The Moody Blues – Caught Live + 5 (1977)

FrontCover1The Moody Blues were an English rock band formed in Birmingham in 1964, initially consisting of keyboardist Mike Pinder, multi-instrumentalist Ray Thomas, guitarist Denny Laine, drummer Graeme Edge, and bassist Clint Warwick. The group came to prominence playing rhythm and blues music. They made some changes in musicians but settled on a line-up of Pinder, Thomas, Edge, guitarist Justin Hayward, and bassist John Lodge, who stayed together for most of the band’s “classic era” into the early 1970s.

Their second album, Days of Future Passed, which was released in 1967, was a fusion of rock with classical music which established the band as pioneers in the development of art rock and progressive rock. It has been described as a “landmark” and “one of the first successful concept albums”. The group toured extensively through the early 1970s, then took an extended hiatus from 1974 until 1977.

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Founder Mike Pinder left the group a year after they re-formed and was replaced by Swiss keyboardist Patrick Moraz in 1978. In the following decade they took on a more synth-pop sound and produced The Other Side of Life in 1986, which made them the first act to earn each of its first three top 10 singles in the United States in a different decade.[10] Health troubles led to a diminished role for founder Ray Thomas throughout the 1980s, though his musical contributions rebounded after Moraz departed in 1991. Thomas retired from the band in 2002.

The band’s last album was the Christmas album December (2003), after which they decided to forgo recording any further albums.However, they continued to tour throughout the 2000s and later reunited periodically for events, one-off concerts, short tours and cruises, until Edge’s retirement in 2018.

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The Moody Blues’ most successful singles include “Go Now”, “Nights in White Satin”, “Tuesday Afternoon”, “Question”, “Gemini Dream”, “The Voice” and “Your Wildest Dreams”. The band has sold 70 million albums worldwide, which includes 18 platinum and gold LPs. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2018.

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Caught Live + 5 is a live album by The Moody Blues, consisting of a 12 December 1969 live show at the Royal Albert Hall and five previously unreleased studio recordings from 1967 to 1968.

The band’s performance was a popular and critical success at the time. In his newspaper review of the event, music critic Jack Scott called the concert a “knockout victory for progressive pop,” having a “rich, full sound that combined sensitivity with sheer popular punch.”

… [B]eautifully controlled waves of volume kept excitement high … They’re not slaves to volume. Power was used judiciously with splendid effect, producing a clean-cut, undulating sound…

The “+5” studio tracks were re-released on their 1987 album Prelude.

The 8-track tape version of this album has the distinction of being one of the few 8-tracks that is arranged exactly like the album, with no song breaks.

While Caught Live + 5 managed to reach #26 during its American chart run, it missed the British listings completely, the first time this had occurred for The Moody Blues since their 1965 debut The Magnificent Moodies (although that album had reached number 5 on the NME album chart).

This is the first Moody Blues album since Days of Future Passed not to feature cover artwork by Philip Travers. Decca Records instead used British art design group Hipgnosis. (wikipedia)

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Due to interpersonal strife, the Moody Blues called it quits between 1972’s Seventh Sojourn and 1978’s Octave. Presumably attempting to satiate hungry Moodies fans, Threshold released this vintage concert recording from a 1969 Royal Albert Hall show. The band was young and at the peak of its popularity, and they sound full of promise and ambition. Most of the songs come from their classic concept album Days of Future Passed and its two successors. Having not yet settled into a more comfortable ballad mode, the group was at the peak of its psych/prog powers. Mike Pinder’s Mellotron is unleashed in all its faux-string section glory on “Tuesday Afternoon” and the evergreen “Nights in White Satin,” and Ray Thomas’ pixie-like flute presence colors pretty ballads such as “Are you Sitting Comfortably?” The most impressive thing about Caught Live + 5 is that the Moodies, whose reputation was made on their larger-than-life studio achievements, proved more than up to the task of reproducing these achievements live. As a bonus, there are five tracks included with Caught Live, studio rarities from the same time period. (by Rovi Staff)

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Personnel:
Graeme Edge (drums, percussion)
ustin Hayward (vocals, guitar)
John Lodge (bass, background vocals)
Mike Pinder (mellotron, background vocals)
Ray Thomas (vocals, flute, harmonica, tambourine)

