The Moody Blues

The Moody Blues were an English rock band active from 1964 to 2018. The original lineup included singer–guitarist Denny Laine and three mainstays: keyboardist Mike Pinder, flutist–harpist Ray Thomas, and drummer Graeme Edge. Their second single, “Go Now!” (UK No. 1), made them part of the British Invasion. After the 1965 album The Magnificent Moodies and further singles, Laine cleared out for singer–guitarist Justin Hayward and bassist John Lodge completed the classic lineup.

In 1967, The Moody Blues teamed with the London Festival Orchestra on Days of Future Passed, a rock–classical concept album with the global evergreens “Tuesday Afternoon” and “Nights In White Satin,” their signature song. The Moodies followed with the 1968–70 symphonic-rock albums In Search of the Lost Chord, On the Threshold of a Dream, To Our Children’s Children’s Children, and A Question of Balance, which consolidated their profile with the popular songs “Ride My See-Saw,” “Legend of a Mind,” and “Question.” After the 1971–72 albums Every Good Boy Deserves Favour and Seventh Sojourn and the hits “Isn’t Life Strange?” and “I’m Just a Singer (In a Rock and Roll Band),” the Moodies paused for solo and side projects, including the 1975 Hayward–Lodge disc Blue Jays.

In 1978, The Moody Blues returned with Octave, their final album with Pinder. For the ensuing tour, they hired Swiss keyboardist Patrick Moraz, who plays on the 1981–88 albums Long Distance Voyager, The Present, The Other Side of Life, and Sur la Mer. This period, marked by renewed popularity, saw them embrace modern synthpop on the FM staple “The Voice” and the 1986 MTV hit “Your Wildest Dreams.”

Moraz left during sessions for their 1991 album Keys of the Kingdom. The Moody Blues released one further studio album, 1999’s Strange Times, before Thomas retired in 2002. The three remaining group veterans toured with auxiliary players until 2018.

Members: Graeme Edge (drums), Clint Warwick (bass, vocals, 1964-66), Ray Thomas (vocals, flute, harmonica, 1965-2002), Mike Pinder (vocals, keyboards, guitar, 1965-78), Denny Laine (vocals, guitar, 1965-66), Justin Hayward (vocals, guitar, 1966-present), John Lodge (vocals, bass, 1966-present), Patrick Moraz (keyboards, 1978-91)


Background

The Moody Blues spun from an earlier Birmingham combo, El Riot & the Rebels, which featured flutist–percussionist Ray Thomas (1941–2018), keyboardist Mike Pinder (b. 1941), and bassist John Lodge (b. 1945). That band folded when the young Lodge enrolled in technical college.

After gigging in Hamburg with the Krew Kats, Thomas and Pinder teamed with singer–guitarist Denny Laine (aka Brian Hines, b. 1944), who fronted beatsters The Diplomats, whose prior ranks featured singer Nicky James and drummer Bev Bevan (now in Carl Wayne & The Vikings). Drummer Graeme Edge (1941–2021, a former roadie) and bassist Clint Warwick (aka Albert Eccles, formerly of Danny King & the Dukes) completed the new band, which named itself The MBs to gain a sponsorship from Birmingham’s Mitchells & Butlers brewery pub.

With no sponsorship deal in sight, they renamed themselves The Moody Blues 5, then The Moodyblues, inspired by the Duke Ellington song “Mood Indigo” and their self-identity as a blues act, as well as Pinder’s notion that music changes people’s moods. Before long, they modified the spelling to The Moody Blues.


1964

In the spring of 1964, The Moody Blues signed to the management firm Ridgepride, which negotiated a contract with Decca.

They played their earliest documented show as The Moody Blues on August 15, 1964, at the Stork Hotel in Walsall. On August 28, they performed “Lose Your Money” on the ITV music program Ready, Steady Go!


“Steal Your Heart Away”

On Friday, September 4, 1964, The Moody Blues released their debut single: the Bobby Parker cover “Steal Your Heart Away,” backed with the Laine–Pinder original Loose Your Money (But Don’t Loose Your Mind).”

On the eve of this release, The Moody Blues played their first headline show at London’s prestigious Marquee Club, supported by The Night Shift. On Friday the 11th, the Moodies opened the Marquee for rising stars The Yardbirds.

That autumn, The Moody Blues gigged throughout England. On October 29, they taped a segment for the BBC2 program Beat Room (aired November 2). In Manchester, they dropped by Granada TV Centre for the Nov. 16 broadcast of Scene at 6:30.


“Go Now!”

On November 13, The Moody Blues released their second single: the Bessie Banks cover “Go Now!” backed with the Freddy King cover “It’s Easy Child.”

In late November, the Moodies played Marquee opening slots for The Muleskinners (11/23) and Manfred Mann (11/30). On Monday, December 7, they began a weekly Marquee headline slot with The Mark Leeman Five, a recurrent opening act.

As “Go Now” headed up the charts, The Moody Blues performed it on December 4 broadcast of Ready, Steady Go! On Dec. 26, they played the Casino Club in Walsall with The ‘N’Betweens, a newly formed Midlands act that evolved into Slade.

The Moodies closed out 1964 with their first appearance on the BBC music program Top of the Pops, which aired a recent Marquee performance of “Go Now!” on the New Year’s Eve broadcast amid current hits by The Beatles (“I Feel Fine”), Cliff Richard & The Shadows (“I Could Easily Fall”), Gerry & The Pacemakers (“Ferry ‘Cross the Mersey”), Georgie Fame & The Blues Flames (“Yeh Yeh”), Petula Clark (“Downtow”), and Twinkle (“Terry”).


1965

“Go Now!” entered the UK Top 10 on the week of January 7, 1965. The Moody Blues embarked on a month-long package tour with Chuck Berry, the Graham Bond Organization, Winston G., Long John Baldry & The Hoochie Coochie Men, and compere Mike Patto. On January 28, “Go Now!” overtook Fame’s “Yeh Yeh” as the UK No. 1 single. It held the top spot for one week before singles by The Kinks (“Tired of Waiting for You”) and the Righteous Brothers (“You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling,” the new No. 1) knocked the Moodies down two slots.

On February 11, Pinder incurred a scalp injury when a rabid female fan rushed him on stage at the Locarno Ballroom in Montrose, Scotland. That month, “Go Now!” peaked at No. 2 in the Canadian singles chart and No. 10 on the US Billboard 200.


“I Don’t Want to Go On Without You”

On February 26, 1965, The Moody Blues released their third single: The Drifters cover “I Don’t Want to Go On Without You,” backed with the Irma Thomas cover “Time Is On My Side,” a recent hit for The Rolling Stones.

On March 5, the Moodies performed “I Don’t Want to Go On Without You” on Ready, Steady Go! After a round of radio appearances and university shows, they played a March 2 multi-act event at London’s Golders Green Hippodrome with The Sorrows, The Artwoods, and Twinkle & the Gonks.

On May 13, performance clips of “Go Now!” and the James Brown cover “I Go Crazy” aired stateside on Shindig, a music variety program on ABC.


“From The Bottom of My Heart (I Love You)”

On May 28, 1965, The Moody Blues released their fourth single: “From the Bottom of My Heart (I Love You),” backed with “And My Baby’s Gone,” both Laine–Pinder originals. Argentine-born soundman Denny Cordell, an early Island Records staffer, produced this and the subsequent three Moodies singles.

On June 5, the Moodies appeared on the ITV music program Thank Your Lucky Stars, which also featured segments on Donovan, The Hollies, and Vashti Bunyan. They were set to embark on their first US tour as an opening act for The Kinks but were unable to obtain visas.

The Moody Blues mimed “From the Bottom of My Heart” on the June 24 broadcast of TotP, which aired them amid current hits by Dusty Springfield (“In the Middle of Nowhere”), Lulu (“Leave a Little Love”), The Rolling Stones (“I’m Moving On”), and The Yardbirds (“Heart Full of Soul”). On the 27th, they played the ABC in Great Yarmouth with Marianne Faithfull and The Riot Squad.

The Moody Blues promoted the album with a summer–fall UK tour. On August 1, they opened for the Rolling Stontes at London’s Palladium along with the Walker Brothers and Steampacket (a Trinity precurssor fronted by Julie Driscoll and Rod Stewart).


The Magnificent Moodies

The Moody Blues released their debut album, The Magnificent Moodies, in July 1965 on Decca. It features six songs per side with a total length of 34:23. Side two includes four Laine/Pinder originals: “Let Me Go,” “Stop,” “Thank You Baby,” and “True Story.” The remaining numbers, including the aforementioned hit, are all covers. The album was co-produced by band manager Alex Murray.

1. “I’ll Go Crazy” James Brown (2:13)
2. “Something You Got” Chris Kenner (2:49)
3. “Go Now!” Larry Banks, Milton Bennett (3:14)
4. “Can’t Nobody Love You” James Mitchell (4:06)
5. “I Don’t Mind” (lead vocals: Mike Pinder) James Brown (3:26)
6. “I’ve Got a Dream” (lead vocals: Denny Laine and Clint Warwick) Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich (2:50)

1. “Let Me Go” Denny Laine, Mike Pinder (3:14)
2. “Stop” Laine, Pinder (2:05)
3. “Thank You Baby” Laine, Pinder (2:30)
4. “It Ain’t Necessarily So” (lead vocals: Ray Thomas) George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin (3:21)
5. “True Story” Laine, Pinder (1:46)
6. “Bye Bye Bird” Sonny Boy Williamson II, Willie Dixon (2:49)

In the U.S., Magnificent Moodies appeared retitled Go Now – The Moody Blues #1 on London Records with an altered tracklist that includes “I Don’t Want to Go On Without You.”

The Moody Blues promoted the album with a summer–fall UK tour. On August 1, they opened for the Rolling Stones at London’s Palladium along with the Walker Brothers and Steampacket (a Trinity precursor fronted by Julie Driscoll and Rod Stewart).

