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The Moody Blues - Live At The BBC: 1967 - 1970 CD (album) cover

LIVE AT THE BBC: 1967 - 1970

The Moody Blues

 

Crossover Prog

2.76 | 18 ratings

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DavidMinasian
2 stars Prior to this release, the only official album to feature live material from the classic line up of the Moody Blues was their LP Caught Live +5 released in 1977, which contained a rather rough performance recorded in 1969. So it was great to finally hear good quality versions of these BBC recordings that had been floating around on bootlegs for nearly 4 decades.

The goal here was to collect every BBC recording made by the Hayward/Lodge version of the band between 1967 & 1970 and assemble them on this double CD set. That may sound like a great idea in principle, but in this case it was a HUGE mistake for a couple of reasons. First we get multiple versions of the same songs. While it might be nice to have 3 versions of Nights in White Satin, I'm not sure about needing 3 versions of Dr. Livingston I Presume. However the real problem lies in the fact that many of these BBC performances AREN'T REALLY LIVE! More on that in a moment.

Prior to recording their landmark album Days of Future Passed, the Moodies had been a hard working live act. And it shows on the first group of recordings here. Pre-Days tracks like Fly Me High and Leave This Man Alone, along with Days songs like Peak Hour and Nights in White Satin show a really tight, well rehearsed band playing quite well together. (In addition, the inclusion here of the previously unreleased track Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood is a real treat and one of only a few known examples of the Hayward/Lodge line-up playing the old "R&B Moodies" style.) But then things began to change with their follow-up release In Search of the Lost Chord. Starting with Lost Chord the band would use multiple overdubs in the studio resulting in a catalog of music that was essentially impossible for the 5 of them to replicate live.

And that's where the problem lies with this release. Songs like House of Four Doors, Visions of Paradise, and Send Me No Wine sure would have been great to hear live. Unfortunately, these are among a number of tracks that are nothing more than remixed backing tracks lifted directly from their studio albums with live vocals. This is true of the Top Gear performance (Disc 1 tracks 18-21) the Colour Me Pop TV performance (Disc 2 tracks 3-9), and the Lulu performance (Disc 2 track 18). The Colour Me Pop and Lulu tracks work great with video, but without it are pointless. None of these tracks should have been included in this set, although it must be said that the remix of House of Four Doors for example is quite a bit different from the LP version, and therefore noteworthy, but it's not live. The other Top Gear performances (Disc 1 tracks 11-14) are interesting in that even though they feature backing tracks, the whole band is playing along. Best Way to Travel benefits greatly from Hayward's amazing electric guitar overdub which is missing from the original. Likewise, Voices in the Sky sounds incredibly lush with the whole band essentially doubling their studio parts. But can they be really classified as live?

The remaining tracks appear to actually be live and are, as I said, somewhat rough compared to their studio counterparts. In addition, 3 or 4 tracks on disc 1 have had their intros clipped in order to edit out the radio announcer. Tracks 10-17 on disc 2 are taken from a concert recorded within a few days of the one featured on the Caught Live album and are essentially identical, although 2 of the tracks (Have You Heard and Legend of a Mind) have been heavily trimmed. It should also be noted that many of the better tracks here can be found on the expanded versions of the band's studio CD's.

So, all in all a mixed bag really. A few gems scattered throughout. I have it on good authority that this is one of the worst selling CD's in the Moodies catalog. It really should have been a single disc. I think both the band and its fans would have benefited.

DavidMinasian | 2/5 |

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