uneven, at least had more successful tracks than the previous two albums combined. YMMV, but to me there was (slightly) less of the tunelessness that plagued Sur La Mer.

    I liked both "Hope & Pray" ("Your Wildest Dreams" part 3?) and "Say It With Love". But ... Justin could write airy pop songs like these on autopilot. Just listen to his subsequent solo View From The Hill for ample examples.

    It was good to hear Ray again. But ... the album again lacked any semblance of cohesion. The entire affair seemed like random odds and ends thrown into a haphazard mix. The Prelude compilation actually seems to hang together better than KotK, lol!

    I had been very disappointed by the plastic production and the lack of decent songs on Sur La Mer. On the other hand, comparatively speaking, I didn't hate KotK ... but it was just inoffensive enough "product" to make me truly miss the Moodies of old.
  2. PTgraphics

    PTgraphics Forum Resident

    Is there a 'remix' of "I Know You're Out There Somewhere"? I have a CD single that includes the edit of IKYOTS and a version that runs 6:38 but is labeled as a remix. I don't have the "Sur La Mer" album to compare. Also "Miracle" runs 3:55 on the CD single.
  3. bRETT

    bRETT Forum Resident

    Boston MA
    Since I missed Sur La Mer, let me say that 1> It's an amazingly great sounding album; even though it's mostly programmed the soundscapes are completely rich and gorgeous; 2> "Deep" is the most embarrassing song ever written by anybody.
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  4. Glenn Christense

    Glenn Christense Foremost Beatles expert... on my block Thread Starter

    Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say

    OK, I don't like the track and I mean it. :D

    In Lean On Me John says he will "take me to somewhere I've never been before ".

    After listening to this song I don't want to go there. At all. :p

    Hope &Pray isn't bad.

    Shadows on the Wall seems to go on forever .

    Once Is Enough
    Yes, it is.

    Ray's vocal in Celtic Sonant is a little over the top melodramatic for my taste but the song is one of the few songs that sounds organic with real human emotion so I give it a pass .

    Never Blame the Rainbows For the Rain is pleasant enough but I think I'd like a smaller, less bombastic production . It's a sweet little song but with John Bonham on drums and the Morman Tabernacle Choir singing backup it loses it's sweetness.

    My overall impression of the album is that although there a few good moments, because of the arranging /production it's a fatiguing listen.
    Everything is sonically filled up to "10".
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2017
  5. roman.p

    roman.p Forum Resident

    I’d say the album is a definite step up from Sur la mer. It’s still highly programmed and synthetic, but has a few more human elements that make it more listenable to me. It’s nice to have Ray Thomas back, despite his minimal presence. There’s some nice guitar work on several tracks, and “Never Blame the Rainbows” has what may be the last use of Hayward’s trademark Marshall fuzz tone. And I like the electric sitar on “Is This Heaven”.

    But too much of this album is undermined by inappropriate power chords, programmed keyboard bass and big drums. Producer Alan Tarney’s decidedly un-Moodyish backing vocals on “Shadows on the Wall” and “Bless the Wings” do not improve things.

    I feel Hayward’s songs are generally unambitious — he could probably fire off a “Say It With Love” or a “Bless The Wings” in his sleep. I just am not a fan of Lodge’s ballads at all, and as Losctchord pointed out, “Lean on Me” has a melodic motif that’s almost identical to “Who Can Change” from Natural Avenue (although I must say I prefer the latter — at least it sounds like it was recorded by humans).

    As for the return of Thomas, I feel the New Agey synth pad sounds really detract from “Celtic Sonant”. I do like his whistling on “Is This Heaven”. Meanwhile, throughout the rest of the album, some of those massed backing vocals sure could use his tonal colour.

    Visconti claims the entire band performs on “Highway”, which apparently was left off the album because they didn’t like the oom-pah ending. Too bad.

    By the way, more examples of Hayward’s monotone melodies that I was mentioning earlier in “Hope and Pray” (“I see the headlight shining” all on one note) and “Never Blame the Rainbows”.

