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The Moody Blues - A Question of Balance CD (album) cover


The Moody Blues

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Sean Trane
Prog Folk
2 stars This is their most commercial in their classic period and a lot of the numbers are well known to a larger public and one of their better sale. The two opening tracks and Melancholy man were hits at the time but is this really prog or the top 40?
Report this review (#15682)
Posted Tuesday, February 3, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars It´s just good melodies at all... Just that, no virtuosity, just catchy, good old melodies and some progressive arrangements. A bit of ecology and sentimentalism stuff.. But I really like this one (Question and Melacholy Man are my favourites). If you look to fast, virtuoso, skilled players FORGET Moody Blues, but if you want to listen some well sunged and played soft melodic Prog rock, this record is for you...and the cover art was quite interesting too.
Report this review (#15683)
Posted Monday, April 12, 2004 | Review Permalink
James Lee
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Okay, it's another one. I say this with love and respect, but there's really not all that much difference between the latter five of the "classic seven" MOODY BLUES albums. If you liked "On the Threshold" and "To Our Children's", you'll probably like this one too. The band made an attempt here to get back to songs that they could play live, with minimal overdubs, and the result is some tighter, more focused material- but only relatively.

"Question" is an unquestionable classic, and demonstrates all the best aspects of the band. It rocks and then croons, there's those trademark harmonies, smooth lead vocals by Justin, and lyrics that combine romantic love and cosmic contemplation. "How is It (We Are Here)?" is a more mysterious sonic atmosphere, but the ecological message is loud and clear. "And the Tide Rushes In" is a simple, gracefully operatic tune in the typical Ray Thomas style. "Don't you Feel Small?" has a very 60s feel, like it could have been on "Lost Chord", and a spooky spoken unison. "Tortoise and the Hare" is a psychedelic nursery rhyme with some mysterious twists to the music and lyrics. "It's up to You" is a nice classic rocker, in characteristic Hayward guitar/vocal style, as is the more acoustic "Dawning is the Day"; "Minstrel Song" is a fun pastoral hippie chant not too far from the Beatles' "All You Need is Love". The oddball on the album is "Melancholy Man", which fans either seem to love or hate. Though Pinder's lyrics aren't as dark as they would seem, the funeral march feeling is quite a contrast to the bouncier nature of the rest of the album. "The Balance", on the other hand, summarizes the loose concept of the album with one of the finer spoken pieces of the bands' career, almost a gospel parable lauding compassion and understanding. The refrain is also classic, presaging "Isn't Life Strange".

So there it is: if you like any classic MOODY BLUES album, there's nothing to stop you from liking this one. "Question of Balance" has its higher and lower moments, but the band maintains a pretty even level of quality from "Threshold" to "Sojourn", and this definitely will not disappoint. While this is undoubtedly the 'easy listening' of classic prog, there's plenty of emotion and dedication and a wide range of smooth-rock 60s musical textures.

Report this review (#15685)
Posted Wednesday, July 7, 2004 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars "We're going to keep growing, wait and see"

If "Nights in white satin" served to introduce the Moody Blues to a world-wide audience, "Question" showed that they did not need a full orchestra behind them to make top quality music. The song was released as a single, and soared high in the charts. It made a refreshing change to find a 5-6 minute piece of structured music (some years before "Bohemian Rhapsody") being recognised beyond the usual LP format. "Question" was undoubtedly a pioneering piece of music, with the two acoustic guitar driven bookends being separated by a beautiful, uplifting middle section. "A question of balance" is well worth getting hold of for this song alone.

The rest of the album however does contain some fine tracks. "Melancholy man" is a relatively rare outing on lead vocals for Mike Pinder. While the track has a basic simplicity, with two alternating lead and the backing themes, the performance belies this, making it appear far more complex. "And the tide rushes in" is a brief but superb lament, more in line with the many similar tracks which would follow on later albums.

There are some weaker tracks too, but nothing worthy of overt criticism. In all, it's an excellent early album from this perennial band.

Report this review (#15686)
Posted Sunday, August 1, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars "Question of Balance" has some good songs on it, but not the level of composition that was reached in their earlier albums. "Question" and "How is it" are awesome songs and lead into each other well. Then the album begins it's downslide. "And the Tide Rushes In" is not a memorable song nor it is that exciting. It leads again into "And Don't You Feel Small" which you begin to answer... "Yes, in fact how much did I spend on this CD again?". "Tortoise and the Hare" picks the album up a bit, but again isn't all the unique or memorable. "It's Up to You" is catchy, and is a pretty good song, but it's Credence Clearwater Revival good, not "Days of Future Passed" good. "Minstrel's Song" is a really cheesy song in my opinion. It follows the vein of the Hippy Dippy drivel the period is earmarked for. Mind you, some of that drivel was actually good, but in this case it's like imitation cheese when you could be eating the real thing. Copy my review for "Minstrel's Song" and you have "Dawning is the Day"... not that great either. Here we have another spike of talent with "Melancholy Man" which, although somber, is well written. gentle builds and recessions in the music, particularly the instrumention make this song interesting. "The Balance" leaves you traumatized. Especially after hearing a relatively good song like "Melancholy Man". They should have ended the album with that song. Instead they decide you leave you with a bad impression. This albums strengths would include the 2 awesome tracks and very precise and tight instrumentation. It's downside is the lack of effort compositionally. This is only a marginal effort by them. If you have heard the first two songs and really want the collection of the classic seven then get it. Otherwise ,it can be safely skipped.
Report this review (#15687)
Posted Thursday, September 9, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars After to our childrens children, I believe this is their next best. Some people say poppish and comercial, but I don't believe so. "Dawning is the Day" and "How is it We are Here" belong to a genre all thier own. I can't quite lump them together with any other music I can recall. All and all a great effort.
Report this review (#15689)
Posted Sunday, January 30, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Contextually, the Moody Blues were up against some really, really tough opposition: Uriah Heep, Jethro Tull, and the masters of rock, Deep Purple. Yet they survived, building their reputation - as individual musicians and as a band - to such a degree that their music is still relevant amidst the heavy metal and new age onslaught. "Question of Balance" was certainly recognisable when it first hit the market as an enduring album with enduring tunes. It was also an introduction to this band to many who had never heard of them before. Though some may criticise the benign nature of the album, it was a gentle introduction to British pop.
Report this review (#15690)
Posted Wednesday, February 9, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars The Moodies first attempt at simplifying their music for the sake of touring. This is a noble reason to do this, one I'm sure I'd attempt if I tried recapturing the elaborate "Childrens' Children" on stage, but one that puts a minor bump in the artistic road for the band. The songwriting elements are all there, especially Haywards' "Question", but the elaborate production is what has become the hallmark of their sound for the previous three years.

"Question" is undeniable! A true masterpiece which, without the productive layers of earlier albums, retains a lush dramatic sound in a clearer production. "How Is It" also works as a strong Pinder song with minimal purcussion from Edge. (He must still be recouperating from "Higher & Higher" from the last album.) "Tide Rushes In" has a beautiful melody which makes you happy for Thomas; the underdog writer of the group. This track includes very nice acoustic guitar touches from Hayward. Then we take a slight nosedive with "Don't You Feel Small" which clumisly plods along with Thomas' out-of-key flute playing. (It makes you think that Tony Clark said "OK Ray, you can play on this one.") "Tortoise & Hare" doesn't make for the usual Lodge song, as we know he's capable of much MUCH better.

"It's Up To You" gives us a clearer vision on the Moodies with a piece of good classic rock with a dynamite guitar riff. Lodge then redeems himself with "Minstrel's Song", always a favorite of my father and I, which has a majestic anthem like spark to it. "Dawning Is The Day" is another melodic Hayward contribution, always the strong tunesmith of the group. (Thomas now redeems himself with an in-tune and controlled solo in the song.) Now, in my opinion, "Melencholy Man" is an embarrasment. Always was. Overly dramatic and simplistic. It also plods along without very much arrangement and one wonders when it's going to wind down. I can almost see the bored expression on Hayward's face as he's strumming his acoustc guitar. "The Balance" brings back the poetry of "Future Passed" now complete with more yawns. (Sorry Edge fans.)

