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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

2.68 | 10 ratings

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Einsetumadur
Prog Reviewer
2 stars 7/15P. Good music - hectic versions. Inessential.

Many bands were able to work perfectly well in the BBC studios. The Pink Floyd, for example, who recorded lots of (sadly unreleased) sessions for the BBC, Syd Barrett who inexplicably recorded two sessions which were more 'together' than most of his studio work, or the Steeleye Span, whose great BBC recordings have only survived as lo-fi private recordings from medium wave transmissions.

What you'll find here are primarily short sessions, mostly consisting of two to three songs each. There's only one of the legendary BBC In Concert recordings here, which was recorded around New Year's Eve of 1970.

Depending on the DJ and the purpose, the BBC spent a variable amount of work on the different sessions on this compilation. Some of them, the more interesting ones, were recorded live - for instance the 1967 session which also spawned the unexpected Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood cover. Others were just live vocals recorded on the studio playbacks, such as House of Four Doors and one of the many Ride My See-Saws, which even has the studio Departure left in place. Sometimes, as in Voices In The Sky, it's hard to decide which parts of a recording are really live. Of course, this aspect doesn't change a lot about the quality of the music, but it affects the artistic relevance of this particular compilation.

A point which really deprives the music of their listenability is that factually all of the included recordings seem quite hurried. This effect occurs in several degrees. The least stressful case is when the pieces immediately fade in (and fade out) without taking the time to let the notes arise (or decay) - this occurs in actually all of the recordings. A bearable situation is when the tracks are faded out earlier, such as in Lovely To See You from the first CD. The worst case are the pieces which were disposed of certain instrumental parts or stanzas to fit into a certain time frame. This makes sense in the context of a radio programme in which certain pieces are needed to bridge the time between a documentary and the news, or in a music programme in which many bands want to be played, but those recordings don't really work on a CD compilation. Even the 1969 In Concert recording, a brief concert by the band, suffers from this time pressure. The complete Have You Heard/The Voyage/Have You Heard set is shortened to 5:42min, Legend Of A Mind is 4:34min long (including frantic applause) and Nights In White Satin merely takes three minutes. Mostly one chorus or one stanza get lost, but especially in Nights In White Satin the loss of the flute solo is very painful. The setlist is identical to the Caught Live+5 album, albeit obviously shorter - no huge additional benefit, expect for it being one of the rare early Moody Blues live recordings. Apart from Caught Live and the fairly messy Isle of Wight 1970 gig, the BBC sessions are the only way to listen to the live Moody Blues in an adequate sound quality.

Whilst on CD2 there is a The Actor and a Visions of Paradise of 1-2 minutes each, there curiously are versions of Voices in the Sky and The Best Way To Travel which are about twenty seconds longer than the original recordings. Adding to this situation that parts of these recordings might be taken from the studio album sessions I'm pretty sure that I'll never understand how these sessions exactly worked.

So, for what reasons could you bother buying this album? First and foremost for reasons of nostalgia, especially when you were an avid BBC listener in those days. There's lots of utterly warm and utterly cozy reverb on the vocals, plenty of analogue compressors and many radio moderators impolitely speaking polite announcements right into the beginnings of the songs. This is how music sounded in the radio in those days, and the exhaustive approach of putting all BBC sessions on the compilation ties in well with this 'journey through time' idea. The extensive booklet with lots of pictures adds to this effect, too. And, again, it's always nice to hear how Mike Pinder competently tackled the erratic Mellotron live.

Of course, you cannot listen to these 2CDs from the beginning until the end. Most of the songs appear in at least two versions, which are mostly pretty similar to each other as well. But I found out that it's pretty entertaining to put some of these recordings in the MP3 collections which I sometimes put together for the car.

Since most of the recordings are part of the deluxe re-issues of the studio albums, which most fans surely own by now, I find it hard to recommend this set to anyone. Those who like the Moody Blues and/or the BBC, and who do not own the deluxe re-issues, however, could try to get it cheap. Live At The BBC 1967-1970 is definitely not bad, actually it's an ideal example of how to release radio sessions of any band, but at least after the re-issue series it's become mostly inessential.

Einsetumadur | 2/5 |

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