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

LIVE AT THE ISLE OF WIGHT 1970

The Moody Blues

 

Crossover Prog

3.26 | 14 ratings

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tarkus1980
Prog Reviewer
4 stars A nice album to have if you like Caught Live + 5. The main distinguishing feature of this show, of course, was that it was in front of one of the largest festival crowds in the history of rock music, and there's something strangely odd about the idea of this music getting peformed in front of hundreds of thousands of people. The band continues to have a very rough sound live, as they don't make any real attempt to replicate their studio work note-for- note on stage, but that also continues to give the band a lot of charm. There are a couple of missed vocal cues here and there, and some spots where something clearly went awry in the recording process, but overall the band seems slightly better here than on CL+5.

The setlist, as expected, is largely similar to that on CL+5. The band opens with "Gypsy" and "Sunset," which both go off splendidly (Mike in particular shines, both in the roaring mellotron and in his passionate singing). The show ends with the last 10+ minutes of Threshold, and I still think that it may sound more interesting here, because of the lack of overdubs, than it did in the studio. And, of course, the last three tracks are "Nights," "Legend" and "See-Saw," all of which are done well. The middle also features rousing performances of "Tuesday Afternoon" (where Justin changes the line to "Sunday afternoon" once; I'm guessing that the band performed this concert on a Sunday) and "Never Comes the Day" (inferior to the CL+5 version, largely because the harmonica riff in the chorus is impossible to find, but it's still lovely).

The rest of the setlist drops "Dr. Livingston" and "Peak Hour," and in their place the band adds four tracks from A Question of Balance (which makes sense, given that they were touring it at the time). "Question" is the clear highlight of these; the acoustic guitar strumming gets swapped out for an electric, and while Hayward's singing is rougher (as usual), the song ends up having a strong punch to it that the original lacked. Elsewhere, "Minstrel's Song" comes off as a pleasant hippy shuffle (it kinda sounds to me like it would have been better suited for Woodstock than for this festival, but that doesn't bug me too much), "Tortoise and the Hare" is done decently enough, and "Melancholy Man" preserves nearly all of the soul-crushing aspects of the original to good effect. If anybody in the band benefited from the rougher live sound, it was clearly Mike, and his vocals are great here.

In short, while it doesn't show the Moodies as a spectacular live band, it does show them as an interesting one, and I'd definitely recommend this to a hardcore fan. I would also like to extend my compliments to the recording company for squeezing this whole show onto one disc; I don't know for sure, but I'm guessing that the actual performance contained various bits of stage banter, and the inclusion of any of it (or excessive applause) would have forced this album to come out as a double album. By stripping out everything except for the actual songs, the album fits snugly onto one disc, and it's most appreciated.

tarkus1980 | 4/5 |

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