All in all, an enjoyable album for good repeated listening...every few years or so.

Report this review (#15691)
Posted Thursday, February 24, 2005 | Review Permalink
2 stars An ok, but not essential release. Like all the other Moody Blues albums, this is a concept album in which all songs are connected perfectly one from the other, making this album very coherent. This album differs from the others because of the inclusion of synths and is poppier than the majority of the albums.

_1. Question : A great rocker in which the guitar player strums his acoustic guitar very fast. The middle section calms down and is very uplifting. The melodies here are all great and I wished the rest of the album was of this quality. 8/10

_2. How is it (we are here) Wow, the mellotron really soars in this piece!! This is a good short song focused on vocals. There is a distorted electric guitar solo at the end. 6/10

_3. And the tide rushes in : this is the typical Moody Blues song ... it is not very interesting . 4/10

_4. Don't you feel small : it is dominated by a singing unison. Once again, it is not very interesting, especially for prog fans. 4/10

_5. Tortoise and the hare : it picks up the pace of the album, but it is an average rocker that holds little interest to me. 4/10

_6. It's up to you : A classic rocker with a neat guitar riff. 5.5/10

_7. Minstrel's song : A hippie, and very Beatlesque song. The melodies are more memorable than most of the melodies in this album. 4/10

_8. Dawning is the day : A melodic, yet forgettable short acoustic song. 3/10

_9. Melancholy man : An amazing track that creates the perfect sad mood. The chord progression is very well planned, the 2 vocal melodies are excellent, especially when put together as a harmony. My favourite moment is when two synth solos dominates the music for a minute. 9/10

_10. The balance : An overly disappointing song with narration. I wish the album would have ended with Melancholy man instead. 3/10

So there you have it ... a decent, yet not essential album of pop. Question, and Melancholy man are great, but the rest is not very interesting. If you would like pop with good vocals, Keep listening the great Beatles.

My Grade : C/D

Report this review (#42636)
Posted Friday, August 12, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars Despite the brilliant Question, the beautiful 'Tide rushes in' and some goodish songs in Dawning is the Day, How is it and the interesting Melancholy Man, the rest of this album is not quite up with the Moodies best moments and unusually there are two Moodies songs I actively dislike on here - the irritating Minstrels Song and The Tortoise and the Hare.

For me the least successful album of the classic 7 but as a Moodies fan these things are relative!

Report this review (#49995)
Posted Tuesday, October 4, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Another highly memorable album cover for the Moodies.' Question' got to No.2 in the UK singles charts, making it the highest charting single by the line up featuring Justin Hayward and John Lodge. 'Nights in White Satin' managed to enter that chart in 1967, 1972 and 1979, spending a total of 34 weeks on it,as opposed to the latters 12, so arguably 'Nights' is their most successful single. No question, 'question' is good (sorry). But for me, the stand out track is the following, 'How is it we are here', by Mike Pinder. His use of the mellotron on that song is eerie, and when it gets into the main hook middle of the song, I just have to crank up the volume ... it's awesome! This is one you WANT the neighbours to hear, it's just so excellent.

'And the tide rushes in' slows down the pace, as Ray, with great sincerity and in earnest, sings this rousing and reflective song, accompanied by some pretty acoustic guitar playing (bravo, Justin). But then, the album starts to fizzle out, with a couple of more 'average' songs (good, but not great), i.e.,'Don't you feel small', and 'Tortoise and the hare'. The second side features some good songs generally, the strongest being; 'Minstrels Song', which is a rather calming, warm-fuzzy glow type of song; 'Dawning is the day', a mini-epic of a song featuring some nice flute playing, and 'Melancholy Man' has some nice keyboards from the consistenly good/excellent Mike Pinder. The opening and closing songs of the side are rather average. But there's enough quality here to make it a passable 4* effort.

Report this review (#54766)
Posted Saturday, November 5, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars "A Question of Balance" is the fifth album of a classical series comprising 7 albums recorded and released by The Moody Blues between 1967 and 1972; this series is sometimes called 'core 7' or 'classical 7'.

In fact these 7 works deserves a boxset with all covers and other art works, lyrics, comments together with a DVD with live performances, interviews and so on.

This album is probably the most uneven of the MB's classical, with a tremendous opening track, 'Question', a perfect example of a short prog-song must be, followed by many forgettable although fairly listenable songs.

'Don't you feel small' and 'Melancholy man' are above the average and 'The balance', the ending track, could be better explored.

As always happens for MB's works (prog or not) musicianship is great, one of the highest points of the album.

There's no chance of disdaining this album in a prog collection, so the rating rises from 3 to 4. Recommended after all.

Report this review (#58828)
Posted Thursday, December 1, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars The greatest album by The Moody Blues all songs are fantastic and is such an inspiring piece of work

makes you feel like your living in a dream yet so real. Starting with Question to kick it off and to end with The Melancholy Man and The Balnce two great tracks of such high quality lyric structure.

Excellent and by far the best of the Moody Blues

Report this review (#69505)
Posted Wednesday, February 15, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars True, it is not as amazing as the previous ones... but, my god, The Balance is quite possibly one of if not THE best song ever written. Question, also, is mind blowing, this album gets five stars for that immediately. If this album were just Question and The Balance, you people would all give it 5 stars. They throw in a bunch of simple tracks, none of which are too mind blowing, but everything here is solid and enjoyable. Especially the pumped up Minstrels Song, I love this song to no end, a pleasure every time. But, wow, if anyone on this website has not heard The Balance or Question, they are LOST, and have GOT to purchase this NOW!! Amazing album, yet again, amazing everything from every memeber of the band. Hayward still kicking it with the amazing vocals, which he sadly loses near Seventh Sojourn ;( Anyway, check it out, you will love it!!
Report this review (#71457)
Posted Wednesday, March 8, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars A Question of Balance, what a nice title. Balance, just what this album is lacking. It opens strongly with the excellent Questions, and it's a shame they put the highlight at the beginning. Most of the other songs just aren't very interesting, some are OK but some are really bad. It's a weakness the previous albums had, but here the problem reaches a low, with The Minstrel and Melancholy Man being particularly bad. The Balance is a nice ending, but then I'm a sentimental fool who likes this sort of thing. I'm sure many others will hate it.
Report this review (#79165)
Posted Wednesday, May 24, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This is an album of great promise as it starts off with the classic "Question", possibly the best Moodies song with a great bass line under the jangling acoustic guitar chords, the orchestral crashes and the fantastic slow middle section. (Interestingly in World Cup year, this song was beaten to number one by the England World Cup Squad's "Back Home"). Unfortunately the rest of the album does not live up to this standard. "Question" fades out and leads into the intro of "How is it we are here", which I found almost comical after the brilliance of the previous song. "And the tide rushes in" is a nice ballad written by Ray Thomas after an argument with his ex-wife. The final song "The balance", which is basically another Edge poem, has a wonderful chorus, but the rest of the songs are nothing special. This is a competent Moody Blues album, but not up to the standard of earlier efforts such as "Days of Future Passed" and "In Search of the Lost Chord".

The extras on this special edition include a different, earlier version of "Question" (recorded within 24 hours of the songs being written and without the orchestral crashes at the beginning) which I think is an improvement on the original and a previously unreleased Pinder song called "Mike's Number One". There are also original mixes of some of the album tracks. Another historical note is that the explorer John Blashford Snell objected to the use of a picture of him on the cover pointing a gun at an elephant, so the image had to be amended to a man without a pith helmet. The CD also includes a 5.1 surround sound mix, but unlike the reissues of Days and Lost Chord, it is only a single CD set (although the notes do mention a "bonus disc").