On Friday, August 6, The Moody Blues played the 5th National Jazz Festival at the Richmond Athletic Association Grounds in Richmond-on-Thames. The three-day event featured sets by The Animals, Georgie Fame, Graham Bond, Manfred Mann, The Spencer Davis Group, Steampacket, The T-Bones, and jazzmen Albert Mangelsdorff, Dick Morrissey, and Ronnie Scott. The Moodies played on Day 1 along with The Who, The Yardbirds and the Mike Cotton Sound. Excerpts of this event aired on the December 4 Shindig broadcast “Shindig Goes to London.”

The Moody Blues joined The Rolling Stones and the Spencer Davis Group on three Northern dates (Sept. 30–Oct. 2) as a fill-in for Unit Four + Two.


“Everyday”

On October 22, 1965, The Moody Blues released their fifth single: “Everyday,” backed with “You Don’t (All the Time),” both Laine–Pinder originals.

The Moody Blues performed “Everyday” on the November 12 broadcast of Ready, Steady Go! The Moodies, along with The Koobas and Beryl Mardsen, opened nine dates on The Beatles final UK tour, starting December 3 at Glasgow’s Odeon Theatre and wrapping on the 12th at Cardiff’s Capitol Theatre.

The Moody Blues closed out 1965 with their first shows in the US. On December 19, they appeared live on the Ed Sullivan Show. They performed “I Go Crazy” on the Dec. 23 broadcast of Shindig, which also featured sets by The Dave Clark Five, Gerry & the Pacemakers, Lulu, and The Yardbirds. In the final week (Dec. 25–31), they played four shows per day at Brooklyn’s Fox Theatre as part of Murray The K’s Christmas Show, which also featured Peter & Gordon, Wilson Pickett, The Fortunes, The McCoys, The Toys, The Vibrations, The Spinners, and The O’Jays.


1966

On March 17, 1966, The Moody Blues played London’s Royal Albert Hall as part of a taped multi-acted event for the ABC American Bandstand spinoff Where the Action Is. The concert also featured the Spencer Davis Group, Yardbirds, Small Faces, The Mindbenders, Them, Unit 4 + 2, Nashville Teens, The Zombies, and The Action.

On April 3, the Moodies played before 12,000 at the Empire Pool (aka Wembley Arena) as part of the Record Star Show, which also featured sets by Cliff & The Shadows, Spencer Davis, Adam Faith, Georgie Fame, Billy J Kramer, Wayne Fontana, and Manfred Mann. On May 30, the Moodies appeared on the French TV show Cravate Noire with Marianne Faithful and Sylvie Vartan.

In June, Clint Warwick left the band exited music for carpentry. The Moodies hired Rod Clarke (once of pre-beat Brummie rockers Carter-Lewis & The Southerners) as a temp bassist for their show at London’s Tiles club, taped for the August 27 broadcast of the German music program Beat-Club, which aired their performances of “Really Haven’t Got The Time” and “Bye Bye Bird” amid numbers by The Washington DCs, Sounds Incorporated, Shapes & Sizes, and Cliff Bennett & The Rebel Rousers (“Hold On, I’m Coming”).


“Boulevard de la Madelaine”

On October 7, 1966, The Moody Blues released their sixth single: “Boulevard de la Madelaine,” backed with “This Is My House (But Nobody Calls),” both Laine–Pinder originals.

That month, Denny Laine left The Moody Blues. He cut two 1967–solo singles and formed Denny Laine’s Electric String Band, which cut three songs that later appeared on psychedelic comps. In 1970, he partook in the first album by Ginger Baker’s Air Force. He then teamed with Paul McCartney in Wings, which made seven studio albums between 1971 and 1979.

The Moody Blues welcomed John Lodge (Thomas and Pinder’s onetime El Riot colleague) as their permanent bassist. For the role of frontman, the Moodies found Swindon-born singer–guitarist Justin Hayward, formerly of The Wilde Three with ’50s rock idol Marty Wilde. Hayward cut two recent solo singles: the 1966 Pye release “London Is Behind Me” (b/w “Day Must Come”) and the Parlophone promo “I Can’t Face the World Without You” (b/w “I’ll Be Here Tomorrow”), all originals.


1967

The Moody Blues premiered the Hayward–Lodge lineup on January 2, 1967, at the Bath Pavilion.

At this point, the Moodies were in debt with Decca, having spent their advances for an undelivered second album. To relieve the debt, Decca offered the band a deal: record an orchestrated rock version of Antonín Dvořák’s New World Symphony as a demonstration of the label’s new Deramic Stereo Sound. The proposed album would be released on Decca’s new Deram division with arrangements by conductor Peter Knight. The Moodies agreed to do the project as long as they got more artistic control. Decca complied; the Moodies dispensed with Dvořák and submitted their own material to Knight, who then composed interludes for the project.

Meanwhile, Decca had leftover songs from Laine’s final days with the band.


“Life’s Not Life”

On January 13, 1967, Decca issued the seventh Moody Blues single: “Life’s Not Life” backed with “He Can Win,” both Laine–Pinder originals from the “Boulevard de la Madelaine” sessions. This was their last work with Cordell, who proceeded with The Move and Procol Harum.

Due to a lull in domestic live work, the band gigged the continent. On February 25, The Moody Blues played The Weekend Club in Paris with The Pretty Things and French singer Ronnie Bird.


“Fly Me High”

On May 5, 1967, The Moody Blues released their eighth single: “Fly Me High,” Hayward’s songwriting debut, backed with Pinder’s “Really Haven’t Got the Time.” This began their eleven-year partnership with Decca soundman Tony Clarke, who produced their next eight studio albums.

On May 9, The Moody Blues did a session for the BBC Radio program Saturday Club, on which they covered The Animals hit “Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” and debuted a new Hayward original, “Nights In White Satin.”

On May 19, The Moody Blues played London’s Tiles club, supported by Denny Laine’s Electric String Band. On June 12, the Moodies played Christ College in Cambridge with The Who and The Herd. On Sunday, June 18, the Moodies appeared at Brands Hatch raceway in Kent as part of a car parade with Chris Farlowe & The Thunderbirds, Episode Six, Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky Mick & Tich, David Garrick, and Pink Floyd. On July 9, the Moodies played London’s Roundhouse with Pink Floyd and The Outer Limits.


“Love and Beauty”

On September 22, 1967, The Moody Blues released their ninth single: “Love and Beauty” a Pinder number backed with Hayward’s “Leave This Man Alone.” On “Love and Beauty,” Pinder uses the Mellotron, an electro-mechanical keyboard with tape-played string and brass sounds.

On November 18, The Moody Blues appeared on the UK Sketch variety show Twice a Fortnight, a precursor to Monty Python. On December 3, they did a session for the BBC Radio program Top Gear, hosted by John Peel. On Saturday the 9th, they performed “Nights in White Satin” on the French TV show Bouton Rouge. The following night, they played London’s Speakeasy club, where Jimi Hendrix offered his assistance.

On December 17, The Moody Blues appeared at the Hotel Leofric in Coventry for the Technical College Arts Ball, which also featured sets by Blossom Toes, Coloured Rasins, and East Side Protection. On the Saturday the 30th, Graeme Edge appeared with his ‘Moody Blues’ drum kit at a club in Rugby, Warwickshire, where he deputized drummer Mick Waller for a show by the Jeff Beck Group.


Days of Future Passed

The Moody Blues released their second album, Days of Future Passed, on November 10, 1967, on Deram. Musically, it’s a band-and-symphony pairing co-billed to the the London Festival Orchestra with conductor Peter Knight. The album’s theme follows an average day of an ordinary man with a number devoted to each time of day (dawn, morning, lunch, afternoon, evening, night).

Days of Future Passed opens with “The Day Begins,” a Knight-composed instrumental that segues into “Morning Glory,” an Edge interlude narrated by Pinder, who wrote the second track “Dawn: Dawn Is a Feeling,” on which he harmonizes with Hayward. Side One also contains a track apiece by Thomas (“The Morning: Another Morning”) and Lodge (“Lunch Break: Peak Hour”).

Side Two contains three pieces, each divided in two parts. “The Afternoon” consists of a Hayward ballad (“Forever Afternoon (Tuesday?)”) that segues into a Lodge piece (“(Evening) Time to Get Away”). “Evening” segues numbers by Pinder (“The Sunset”) and Thomas (“Twilight Time”). On the closing sequence, “The Night,” the Hayward ballad “Nights in White Satin” wraps with the Edge–Knight postlude “Late Lament / Resolvement.”

1. “The Day Begins: Day Begins / Morning Glory” (5:50)
2. “Dawn: Dawn Is a Feeling” (3:48)
3. “The Morning: Another Morning” (3:55)
4. “Lunch Break: Peak Hour” (5:33)
5. “The Afternoon: Forever Afternoon (Tuesday?) / Time To Get Away” (8:23)
6. “Evening: The Sun Set / Twilight Time” (6:40)
7. “The Night: Nights In White Satin / Late Lament / Resolvement” (7:24)

Sessions took place between May 9 and November 3, 1967, at Decca Studios, where Tony Clarke produced the album amid work on singles by The Lemon Line, Pussyfoot, and South African beatsters The Bats. Days of Future Passed was engineered by Derek Varnals, a soundman on recent Decca–Deram blues and jazz titles.

On Days of Future Passed, Hayward plays sitar and piano in addition to electic and acoustic guitar. Pinder plays Mellotron and piano, plus tamboura and gong. Thomas plays piano and percussion in addition to flute. Original pressings credit Hayward under the alias ‘Redwave.’

Days of Future Passed appeared in a single sleeve with a watercolor painting by Decca artist David Anstey, who did subsequent covers for Aardvark, Galliard, Savoy Brown, Walrus, and World of Oz. The album’s back cover contains liner notes by Decca A&R Hugh Mendl, who writes “The Moody Blues have at last done what many others have dreamed of and talked about: they have extended the range of pop music, and found the point where it becomes one with the world of the classics.”

The Moody Blues lifted “Nights in White Satin” as the album’s first single, backed with the non-album Hayward b-side “Cities.”