    So it’s an improvement — but I agree with you, Glenn, that it's fatiguing to listen to. I still wouldn’t choose to play it.

    Are we off to Red Rocks next?
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2017
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  6. Glenn Christense

    Glenn Christense Foremost Beatles expert... on my block Thread Starter

    I was generally trying to stay away from comps and live releases but I'll throw in the Red Rocks release in a few days if you guys want to talk about it.
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  7. Lostchord

    Lostchord Dr. Livingstone, I presume

    Poznań, Poland
    good! I've got some nasty things to say about the Red Rocks video

    It can actually be a good riddle - what's on it that horrified the poor Lostchord when he first watched it in 1993? I believe that's much stronger than whatever Justin might have mispronunced on What Am I Doing Here... :(
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2017
  8. Amazing! Thanks.
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  9. RicZ

    RicZ Forum Resident

    The Netherlands
    Not going to insert the full quotes, but I probably can edit my reply together from them, at least partially. Seems I am a bit more positve about the album.

    "Keys of The Kingdom" was also my first Moody Blues album of new material I awaited and bought.
    Not sure about the exact time frame and order I got all the albums.
    Probably had "This Is The Moody Blues" already, some others I had copied on tape from borrowed albums.

    Keys for me is a much nicer listening experience then "The Other Side of Life" and also a step up from "Sur La Mer" .
    It's a more consistent album then the previous two ,but without real standouts.

    I do like "Say It With Love" and "Bless The Wings" but I agree with Roman that Justin can probably fire off these kind of songs in his sleep.
    Still "Never Blame the Rainbows" can be considered a highlight.
    Nice to see the combined Hayward and Thomas songwriting credit,
    and hear their vocals on the song.
    Nice to have another Ray song includded here as well.

    I find the two John Lodge ballads on this album much better then "It May Be a Fire" and "Love is On The Run".
    I especially like "Lean on Me (Tonight).
    And I also like "Say What You Mean.
    I even don't mind "Magic" at least it's not as bad as "Here Comes The Weekend".

    The best song from the sessions tho, and one that would have been the standout is "Highway".
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2017
    Glenn Christense likes this.
  10. Nick Dunning

    Nick Dunning Forum Resident


    Excuse the poor photo. Today's eBay haul. One is a somewhat-apparently-bronzed-but-playing-fine copy of the German 1986 'TOOCC' CD, the other an American pressing of 'Question Of Balance'. Are the US discs the same mastering as the German discs?

    The 'TOOCC' disc sounds magnificent. On, loud, now.
  11. OldJohnRobertson

    OldJohnRobertson Martyr for Even Less

    Durham, NC
    I like Keys of the Kingdom but I can't say I love it. I like Ray's stuff, I also like "Say It With Love" and "Hope and Pray" (which was actually part 3 of the "Your Wildest Dreams"/"I Know You're Out There Somewhere" saga). That said, there are still some really embarrassing lyrics. Case in point, "Once Is Enough" (probably the worst song on the album)..."Sometimes you're first, sometimes you're last, then again you're somewhere in your days of future passed." No. Just no. I did a slight body shiver just typing that. I'd love to know how many takes it took before Justin could actually sing that with a straight face.
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  12. Lostchord

    Lostchord Dr. Livingstone, I presume

    Poznań, Poland
    as we are seemingly running out of comments on Keys of the Kingdom, a couple of words from me about this live DVD recorded the same year as that album:


    Theoretically it could have been an interesting document of the short post-Moraz-pre-orchestra interim period for the band. (There's some bitter irony in the fact that the concert was in the town in the same Swiss canton that Patrick Moraz was born in). The DVD marks the appearance of the second drummer Gordy Marshall for the first time, there's Paul Bliss and Bias Boshell on keyboards as well as two female back-up singers.

    The audio was clearly prepared by a source independent of the band. There's definitely no post-production doctoring (like on the Red Rocks video), in fact the veracity is overdone, as John Lodge's vocal is properly miked up as late as into the fifth song, which should have really been corrected in the post-production - thus on Gemini Dream we can hear Justin's harmony on the verses without John's main melody.