Report this review (#79824)
Posted Tuesday, May 30, 2006 | Review Permalink
Prog Folk Researcher
3 stars A Question of Balance was released in the summer of 1970, and was the most commercially successful Moodies album at the time. This was a mid-tour release, with songs designed to support the band’s need for a variety of tunes for their heavy appearance schedule. It’s a bit simpler than the previous four works, and lacked a blockbuster single, although both “Question” and “Melancholy Man” scored modestly, particularly in Europe. This is a decent effort, but doesn’t have the staying power their other albums of the same period do.

“Question” is a stellar opening track musically, although the lyrical message is abstract and a bit unfocused. The rapid-fire acoustic guitar gives the work a crisp and clean framework, and the mid-song tempo adjustment to a more thoughtful mode, combined with the lush harmonies and keyboards just make this a memorable song overall. The segue into the world-gone-mad rambling “How is It (We Are Here)” is mostly smooth but a bit awkward as the latter work is much more sparsely arranged. Like much of their work during this period, the theme is a bit dated, or rather – naďve, with references of man’s raping of the earth and nihilistic political behaviors. This was top- drawer stuff in 1970, but really serves to capture just how much more complicated our world has become since then.

Ray Thomas has a penchant for slow, sad songs with strumming guitars and barely perceptible rhythm, which he delivers once again on “And the Tide Rushes In”. His lyrics usually either lean toward a love song, or are so abstract as to have little meaning at all. “Tide” tends toward the latter -

“Then the tide rushes in and washes my castles away; then I'm really not so sure which side of the bed I should lay”.

I really have no idea what point he’s trying to make. This song is also a bit short on harmonic backing vocals and follows a fairly simple rhythm and steady tempo, both Thomas trademarks.

“Don’t You Feel Small?” is the most unusual work on the album, but not because of some complex and experimental arrangement, or due to controversial lyrics or anything like that. Rather, this is a real throwback to the early Denny Laine days of the band with a barbershop quartet vocal arrangement and very thin instrumental accompaniment. This sounds like The Association more than it does the Moody Blues. The only hint at this being a true Moodies song is the slight tempo uptick toward the end, complete with airy flute and what I assume to be Justin Hayward whispering in between notes. There’s really no lead singer on this song – it’s more like the whole band just chiming in for an extended round-robin chorus. Not really a strong song, but I suppose one of the ones included to stock up the touring catalog.

John Lodge offers another of his tongue-in-cheek, not too serious works with “Tortoise and Hare”, a farcical tale about two friends whose actions parallel that famous fable. More spaced-out Moodies background vocals, a fast-paced irregular drum beat, and some very plain guitar strumming, along with the ubiquitous flute that here really doesn’t have much of a sense of purpose.

“It’s Up to You” reminds me a lot of songs like “New Horizons” and “When You’re a Free Man” from Seventh Sojourn – not particularly ambitious, but moves along at a decent pace and has all the trademark Moodies vocals, but without the orchestration or ornate keyboards. By this point in the album it should be apparent to even the novice listener that this is a guitar-focused, simple set of songs that were designed to evoke a loose mood and be quite appropriate for regular concert performance.

I really like the unusual tempo of “Minstral’s Song”, as well as the vocals that include both melodic and harmonious elements to provide a broader range of sound then most voice- heavy Moodies songs. This is a pleasant peace-and-love-and-hugs-and-kisses song, a good tune to listen to in a sunny park on a summer day. Very 1970s sound, and a good lead-in to Justin Hayward’s “Dawning is the Day”, which is a full-blown earth-mom hippy chant. Here again the drums are not at all complex, but the sound is rich and expressive. The band tries out some sequential vocal transitions here, as opposed to the chorus approach they are more known for. Thomas’ flute work is especially creative here, with some aggressive passages as well as strategically-placed abrupt notes among the other instruments. Hayward seems determined to do nothing but pick at his guitar for most of this album, particularly here and on the opening track. This is a very nice song, but certainly not a greatest hit or anything.

The next track, “Melancholy Man” is a keeper though. Pinder sings lead for one of only a few times in the band’s history, and he sets a morbid, almost dirge-like tone (or as close to a dirge as this band can muster). His crypt-like Mellotron tracks are so heavy and brooding that they border on comic at times, and I can’t help but call up images of the Rocky Horror Picture show when I hear this. Nice try, and a charming chapter in the band’s history, but hard to take seriously coming from these guys. It's a fun listen though.

“The Balance” combines the testimony of Thomas’ intangible poetry with Edge’s sappy peacenik choruses for a sentimental and lighthearted truth-seeking climax of an ending –

“Just open your eyes and realize - the way it's always been.

Just open your mind and you will find - the way it's always been.

Just open your heart, and that's a start”.

Like a lot of early Moodies – heavy stuff for 1970, but pretty much just a nice little nostalgia trip today. Musically this is the lightest of the ‘big 7’ Moodies albums of the late 60s / early 70s, and isn’t very strong lyrically. It has its proponents, but in my mind this is overall the weakest Moodies album of that era. Still good, but only three stars.


Report this review (#80658)
Posted Wednesday, June 7, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars The weakest outing of the classic 7 Moody Blues albums. This is the least developed musically, and the songs carry a strong commercial sound to them. The great moods and atmospheres we're used to from the Moody's appear to be missing and instead we have some easy listening acoustically driven number that are entertaining but far from anything ground breaking. "The Question" acts as an amazing opener and is very misleading as you'll expect a fantastic album, but you've just licked all the icing off the cake and the rest is pretty mediocre until the album redeems itself in the last two songs. "Melancholy Man" will get stuck in your head, and though a little annoying at first, creates a very impressive depressed atmosphere. You might want to stay away from that one if you're on any anti- depressant medication. And finally the album closer "The Balance" wraps things up very nicely. Overall the album makes for a good listen but make this the last of your Moody Blues' purchases as they have better material to be explored.
Report this review (#80663)
Posted Thursday, June 8, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars At this stage I've ceased to expect anything that I would consider too exciting, God forbid even a little dangerous, from the Moody Blues. Album after album I have subjected myself to the Moodies but the end result is just the same. The overall feeling from these guys is a tepid and nonchalant one as I move from album to album. Not that I actually hate them, no, that would be perfect, but no such luck. As it is I have to dig deep to be fair to the Moodies, fair and as nondescript as I can with some tongue in cheek tone thrown in to stop those at the back from falling asleep, but just to get the feeling across. Back at the plot then... The previous Moody Blues release To Our Children's, Children's, Children would appear to be have been the high water mark for this band as far as I'm concerned. That album was definitely vivid and even engaging, the theme was convincing and the music, and especially the lyrics, came across with a poignant rush toward the end. So it's A Question of Balance then. It could have been a question of whether the Moody Blues should have have packed away their instruments by the close of the sixties, as that question is not so rhetorical. But rather than ask questions of themselves they should have just gone off and joined, or even started a hippie commune on the Isle of Wight instead. Singing songs around camp fires, living in blue coloured and moody like mud huts, eating rice and smoking good blow, drinking mulled wine and watered down whiskey. Because then that would have been forgotten about yet the memories would have remained. The memories would have morphed and grown into legend and became more than what they actually were through the hazy laze of time. Unfortunately for the Moodies, their albums, many of them, are just too caught up in a static time, this one a touch too much regressive, as they lacked the edge to create something truly fascinating. Had they been just memories, then imagine what they would be like... (2.5 stars)
Report this review (#81564)
Posted Tuesday, June 20, 2006 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Prog Team
4 stars This is my favorite Moodies album. I find it thoroughly engaging. The only other one that captivates me in this way is "Days of Future Passed." It may be simpler than its predecessors, but this is by no means simple pop. This is well-crafted music, with each song flowing into the next. It takes you on a journey of emotion, and philosophy. All the while, retaining its accessibility. You get rock, balladry, folk, and beautiful exposition. You are taken in by the grandiose "Question," and the journey has begun. It is neatly concluded by a parable that can be applied to us all in "The Balance." In between we are confronted by life's twists and turns. The paradoxes of relationships, depression, our place in the universe, and beginning anew, are all covered. The melodies are beautiful, and the vocals top notch.

