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The Moody Blues - On The Threshold Of A Dream CD (album) cover

ON THE THRESHOLD OF A DREAM

The Moody Blues

 

Crossover Prog

3.77 | 345 ratings

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ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk Researcher
4 stars Threshold marks the midway point in a five-album, three year flash of activity for the Moodies. They had established themselves as a musical force with what was arguably the first true modern progressive album Days of Future Passed and the brilliant hits "Tuesday Afternoon" and "Nights in White Satin", followed by the more experimental but thematic In Search of the Lost Chord. The band had a strong following and was coming off a torrid touring schedule, looking forward to an extended studio stay and the first album on their own new label.

The result was a somewhat more disjointed overall feel on Threshold of a Dream as a whole but with tracks that, when considered separately, were quite a bit more developed musically. This is much closer to the approach taken on Seventh Sojourn than on any other Moodies album. Each band member contributed at least two songs, and each brought their own influences into the overall work. It was a new approach, but another successful combination.

"In the Beginning" is not a particularly strong opening work, with some goofy space-age sound effects and garbled background vocals, but providing an innocuous introduction and lead-in to "Lovely to See You Again". The guitar work by Justin Hayward is exquisite, melding well with a comfortable tempo and the kind of gorgeous harmonies for which the band was already well known. My only issue with this song is that it fades away after a couple of minutes, just about the time the listener starts to wrap their head around the peaceful and loving mood of a young man on a stroll with his lady.

"Dear Diary" is a Ray Thomas song, and like "For My Lady" on Seventh Sojourn, this is a bit melancholy on the surface, but upon closer listen is really just a bit of a light song about life flitting by without enough people stopping to smell the flowers. Sappy today, but quite an appealing thought in the late 60s. Thomas' flute matches Michael Pinder's eerie keyboards quite well and sets an appropriately reflective mood.

I liked "Send Me No Wine" the first time I heard it. It's another light tune, a kind of love song with a bit of twangy guitar that is a different sound from the heavier brooding tone on most Moodies songs. Like most of the songs on the album, this one has a nice feel to it, but could have been expanded to great effect with some extended guitar soloing or even a spoken-word piece inserted somewhere.

"To Share Our Love" sounds like almost a sequel to "Send Me No Wine", which again reinforces my contention that song should have been extended and explored further. This is also a Lodge composition, but the rhythm is a bit more up-beat and the harmonies a bit more lush. Of all the Moodies songs off their first three albums, this one sounds the most dated today, but is still pleasant to listen to on a slow quiet afternoon.

Pinder waits until the middle of the album to offer his first contribution, the lumbering "So Deep Within You". This is not so much a love song as it is a pervert song. One almost feels like a voyeur listening to Pinder's lusty extolling of his lover's favors. What Ian Anderson would have sounded like if he weren't such a vocal troll.

By far my favorite melody on the album comes with "Never Comes the Day". To me Hayward's vocals are the most identifiable with the classic Moodies sound, and the backing vocals give this a happy and full sound. The faint but lively harmonica adds a folksy dimension to an otherwise decidedly proper British sound. This is also the longest song on the album, but I wouldn't have minded a couple more verses or at least a few more rounds of the chorus. Just a great tune!

If "Never" is the strongest song, "Lazy Day" is probably the weakest. This is nothing more than a couple minutes of harmonized "ah-ah-ah" vocals and what sounds like a frumpy bassoon bleating out a rhythm off to the side. Just filler, good for keeping the mood going but little more.

I guess "Are You Sitting Comfortably?" was something of a radio favorite in England, or so I've heard, but to me it doesn't do much to distinguish itself from some of the stronger works on the album. I get the impression this was supposed to set the tone for the spoken-word "The Dream". This may have been an attempt to introduce a mystic or medieval feel to the album, but if so it comes far too late and frankly is just a bit confusing. Not all the Moodies ideas were necessarily good ones. This sounds very much like an outtake from Days of Future Passed.

The rest of the album is all Pinder, kind of a mini-concept piece with "Have You Heard" parts book-ending "The Voyage". This is a spacey and pretentious instrumental with lots of overbearing Mellotron and some pleasant but slightly pompus piano. The overall impression is that Pinder is giving its listeners some head-trip music to bring them down off their cloud after listening to a varied sampler of what the band is capable of. This would be laughed off today, but considering the time in which it was released, it's harmless enough and largely excusable.

This is certainly not the best work the Moody Blues ever did - Seventh Sojourn, In Search of the Lost Chord, and even Long Distance Voyager are somewhat more accessible and definitely more cohesive. But this was a very strong effort from a road- weary band who were still evolving their trademark sound, and it represents a period in time where music itself was much less encumbered by norms and expectations than today. Overall, an excellent effort and a worthwhile addition to any collection. Four stars.

peace

ClemofNazareth | 4/5 |

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