    As far as the songs go, there's not much to say. No major mistakes, decent playing (but not terribly tight), all predictable, synths still very plastic on the newer stuff, some nice quasi-mellotronic pads on the older stuff. John Lodge's guitar is terribly out of tune on the verses of Isn't Life Strange ;) The second drummer is an interesting addition to the texture (especially on the choruses of said Isn't Life Strange). Overall, it's all quite nice, but in my opinion quite dispensable, though some of the older stuff still sounds great, of course (for example The Story In Your Eyes rocks more than usually)

    But frankly, the only moment of real value for me is Legend of a Mind, at least its first part. Ray's flute, and to a sightly lesser extent his voice, are the only link to the glorious past. In the second verse there's suddenly a magnificent three-part harmony from the guys on nononono, he's outside, looking in, very high and clear in the mix. On the along the coast I hear him boast section some unexpected vaudeville-like piano appears, interesting (though earlier on the verses one synth played nice fake mellotron bends, but the other added awful plastic ornaments). I'm not a fan of the extended flute-synth duet, but the band returns to the sung section with class, good harmonies again. Towards the end, Ray throws in an "Om", rather jokingly, I think, and that's it. Question and See-Saw, which come after that, don't add anything significant to the proceedings. The beginning of Question is great, though, Justin's guitar never sounded plastic live.

    Not a must-have, though I warmed up a little to this material while writing this and listening in :)
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2017
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  13. Dylancat

    Dylancat Forum Resident

    Cincinnati, OH
    To me, the essential live performance for the band is "Isle of Wight 1970".
    Sure, it's missing a lot of footage of a lot of the songs (they make up for that with audience shots and assembling some stage shots), but for the footage that's there; it's great presentation of the band.
    There are interesting interviews, especially with Pinder re: the mellotron.
    The "Paris 1970" is an odd duck, with taped backing tracks with occasional live vocals by Hayward.
    It's interesting to see them circa 70 in this though.
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  14. alexpop

    alexpop Power pop + other bad habits....

    Jump back...
    I picked up a MFSL gold UltraDisc CD the other day with flip lock case(already have SACD /WG CD/Vinyl of this title )for 20.00 the things you find in a Oxfam shop.
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  15. 3Dman

    3Dman Hangover Child

    I too have only experienced KOTK on cassette. I remember hearing “Say It With Love” on the radio (probably only the one time I’m sure) and feeling kinda good that there was a new Moody Blues album. I haven’t heard the whole thing in years; well, it’s not like you hear anything from this album anywhere anyway. I’ve never heard “Once Is Enough” or “Highway”. I remember thinking it was great that Ray sang a song on it but I agree with vocals being too much. It’s decent, but light to me. There are some decent melodies here I’d say because I still remember the choruses of most songs by reading the titles whereas I can’t say that about the previous two albums aside from the singles.
    But at this point I felt I knew there’d never be another tune with some heft to it like “Story” or “Singer”. Just too much sap.
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  16. roman.p

    roman.p Forum Resident

    I dunno, I find the band really sloppy in that Isle of Wight show. There are a number of bootlegs from that era that are far more worthwhile musically, if not sonically.
    The Olympia 1970 DVD is so strange. They barely look like they're even trying to fake it on their instruments. As I mentioned before, the best thing about it, other than glimpsing what the boys looked like back then, is the extended ending of "Don't You Feel Small".
  17. Dylancat

    Dylancat Forum Resident

    Cincinnati, OH
    Sloppy or not (lack of stage monitors, nervousness, or else) it is one of the very few visual documents of that important period.
    Big Pasi likes this.
  18. roman.p

    roman.p Forum Resident

    I tend to think it must be "else". Perhaps substances were involved?
    Lonesurf likes this.
  19. Newton John

    Newton John Going for the one

    Tynedale, UK
    I wouldn't argue with you but I listened to it after the dire Keys to the Kingdom today - I lost the will to live during the slick but insipid Never Blame the Rainbows for the Rain. The magnificent sloppiness of Gypsy opening the Isle of Wight set came as a blessed relief.
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2017
  20. Billo

    Billo Forum Resident

    Southern England
    KOTK suffers from a number of 'issues' but I think one of the worst is the album just doesn't 'flow' at all - unlike the 'core seven' or even the two post Pinder Decca albums at least managed to do...