This album has always touched me on a very personal level. I don't expect everyone to feel the same. Although, it does seem to me that it often gets unfairly dismissed. This would be a fine addition to anyone's collection.

H.T. Riekels

Report this review (#87844)
Posted Monday, August 21, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars I listened to this again recently after an interval of many years....but it appeals no more to me now than it did in the seventies!

The opening is fine, and is the bit that sticks in my mind; "Question" is undoubtedly the strongest song n my opinion. After that, the sound becomes softer and les interesting. There is far too much acoustic guitarstrumming, the mellotron accompaniment us unisnpired and the vocals are sugary.

I can't recommend it to anyone: if you're a fan you'll already have it and you'll hate me for this negative review...but, hey, I can't like every band on the planet!

Report this review (#107345)
Posted Saturday, January 13, 2007 | Review Permalink
Prog-Folk Team
5 stars My perspective on the Moodys is perhaps slightly different than the typical fan in that I find Question thru Seventh Sojourn to be their pinnacle as opposed to the backsliding years. There is maybe only one weak track on the last 3 albums, and my only hint for now is that it is not on "A Question of Balance".

The album is bracketed by two perennials, the still fresh sounding "Question", and the now dated and starry eyed "Balance", which is nonetheless a near perfect poetic statement and song construction, not to mention a nostalgic blast. In between you have such gentle dignified works as "How is it we are Here", "The Tide Rushes In", and "Dawning is the Day", juxtaposed with bouncy and gently chiding rockers like "Tortoise and the Hare" and "It's Up to You". While group vocal harmonies were always a particular strength of the band, they really seem to give themselves an extra push in this direction on a Question of Balance, particularly in "Don't You Feel Small" and "Minstrel Song".

Sure, most of the themes were being revisited by this time, and one can find earlier "versions" on the much weaker "On the Threshold of a Dream" or the slightly weaker "To Our Children's...", but the progression is so evident here. Just compare the rather thin "To Share Our Love" with "Don't You Feel Small", or the pretty "Never Comes the Day" with the cosmically significant statement of purpose in "Question". In terms of a breakthrough, it can be argued that "Melancholy Man" was the first real Pinder ode to depression, and perhaps his best contribution as a Moody (although I might go with "My Song" on the following album). In any case, it is the only real downer on the disk, but in a way that is oddly uplifting, an acknowledgement of the reality of suffering as it were.

No band has attracted more critical bashing than the Moody Blues. In my opinion, where the 7 classic albums are concerned, these attacks are misguided and should be diverted into self examination on the part of the offending parties. Listen for yourself.

Report this review (#120864)
Posted Sunday, May 6, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars In August of 1970 the Moody Blues released their greatest album, "A Question of Balance." For once they didn't seem to be taking themselves so damn seriously and just set out to put together a collection of excellent songs performed to the best of their ability. They had reached a level of studio experience that allowed them to experiment with taking fresh approaches on how they recorded their tunes, somehow managing to temporarily shed their demeaning cosmic, "trippy" image and simply present themselves as a talented and seasoned rock and roll band for a change.

Starting an album with one of their most impressive songs, the dynamic "Questions," doesn't hurt, either. I was attending a very conservative Baptist college when this came out and when I had to pass time between classes in the student union building this tune was the only good song I could find on the jukebox. Anything deemed too wild, racy or radical wasn't allowed on that stuffy campus so I would play this one every time I was in there. It was just another way for me to wave my freak flag high, as they say. Anyway, this Justin Hayward epic goes from an exciting, energetic beginning to a serene, pensive section and then back again. The stack of 12-string acoustic guitars is gorgeous and full, the lyric content is timeless, the orchestral score is out of this world, Justin sings with an amazing amount of honest emotion and drummer Graeme Edge moves out of his usual comfort zone and puts some real fire into the rhythm track. I couldn't believe it was the Moody Blues the first time I heard it.

Mike Pinder's "How Is It (we are here)" is a pleasant little ditty where his multi-layered Mellotron performance shows his considerable expertise on the instrument. Next up is Ray Thomas' "And the Tide Rushes In," a simple folk-styled song wherein Ray's vocal is more relaxed and confident than he's ever shown before. Edge's "Don't You Feel Small" places an eerie, low whisper underneath the vocal to create a very mysterious aura for the tune. Its Latin-flavored groove and Thomas' intricate flute work make this number a real treat to hear. But the most surprising song is bassist John Lodge's "Tortoise and the Hare" because it comes off as being very much like what Pink Floyd would sound like in about two year's time. Hayward's piercing guitar licks are downright Gilmore-like!

Justin's "It's Up to You" is the real sleeper here, though, and for the life of me I don't understand why it didn't bust the charts as a hit single. It has a killer signature guitar line, it's an upbeat rocker with a catchy hook and it features Hayward's unmistakable, charismatic voice. All I can say is that someone in the promotion department at Threshold Records dropped the ball on this one big time by not getting this on AM radio playlists. Lodge's "Minstrel's Song" is another folksy air that also has a distinctive Beatles circa "Magical Mystery Tour" atmosphere about it that I find to be delightful. Hayward's third contribution to the project is his "Dawning is the Day," a beautiful tune that distinguishes itself from the group's usual sound by featuring a mandolin throughout. Edge throws in some Ringo-like drum patterns and the arrangement intertwines the Mellotron and flute tastefully.

"Melancholy Man" is not only Pinder's best composition ever, it may be one of the band's highest achievements. Starting with exquisite 12-string acoustic guitars, it draws you into the somber but identifiable world of a perpetually depressed and bewildered man overwhelmed by the society that rushes all around him. The countermelodies provided by the Mellotron's deepest tones and the band's combined voices are magnificently set against the simple but poignant vocal melody. Mike sings straight from his soul and his pained delivery at the end will pull at your heartstrings. It is an amazing piece of work that all proggers owe to themselves to experience. "The Balance" ends the album with Graeme's spoken poetry combined with one of Ray's light sing-along choruses. It's a bit too dramatic for my taste but at least they saved it for the finale.

If you were to own only one Moody Blues record this is the CD to have because it displays them at their songwriting peak. I find most of their other albums to be highly inconsistent with a few great tunes mixed in with too many mediocre ones for me to listen through from beginning to end. "A Question of Balance," however, is the exception. I can put it on and know I'll never feel the urge to skip a track. 4.4 stars.

Report this review (#127552)
Posted Wednesday, July 4, 2007 | Review Permalink
Chris S
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Great Moody Blues reportoire again. A Question of Balance probably reached more home turntables than much of the predecessors although not necessarily as good. Perhaps it has a more commercial feel to it.Songs like ' The Dawning of the Day' and ' The Tide comes rushing in' are great examples of classic Moodey Blues and the general concept again holds up. I do believe their musical strength began to wane from here apart from the Blue Jays collaboration with Hayward and Lodge. Still a very good album though and comes highly recommended.
Report this review (#131571)
Posted Friday, August 3, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars I never enjoyed this album, even during the years when I was most actively collecting and listening to prog rock and related styles. "Melancholy Man" was a big hit and I sort of liked it, but the rest of the album did not caught my attention. Very lame and too easy-listening stuff without any challenge or burst of creativity! Nothing special, so if you avoid it you won't miss much.

Personal rating: 2/5, P.A. rating: 2/5

Report this review (#132514)
Posted Friday, August 10, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars A deliberate and unfortunate regression from the pinnacle of 'To Our Children's Children's Children.'