“Nights in White Satin” had its biggest intial impact in Benelux, where it reached No. 1 in the Netherlands and Belgium. In Sweden, the song reached No. 6. In the UK and Germany, it peaked inside the Top 20. In North America, the song scraped the Canadian Top 30 but missed the Billboard Hot 100.

In 1972, at the height of the Moodies’ global popularity, Deram reissued “Nights in White Satin.” This time, the song reached No. 9 in the UK, No. 8 in Australia, and No. 1 in Canada and on the US Cashbox Top 200 (No. 2 on Billboard).

In mid-1968, Deram issued “Tuesday Afternoon” (b/w “Another Morning”) as Days second single in North America and Oceania. It reached No. 12 on the UK Singles Chart and No. 24 on the Billboard Hot 100. Both songs became evergreens of FM rock and AC radio formats.

Days of Future Passed reached No. 27 on the UK Albums Chart. In the US, the album appeared in March 1968 and peaked at No. 27 on the Billboard 200 on the week of October 12, the same week its followup entered the Top 40. In 1972, the reissued “Nights in White Satin” pushed Days of Future Passed to a new Billboard 200 peak at No. 3. The album also peaked at No. 3 in Canada and No. 10 in Australia. It was later certified Platinum (one million units sold) by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).


1968

In the first twelve days of 1968, The Moody Blues performed multiple times on BBC Radio with sessions hosts David Symonds and Pete Brady. On January 20, the Moodies played the California Ballroom in Dunstable, supported by harmony popsters Two of Each and The Association. On Wednesday the 24, the Moodies performed at the second annual MIDEM (Marché International du Disque et de l’Édition Musicale), a music industry event in Cannes, France, with sets by Procol Harum, Spooky Tooth, David McWilliams, and Brian Auger & Trinity.

Notable winter–spring shows included dates with Manfred Mann in Manchester (2/27: Manchester University) and Birmingham (3/13: Town Hall), where Picadilly Line and the Spencer Davis Group joined the bill. The Moody Blues mimed “Nights In White Satin” for the March 9 broadcast of Beat-Club, which also aired songs by Amen Corner (“Bend Me Shape Me”), Nirvana (“Pentecost Hotel”), Traffic (“Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush”), Manfred Mann (“The Mighty Quinn”), and Paul & Barry Ryan (“Pictures of Today”).

On June 22, The Moody Blues partook in the “First Holiness Kitschgarden for the Liberation of Love and Peace in Colours,” a two-day event at the Houtrusthallen in The Hague, Netherlands, with sets by Cream, Groep 1850, The Move, Pink Floyd, Small Faces, and Traffic. On Saturday the 29th, the Moodies performed at London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall, supported by Celtic harpist Alan Stivell. In the summer months, the Moodies made multiple appearances on European television (Le Soir en Danse, Tienerklanken, Jazz Bilzen) and BBC Radio.


In Search of the Lost Chord

The Moody Blues released their third album, In Search of the Lost Chord, on July 26, 1968, on Deram. Edge opens side one with “Departure,” a spoken-word narration that ushers “Ride My See-Saw,” a psychedelic rocker joint-written by the other four. Thomas contributes two songs (“Dr. Livingstone, I Presume,” “Legend of a Mind”) amid Lodge’s split two-parter “House of Four Doors.” Side two features three Hayward numbers (“Voices in the Sky,” “Visions of Paradise,” “The Actor”) and two by Pinder (“The Best Way to Travel,” “Om”), who also narrates “The Word,” Edge’s penultimate interlude.

1. “Departure” (0:44)
2. “Ride My See-Saw” (3:38)
3. “Dr. Livingstone, I Presume” (2:58)
4. “House of Four Doors” (4:13)
5. “Legend of a Mind” (6:37)
6. “House of Four Doors (Part 2)” (1:42)

1. “Voices in the Sky” (3:30)
2. “The Best Way to Travel” (3:12)
3. “Visions of Paradise” (4:15)
4. “The Actor” (4:39)
5. “The Word” (0:49)
6. “Om” (5:47)

Sessions took place between January and June 1968 at Decca Studios with engineer Derek Varnals, who also worked on 1968 albums by Foggy Dew-O, John Mayall, and The Web. Clarke produced Lost Chord amid work on singles by Fire (“Father’s Name Is Dad”) and Lebanese beatsters The Cedars.

Lost Chord features secondary instrumentation by (autoharp, tambura), Hayward (sitar, harpsichord), and Edge (timpani, tabla). Pinder and Hayward both play Mellotron, which replicates the symphonic layers heard on the prior album. Lodge and Pinder both play cello. Thomas plays tambourine, French horn and assorted reeds (C flute, alto flute, soprano saxophone, oboe).

In Search of the Lost Chord is housed in the first of six consecutive Moodies gatefolds designed and painted by Phil Travers, an alumnus of the Sutton School of Art and London School of Printing. The painting depicts multiple images of life and death with a sun that bursts from a crack in the Earth, emitting the band’s name. The right inner-gate contains a yantra diagram with liner notes about its concept. The back cover shows a collage of group shots, studio pics, and member profile pics in which Edge, Pinder, and Thomas all sport mustaches. German copies have an alternate cover with yellow–red framework around a soundstage group pic.

The Moody Blues preceded Lost Chord with the June 28 release of “Voices in the Sky,” backed with “Dr. Livingstone, I Presume.” It reached the UK Top 30 and appeared with a different picture sleeve in each European territory, including the French Deram issue that shows them standing outside on cathedral ground in ruffled attire.

“Voices in the Sky” appears on November 25. 1968 installment of The Hit Heard Round the World, a 32-album series by the public service record label of The United States Army with assorted artists grouped assigned select cities. The compilation also features cuts by Aretha Franklin (assigned New York), Simon Dupree & the Big Sound (assigned London), and the Bee Gees, The Doors, and Status Quo (all assigned Luxembourg). Along with World of Oz, the Moodies appear under ‘Copenhagen.’

In October, the Moodies lifted “Ride My See-Saw” as Lost Chord’s second single, backed with “A Simple Game.” DJs typically play the full “Departure”–”Ride My See-Saw” sequence on FM radio in the US, where the song became a classic rock evergreen.

In Search of the Lost Chord reached No. 5 on the UK Albums Chart, No. 6 in France, and No. 23 on the US Billboard 200. It was later certified Gold by the RIAA (500,000 units sold).

The Moody Blues promoted Days and Lost Chord with an August tour of the Continent, where they partook in the multi-act “Europarty” in Prague, Czechoslovakia (Aug. 21, one day before the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact invasion). In mid-September, they appeared on the BBC TV program Colour Me Pop (9/14) and the BBC Radio program Radio One O’Clock (9/16). On October 8, they returned for a headline slot at the Marquee, supported by the Keef Hartley Band.

In late October, The Moody Blues embarked on their first full-scale North American tour: a 24-date, thirteen-city trek that included dates with Ten Years After (Oct. 22–23: Kinetic Playground, Chicago), John Mayall and Rhinoceros (Oct. 25–26: Fillmore East, NYC), Cream and Terry Reid (Nov. 3: Civic Center, Baltimore), Ars Nova (Nov. 8–9: Electric Factory, Philadelphia), Chicago Transit Authority and Frumious Bandersnatch (Nov. 21–24: Fillmore West, San Francisco), Spirit (Nov. 28: Grossmont College Gym, San Diego), Jeff Beck Group (Nov. 29–30: Shrine Auditorium, Los Angeles), and Mother Trucker’s Yellow Duck (Dec. 8: Garden Auditorium, Vancouver BC).


1969

In January 1969, The Moody Blues did another round of BBC Sessions with David Symonds. On February 1, they played a hometown show at the Mother’s Club. On Sunday the 5th, they played Leicester’s Top Rank Suite, supported by The Nice, Fairport Convention, and the Alan Bown Set.

On Tuesday, February 7, The Moody Blues appeared on the premiere episode of the ATV variety series This Is Tom Jones along with fellow guests Mary Hopkin and actress Joey Heatherton. On the 14th, the Moodies played Goldsmith College, London, supported by the Bown Set, The Deviants, and Elmer Gantry’s Velvet Opera. On Saturday the 25th, the Moodies played Sheffield University along with The Hollies, Fairport, Julie Driscoll and Auger’s Trinity.

In March, The Moody Blues played two sessions for John Peel’s Top Gear. On Friday the 7th, they appeared in Amsterdam with Gladys Knight & The Pips at the Grand Gala du Disque, an annual Dutch record gala. On Saturday the 15th, the Moodies played Leicester’s Loughborough University With Van Der Graaf Generator and Legay.

In April, The Moody Blues did multiple BBC sessions with Tony Brandon. On the 27th, they played Sadler’s Wells Theatre in London with Pentangle and East of Eden.


On the Threshold of a Dream

The Moody Blues released their fourth album, On the Threshold of a Dream, on April 25, 1969, on Deram. Side one opens with the Edge poem “In the Beginning” and proceeds with a song apiece by Hayward (“Lovely to See You”), Thomas (“Dear Diary”), Pinder (“So Deep Within You”), and two by Lodge: “To Share Our Love” and the group-sung “Send Me No Wine.”

Side two features two Hayward numbers: “Never Comes the Day” and “Are You Sitting Comfortably?” — the latter co-written by Thomas, who contributes “Lazy Day,” co-sung by Hayward. Pinder, who narrates Edge’s interlude “The Dream,” contributes the final three numbers: “The Voyage,” an instrumental surrounded by the split two-parter “Have You Heard.”

1. “In the Beginning” (2:08)
2. “Lovely to See You” (2:35)
3. “Dear Diary” (3:56)
4. “Send Me No Wine” (2:20)
5. “To Share Our Love” (2:54)
6. “So Deep Within You” (3:07)

1. “Never Comes the Day” (4:43)
2. “Lazy Day” (2:43)
3. “Are You Sitting Comfortably?” (3:29)
4. “The Dream” (0:57)
5. “Have You Heard (Part 1)” (1:30)
6. “The Voyage” (3:58)
7. “Have You Heard (Part 2)” (2:32)

The Moody Blues recorded Threshold of a Dream between January 12 and 31, 1969, at Decca Studios with Clarke and Varnals, who engineered Threshold of a Dream and its immediate followup amid albums by Dana Gillespie, East of Eden, Kathe Green, Keef Hartley Band, Martha Velez, and World of Oz.