    - like 'Octave' and 'side two' of SLM KOTK just sounds so disjointed to me throughout, it's a jumble of songs in differing styles, some more melodic and with a degree of 'Moodies' about them, some pure 'solo' tracks, the odd 'filler' (and 'Once' certainly was !) added to Moraz cameos on a few tracks plus differing producers the whole thing sounds far more 'compiled' than many Moodies compilations !

    for me at least 'Strange Times' was far more like a 'proper' album of songs that sounded as if they were meant to be heard together
    Defrance likes this.
  21. Glenn Christense

    Glenn Christense Foremost Beatles expert... on my block Thread Starter



    Original CD track listing
    All songs by Justin Hayward except where noted.

    1. "Overture" (features excerpts from "Ride My See-Saw", "Tuesday Afternoon (Forever Afternoon)", and "Nights in White Satin") (Hayward, John Lodge) – 2:58
    2. "Late Lament" (Graeme Edge, Peter Knight) – 1:35
    3. "Tuesday Afternoon (Forever Afternoon)" – 4:42
    4. "For My Lady" (Ray Thomas) – 4:11
    5. "Lean on Me (Tonight)" (Lodge) – 4:39
    6. "Lovely to See You" – 4:04
    7. "I Know You're Out There Somewhere" – 5:22
    8. "The Voice" – 5:28
    9. "Your Wildest Dreams" – 4:57
    10. "Isn't Life Strange" (Lodge) – 6:44
    11. "The Other Side of Life" – 7:05
    12. "I'm Just a Singer (In a Rock and Roll Band)" (Lodge) – 6:55
    13. "Nights in White Satin" – 6:33
    14. "Question" – 6:22
    15. "Ride My See-Saw" (Lodge) – 5:26
    Released 9 March 1993
    Recorded 9 September 1992
    at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre
    Morrison, Colorado

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  22. Glenn Christense

    Glenn Christense Foremost Beatles expert... on my block Thread Starter

    OK, I'll get to Strange Times at the beginning of next week but in the meantime I've added the Red Rocks concert for you guys that want to talk about it.
    Lostchord likes this.
  23. Billo

    Billo Forum Resident

    Southern England
    it's o.k. as far as a concert goes, nice to see them with orchestra and Ray is involved, but not something I watch or listen to very often to be honest

    once the 'pretty girl' female backing vocalists appeared circa 1986 the live show began to interest me less - then the second keyboardist, then second drummer, then Ray retired and by then they were firmly their own 'tribute group' ! - more and more a 'corporate' package all about old men being 'sexed up' and product such as posters, tee shirts, mugs, key rings, computer table mats with Justin's face on them....ah !

    ironic that as this happened over time more and more 'core seven' era songs began to be featured in the live show....(nice to see 'Lovely To See You' and 'For My Lady' with orchestra here, while 'New Horizons' was featured on the DVD version too) - tho' curious as I thought per Justin that it was the 80's that were THE era for the group....

    'Red Rocks' was a pretty impressive show re the setting and orchestration etc, and I do quite enjoy it but as I said it's nothing to write home about for me
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2017
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  24. docwebb

    docwebb Forum Resident

    I never bought the Red Rocks CD but did buy the DVD when it was released. Having a video of the group playing live, with a nice set list, was very welcome at the time. Musically it is only fair, so I never felt the need to buy the CD. But being backed up by an orchestra live for the first time was exciting and I really enjoyed watching the video.
    BTW I think the concert was in celebration of 25 years since release of DOFP. Hard to believe I saw them perform this album live at the Hollywood Bowl a few months ago. So the Red Rocks concert was the half way point in their career. What long strange trip!
  25. Lostchord

    Lostchord Dr. Livingstone, I presume

    Poznań, Poland
    ah, the Red Rocks...