Their previous album had neither provided a hit single nor proven easy to play live. Therefore THE MOODY BLUES simplified their formula: while they kept the songwriting spread amongst the group and continued to segue from song to song, they abandoned the song-fragment approach of the previous album, which relied on complicated fades and juxtapositions not possible to replicate live. They stripped back the wall of sound and regressed to rock music, in search of their lost audience.

That they succeeded is evident withing two minutes. The opener 'Question' is one of their most well known tracks, an undoubted classic, but there are clear indicators that it is calculated. The song is a ballad sandwiched in between two slices of rock, giving the MOODIES a chance to appeal to both parts of their audience. Kudos for that, but it means the album is front-loaded, with the best track first. On none of the previous albums did JUSTIN HAYWARD sing the opening track. This is the first sign the cow is to be milked.

I'd have no problem with this approach of the rest of the album contained material on a par with what they'd done before, but sadly that's not the case. 'How Is It (We Are Here)' is one of PINDER'S most preachy narratives, and the music's not up to much. Happily, 'And The Tide Rushes In' is a nice THOMAS composition, one of his better efforts. LODGE'S 'Don't You Feel Small' is rather understated, with whispered vocals and gentle latin rhythms, nice enough but not what the album needed at this point: after THOMAS' ballad a dose of energy is needed. Even the rockier section is underwhelming. 'Tortoise and the Hare' is a strange song, again restrained (and damaged by LODGE'S cursed falsetto), but a triumph when played live. This album certainly suffers from the band's conservative approach. It's possible that had it been made in 1969 it might well have been a classic.

Side two is slightly better. The two HAYWARD compositions are outstanding, as always, particularly 'Dawning Is The Day', while 'Melancholy Man' may well be popular with some fans, but simply confirms for me PINDER'S limited musical and lyrical vocabulary. In the end we are left with two tracks that remind us of THE MOODY BLUES at their best, 'Question' and 'Dawning', both HAYWARD compositions. The material supplied by the others simply isn't up to scratch here. Of the seven progressive MOODIES albums, this is the least essential.

Report this review (#139976)
Posted Sunday, September 23, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars "A Question of Balance" brings the Moody Blues back to Earth, and in more way than one. Following the incredible "To our Children's Children's Children" album which dealed with space, this album's concept deals with planet Earth. The music is also more stripped down as well. The Moodies playing reflects the concept, and things seem more "Earthbound" when compared to their previous four works. Luckily there still is a good amount of Mellotron and even a couple of songs with some synth ("How is it (We are here)" and "Melancholy Man"). Even though we've all heard "Question" many times before, it's a great song that I never tire of. "How is it (We are here)" is another underrated gem from Mike Pinder that should not be overlooked. "Don't You Feel Small" is unlike anything else they have ever done before, and once again shows the unique approach that drummer Graeme Edge has to his songs. "Minstrel's Song" I view as being one of the weaker songs in the Moodies "Core Seven" string of albums, and it keeps this from getting a five star rating. It's not exactly a bad song, and it's sort of different as well, it just doesn't interest me a whole lot. "Dawning is the Day" is an absolutely beautiful song, and is something we'd expect from Justin Hayward. One of the other well known tracks from "Balance" is Pinder's "Melancholy Man". This is a song about Albert Einstein, and is very brooding. It features wonderful keyboards and a great tormented vocal from Pinder. I still don't find it as dark as Pinder's "When You're a Free Man" from their "Seventh Sojourn" album. Closing the album is the touching and glorious "The Balance" which was co-written by Thomas and Edge. It features creative spoken-word bits, majestic Mellotron and spine-tingling harmony that we have come to expect from these guys. If you know The Moody Blues, then you'll know what to expect from this album even though the group is heading into another direction here. "A Question of Balance" is still highly reccomended.

Report this review (#140651)
Posted Wednesday, September 26, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars I might be a veteran, but still I did not cope with the early works of the Moodies.

My first purchase of theirs was their single hit "Melancholy Man" from this album. I will discuss this great song later on in my review. If ever you have read some of my Moodies's review, you have noticed that I am not a huge fan of their orchestral music.

The band has released some great songs, but I couldn't really be enthusiast about their albums as a whole. For sure, they were innovative in terms of concept albums. Few bands did produce such works in these ancient times. I guess that only for this, the Moodies deserve a hat's off.

But even as such, they don't belong to my preferred bands. Vocal melodies are at time pleasant. Musical arrangements might be of good support (especially during "And the Tide Rushes in") but there are little songs to be kicked out. Except the excellent "Don't You Feel Small" which features some great fluting (but unfortunately too short.).

A fave from this album is by no doubt the very good rocking "Tortoise and the Hare". A totally different song in style. How many of this one did the band truly recorded? Very few indeed. And this one is very well achieved. Maybe somewhat simplistic but far better than the Fab Four oriented "It's Up To You".

But the worse is also sharing the bill, unfortunately. The best thing to do when "Minstrel's Song" begins is to "Press Next"T. What a painful song.It should be forbidden.Dreadful, really.

This song is getting compensated with "Dawning is the Day" which is a rather pleasant moment of this album. Nice vocals, great acoustic guitar as well as percussion.

Now. THE ONE. At least as far as I'm concerned. Each time I listen to this song I am brought not only into my early teens (there are hundreds of great songs from the early seventies for this), but this "slow" (as we used to call such a tempo) do mean so much to me. So many sweeties dancing with me . some thirty five years ago. I guess that some of you (the oldest ones) can understand what I could have felt. And I still feel the same tonight. But I am just a melancholy man, that's what I am. This is a great, great song : believe me, believe me.

This album is of course no masterpiece but some songs are really worth your attention. One gigantic number still. Three stars.

Report this review (#164548)
Posted Friday, March 21, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars 10/10 Masterpiece

It only gets better now. Question of Balance seems to be the elightened day for Mike Pinder. This album has such a wonderful vibe it makes me want to cry all over my computer while I listen to it. Man! This is incredible stuff. The Moodies manage to take simple rockish arrangements and create complete brilliance throughout. There are too many great single tracks on this record, I just love it. Pleae, Question? That bridge!?!? Unheard of...absolutely breathe taking, thanks. Tide Rushes In is just a great Ray Thomas peaceful little ditty, I love it. How Is It, Don't You Feel Small and Tortoise are all good, but not quite up to par with the other epics on here. It's Up to You through to the end is downright incredible. I can't even listen to it anymore without crying tears of joy. With the wonderful hippied out visions of Pinder, Minstrel's Song brings us a little run around in the field melody. A great little song with great arrangement and just totally positive vibration. Dawning is the Day destroys me...Hayward is just a vocal genius and his guitar work is even astounding on this, let alone the damn MELODY! Wow... And now, Melancholy Man? Pinder solidifies his brilliance here. I adore this song and I love this mans contribution to the Moody Blues. Thank you again, this is not music this is PASSION. Tell me it is over...wait, it's not? You are serious. You are going to put a track entitled The Balance with moral references to match only the most flawless ideals, Mike Pinder speaking over a melody so powerful it is not containable, and an outburst to end with Justin Haywards best vocal moment in all Moody Blues history? Thanks. This could be the best band of its time. Just open your eyes and realize the way it's always been, just open your mind and you will find the way its always been...Just open your heart and that's a start. Thank you so much!

Report this review (#170115)
Posted Tuesday, May 6, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars 4 out of 5 stars

This was my first Moody Blues album I ever bought. I scrounged it from a half off bin(and it was already marked down) for $3.50. I had never heard of any of the songs on it, considering the only song I knew was Nights in White Satin, but for that price how couldnt I buy it. From the odd cover I thought it was going to be some mid 80's album that would fly straight from my cd player into my trash bin. How wrong I would be.

Although its been called a stripped down due to the lack of backing orchestra. For each previous album they had heavly orchestrated parts in their music, they decided to take it out because they wanted eaiser music to play on tour, not to mention saving money on renting an orchestra. Lots of people get turned off by they keep thier amazing sound by exploring their more pratical instruments; guitar, bass, keyboards, flute, drums, and of course vocals.

