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The Moody Blues - Classic Artists: The Moody Blues CD (album) cover

CLASSIC ARTISTS: THE MOODY BLUES

The Moody Blues

 

Crossover Prog

4.00 | 6 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars This Just In (sorry!)

The Moody Blues have never been subject to the in depth critical analysis of their work which bands such as Yes and Emerson Lake & Palmer have enjoyed over the years. The reasons for this are not immediately apparent, but perhaps it has something to so with the comparative dearth of archive footage of the band available. In any event, this weighty package of two DVDs and a bonus CD will surely satisfy even the most ardent of Moody Blues fans.

It should be said straight away that this is not a collection of performances by the Moody Blues, this is the story of the band told in all its glory by current and former band members, plus key behind the scenes people. Thus we have Mike Pinder, John Lodge, Graham Edge, Justin Hayward and Denny Laine (who preceded Hayward) all taking key parts in telling the tale. The one disappointment is the absence of Ray Thomas (apart from a couple of brief clips of him talking from some years ago). Thomas retired from the band and the music business a few years ago. This DVD though makes it clear how instrumental he was in the formation and early success of the band. It is to be hoped that he his enjoying good health in his retirement.

The story is told in superb detail right from the early days, with fellow Birmingham hopefuls such as Bev Bevan (the Move, ELO), Eric Burdon, and Marty Wilde all adding relevant and fascinating commentary. It is almost an hour into the programme before Justin Hayward arrives (recommended by Burdon) and work begins on "Days of future passed". The band are candid on their comments about later albums such as "Octave" and also about their time with Patrick Moraz on keyboards. The departure of Mike Pinder is a more thorny issue, with Graeme Edge in particular clearly still bearing a grudge ("He [Pinder] lied to us). It seems a reunion is not on the immediate horizon! Ray Thomas' retirement is explained as being primarily for health reasons.

A couple of explanations are given for the band name, with various members claiming credit. It seems to be generally agreed though that the MB initials originally came from the name of a local beer the intention being that the brewery would sponsor the "M&B" band (they didn't). Parts of the interviews with Justin Hayward, apparently filmed in Monaco, are unintentionally amusing (to me at least). Here he is talking to a diminutive man with a moustache who does not actually say anything, and gives the impression of being a stray passer who happens to be standing there. His apparent disinterest in Hayward's reminiscing makes one wonder if he even understands a word which is being said!

The second DVD contains extended extracts from the interviews with five band members used on the first disc. Here, each interview is a separate chapter, Justin Hayward for example including an acoustic guitar recital and an anecdote about Ray Thomas. John Lodge also has a tale of Thomas's misfortunes, this time resulting in him ending up sprawled among bunches of tulips.

The second disc also had 5 promo videos. The first of these, for "Go now", must surely have been the inspiration for the "Bohemian Rhapsody" video. "Stepping in a slide zone" is the only one sung live, although even here there is clearly plenty of overdubbing. The promos for "Your wildest dreams" and "I know you're out there somewhere" are absolutely wonderful. The two, which follow from one to another in terms of the visual story, are a pastiche of scenes past and present, with Hayward seeking out an unnamed old flame. Another amusing moment here as he runs into the arms of John Lodge at one stage.

The third disc in audio format contains a selection of tracks mainly by the bands who preceded the Moody Blues. While they are of historic interest, there's nothing to get excited about.

In all, an excellent package which tells the history of this great band in a level of detail not previously available. The presence of so many people who have been an intricate part of the success and longevity of the band gives the package an authenticity which other similar apprciations can lack. Recommended.

Easy Livin | 4/5 |

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