Threshold features multiple members on cello (Hayward, Lodge, Pinder), Mellotron (Hayward, Pinder) and the EMS VCS 3 analog synthesizer (Thomas, Edge). Select passages feature new instrumentation by different members, including Lodge (standup bass), Thomas (piccolo), and Pinder (Hammond organ).

Travers’ Threshold gatefold painting shows a domed record player airbound in dark, windy skies with an eagle hovering overhead. The device has two severed chords: one hooked to a cutoff tree branch (front); the other hooked to a rose (back). Sailing ships and a castle appear in the distance. Eyes, lips, and ears appear on select objects. The right inner-gate has an outdoor group pic of of the Moodies under gray sky. The album’s lyrics appear in a twelve-page inner-gate booklet with sleeve notes by Oliver! composer Lionel Bart.

The Moodies lifted “Never Comes the Day” as a single backed with “So Deep Within You.” The edited a-side (2:42) trims two minutes from the album version.

On the Threshold of a Dream reached No. 1 on the UK and French album charts and No. 20 on the Billboard 200. The album also charted high in Finland (No. 6), Denmark (No. 11), and Norway (No. 12).

The Moody Blues promoted On the Threshold of a Dream with sporadic May–June live appearances, including a set at the June 27 Exeter University Summer Ball with Colosseum and Orange Bicycle.


Festivals

On Saturday August 2, 1969, The Moody Blues appeared at Flushing Meadow Park in Queens, New York, for the Singer Bowl Music Festival, a six-week event with sets by Procol Harum, Steppenwolf, Raven, The Chamber Brothers, The Incredible String Band, Tim Hardin, Larry Coryell, Led Zeppelin, and Vanilla Fudge. The Moodies were booked the following day for the Atlantic City Pops Festival, but headed home for a round of smaller dates, including an August 7 show at the Van Dyke Club in Plymouth, supported by the band Audience.

The Moody Blues were scheduled for the Woodstock Festival in upstate New York but cancelled their appearance to play at a Paris rally. On August 22, the Moodies appeared in Belgium for the fifth annual Bilzen Jazz Festival, which also featured sets by The Bonzo Dog Band, Blossom Toes, Eire Apparent, Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation, Shocking Blue, Soft Machine, Deep Purple, Taste, The Keith Jarrett Trio, and Humble Pie.

On Saturday August 30, The Moody Blues co-headlined Day 1 of the 1969 Isle of Wight Festival at Wootton Creek on the English Channel island. The two-day event also featured sets by Battered Ornaments, Blodwyn Pig, Blonde on Blonde, Eclection, Edgar Broughton Band, Fat Mattress, Free, Gary Farr, Gypsy, Heaven, Marsupilami, Mighty Baby, Third Ear Band, and The Who, who played material from their recently released rock opera Tommy.

In November, The Moody Blues embarked on a month-long US tour with seventeen confirmed dates. Sunday, November 2, they gave a free “Love In” concert at Elysian Park in Los Angeles with the Jefferson Airplane. After a round of West Coast dates, they played six Midwest and Northeast shows supported by Humble Pie, including two nights at Detroit’s Grande-Riviera Theatre with a third act, The Flock (Nov. 18–19). On Nov. 22, the Moodies played Stoney Brook University, where Professor Timothy Leary, the “dead” subject of “Legend of a Mind,” jumped on stage as they performed that number.


To Our Children’s Children’s Children

The Moody Blues released their fifth album, To Our Children’s Children’s Children, on November 21, 1969, on their newly established Threshold label (THS 1). It opens with Edge’s “Higher and Higher,” a Pinder-narrated track with rocket sounds inspired by the recent Apollo 11 moon landing.

The album contains two proper songs apiece by Thomas (“Floating,” “Eternity Road”) and Pinder (“Out and In,” “Sun Is Still Shining”). Hayward contributes “Watching and Waiting” and “Gypsy (Of a Strange and Distant Time),” a concert staple for three decades. He harmonizes on “Candle of Life,” a Lodge contribution along with “Eyes of a Child,” a split two-part number. Hayward also wrote the Side One interlude “I Never Thought I’d Live to Be a Hundred,” which segues into Edge’s “Beyond” instrumental and recurs on Side Two as “I Never Thought I’d Live to Be a Million.”

1. “Higher and Higher” (4:07)
2. “Eyes of a Child I” (3:24)
3. “Floating” (3:02)
4. “Eyes of a Child II” (1:20)
5. “I Never Thought I’d Live to Be a Hundred” (1:05)
6. “Beyond” (2:59)
7. “Out and In” (3:50)

1. “Gypsy (Of a Strange and Distant Time)” (3:33)
2. “Eternity Road” (4:19)
3. “Candle of Life” (4:15)
4. “Sun Is Still Shining” (3:40)
5. “I Never Thought I’d Live to Be a Million” (0:34)
6. “Watching and Waiting” (4:16)

Sessions tool place between May and September 1969 at Decca Studios with Clarke and Varnals. The album features expanded instrumentation by Hayward (sitar) and Lodge (harp). Pinder plays new instruments (celesta, double bass) and retains the Hammond and EMS VCS 3 on top of his regular arsenal (Mellotron, piano).

Travers’ gatefold illustration depicts an ancient mural in its age of use with hands reaching up with utensils. The inner-gates show the Moodies rehearsing by the fireside in studio-equipped dug-out cave.

The Moodies preceded the album with the October 31 release of “Watching and Waiting” (b/w “Out and In”). Portuguese copies of the single came in a sleeve with a sepia alternate pic from the cave-fire shoot.

To Our Children’s Children’s Children reached No. 2 on the UK Albums Chart and No. 10 in France. It also went Top 20 in Canada (No. 11), Italy  (No. 19), and the US, where it reached No. 14 on the Billboard 200.

The Moody Blues promoted To Our Children’s Children’s Children on a UK tour with hard-rockers Trapeze, the first act signed to Threshold. Lodge produced their debut album, recorded in late 1969 at Morgan and Decca Studios. The tour covered nine cities (Dec. 5–27) with a third act, Timon (aka Tymon Dogg), who cut a one-off single on Threshold, the Hayward-produced “And Now She Says She’s Young” (b/w “I’m Just a Travelling Man”). On December 12, the tour hit London’s Royal Albert Hall, where the Moodies’ set was recorded for a later live release.


1970

On January 3, 1970, the “Moody Blues Christmas on the BBC” (taped 12/27/69) aired on Radio One. An archival set of the show (JVB Recording Co., 1990) contains six Moodies numbers — “Gypsy,” “Sunset,” “Never Comes the Day,” “Are You Sitting Comfortably?,” “The Dream,” “Have You Heard,” “Nights In White Satin” — and two Timon performances (the Threshold a-side and “Seagull”).

On January 8–9, The Moody Blues appeared at L’Olympia, Paris, for the Underground Music Festival, a six-day event with sets by Colosseum, Family, Manfred Mann Chapter Three, Renaissance, Taste, Trapeze, Yes, and the French acts Martin Circus, Triangle, and Zoo.

On March 19, The Moody Blues embarked on a short US tour with a three-nighter at the Fillmore East, supported by Argent and Lee Michaels. The tour included two nights each with openers Cold Blood (Terrace Ballroom; Cal Poly University) and the Steve Miller Band (Boston Garden; Long Beach Arena). It wrapped on April 5 at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds with openers Norman Greenbaum and Fritz, an unsigned post-psych quintet with two members, guitarist Lindsey Buckingham and singer Stevie Nicks, who later recorded as a duo. (Their 1973 album impressed Fleetwood Mac drummer Mick Fleetwood, who on-boarded them as replacements for guitarist–singer Bob Welch in the revamped Mac that made the 1975–77 blockbuster albums Fleetwood Mac and Rumours.)


“Question”

On April 24, 1970, The Moody Blues released “Question,” a new Hayward original backed with the Children’s Children track “Candle of Life.”

On the week of its release, the Moodies mimed “Question” on TotP, which aired it across two fortnights amid current hits by Christie (“Yellow River”), Frijid Pink (“House of the Rising Sun”), The Hollies (“I Can’t Tell the Bottom From the Top”), Juicy Lucy (“Who Do You Love”), Peaches & Herb (“Satisfy My Hunger”), Rufus Thomas (“Do the Funky Chicken”), Savoy Brown (“A Hard Way to Go”), Stevie Wonder (“Never Had a Dream Come True”), The Supremes (“Up the Ladder to the Roof”), and The Who (“The Seeker”).

“Question” reached No. 2 on the UK Singles Chart and No. 1 in Ireland and the Netherlands. It also went Top 10 in Belgium (No. 9), Germany (No. 9), and New Zealand (No. 7).

The Moody Blues appeared on the May 30 broadcast of the ABC variety show Get It Together, hosted by Mama Cass Elliot. In late June, they went on a seven-date English university tour that included a multi-act event with Family, Fotheringay, and the Crazy World of Arthur Brown (6/23: Trinity College, Oxford).

On Sunday, June 28, The Moody Blues were scheduled to play before 150,000 attendees of the Bath Festival of Blues and Progressive Music, a two-day event at the Royal Bath and West Showground in Shepton Mallet. However, downpour caused the Moodies to cancel their appearance at the outdoor event. The Byrds took their slot and played an acoustic set.


A Question of Balance

The Moody Blues released their sixth album, A Question of Balance, on August 7, 1970, on Threshold. The title stems from the first and last tracks: “Question” and the Pinder-narrated Edge–Thomas number “The Balance.” The album also contains two songs apiece by Hayward (“It’s Up to You,” “Dawning Is the Day”), Lodge (“Tortoise and the Hare,” “Minstrel’s Song”), and Pinder (“How Is It (We Are Here),” “Melancholy Man”), plus one each by Thomas (“And the Tide Rushes In”) and Edge, who submitted the group-harmonized “Don’t You Feel Small.”