The first couple listens I deducted, This is a pretty alright album, and Question rocks. Thats about it. Many listens later, perhaps 7 or so, things really started to get good. Question still rocked, but other songs started to catch on. As far as Moody Blues albums go, Question is a blazing fast starter. A quick acoustic strums into an almost 'old west prospector' sound. It slows down later but keeps a fairly fast pace. Don't You Feel Small is an excelent track that has a soft/creepy feel as it has the synchronized singing thats common in the Moody Blues, but it also has another person almost whispering the lyrics at the same time. It picks up a little but stays fairly soft. These two are the standouts of the first side, varying speed and great musicianship.

The second side closes with two of the best tracks on the album, Melancholy Man and The Balance. Melancholy Man is...well melancholy. It starts slow and almost dreary. It starts gaining more and more emotion and you will either sing along, or get some serious shivers down your spine. The Balance is a nice tune that has a very uplifting chorus(something that might be needed after Melancholy Man). The lyrics are recited like poetry, and the chorus could make an emo kid smile.

Now these arent the only good tracks, otherwise it wouldnt have gotten 4 stars. And The Tide Rushes In has a very gandeur feel, despite its measly 2:57 length. Dawning Is The Day is also very good. Its a solid track start to finish. The other tracks are also good, I dont actually dislike any track on this album.

Though it may be a bit biased being my first Moody Blues album, I think it deserves a 4 star rating. Its a great addition to anyones collection. Though I rate it highly I wouldnt really recomend this album as a starting point for people getting into the Moody Blues, that would probably go to Days of Future Passed. Though I would recomend it to any current Moody Blues fans or fans of Crossover Prog.

Report this review (#173566)
Posted Wednesday, June 11, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars A Question of Balance is the sixth full-length studio album by UK progressive rock act The Moody Blues. Because of problems with re-creating their heavily over-dubbed recent studio material in a live environment the group decided that the songs on A Question of Balance should have a more stripped down instrumentation and sound.

The music is still unmistakably The Moody Blues though. Pleasant vocals and harmonies, mellotron and flute as usual. All songs are good but Melancholy man does stand out for me as a favorite.

The musicianship is good and the production is warm and pleasant.

For me this is another 3 star album from The Moody Blues but they still need to convince me that they can make exceptional music. Too few of the songs on this album stand out as being adventurous or excellent IMO. Another average album and I´m beginning to think that I will never find more than average enjoyment with this band´s music.

Report this review (#212373)
Posted Saturday, April 25, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars The whole thing to me is a big ''question'' without much ''balance''.

A QUESTION OF BALANCE is nothing more than a straightforward Moody Blues album (some may argue that the Moodies are generally straightforward). For some reason, I feel the songwriting is starting to tire, notably on ''It's Up to You'', a Justin Hayward track that sounds like an amalgamation of his previous songs (reminds me of ''Voices in the Sky'' and ''Lovely to See You''). Pretty much all of side B sounds too monotonous with only ''Melancholy Man'' and ''The Balance'' being reasonably fair to my ears (although the spoken word stuff on ''The Balance'' is laughable).

Side A is the better of the two, particularly because one of the strongest overall Moody Blues songs, ''Question'', starts it off. The rapid fire acoustic guitar never sounded better and the bass playing has rarely been better on other Moodies works. The remainder of the side is decent, but not much to speak of with the exception of the haunting ''Don't You Feel Small'' and the groovy ''Tortoise and the Hare''.

This Moodies album sounds a little too weak, especially compared to the classic albums of the earlier years e.g. DAYS OF FUTURE PASSED. You really can't call yourself a Moody Blues fan until you've heard ''Question'', but the album isn't really necessary for any collection. Good enough for three stars, but just barely.

Report this review (#229924)
Posted Tuesday, August 4, 2009 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
2 stars A Question of Milking a Formula to Death

The psychedelic sounds of the 60s were a faded dream and now the Moodies enter the 70s with a more commercial sound with one or two good songs and a lot of drivel. The first two tracks blitzed the charts in some small measure but the rest were a forgettable bunch of mediocrity as bad as the band would get. I think they ran out of ideas and this formula of existentialist poetic lyrics, soaring vocals and mellotron was not working anymore. It worked on the debut and the next few albums but this is a dismal failure. I listened to this at some one's house and ended up discarding all but the first two tracks.

"Why do we never get an answer When we're knocking at the door?" I will admit unreservedly that 'Question' is one of the greatest Moody Blues songs and I am stunned by the musicianship and the magical lyrics that never fail to lift my spirits; "And when you stop and think about it, You won't believe it's true, That all the love you've been giving, Has all been meant for you, I'm looking for someone to change my life, I'm looking for a miracle in my life, And if you could see what it's done to me, To lose the love I knew Could safely lead me through..." Beautiful, simply soul stirring stuff. That's where it ended for me I am sorry to say.

"How is it (we are here)" is fair as far as the melody goes, I love Pinder's lyrics on this that are poetic and thought provoking; "Men's mighty mine-machines, Digging in the ground, Stealing rare minerals Where they can be found, Concrete caves with iron doors, Bury it again, While a starving, frightened world Fills the sea with rain."

However, I am perplexed as to why the rest of this album is uninspired mumbo jumbo without a shred of memorable melody unless you count 'Melancholy Man'; "I'm a melancholy man, That's what I am, All the world surrounds me, And my feet are on the ground." This! Coming from the creators of "Nights in White Satin!" when compared to the quintessential classic and the material on this album the band are at polar opposites.

I am lost for words at how disappointing it was to hear this saccharine soaked mediocrity. Let's keep it real. 2 stars for collectors and the opening track.

Report this review (#280580)
Posted Wednesday, May 5, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars By the usual standards of The Moody Blues this is a scaled down album, featuring a slimline sound that doesn't rely too heavily on overdubbing. The reason for this was to enable them to faithfully reproduce the songs in a live setting. As such it was a bit of a one- off experiment as they reverted to type with a richly orchestrated sound on their next album. ''A Question of Balance'' was the fifth in the series of early concept albums that the band released. By this point the concepts were perhaps wearing a bit thin, with the links between the songs here seeming rather tenuous. Broadly speaking the album is concerned with the ideas of strife and harmony, as exemplified in the two songs that bookend the album. The opening track ''Question'' reflects the political conflict of the then ongoing Vietnam War, whereas the message of compassion for enemies in ''The Balance'' counteracts that conflict.

The Moodies abandoned their space themes and Eastern leanings for this album, and instead went for a fairly straightforward sound; there are even some mild hints at country music on Justin Hayward's ''It's Up To You''. The songs here make up the usual Moodies' concoction with each member contributing a couple of compositions. There's the ubiquitous John Lodge rocker (''Tortoise And The Hare''), a signature Hayward ballad (''Dawning Is The Day'') and some metaphysical musings by Mike Pinder on ''How Is It (We Are Here)''. Fortunately there are one or two real highlights to stop it from seeming to be a ''by the numbers'' album. The aforementioned ''Question'' is an undoubted Moodies' classic, while Pinder's ''Melancholy Man'' successfully recreates the spacey feel of some of the band's earlier work and is noteworthy for its use of a synthesizer. Ray Thomas makes a strong contribution to the album, not only through his superb flute-playing but also his songwriting. At times he can be guilty of being a bit twee but his ''And The Tide Rushes In'' features one of his finest and most personal lyrics: ''You keep looking for someone to tell your troubles to, I'll sit down and lend an ear but I'll hear nothing new''. Well, it touches me, and that in my view is the essence of The Moody Blues. Their music is spiritual without being religious or affected; the message here isn't just ''peace'' as in freedom from war but ''peace'' as in a deep sense of fulfilment. Overall this is a lovely soft-rock album, but its appeal to prog fans may be limited.