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Tracklist:
01. Gypsy (Of A Strange And Distant Time) (Hayward) 4.04
02.The Sunset (Pinder) 4.33
03. Dr. Livingstone, I Presume (Thomas) 3.23
04. Never Comes The Day (Hayward) 5.40
05. Peak Hour (John Lodge) 5.13
06. Tuesday Afternoon (Hayward) 4.51
07. Are You Sitting Comfortably? (Hayward/Thomas) 4.22
08. The Dream (Edge) 0.58
09. Have You Heard (Part 1) (Pinder) 1.22
10. The Voyage (Pinder) 3.37
11. Have You Heard (Part 2) (Pinder) 2.33
12. Nights In White Satin (Hayward) 5.56
13. Legend Of A Mind (Thomas) 7.05
14. Ride My See-Saw (Lodge) 4.30
15. Gimme A Little Somethin’ (Lodge) 3.13
16. Please Think About It (Pinder) 3.44
17. Long Summer Days (Hayward) 3.12
18. King And Queen (Hayward) 3.56
19. What Am I Doing Here? (Hayward) 3.34

Tracks 1–14 are live while tracks 15–19 are studio recordings.

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The Moody Blues – December (2003)

FrontCover1.jpgDecember is the sixteenth and final album by the Moody Blues. The Christmas themed album released in 2003 is their first album since The Magnificent Moodies to feature covers in addition to original material. It is also their first album following Ray Thomas’ retirement from the band. (by wikipedia)

One must give the Moody Blues credit for tenacity and a single-pointed focus. For 37 years they’ve put forth a startlingly consistent series of themes: optimism, a kind of blind-faith spirituality that the universe is in good hands and that people are by and large decent and kind, and love songs that can be a bit twee, but nonetheless connect when one is in the emotional space to hear them. Their music has always been intimate and pretentious in the best sense of the words. December is the Moodies’ first Christmas album. The classic lineup has been whittled down to three: John Lodge, Justin Hayward, and Graeme Edge; Ray Thomas decided to call it quitsin 2002.

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The band is augmented by unofficial member and producer Danilo Madonia in the studio. This is the most curious of Christmas recordings. December is an album about the spirit of Christmas but, with its lack of carols (though it does feature Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas” near the end), it sounds more like another chapter in the Moody Blues’ legend, and that’s exactly what it is. Like many Moody Blues records since the 1980s, the original songs are nostalgic, pointing listeners back to memories of an idyllic past when things were simpler, and toward the hope that social and spiritual renewal are just around the corner. The set features a number of Hayward and Lodge originals, obscure and traditional Anglo folk songs, a transposed piece by Bach, and a cover of John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” — alas, if only that were true. If you’re a fan or a detractor, you already know what the album sounds like.

MoodyBlues01Unpredictability left the band’s vocabulary in the 1970s, but that doesn’t mean that this collection is without merit. For starters, it is one of the most original Christmas albums you’ll hear all year. There is no new age drivel here; its topics and themes are indeed Christian, but weigh on the side of those that are universally held: brotherhood, compassion, hope, goodwill, and generosity. In addition, it’s beautifully orchestrated and produced. Its sound is pristine, and Hayward and Lodge with their trademark elegance sound as if they mean every word they write and sing. And it’s easy to believe that. It most certainly is sentimental and lush, and has nothing whatsoever to do with rock & roll, but that hardly matters. As the latest Moody Blues album, it likely lives up to fans’ expectations; as a holiday recording, it’s unlike anything else out there. (by Thom Jurek)

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Personnel:
Graeme Edge (drums, percussion)
Justin Hayward (vocals, guitar)
John Lodge (vocals, bass)
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Danilo Madonia (keyboards, sequencing)
Norda Mullen (flute)

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Tracklist:
01. Don’t Need A Reindeer (Hayward) 4.00
02. December Snow (Hayward) 5.11
03. In The Quiet Of Christmas Morning (Bach/Hayward/Lodge) 2.51
04. On This Christmas Day (Lodge) 3.40
05. Happy Xmas (War Is Over) (Lennon/Ono) 2.37
06. A Winter’s Tale (Batt/Rice) 4.28
07. The Spirit Of Christmas (Lodge) 4.53
08. Yes I Believe (Hayward) 4.21
09. When A Child Is Born (Zacar/Jay) 3.34
10. White Christmas (Berlin) 3.09
11. In The Bleak Midwinter (Holst/Rossetti) 3.22

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The Moody Blues – The Magnificent Moodies (1965)

FrontCover1The Magnificent Moodies is the 1965 debut album by The Moody Blues, first released in the UK, and the first and only album featuring their R&B line-up of guitarist Denny Laine, bassist Clint Warwick, keyboardist Mike Pinder, flautist–percussionist Ray Thomas, and drummer Graeme Edge. Lead vocals were shared by Laine, Pinder and Thomas. The album is a collection of R&B and Merseybeat songs, including the cover of “Go Now”, produced by Alex Wharton, that had been a Number 1 hit single earlier that year. For the U.S. release, on London Records, with the title of Go Now – The Moody Blues #1, four songs were replaced and the tracks re-ordered.