1. “Question” (5:40)
2. “How Is It (We Are Here)” (2:48)
3. “And the Tide Rushes In” (2:57)
4. “Don’t You Feel Small” (2:40) whispered vocal by Edge.
5. “Tortoise and the Hare” (3:23)

6. “It’s Up to You” (3:11)
7. “Minstrel’s Song” (4:27)
8. “Dawning Is the Day” (4:22)
9. “Melancholy Man” (5:49)
10. “The Balance” (3:33)

Sessions began in January and occurred intermittently through June at Decca Studios with Clarke and Varnals, who also engineered 1970 albums by Harvey Andrews, the Henry Lowther Band, and Bread Love and Dreams. Hayward plays mandolin on select passages. Pinder’s arsenal includes piano, harpsichord, Mellotron, and Moog synthesizer; he also plays maracas and acoustic guitar.

Original UK Question of Balance copies are housed in a vertical gatefold with a top envelope flap. Travers’ portrait illustration depicts a cigar-wielding orator in a swirl of chimney smoke amid a floating collage of bullets, fornicators, teen cruisers, a rocket, and Einstein’s profile against the backdrop of planet Earth. Below the spine (back gate), the image includes an elephant, a vulture, and an interbellum gun-toter amid giant floating leaves, which hover above a beach with a lion-headed smog formation across the water. The first inner-gate (horizontal) features lyrics and a pink-tinted hillside group shot. On subsequent pressings, the group shot appears smaller within a collage of multi-lighted member pics.

Travers also illustrated the cubist gatefold to the November 1970 Threshold release Medusa, the Lodge-produced second album by Trapeze.

A Question of Balance reached No. 1 on the UK Albums Chart, No. 2 in Australia, and No. 3 in Canada and on the US Billboard 200. In Europe, it went Top 10 in Denmark (No. 7), Finland (No. 9), Italy (No. 7), the Netherlands (No. 8), and Norway (No. 5).


Isle of Wight Festival

On Saturday August 29, 1970, The Moody Blues appeared on It’s Lulu, a BBC1 variety program hosted by pop singer Lulu.

That weekend, The Moody Blues played the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival, a five-day event at Afton Down with sets by Black Widow, Cactus, The Doors, Emerson Lake & Palmer, Fairfield Parlour, Gracious!, Groundhogs, Hawkwind, Joni Mitchell, Judas Jump, Lighthouse, Miles Davis, Pink Fairies, Sly & The Family Stone, The Stoics (with Frankie Miller), Supertramp, T2, Taste, Voices of East Harlem, and repeat acts from the prior year’s event (Family, Free, Gary Farr, Heaven, Mighty Baby, The Who). The Moodies played on Day 5 (Sunday August 30), which also featured Donovan, Jethro Tull, Leonard Cohen, Pentangle, Ralph McTell, Richie Havens, and Jimi Hendrix in his fourth-to-last concert appearance (three weeks before his passing).

On September 18, The Moody Blues launched a ten-date US tour at Detroit’s Cobo Arena supported by Van Morrison. Subsequent stops included the James Gang (9/19: Milwaukee Arena) and Poco, who opened three Northeast dates. At the final show on Sept. 27 at the Phily Spectrum, Thomas sustained injuries from stage fall that broke his flute. He finished the show with a flute loaned by an audience member. The band paused as Thomas recovered and Pinder underwent surgery to his vocal chords.

On Saturday October 24, The Moody Blues played the International Essen Blues & Pop Festival, a four-day event at the Grugahalle in Essen, Germany, with sets by Brinsley Schwarz, Chicken Shack, Fotheringay, Ginger Baker’s Air Force, Gun, May Blitz, Quiver, T. Rex, Tony Williams Lifetime, and the German acts Embryo, Guru Guru, Kraftwerk, Witthüser & Westrupp, Wolfgang Dauner, and Xhol Caravan. The Moodies followed with Oct. 24–25 stops in Saarbrücken and Offenbach with Uriah Heep and the Edgar Broughton Band.

On December 3, The Moody Blues launched an eleven-date tour with Trapeze, now with a power-trio lineup fronted by bassist–singer Glenn Hughes. The tour started at the Stanford University Maples Pavilion and wrapped on the 14th at New York’s Carnegie Hall.


1971

On February 1, 1971, The Moody Blues appeared in Amsterdam for the seventh annual Grand Gala du Disque. For the Benelux market, Deram issued The Great Moody Blues, a double-album that combines In Search of the Lost Chord (record one) and Days of Future Passed (record two) into one package.

On April 6, The Moody Blues launched a seventeen-date US tour at the University of Alabama. This tour hit mostly Southern and Midwest cities apart from shows at the Chicago Syndrome and Rochester War Memorial.


Every Good Boy Deserves Favour

The Moody Blues released their seventh album, Every Good Boy Deserves Favour, on July 23, 1971, on Threshold. It opens with the group-sung and spoken “Procession,” the only Moodies song joint-written by all five members. The album also contains two songs apiece by Hayward (“The Story in Your Eyes,” “You Can Never Go Home”), Lodge (“Emily’s Song,” “One More Time to Live”), and Thomas (“Our Guessing Game,” “Nice to Be Here”), plus one each by Pinder (“My Song”) and Edge, who closes Side One with “After You Came,” co-sung by the other four members.

The album’s title comes from the mnemonic backronym for the five ascending lines of the treble clef, E-G-B-D-F, which Pinder plays on “Procession.”

1. “Procession” (4:40)
2. “The Story in Your Eyes” (2:57)
3. “Our Guessing Game” (3:34)
4. “Emily’s Song” (3:41)
5. “After You Came” (4:37)

6. “One More Time to Live” (5:41)
7. “Nice to Be Here” (4:24)
8. “You Can Never Go Home” (4:14)
9. “My Song” (6:20)

Sessions took place with Clarke between November 1970 and March 1971 at Wessex Sound Studios, a 16-track London facility recently used by Brainchild and King Crimson. Varnals and his assistant, Dave Baker, also engineered concurrent albums by Bill Fay (Time of the Last Persecution), Bread Love and Dreams (Amaryllis), and Caravan (In the Land of Grey and Pink).

The Moodies’ Favour arsenal includes secondary instruments by Hayward (sitar), Lodge (cello), and Thomas (harmonica). Edge makes early use of electronic drums on “Procession.” Pinder retains his Balance keyboards (harpsichord, Mellotron, Moog) and reuses select Children’s Children instruments (celesta, Hammond).

Travers based the outer-gatefold art on Der Kristall (The Crystal), a 1951 painting by German artist Sulamith Wülfing (1901–1989). Both image depicts a wise man with a handful of gems holding a crystal before a small boy. Travers places two other boys behind the old man (back gate); one holding out a teddy bear, the other a rose. The inner-gates have an impressionist lansdscape of a song-and-dance procession in a windy evening setting.

The Moody Blues lifted “The Story in Your Eyes” as a single, backed with “My Song.” Every Good Boy Deserves Favour reached No. 1 on the UK Albums Chart and No. 2 in Canada and the US. It also topped the Danish chart and went Top 10 in Australia (No. 5), Norway (No. 5), Netherlands (No. 6), and Italy (No. 8).

On the eve of this album’s release, The Moody Blues mimed three songs (“The Story in Your Eyes,” “One More Time to Live,” “After You Came”) on the July 22 broadcast of TotP, which aired them in a block amid current songs by Atomic Rooster (“The Devil’s Answer”), Family (“In My Own Time”), Mott the Hoople (“Midnight Lady”), and T. Rex (“Get It On”).

On September 25, The Moody Blues launched a fourteen-date US tour, supported on twelve dates by blind American folk singer Charlie Starr. The tour commenced at Seattle Center Coliseum and swung through Portland (9/26: Memorial Coliseum) and Vancouver BC, then covered California and headed eastward; wrapping October 9 with two shows at the Minneapolis Auditorium. On the 23rd, the Moodies played an exclusive show before 20,000 fans at New York’s Madison Square Garden.

In late October, The Moody Blues hit London (10/30: Royal Festival Hall) and Oxford (10/31: New Theatre), supported by the 10cc-precursor Hotlegs, who opened four additional mid-November UK shows, including the Manchester, Birmingham, and Hammersmith Odeon’s.


1972

On March 22, The Moody Blues launched a fourteen-date US tour at Chicago’s Amphitheater with Paramount Records recording artists Fat City (aka Bill & Taffy Danoff, later half of the Starland Vocal Band). The tour swung through Texas and wrapped on April 8 at Miami’s Hollywood Sportatorium.

Meanwhile, Threshold grew its roster with Asgærd, a folk-psych offshoot of Plymouth hard-rockers Stonehouse; and Providence, an American chamber-folk sextet from the Pacific Northwest.


“Isn’t Life Strange”

In April 1972, The Moody Blues released “Isn’t Life Strange,” a lavish Lodge ballad backed with the Favour track “After You Came.”

Lodge based “Isn’t Life Strange” on Canon in D, a canon for three violins and basso continuo by German baroque composer Johann Pachelbel (1653–1706).

“Isn’t Life Strange,” a taster from the Moodies album in progress, reached No. 9 in Canada and No. 13 in the UK.

On April 22, The Moody Blues played Empire Pool, Wembley, supported by country singer John Denver, who co-wrote his recent Billboard No. 2 single “Take Me Home, Country Roads” with Bill & Taffy.


Seventh Sojourn

The Moody Blues released their eighth album, Seventh Sojourn, on October 23, 1972, on Threshold. Hayward wrote two songs (“New Horizons,” “The Land of Make-Believe”) and collaborated with Edge on the multi-harmonized “You and Me.”

Sojourn also features two songs by Pinder (“Lost in a Lost World,” “When You’re a Free Man”) and one by Thomas (“For My Lady”). Lodge submitted the two side-closers: “Isn’t Life Strange,” a Hayward-harmonized ballad; and “I’m Just a Singer (In a Rock and Roll Band),” a churning rebuke of fans who read mystical insights into Moodies lyrics.

