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Music Review: The Moody Blues – Live At The Isle Of Wight Festival

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The Moody Blues formed in 1964 as a gritty blues/rock band. They found quick success with the hit single, “Go Now.” By 1967, lead vocalist Denny Laine and bassist Carl Warwick had left the group and were replaced by Justin Hayward and John Lodge. The rest, as they say, is history.

The new Moody Blues released the album, Days Of Future Passed, in November of 1967. It was a breakthrough release both critically and commercially. The Moody Blues may not have invented classical rock, but they were close and would become its leading practitioners for the nest forty years. Days Of Future Past fused the classical instruments of The London Festival Orchestra with a rock ‘n’ roll sound. This concept album, tracing the life of a day from dawn to dusk, produced the eternal songs, “Tuesday Afternoon” and “Nights In White Satin.”  1970 found The Hayward and Lodge Moody Blues five albums into their career and huge worldwide stars. All this brought the group to the Isle Of Wight Festival and performing in front of 600,000 people. Their fourteen song performance has finally been released in 2008 as Live At The Isle Of Wight Festival.  

The Moody Blues in concert were a far different animal than the Moody Blues in the studio. In the studio they would overdub their instruments and vocals plus add strings and a variety of other sounds. In concert they were more of a straight rock band, although they would try to replicate their studio sound as much as possible. The Isle Of Wight Festival was also outside, and the sound captured with the recording equipment of 1970 is a little washed out.

In retrospect, this is an interesting set for fans of the Moody Blues. They were touring in support of their latest release, A Question Of Balance, plus their catalogue of songs and hits was not extensive in 1970. This meant that a number of songs that have long disappeared from the Moody Blues concert act are included here. Songs such as “Gypsy,” “Are You Sitting Comfortably,” “Never Comes The Day” and particularly Mike Pinder’s “Melancholy Man” are all interesting to hear live and all are performed well.

“Tuesday Afternoon” is very representative of the Moody Blues performing their better known songs. The vocal is accurate and a little gritty but is somewhat lost in the mix as the drums and bass are turned up to compensate for the loss of their fuller studio sound. “Question” is slowed down a bit, which was a wise decision. “Nights In White Satin” is stripped down a little but is satisfying. “Ride My See Saw” emerges as more of a straight rock song.

Live At The Isle Of Wight is probably an accurate picture of the Moody Blues in concert early in their career. I saw the Moody Blues in concert about a decade later when keyboard wizard Patrick Moraz was with the band, and the sound was a lot fuller because of his technical virtuosity.

All in all, Live At The Isle Of Wight Festival should appeal to any fan of the Moody blues and aficionados of this era of rock ‘n’ roll history.

 

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