American documentary filmmaker Murray Lerner covered the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival; however, it took 25 years before the public had a chance to see the film, which was titled “Message to Love,” at the 1995 San Jose Film Festival. Since then, Lerner has created a line of DVDs featuring The Who (Live at the Isle of Wight Festival 1970); Jimi Hendrix (Blue Wild Angel); Miles Davis (Miles Electric - A Different Kind of Blue); Jethro Tull (Nothing is Easy: Live at the Isle of Wight 1970); and Emerson, Lake & Palmer (The Birth Of A Band: Isle of Wight 1970). The Moody Blues have now joined their fellow classic rockers with the release of Threshold Of A Dream: Live at the Isle of Wight 1970.
The DVD presents a 20-minute biography of the band containing interviews recorded in 2008 with drummer Graeme Edge, guitarist Justin Hayward, bassist John Lodge, and former keyboardist Mike Pinder, who left the band in 1979. The Moody Blues started as a blues-based band, influenced like so many of their peers by American blues. A clip from 1965 shows them playing “Hey, Bo Diddley” with former member Ray Thomas on harmonica.
The band then decided to write and perform material they identified with. What really made their music stand out was Pinder on a Mellotron, a keyboard device that played short audiotapes, usually of orchestral sounds. Their music had a psychedelic influence and was a precursor to progressive rock bands, particularly the subgenre of symphonic rock. Hayward talks about the band’s shared experiences in seeking enlightenment. Edge laughs about it because his assessment was they “were just getting wrecked. It felt like our minds were expanding.”
The 1970 festival had 600,000 people in attendance and The Moody Blues had just released their sixth album, A Question of Balance. They performed 14 songs that day and the entire set is available as a CD. Unfortunately, not all of the film footage has survived. This becomes evident during “The Sunset” where concertgoers are shown at different times of day rather than the band on stage like the previous five songs.