1. “Lost in a Lost World” (4:42)
2. “New Horizons” (5:11)
3. “For My Lady” (3:58)
4. “Isn’t Life Strange” (6:09)

5. “You and Me” (4:21)
6. “The Land of Make-Believe” (4:52)
7. “When You’re a Free Man” (6:06)
8. “I’m Just a Singer (In a Rock and Roll Band)” (4:18)

Sessions took place between January and September 1972 at Decca Tollington Park Studios, where Clarke produced Seventh Sojourn in sequence with Threshold signees Asgærd (In the Realm of Asgærd) and Providence (Ever Sense the Dawn). Varnals engineered all three projects amid work on Deram titles by Khan, Mellow Candle (Swaddling Songs), and The Parlour Band (Is a Friend?).

Seventh Sojourn finds Thomas on saxophone, in addition to flute, oboe, and tambourine. Pinder shrinks his arsenal with two new instruments: the harmonium and the Chamberlin, a precursor to the Mellotron.

Travers’ gatefold art depicts a barren canyon crest amid foggy overcast. The inner-gates show sketches of each member’s disembodied faces on a hazy backdrop.

In January 1973, The Moody Blues lifted “I’m Just a Singer (In a Rock and Roll Band)” as the album’s second single, backed with “For My Lady.” It reached No. 4 in the Netherlands, No. 8 on the Cashbox Top 100, and No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100. In the UK, it peaked at No. 36 and became their final homeland-charting single for ten years. In the song’s video, the Moodies mime on a dark soundstage, where Thomas play-performs on saxophone; though the ‘sax’ sounds heard on the recording actually come from Pinder’s synthesizer.

Seventh Sojourn became the Moody Blues’ first No. 1 album on the US Billboard 200. It also reached No. 1 in Canada, No. 2 in Australia, and went Top 10 in the UK (No. 5), Denmark (No. 4), Italy (No. 6), Finland (No. 6), Netherlands (No. 7), and Norway (No. 10). The Moody Blues promoted the album with a short autumn tour, supported by songwriter Albert Hammond.

The album’s stateside sales were spurred in part by the 1972 reissue of “Nights In White Satin,” which peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 for the week of August 5. The momentum of “Nights” also pushed its parent album, Days of Future Passed, back into the Billboard 200, where it reached a newfound peak of No. 3, besting its original 1968 peak by twenty-four slots.


1973–1974

In September 1973, The Moody Blues embarked on an eleven-date European tour, followed by eleven UK shows with Laine’s onetime Diplomats singer Nicky James, who signed to Threshold for his 1972 second album Every Home Should Have One. On October 24, the Moodies launched a fourteen-date tour of North America, where James opened four shows, including Madison Square Garden (10/26).

On January 24, 1974, The Moody Blues played Tokyo’s Budokan, their first of five Japanese shows with Cosmos Factory. After two shows at the Honolulu International Center with Hawaiian combo Kalapana, the Moodies did three California shows with singer–songwriter Shawn Phillips. On February 4, the Moodies played San Francisco’s Cow Palace. This would be their final concert for four years and seven months.

The Moody Blues started work on a new album but abandoned the project early to give each member a break from the nonstop workload and allow time for solo and side projects. The first of these, the Graeme Edge Band, debuted with the 1974 Threshold single “We Like To Do It” (b/w “Shotgun”). Edge formed the band with brothers Paul (bass) and Adrian Gurvitz (guitar), the pair behind Gun and its follow-through Three Man Army.

Meanwhile, Threshold issued This Is The Moody Blues, a two-record compilation of twenty-six songs from the Hayward–Lodge era. It represents each of their 1967–72 “core seven” albums:

  • Days of Future Passed — three songs (“Tuesday Afternoon,” “Nights in White Satin,” “Late Lament”)
  • In Search of the Lost Chord — three songs (“The Actor,” “The Word,” “Legend of a Mind,” “Ride My See-Saw”) and one interlude (“The Word”)
  • On the Threshold of a Dream — six songs (“Dear Diary,” “In the Beginning,” “Lovely to See You,” “Never Comes the Day,” “The Voyage”) and three interludes (“The Dream,” “Have You Heard? (Part 1),” “Have You Heard? (Part 2)”)
  • To Our Children’s Children’s Children — two songs (“Eyes of a Child,” “Watching and Waiting”)
  • A Question of Balance — three songs (“Question” “And the Tide Rushes In,” “Melancholy Man”)
  • Every Good Boy Deserves Favour — one song (“The Story in Your Eyes”)
  • Seventh Sojourn — four songs (“Isn’t Life Strange,” “New Horizons,” “I’m Just a Singer (In a Rock and Roll Band),” “For My Lady”)

Side Three contain “A Simple Game,” Pinder’s 1968 “Ride My See-Saw” b-side, since covered by the Four Tops as a 1972 Motown a-side. To achieve the continuity of their studio albums, where songs often segue into one another, each track on This Is The Moody Blues segues into the next with no spaces.

Meanwhile, Pinder moved to California, where Hayward met with him for a joint project. When Pinder dropped out, Lodge stepped in to cut a duo album with Hayward.


1975

On March 12, 1975, Justin Hayward and John Lodge released Blue Jays on Threshold. It contains five songs by Hayward (“This Morning,” “My Brother,” “Nights Winters Years,” “I Dreamed Last Night,” “Who Are You Now”), three by Lodge (“You,” “Saved by the Music,” “Maybe”), and two joint-written numbers (“Remember Me (My Friend),” “When You Wake Up”).

Blue Jays features musical backing by two members of Nicky James’ band — Graham Deakin (also in John Entwistle‘s Ox) and pianist Kirk Duncan — and the Providence string section: violinist Jim Cockey, cellist Tim Tompkins, and violist Tom Tompkins. “Blue Guitar” features three-fourths of 10cc: guitarist Eric Stuart, drummer Kevin Godley, and slide guitarist Lol Creme (all singers). Tony Clarke produced the album in late 1974 at Decca Studios.

Hayward and Lodge lifted “I Dreamed Last Night” and “Blue Guitar” as singles. Blue Jays reached No. 4 in the UK and went Top 20 in Canada, Finland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, and the US. The pair promoted the album with a March Carnegie Hall showcase and an autumn UK tour, backed by Trapeze members Mel Galley (guitar) and Dave Holland (drums).

Meanwhile, Ray Thomas made his solo debut with the July 1975 Threshold release From Mighty Oaks. It features one Thomas lone-write (“I Wish We Could Fly”) and seven co-writes with Nicky James, who sings and plays percussion on the album. Thomas and Varnals co-produced the album, which sports a Phil Travers gatefold illustration and features musical backing by keyboardist Mike Moran, drummer Dave Potts, bassist Trevor Jones (ex-Jonesy), and guitarists Mike Silver (of folksters Daylight) and John Jones (from the original Trapeze lineup). Threshold lifted “High Above My Head” as a single (b/w “Love Is the Key”).

Elsewhere, the Graeme Edge Band released Kick Off Your Muddy Boots on Threshold. It features three songs by Edge (“Lost In Space,” “Have You Ever Wondered,” “Somethin’ Wed Like to Say”), on co-write with Paul Gurvitz (“The Tunnel”), and five songs by Adrian Gurvitz, who sings lead on everything apart from “My Life’s Not Wasted” and “Gew Janna Woman,” both sung by Badger guitarist Brian Parrish, Paul Gurvitz’s earlier partner in sixties beatsters The Knack and (more recently) Parrish & Gurvitz.

Edge and Adrian co-produced Kick Off Your Muddy Boots, which features backing vocals by Thomas, Nicky James, and Lesley Duncan. It’s housed in a gatefold painted by Joe Petagno, whose ornate fantasy imagery also appears on the first two albums by Baker Gurvitz Army, a continuation of the brothers’ trio with Ginger Baker in lieu of Three Man drummer Tony Newman (now in Boxer).


1976

In April 1976, Mike Pinder released The Promise on Threshold. It features nine originals with assorted backers, including Full Moon bassist Fred Beckmeier, Caldera percussionist Mike Azevedo, Natural Life drummer Bill Berg, Jade organist William Smith, classical harpist Susann McDonald, and Waters singers Julia Tillman and Maxine Willard.

Pinder plays Mellotron and 6- and 12-string acoustic guitar on The Promise, which he self-produced at his recently built Malibu facility, Indigo Ranch Studios, also used for 1976 albums by Wendy Waldman and rustic-rockers Silver and American Flyer. The Promise features luminous cover art and a mandala-themed inner-gate by Terry Lamb, who illustrated the cover to Watercourse Way, the 1976 debut by Shadowfax.

In June 1976, Ray Thomas released Hopes Wishes & Dreams, his second of two Threshold solo albums. It features one Thomas lone-write (“The Last Dream”) and eight co-writes with Nicky James, who submitted the opening track (“In Your Song”) and sings backing vocals along with Dark Side of the Moon side-women Barry St. John and Liza Strike. Travers, in his last Moodies-related assignment, illustrated the scenic gatefold cover. Thomas and Varnals co-produced Hopes Wishes & Dreams, which retains the Mighty Oaks players Moran and Trevor Jones (Potts is replaced by Blue Jays drummer Graham Deakin). Threshold lifted “Carousel” as a single (b/w “One Night Stand”).

Meanwhile, Nicky James released Thunderthroat, his third solo album and second Threshold release. Here, he’s backed by Hayward (electric and acoustic guitar) and Thomas (flute, bass flute) amid an assortment of guests, including onetime Curved Air bassist Mike Wedgewood and two recent members of Moonrider: guitarist–violinist John Weider (ex-Family) and drummer Chico Greenwood (ex-Trifle).

Elsewhere, Italian producer Giorgio Moroder transformed “Nights In White Satin” into “Knights In White Satin,” the three-part disco side of his namesake 1976 release (as the mononymic Giorgio) on Oasis Records.