The album did not make the Record Retailer/Music Week chart even though it reached number 5 in August 1965 in the New Musical Express album chart. The U.S. album did not make the Billboard chart.

The sleeve notes on the original UK release include an (undated) review by Virginia Ironside, music critic of Daily Mail, which concludes, “With the Moody Blues, all you need to write is “MAGNIFICENT” in pink lipstick and leave it at that”; and a prose poem by Donovan recommending the band. All the tracks on the UK release were produced by Denny Cordell; except for “Go Now”, which was produced by Alex Wharton.

Laine and Warwick left the group in 1966, and were replaced by guitarist Justin Hayward and bassist John Lodge respectively. (by wikipedia)

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The pre-psychedelic Moody Blues were represented in England by this album, which is steeped in American soul. The covers include songs by James Brown, Willie Dixon, and Chris Kenner, plus the chart-busting “Go Now” (originally recorded by Bessie Banks), interspersed with a brace of originals by lead singer/guitarist Denny Laine and keyboardist Mike Pinder, and one Jeff Barry/Ellie Greenwich number, “I’ve Got a Dream.” The shouters, like “I’ll Go Crazy” and “Bye Bye Bird,” will be the big surprises, showcasing the rawest sound by the group, but “I’ve Got a Dream” shows a lyrical, harmony-based sound that is vaguely reminiscent of the Four Tops (which is ironic, as that group later cut a single of the latter-day Moody Blues original “So Deep Within You”), while “Thank You Baby,” a Laine/Pinder original, offers them doing a smooth, dance-oriented number with some catchy hooks. The group’s sound is good and loud, and Laine was a phenomenal singer, though the band lacked the charisma and built-in excitement of such rivals as the Rolling Stones and the Animals. This album is more interesting than its American equivalent, but also not as good, since it leaves off such single sides as “Steal Your Heart Away” and the Pinder/Laine “From the Bottom of My Heart,” the latter being the best side this version of the group ever recorded. (by Bruce Eder)

Ray Thomas, flautist and vocalist for British rock group The Moody Blues, has died suddenly on January 4, 2018 …

Listen to his harmonica solo on “Bye Bye Bird” … bye bye Ray Thomas ….

The Moody Blues in Concert at The Pier - Summer 1987

Personnel:
Graeme Edge (drums, percussion, vocals)
Denny Laine (vocals, guitar, harmonica)
Mike Pinder (keyboards, vocals)
Ray Thomas (flute, harmonica, percussion, vocals)
Clint Warwick (bass, vocals)
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Elaine Caswell (percussion)

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Tracklist:
01. I’ll Go Crazy (Brown) 2.08
02. Something You Got (Kenner) 2.49
03. Go Now (Banks/Bennett) 3.09
04. Can’t Nobody Love You (Mitchell) 3.59
05. I Don’t Mind (Brown) 3.24
06. I’ve Got A Dream (Greenwich/Barry) 2.48
07. Let Me Go (Laine/Pinder) 3.11
08. Stop (Laine/Pinder) 2.02
09. Thank You Baby (Laine/Pinder) 2.26
10. It Ain’t Necessarily So (Heyward/G. Gershwin/I. Gershwin) 3.18
11. True Story (Laine/Pinder) 1.42
12. Bye Bye Bird (Williamson/Dixon) 2.47LabelB1

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Ray Thomas

Ray Thomas, flautist and vocalist for British rock group The Moody Blues, has died suddenly on January 4, 2018, his record label said. He was 76. Cherry Red Records and Esoteric Recordings said in a statement: “We are deeply shocked by his passing and will miss his warmth, humour and kindness. It was a privilege to have known and worked with him and our thoughts are with his family and his wife, Lee, at this sad time.” In 2014 Thomas revealed on his website that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. He said he had received his diagnosis in 2013. Born in 1941, Thomas founded The Moody Blues in 1964 with fellow musicians including Mike Pinder and Denny Laine. The band soon swapped blues roots for a more orchestral sound that came to be called progressive rock. Thomas’s flute solo was a key ingredient on one of its biggest hits, “Nights in White Satin.” The band is due to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio in April 2018. – The Guardian/Billboard