Report this review (#296859)
Posted Tuesday, August 31, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars This time around the boys knuckled down and instead just wrote a bunch of good songs. 'Questions' is not my favourite but it rocks. 'How is it we are here' has a great bassline. Many of the tracks have a quaint charm about them, like 'Tortoise and the hare' and 'The minstrels song'. There's nothing quaint about 'it's up to you', a ten gallon rocker that vaguely sounds Van Halen-ish (think Black and Blue). Towards the end of the album you get one of the best Moody Blues songs ever, 'Dawning is the day' which is quite unknown, and maybe a little too complex to be a radio hit. It has a folk rock sort of sound and the guitar playing is just excellent. It's quite emotional and is very melodic, sought of gradually builds up to a dramatic finale, but never loses it's composure. Justin's voice is really smooth, too. He uses the full range of his voice on this one.

Well 'A question of balance' is not without it's faults but gets a big tick in my book. It's 7 / 10, three and a half, rounded up to four, because, all the songs are enjoyable, well-conceived and catchy! Admittedly, I never listen to the last two songs. I don't want to say that 'Melancholy Man' is a bad song, because it's not. So many other people really like this song, so I will say it is just not my taste. I can't really praise the title track though. But it's not that bad. The first eight songs are very enjoyable, it's also good how they blend various styles together, even in the one song. Well done!

Report this review (#322090)
Posted Tuesday, November 16, 2010 | Review Permalink
Tom Ozric
4 stars I'm ever so glad that The Moody Blues moved on from their R&B, Merseybeat pop onto more experimental paths. A Question of Balance offers the listener an insight to their raw side, and dare I say, 'heavier' side. This is an album devoid of the smooth studio over-production that was demonstrated on the previous few releases and contains a lot more energy than those. Debates may rage about the amount of progressiveness the band shows. They are certainly skillful musicians that play a great diversity of instruments, and know when and where to use them, even if only for a particular bar, or section of a song. This record has ten tracks of solidly written and uniquely arranged songs, starting with the dynamic and symphonic opening tune, the rather successful 'Question', hitting the listener in the face with fast paced acoustic guitar strumming, glorious bursts of Mellotron, a great bass line and a pacey beat. The mid-section slows things down to a very 'Nights In White Satin' feel along with tender and heartfelt vocals from Justin Hayward, only to return to the heavier intro section. Moodies at their best. All songs cross-fade into one another, a trick that the band perhaps over-used, but it prevents the listener's attention from straying. Great mellotron playing, especially on How Is It (We Are Here), creepy whispered vocals on Don't You Feel Small, impressive riff-based rock with It's Up To You, and also the addition of a synthesizer, used to good effect on Dawning is The Day and the somewhat depressing Melancholy Man. All tracks have something interesting about them, making this a solid starting point for anyone wishing to discover these artsy, proto- progsters in fine form. 4 stars.
Report this review (#380855)
Posted Sunday, January 16, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars "Question of Balance" is a very cosmic album. Here the group stripped down their well known lush psychedelic sound, but the songs are just as engaging as on previous albums. There are lots of great melodies as well as the usual charm and great musicianship.

The songwriting had some new ideas this time too, including touching on political strife with "Question". Here they dealt with the controversy of the ongoing VIetnam war. The song itself is an upbeat acoustic rocker with some Mellotron backing. The middle part of the song is slow and romantic. It's quite memorable and endearing.

The main concept of the album is about ecological problems and "How is it" brings that topic up first. The tune itself is dreamy and very spacey. The symphonic arrangements are striking and there seems to be a Mellotron and guitar duet here too. "As the tide rushes In" is a wonderful, soothing acoustic ballad that nicely leads on to "Don't You Feel Small" which has some spooky whispering backing vocals and great flute. There are some other cracking vocal harmonies particularly on "The Minstrel's Song" while "Tortoise and the Hare" is a rockier number and my least favourite here, but there's enough wonder to save the day. Hayward's "Its Up To You" and "Dawning Is the Day" are absolute stunners for me. His emotional voice captures my heart the most. "Melancholy Man" is well, very Melancholy! I love it though. The ending "Balance" is lovely and the last touch on the eco topic with a poem by Edge.

In all, I'd say it's a widely underrated album by many proggers although perhaps my view is a little biased being a massive "Moodies" fan. I think it's a great classic that should be listened to with an open heart and mind. 4.5 stars.

Report this review (#384548)
Posted Saturday, January 22, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars A Question of Balance ? 1970 (3.2/5) 11 ? Best Song: How Is It

It's the trillionth concept, this one's about nature. Grab your party helmets, let's review a friggin' album!

It sucks. The end. That's not right. That was my old review of Disraeli Gears that I shelved due to lack of inspiration. A Question of Balance is a good album for the same reasons the last two records were good, and bad for the same reason too. It's folky pop rock with lush instrumentation and some good ol' singing. I sure like the singing, it makes me smile sometimes. 'How Is It' has a surprising and exciting electric guitar solo (mainly because I figured the band didn't know what an electric guitar was, let alone a nice, relatively minimalist solo there). It's another case where folks seem to love the album, but I can't find much more than warm, quaint nicety in the project. They keep forgetting to be important, dammit. Maybe they were so afraid of being called pretentious that they were intent on making music that only works as intimate background music for the discerning art-rock fan.

Each song has nearly the same structure. They're short, rather derivative pop rockers with harmonies and a few nice melodies. I don't care for the stupid whispering and percussion on 'Don't You Feel Small', but the flute and harmonies keep it from being a total bore. And can I take a little time to bitch some more about how much I hate 1960's psychedelic mush? The one tune gets any repeated playtime out of me is 'Melancholy Man', which is only the case because of the mood. Get it if you really enjoy the style, you probably will. Me, I don't play it very often, so whatever.

Report this review (#440462)
Posted Friday, April 29, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars "he took to himself an orange and tasted it, And it was good."

The is album is amazing. I can't describe how much I love it in words (I'm a pretty terrible writer). The Moody Blues have the most beautiful lyrics and themes for their songs. Every song fits together perfectly, they've always had amazing flow to their albums. Every song on this album is great, Melancholy Man is a real gem. And there are few closing tracks better than Balance. This album is a bit more classic rock than classic prog, especailly if you compare it to DOFP or Lost Chord, but classic nonetheless. The Moody Blues have five or six 5 star albums in my opinion, Question of Balance is my favorite.

Report this review (#501073)
Posted Wednesday, August 10, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars The Moody Blues sixth record "A question of Balance" is a fine and well done soft progressive album with a big part of musicality. After the very good "To our Children's Children's Children is isn't very strange that this record must be considered a little decline. As before the group has a wonderful cover picture on their record. I takes place somewhere in space and we can both see Albert Einstein, a car, a bike, a rocket and someone with huge cotton hair. I like it very much. The musicians were Justin Hayward (guitars, vocals), John Lodge(bass, vocals), Michael Pinder(keyboards, vocals), Ray Thomas (harmonica, flute and vocals) and Graem Edge(drums, percussion).

The music has warmth and the composition here as before are very well performed. The sound is partially truely progressive and there are some hightligts from this album. You also got an even record in your hand which I think you'd like to hear. The sound is honest and quite old. When the music feels old, the progressive patterns make the listener a bit confused. The best song is "Melancholy man" which is almost a masterwork(9/10). It is also the album's most dark and heavy track(but it's not fast). It really has feeling. Beside from this song there are seven tracks that are a little bit extra in terms of honesty and richness. I'm talking about: "How is it(we are here)" where at least parts are very good, "And the tide rushes in" which is cosy, "Tortoise and the hare" where the guitars are good and rough, "It's up to you", "The balance" where a nice narrator tells us a story and "Question" which is partially great but not enough coherent(all 7/10). The other three tracks aren't bad but not very good either.