As Hayward prepared his solo album, he partook in sessions held by producer Jeff Wayne for an operatic rock adaptation of The War of The Worlds, the 1897 science fiction novel by English author H.G. Wells. Hayward recorded two lead vocals for the work-in-progress, which involved Thin Lizzy bassist–singer Phil Lynott, Rock Follies singer Julie Covington, Manfred Mann’s Earth Band frontman Chris Thompson, and actor–singer David Essex, whose 1976 album Out In the Street is a Wayne production.

Hayward also partook in a Tolkienesque concept album devised by composer David Rhol, who composed the 1975 album Mandalaband, performed by musicians who formed the rock sextet Sad Cafe. Rhol’s new project involved all of 10cc and members of Sad Cafe and Barclay James Harvest.


1977

On February 11, 1977, Justin Hayward released Songwriter, his debut solo album on Deram. It features ten originals, including the two-part title track and the closing epic “Nostradamus.” Days of Future Passed conductor Peter Knight handles string arrangements on “Stage Door” and the swelling ballad “One Lonely Room,” both released as singles along with “Country Girl.” Varnals and Clarke co-engineered Songwriter, which features the Providence strings and the Trapeze rhythm section.

In April 1977, the Graeme Edge Band released Paradise Ballroom on Decca. It features seven songs co-credited to Edge and Adrian Gurvitz, including the eight-minute title track and “Everybody Needs Somebody,” which Decca–London lifted with the non-album b-side “Be My Eyes.” Parrish reappears as a vocalist on Paradise Ballroom, which features multiple sessionists, including onetime Cochise steel player BJ Cole, former Traffic percussionist Reebop Kwaku Baah (now in Can), recent Chopyn keyboardist Ann Odell, and ongoing Bee Gees keyboardist Blue Weaver.

Also in 1977, John Lodge released Natural Avenue on Decca. It features ten originals, including “Broken Dreams, Hard Road,” “Who Could Change,” and the singles “Summer Breeze,” “Say You Love Me,” and “Children of Rock’n’Roll.” He’s backed throughout by ex-Small Faces drummer Kenney Jones and former Keef Hartley keyboardist Mickey Weaver. Lodge splits guitar chores with Meal Ticket‘s Steve Simpson and session veteran Chris Spedding, whose credits include Nucleus, Sharks, and (most recently) The Vibrators and The Sex Pistols.

Illustrator Roger Dean (Yes, Uriah Heep, Greenslade, Osibisa) painted the Natural Avenue gatefold, which shows an airbound rock formation. Clarke produced the album and employed conductor Brian Rogers, who arranged recent albums by Andy Fairweather Low and Joan Armatrading.

In the autumn of 1977, The Moody Blues reconvened for a new studio album. To raise the group’s profile, Decca issued Caught Live + 5, a double-album with three sides of live numbers from the Moodies’ December 12, 1969, concert at Royal Albert Hall. Side Four unearths five long-vaulted 1967–68 studio tracks: three by Hayward (“Long Summer Days,” “King and Queen,” “What Am I Doing Here?”) and one each by Lodge (“Gimme a Little Somethin”’) and Pinder (“Please Think About It”). Hipgnosis designed the gatefold: an illustration of flying member pics amid a fragmented palace under siege by a giant flying fish (outer) and a fiery force of energy (back).


1978

In 1978, Rhol’s project materialized on Chrysalis as The Eye of Wendor: Prophecies, the second album by Mandalaband. Hayward sings the ballad “Dawn of a New Day.”

Just as the new Moodies album appeared, CBS released Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War of the Worlds, comprised of two subtitled records (The Coming of the Martians and The Earth Under the Martians) in an elaborate gatefold with an illustrated sixteen-page booklet. Hayward sings the epic opener “The Eve of the War” (9:06) and the ballad “Forever Autumn” (7:43), both Wayne compositions, the latter with lyrics by Gary Osbourne, a recent Elton John collaborator who first recorded “Forever Autumn” in 1972 with singer Paul Vigrass in the duo Vigrass & Osborne.

CBS lifted “Forever Autumn” as a single, which Hayward mimed on the July 6, 1978, broadcast of TotP, which aired it across three fortnights amid current hits by 10cc (“Dreadlock Holiday”), A Taste of Honey (“Boogie Oogie Oogie”), The Buzzcocks (“Love You More”), City Boy (“5-7-0-5”), Electric Light Orchestra (“Wild West Hero”), Marshall Hain (“Dancing In the City”), Mr. Big (“Senora”), Raydio (“Is This a Love Thing”), The Real Thing (“Rainin’ Through My Sunshine”), The Stranglers (“Walk On By”), The Who (“Who Are You”), and X-Ray Spex (“Identity”). “Forever Autumn” reached No. 5 on the UK Singles Chart and No. 3 in Ireland. Its parent album reached No. 5 in the UK, No. 2 in the Netherlands and New Zealand, and No. 1 in Australia.


Octave

The Moody Blues released their ninth studio album, Octave, on June 9, 1978, on Decca. It features two songs apiece by Lodge (“Steppin’ in a Slide Zone,” “Survival”) and Thomas (“Under Moonshine,” “I’m Your Man”), plus one each by Pinder (“One Step into the Light”) and Edge, who submitted “I’ll Be Level with You,” co-sung by the other four. Hayward composed the album’s balance: “Had to Fall in Love,” “Driftwood,” “Top Rank Suite,” and “The Day We Meet Again.”

1. “Steppin’ in a Slide Zone” (5:29)
2. “Under Moonshine” (5:00)
3. “Had to Fall in Love” (3:42)
4. “I’ll Be Level with You” (3:48)
5. “Driftwood” (5:03)

6. “Top Rank Suite” (3:42)
7. “I’m Your Man” (4:21)
8. “Survival” (4:09)
9. “One Step into the Light” (4:29)
10. “The Day We Meet Again” (6:19)

Sessions took place between October 1977 and April 1978 at the Record Plant in Los Angeles and Pinder’s Indigo Ranch Recording Studios in Malibu. Hayward and Lodge both double on keyboards alongside Pinder, who plays acoustic guitar in addition to organ, synthesizer, Mellotron, and acoustic and electric piano. Philly saxophonist Bobby Martin (credited as R. A. Martin) guests on select passages.

Octave marked the end of their partnership with Tony Clarke, who dropped out late in the project amid complications and setbacks at the Indigo Ranch. He later worked with Irish folksters Clannad.

Octave is housed in a gatefold sleeve coordinated by Decca–London Records art director Richard Roth. It shows a backshot of the Moodies exiting a dark room at a corridor of light. The inner-gates show a frontal view of them walking through the lighted space. This is their only 1970–83 album not on Threshold. The title refers to both a musical octave and the fact that this is their eighth studio album of the Hayward–Lodge lineup.

The Moody Blues lifted “Steppin’ in a Slide Zone” in May 1978 as an advance first single (b/w “I’ll Be Level With You”). In October, they lifted “Driftwood” (b/w “I’m Your Man”).

Octave reached No. 6 in the UK, No. 7 in the Netherlands, and No. 9 in Canada and Norway. It also went Top 20 in Finland (No. 13), Germany (No. 15), New Zealand (No. 14), Sweden (No. 12), and the US (No. 13).


Lineup Change

Just as Octave reached completion, Mike Pinder resigned from The Moody Blues. Purportedly, the keyboardist grew apart from his bandmates, who planned to resume road life while he wished to domesticate and run his studio. Tensions flared during the winter 1978 Malibu sessions, when a torrential mudslide marooned the band in tight quarters. In the years after his resignation, Pinder worked in the musical branch of Atari.

The Moody Blues hired Swiss keyboardist Patrick Moraz (b. 1948), a classically trained ambidextrious player who first emerged as a teen prodigy on the sixties Zurich jazz scene. In 1969, he settled in London with Mainhorse, a post-psych band that made a 1971 self-titled album on Polydor. In 1974, he formed Refugee with the former Nice rhythm section. Just as their self-titled Charisma album hit shelves, Yes drafted him as Rick Wakeman‘s replacement for their upcoming album Relayer. After the accomanying tour, Yes paused for solo activity. Moraz made his solo debut with the 1976 Charisma release The Story of i. When Yes reunited for their next album, Moraz left over creative differences and recorded his second solo album, Out In the Sun. He was finalizing his self-titled third album when the Moodies on-boarded him for their upcoming tour.

On October 19, 1978, The Moody Blues played their first concert in four and a half years at the Sporthalle in Köln, Germany, where they played five shows, then headed stateside for a 32-date tour (Nov. 3–Dec. 12), supported on select dates by Jimmy Spheeris, a currently unsigned singer–songwriter with four albums on Columbia and Epic.


1979–1980

On May 3, 1979, The Moody Blues launched a seventeen-date US tour in Miami. Spheeris opened most dates and followed the band overseas for six autumn UK dates.

Meanwhile, Justin Hayward kept his solo career afloat with the 1979 standalone single “Marie” (b/w “Heart of Steel”). In May 1980, he released Night Flight, his second solo album. It contains four originals and six covers, including songs by Billy Nicholls (“Penumbra Moon”), Daylight’s Mike Silver (“Maybe It’s Just Love”), and the early Hall & Oates number “I’m Sorry.” Ex-Trapeze drummer Dave Holland (now in Judas Priest) backs Justin on “Crazy Lovers.” Jeff Wayne and Paul Vigrass co-wrote the album’s title track, which Decca lifted as a single, followed by Hayward’s own “Nearer to You,” where he’s backed by the Chanter Sisters, a vocal duo heard on mid-seventies albums by Roxy Music and Phil Manzanera.


Long Distance Voyager

The Moody Blues released their tenth album, Long Distance Voyager, on May 15, 1981, on Threshold. Hayward wrote three songs (“The Voice,” “In My World,” “Meanwhile”) and co-wrote “Gemini Dream” with Lodge, who submitted “Talking Out of Turn” and “Nervous.” Edge wrote “22,000 Days,” sung by the other three members. Thomas closes Voyager with a three-part suite: “Painted Smile,” “Reflective Smile,” and “Veteran Cosmic Rocker.”

