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


The Moody Blues


Crossover Prog

3.30 | 19 ratings

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2 stars When The Moody Blues played at the famously shambolic Isle of Wight festival in 1970 they were at the peak of their popularity. Their fifth album, A Question Of Balance, was #1 in the UK album chart and the single Question had only been kept off the #1 spot by the England World Cup team. The Moodies were veterans of the previous year's festival but on this occasion they had the honour of being on the final day's bill, along with Jimi Hendrix who was making what would prove to be his last live appearance in England three weeks prior to his death. ELP had also appeared on the previous day, their set culminating with Emerson and Lake lighting two cannons at either side of the stage. No such pyrotechnics from the gentle Moodies of course, although Mike Pinder does sound uncharacteristically aggressive on Melancholy Man.

The set list here is very similar to that on Caught Live + 5, which was recorded one year earlier and was an excellent showcase for the band. There are only four new songs from A Question Of Balance featured on the Isle of Wight set, so I think the market for this release may be somewhat limited. The fast sections of Question are energetic if a little chaotic, but the song gets a good reception from the crowd. As I said above, Pinder's vocals on Melancholy Man are tinged with a harsher edge than is usual, and he substitutes Mellotron for the synthesizer of the studio version. There's only one Ray Thomas song here (Legend Of A Mind), and I would have liked a live version of And The Tide Rushes In. As it is, a couple of new John Lodge songs are featured, these being the folksy sing-along Minstrel's Song and the rocker Tortoise And The Hare.

The remainder of the album comprises all the older favourites with the suite of 5 consecutive songs from On The Threshold Of A Dream being the highlight for me. The Voyage isn't actually listed in the cd's track list but it's here, where it should be, sandwiched between the two parts of Have You Heard. Despite the complexity of the older material the band perform well, possibly better than on the new songs which were supposedly more stripped-down to facilitate live performance. Considering that Caught Live + 5 has been around for over thirty years and has the bonus of containing five rare studio recordings, I can really only see the Isle of Wight album appealing to serious fans. I love it of course.

seventhsojourn | 2/5 |


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