What I mostly will take with me from "A question of Balance" is "Melancholy man" which I recommend you. It is surely an even record with no bad features. My rating= 3,45 = Three stars

Report this review (#1111591)
Posted Thursday, January 9, 2014 | Review Permalink
3 stars Just as everyone else was jumping forward into the 1970s, the Moody Blues decided to go back to basics. Stripping away the orchestral touches to feature just the band playing somewhat more straight-ahead takes on their cosmic rock might have sounded like a good idea to revitalise their sound, but in practice it made them sound dated - like a proto-prog pop group from 1967 still holding out hope that an outpouring of peace and love from Woodstock could halt Vietnam.

To be fair, the album itself is perfectly listenable its own right, but at the same time it also marks the spot where the Moodies failed to keep up with the cutting edge of the progressive rock movement they'd helped to kick off. Though this is a solid album, and they'd put out further solid albums after that, they'd never again feel quite like the trailblazers they were on In Search of the Lost Chord or To Our Childrens' Childrens' Children.

Report this review (#1173261)
Posted Friday, May 9, 2014 | Review Permalink
4 stars Albums from In Search of a Lost Chord (1968) to To Our Children's Children's Children (1969) had been very ambitious technically, witnessing The Moody Blues work in the studio like a miniature orchestra, with endless overdubs. At this point the Moodies simplified their sound a lot, to make it easier to sound similar in a live setting. I can't blame them for that, in the end it was a natural way to move forward. This album still sounds fresh. It gives all attention to the songs themselves, and more clearly than ever before its attraction, whatever highs and lows it has to an indivifual listener, lies in the songwriting.

But that's not radically new after all, because each MB album of the Classic Seven is more or less uneven in songwriting - in my opinion - , a fact that all studio ambitions in the world can't hide. Perhaps the dull songs here are just duller in their rather monotonous nature, but they are a small minority. OK, I start with them: 'Tortoise and Hare', what a bore. The well-known Aesop fable has just inspired John Lodge (who wrote it if I remember right) to give the song a hectic feel of a running competition, and the virtue of keeping the goal clear in mind, but nothing else. The other bore is 'Minstrel's Song', which proceeds in equal monotony, though happy chorus makes it better. Anyway it is too long for the musical contents.

'Question', Hayward's mighty opener, is fantastic! One of the most dynamic and majestic songs he ever wrote.Pinder's 'How Is It (We Are Here)' is not among his best songs but has a deep atmosphere. 'And the Tide Rushes In' shows Ray Thomas in a sentimental crooner mood, succesfully. 'Don't You Feel Small' may be a little phoney with its whispered double vocals, and very simple in structure, but I like it as well. A couple of Hayward songs on his high standards, one rocking and one emotionally loaded. Pinder's 'Melancholy Man' is a beloved classic, and 'The Balance' ends the album in a very emotional way. Yes, this album is full of emotions, and works perfectly as an introduction to new MB listeners.

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Posted Friday, February 20, 2015 | Review Permalink
Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team
4 stars "A Question of Balance" is The Moodies album that opened up the new decade being the album that they released in 1970. It is interesting that the album's intention was to focus more on songs that could be played easier in concert, thus it strips away a lot of the psychedelia that was heavily present on their previous albums. As such, it stands out more among the many albums that the band released during this time, their "classic seven", which seem to almost melt together, almost making it difficult to discern one from another, yet all containing some excellent music, though much of it seems to sound dated after all of these years.

This album stands out among their early albums for a couple of reasons. First of all, there is a noticeable amount of variety among the tracks and each track stands out even though the music flows from one track to another most of the way through. The variety present on this album stems from the fact that each and every member seems to contribute songs evenly throughout the album with the exception of Justin Hayward who contributes 3 songs out of the 10 total tracks. This variety however, does not take away from the cohesiveness of the album as , for the most part, it has a warmer tone that seems to connect better to an audience, not buried in the usual synths and orchestral layers that many of their previous albums had.

But, that is the thing with "A Question of Balance" and is the thing that sets it apart from these albums even though it fell in the middle of these classic albums that the band is famous for. Starting off with their big hit "The Question", you instantly hear the difference as the song is quite acoustic sounding. Another thing you might notice is if you have their amazing collection "This is the Moody Blues", you will notice that the version on this album is quite a bit different from the one on that collection. This version was made for this album as the mellotron and orchestra are taken out of the mix making it even more acoustic and concert-friendly. The other, more familiar, version was the version used for the single that was released before this album. I love both versions of this song and it remains one of my favorite tracks from the band.

The first side of the album features a song written by each member of the band. "The Question" is from who has pretty much become the lead man of the band, Justin Hayward. After this, Mike Pinder's "How Is It (We Are Here)" which brings the mellotron back in, but manages to keep the track simple and interesting. Another familiar track follows, "The Tide Rushes In", Ray Thomas' contribution for the first side of the album. This one is a distinctive Thomas track, more of a nostalgic sounding track and one that also fits well on the album, melancholic, yet a nice tempo. The flute laden "Don't You Fell Small" which is Graeme Edge's song, is a bit closer to the previous album's sounds, but still all performed by the musicians without any orchestra, and allowing a bit more instrumentatlism to come into play. All of the members participate in the vocals on this song. The last track on the first half is John Lodge's contribution "The Tortoise and The Hare". The lyrics are based around the famous story, the song is the most upbeat on this side with the guitars being allowed to shine through.

There is no doubt that you are listening to a Moody Blues album here, but you will notice a difference in the sound as you get into the 2nd half of the album. This continues with Hayward's 2nd contribution "It's Up to You" which has a strong rock feel to it that borrows heavily from the sound of the time, specifically The Beatles and others. A nice, smooth track follows, Lodge's "Minstrel's Song", which has the folk-ish sound to it as hinted at by the title, but also retains a sing-a-long, nice rock attitude in the chorus, though it does get a bit repetitive at the end. Quite a lovely track though. Hayward returns one last time contributing his 3rd track "Dawning of the Day", a more complex, yet acoustic- based track that adds in some great flute, mellotron and piano flourishes during the instrumental break. Mike Pinder's somewhat famous track "Melancholy Man" follows this. This track flows along quite smoothly and softly and is a fan favorite and also the longest track on the album at almost 6 minutes. It has a nice melody that will stick with you as you become familiar with it, you'll find it playing over and over in your head, but not in an annoying way. This is another personal favorite of mine, and for me, it embodies the warm and safe sound of the band, but adding in that folk element among the lovely instrumentation that at time gets pretty thick along with the descending wordless vocals and layers of warm musical sound. The last track "The Balance" is written by both Graeme Edge and Ray Thomas and contains the expected poetry/spoken word that you hear in their early work. The music is light and mostly acoustic accented by the usual psychedelic vocals, but kept in the background. The verses are spoken and the chorus is sung. The track fades out as levels of vocals and instruments build. This track is probably the one that hasn't aged as well as the others on this album.

The music on this album does have more heart than previous albums and the listener will feel more connected to the sound. However, it is still undoubtedly The Moody Blues, you still have the nice soft and cozy sound that envelops you like a warm blanket, but this time, unhindered by the over-produced sounds and hoopla of previous albums. Ray Thomas doesn't contribute the amount of songs that he usually does and his presence seems to be less this time around, but that probably also accounts for the warmer and less busy sound of the album. It probably also accounts for the fact that most of the music on this album has aged a lot better than most of the music on their other albums from this period of time. In the end, this album, to me, stands out better than the others in this early part of their career as it seems to be less busy and more focused. There are parts of it that haven't aged that well, but for the most part, overall, the album has aged much better than many of their other albums. To me, this album comes in as the 2nd best of their early career, not far behind their classic "Days of Future Past". This ends up as a solid 4 star album, which at time even creeps into 4.5 star territory. The Moody Blues thus prove they can fit into a new decade, yet mostly still retain their signature sound, just without so much of the "needless" orchestration that they usually heap on.

Report this review (#2450937)
Posted Friday, September 25, 2020 | Review Permalink

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