Several songs relate to a theme inspired by NASA’s Voyager spacecraft program. Musically, Long Distance Voyager shares sounds and arrangements with the 1981 Electric Light Orchestra release Time.

1. “The Voice” (5:21) (Ultravox also open their 1981 album, Rage in Eden, with an electro-rock anthem titled “The Voice”).
2. “Talking Out of Turn” (7:18)
3. “Gemini Dream” (4:09)
4. “In My World” (7:22)

1. “Meanwhile” (4:08)
2. “22,000 Days” (5:25)
3. “Nervous” (5:45)
4. “Painted Smile” (3:18)
5. “Reflective Smile” (0:36)
6. “Veteran Cosmic Rocker” (3:18)

Sessions took place between February 1980 and April 1981 at Threshold Studios. Mixdowns occurred at London’s RAK Studios, used concurrently by Level 42 and Ultravox. Veteran soundman Pip Williams (Catherine Howe, Status Quo), produced Long Distance Voyager in sequence with titles by Gillan and Kiki Dee. RAK’s Greg Jackman also engineered recent works by Bonnie Tyler, Russ Ballard, and the 1981 Atlantic one-off “Run With the Fox” by Chris Squire and Alan White, the erstwhile Yes rhythm section.

Long Distance Voyager is the first Moodies album since Days of Future Passed with strings, played by the New World Philharmonic, arranged and directed by Williams. Veteran pedel-steel sessionist B. J. Cole (ex-Cochise) guests on “In My World.” BBC Radio 1 DJ Dave Symonds does the spoken word interludes.

Long Distance Voyager is housed in a gatefold sleeve by the design firm Cream. It features a blue monochrome reproduction of Punch, an 1840 oil on canvass depiction of Victorian village life by English painter Thomas Webster (1800–1886), licensed by the Art Union of Glasgow. The inner-gates feature lyrics intermixed with Punch zoom-ins on an outer-space backdrop.

The Moody Blues lifted “Gemini Dream” as the album’s first single, backed with “Painted Smile.” It reached No. 1 in Canada, No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100, and No. 13 on Cashbox Top 100 and the Billboard Mainstream Rock charts. In the video, the Moodies mime on a dark soundstage with distinct articles worn by Lodge (white blazer), Moraz (white stage suit), Hayward (black shirt, white vest), and Thomas (brick pants, olive jacket).

In July, “The Voice” appeared as the second single, backed with “22,000 Days.” It reached No. 9 in Canada and No. 15 on Billboard and Cashbox. However, it reached No. 1 on the Mainstream Rock chart and became an evergreen of FM radio. The video is a soundstage clip from the same taping as “Gemini Dream.” (Meanwhile, the October 1981 Ultravox single reached No. 16 on the UK Singles Chart).

In November, “Talking Out of Turn” appeared as the third and final single, backed with “Veteran Cosmic Rocker.” This edited version (4:12) peaked in the Canadian Top 30.

Long Distance Voyager reached No. 1 on the US Billboard 200. It also reached No. 1 in Canada and No. 7 in the UK and Australia. The album peaked at No. 8 in New Zealand and went Top 20 in Norway (No. 12) and the Netherlands (No. 16).


The Present

The Moody Blues released their eleventh album, The Present, on August 28, 1983, on Threshold. Side One contains a song each by Hayward (“Blue World”) and Lodge (“Sitting at the Wheel”), who co-wrote “Meet Me Halfway.” Edge submitted the Thomas-sung “Going Nowhere.”

Side Two contains two numbers each by Lodge (“Hole in the World,” “Under My Feet”), Hayward (“It’s Cold Outside of Your Heart,” “Running Water”), and Thomas (“I Am,” “Sorry”).

1. “Blue World” (5:20)
2. “Meet Me Halfway” (4:08)
3. “Sitting at the Wheel” (5:40)
4. “Going Nowhere” (5:33)

5. “Hole in the World” (1:54) instrumental
6. “Under My Feet” (4:51)
7. “It’s Cold Outside of Your Heart” (4:27)
8. “Running Water” (3:23)
9. “I Am” (1:40)
10. “Sorry” (5:02)

Sessions took place between March and December 1982 at Strawberry Studios (South) in Dorking, Surrey, with Williams and Jackman, the Voyager sound team that also worked on the 1983 Barclay James Harvest release Ring of Changes.

The Present is housed in a gatefold with a saturated gold–blue image clipped from the lower-left portion of Daybreak, a 1922 landscape painting by American neo-classical artist Maxfield Parrish. (The same portion also appears on The Waking Hour, the 1984 album by Dali’s Car, a one-off project by Bauhaus singer Peter Murphy and Japan bassist Mick Karn.) The Present back-gate connects Parrish’s antiquity-themed work to a scene where a flying saucer hovers over a futurist water-side palace. The inner-gates present song lyrics on an intergalactic backdrop.

The Moody Blues lifted “Blue World” as the first single, backed with “Going Nowhere.” It reached the middle of the Billboard Hot 100 and marked their first appearance since 1973 on the UK Singles Chart. The Moodies accompanied “Blue World” with their first proper video, which rotated briefly on MTV. It contains Daybreak-like scenes of children and robed adults cavorting on a peristyle, intermixed with blue-lit soundstage footage. Later in the clip, the main character (a small boy) crosses into a present-day apocolypse scenario, where a pauper throws an X-shaped object (the key), that lands in a field beside a girl, who the boy leads back to antiquity (the blue world).

In November, “Sitting at the Wheel” appeared as the second single, backed with “Sorry.” It peaked inside the Billboard Top 30 and reached No. 3 on the Mainstream Rock chart. In the video, the Moodies mime on a narrow soundstage, where a hair-trimmed Moraz straddles two synthesizers with a blue keytar. The group scenes intermix with thematic vignettes involving individual members at a casino, a game bar, and a race track.

The Present went Top 20 in Canada (No. 11), Norway (No. 14), and the UK (No. 15). In March 1984, “Running Water” reappeared as a US-only single.


The Other Side of Life

The Moody Blues released their twelfth album, The Other Side of Life, on April 9, 1986, on Polydor. Hayward wrote “I Just Don’t Care” and the two side-openers: “Your Wildest Dreams” and “The Other Side of Life,” both released as video-accompanied singles. Lodge submitted “Rock ‘n’ Roll Over You” and the album-closer “It May Be a Fire.” The two co-wrote three songs: “Talkin’ Talkin’,” “Running Out of Love,” and “Slings and Arrows.” Moraz, in his only Moodies writing contribution, collaborated with Edge on “The Spirit.”

1. “Your Wildest Dreams” (4:52)
2. “Talkin’ Talkin'” (3:56)
3. “Rock ‘n’ Roll Over You” (4:51)
4. “I Just Don’t Care” (3:29)
5. “Running Out of Love” (4:25)

6. “The Other Side of Life” (6:53)
7. “The Spirit” (4:19)
8. “Slings and Arrows” (4:29)
9. “It May Be a Fire” (4:57)

Sessions took place between late 1985 and early 1986 with veteran Bowie soundman Tony Visconti, who produced and engineered The Other Side of Life at his London studio, Good Earth. Thomas is credited with flute, tambourine, and backing vocals but is largely abscent from the recording due to health issues and the Moodies’ current preference for high-tech electronic arrangments.

The Other Side of Life is the first Moodies album since Days of Future Passed housed in a single sleeve. The cover, designed by the firm Green Ink (Alwyn Clayden and Bruce Gill), shows monochrome zoom-in pics of each member afloat in a blue lab setting. The back cover has a stylized blue-lit group photo and individual color pics by photographer Michael Hoppen, also credited on the 1986 Magnum release Vigilante. The illustrator, Karl Lloyd, is also credited on the blue-themed cover of the 1987 BJH release Face to Face.

The Moody Blues lifted “Your Wildest Dreams” as the first single, backed with “Talkin’ Talkin’.” It reached No. 1 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart, No. 2 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart, and No. 9 on the Hot 100. MTV heavily rotated the video, which intermixes present-day soundstage footage with b&w scenes of the band as a young, mid-sixties beat act (portrayed by neo-mods Mood Six). Throughout the song, Hayward sings out to a woman (played by actress Janet Spencer-Turner) who he loved as a Swinging London youth and who now, in her domesticated middle-age, seeks out the now-famous singer. They almost reunite in the final scene but cameramen and reporters whisk him away.

In August, the Moodies lifted “The Other Side of Life” as the second single, backed with “The Spirit.” In the video, a young man attends a business dinner at a Chinese restaurant where a stylish woman eyes him. Afterward, he takes a cab to a shady part of town and reluctantly enters an underworld of strange characters. There, the woman reappears with wild blue hair and matching lips. As the surreal antics climax, she approaches him for a kiss, then the video cuts back to the restaurant exterior, where the young man dreamed it all. The woman, who originally boarded a cab with the others, breaks from the group and walks off with him. Throughout the video, the band mime on a tunnel platform in up-collared trench coats.

The Other Side of Life reached No. 9 on the US Billboard 200. The Moody Blues promoted the album on a four-month North American tour (June 19–Oct. 18) with modern rockers The Fixx.


Discography (1965–88):

  • The Magnificent Moodies (1965)
  • Days of Future Passed (1967)
  • In Search of the Lost Chord (1968)
  • On the Threshold of a Dream (1969)
  • To Our Children’s Children’s Children (1969)
  • A Question of Balance (1970)
  • Every Good Boy Deserves Favour (1971)
  • Seventh Sojourn (1972)
  • Octave (1978)
  • Long Distance Voyager (1981)
  • The Present (1983)
  • The Other Side of Life (1986)
  • Sur la Mer (1988)

Sources:

1 thought on “The Moody Blues

  1. From the original draft (2018): “Starting with the revolutionary band/orchestra pairing Days of Future Passed in 1967, the Moody Blues issued a string of albums that combined the rhythmic thrust of rock with the lavishness and epic scope of classical music. The band went on hiatus for five years during the 1970s but regrouped late in the decade for renewed stature as a popular live attraction.”

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