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The Moody Blues - Threshold of a Dream - Live at the Isle of Wight 1970 CD (album) cover


The Moody Blues


Crossover Prog

3.59 | 21 ratings

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4 stars 'A pioneering Mellotron sound.'

The UK Isle Of Wight Festival in 1970 was an exciting answer to the USA Woodstock Festival in 1969. Because the line-up featured many great bands that didn't perform on Woodstock, including a bunch of excellent progressive bands, from ELP and Jethro Tull to Procol Harum and The Doors. Also interesting was the flood of formations from the socalled Early British Progressive Rock Movement: Black Widow, Pentangle, Gracious!, Fairfield Parlour and Supertramp, performing their debut LP. But the top band in 1970 was The Moody Blues, with their many Top 10 singles and albums. They were announced as 'one of the best bands in the world!', and indeed, artistically and commercially The Moody Blues were at their peak, promoting their new album entitled Question Of Balance in that year.

The Moody Blues were one of the pioneering progressive rock bands in the late Sixties, along with The Nice, Procol Harum, Pink Floyd, Colosseum and King Crimson. They delivered a serie of top notch albums between 1967 and 1970, all with high rankings. One of the prime movers was Mike Pinder: he had worked 1,5 years at Streetly Electronics, the Mellotron producing factory (for quality control and as test driver). He introduced this legendary vintage keyboard in the sound of The Moody Blues, from that moment the Mellotron could be used as a solo instrument. Like the Hammond organ with the Leslie speaker and later the Minimoog synthesizer with the pitchbend button, legendary and unique sounds! The Mellotron also delivered an extensive 'palet de sonor' for The Moody Blues their music, with the brass -, flute ' and violin-section. So The Moody Blues were pioneers with the Mellotron its unique and varied sound, since their album Days Of Future Passed from 1967 (till Pinder left in 1978). Soon many bands and artists decided to use or buy a Mellotron. Especially famous bands, like The Beatles and their legendary flute Mellotron notes on Strawberry Fields Forever. And the Rolling Stones with eerie sounding violins on the psychedelic 2000 Light-Years From Home. But The Moody Blues will always be remembered as the first band that fully used the Mellotron as an instrument. And this live DVD is an awesome registration of the omnipresent Mellotron in The Moody Blues their sound in the second half of the Sixties.

It contains 20 chapters, the first 8 chapters (at about 20 minutes) feature stories from band members about the early days, memories of the festival, 'flower power' and the Mellotron, embellished with nice early footage. A colourful intro to the registration of a memorable gig, according to the band 'perhaps their best live performance'. As I stated in previous reviews 'the best bands sound even better on stage', and indeed, The Moody Blues sound more powerful, dynamic and raw than on their studio-albums, this gives the music an extra dimension. Especially the Mellotron shines with its distinctive and majestic sound, it's also awesome to watch that wonderful mahogany, furniture-like keyboard named the Mellotron Mark II.

On that legendary night the atmosphere was electric, this had fuelled The Moody Blues their inspiration and generated an unique chemistry between the musicians. They presented their wonderful and varied blend of styles, layered with the unsurpassed Mellotron. From fragile with twanging acoustic guitar and delicate flute work in the tender Tuesday Afternoon to swinging rock with their distinctive vocal harmonies in Tortoise And The Rare. And from a catchy rhtyhm guitar with halfway emotional vocals and Mellotron in Question to psychedelic in the Mellotron drenched Sunset (embellished with beautiful images of the festival and a real sunset). The excellent rendition of their worldwide hit Nights In White Satin features powerful and emotional vocals, and the band plays in the dark of the night. And the tribute to Timothy Leary entitled Legend Of A Mind delivers strong vocals and flute work by Ray Thomas, along layers of The Mighty Tron.

But my absolute highlight is Melancholy Man (dedicated to festival manager Rikki Farr): great shots taken from the backstage area, on Mike Pinder playing his Mellotron and in the background the massive crowd. He does also a very good job as the vocalist with his emotional outbursts, perfectly matching with the moving atmosphere. This is topped by Pinder his use of the pitch control of the Mellotron (see my avatar), evoking a mindblowing psychedelic sound, goose bumps!

The 'encore' is the cheerful and dynamic Ride My See Saw, the images are taken from the festival performance and a wide range of gigs between 1965 and 1993. Really a very fine compilation and goodbey from the band, the crowd loved it.

On this DVD it's not about visuals and stage antics, no lasers, Boeing landing lights, pyro-technics, screen projections or flower masks and painted faces. In fact The Moody Blues are very close to their R&B roots, with the focus on purity and emotion, feeling honoured to be on the festival and eager to please the fans. That is a simple and honest attitude, you can feel it while watching, five skilled and inspired musicians, enjoying to be on stage and sharing their music with the crowd. For me a very moving experience, also due to Mike Pinder his omnipresent Mellotron work, breathtaking.

TenYearsAfter | 4/5 |


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