    First of all, as it has been pointed out, the original CD version (as referenced by Glen above) did not include some tracks. The Story In Your Eyes, New Horizons, Say It With Love and Gemini Dream - not on the 1993 CD - were included on the original video version. There was also a documentary called The Other Side of Red Rocks and this perhaps included the best treats: Voices In the Sky, Bless the Wings, Legend of a Mind, Emily's Song and somewhat unrelated though beautiful solo acoustic rendition of Driftwood by Justin. Not reading too much into things, I still think it's quite telling that the band considered the most "classic" sounding tracks the least significant. That's not to say about Emily's Song, which was quite reasonably pushed aside, as the bassoon part in the opening verse is totally out of sync and effectively ruins the performance. (The later expanded CD/streaming editions thankfully feature all the tracks).

    But this is not my main criticism. I guess this video was a turning point in my Moody Blues Attitude, to paraphrase the name of the valuable MB forum. With this release, the band managed to move me from the realm of idolatry to an odd mixture of respect and cynicism, which I'm afraid continues with me till this day.

    You see, it was the first time that I saw The Moody Blues on film. Up to that point, I had been vaguely familiar with their faces from the record covers and articles in Polish music magazines, which were not that many. So this encounter with the band was quite a shock to me. The warm and sensitive Justin Hayward, as I thought I knew him from his songs, seemed unapproachable and unkind (unlike John, who seemed to be all over the place, another extreme), and I hated his make-up. The spoken introduction to The Other Side of Life... once upon a time, a man went in search of enlightenment, and he found - himself, and he saw himself as he really was... that sounded just like a parody of The Balance, but to my horror I realized that Justin actually meant it!

    Then there's Ray Thomas - aloof and for the most parts of the show fairly superfluous with this tambourine of his never making it to the final mix. Even at the age of 17 I could clearly see that there was something very wrong about the chemistry on stage. Especially in the light of the staged guitar duels of Justin and John . This was ridiculous enough, but the worst came with the good old Singer In a Rock'n'Roll Band, the song I used to hold in high esteem for the musicianship and unity of the original version.

    Even the introduction by Justin (are you ready for some rock'n'roll?) seemed kind of grotesque. Still, it was the best thing about this video bit. In the first verse there's some doctoring of John's vocal (found the key...), not hidden carefully enough (remember, I was 17, not a picky 41-year-disillusioned-old fart I am today ;) - I still managed to catch this in spite of myself) OK, the song goes on fine, though totally un-rock'n'roll, but... during the second guitar solo, we can see John approaching Justin and pretending to make some sexual moves on him. For me, this is the most disgusting moment in the history of The Moody Blues, worse than any plastic song they might have put out, the mimed performances released on DVD, the studio (backing) tracks featured on the live albums, the blatant re-writing of the band history and so on... I can even understand that he got carried away during the show, or it was a joke which didn't go right, but you know, someone actually did not edit it out of the released version. Absolutely ew.

    Video aside, there are some nice moments on the album. The Other Side of Life is a highlight for me. The CD version mercifully cuts off most of the spoken intro (EDIT: the later versions have it all), and the song finally manages to get the ominous message across. It actually swings a little, wonderful! A huge progress over the studio version. The Keys of the Kingdom tracks also sound much more natural here, Lean On Me features a nice acoustic guitar solo. The whole orchestra thing does not entirely work IMO, but at least I am grateful that it shifted the proceedings away from the synths (not wholly of course, but significantly).

    I should add at this point, that there were some later appearances of The Moodies on film or so, which partially obliterated the feeling of unease I got from the Red Rocks video. There was an absolutely wonderful appearance of Justin Hayward on BBC's Hardtalk show towards the end of the 1990's, where he was exactly like the guy I knew from his songs, warm, sensitive and witty (and he sung a great version of Forever Autumn on it). Also the Isle of Wight video commentary finally presents the band members as intelligent and insightful people.

    Sorry about all this fanboy talk ;) but I still believe we didn't deserve the Singer in the Rock'n'Roll Band bit back then ;)
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2017

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