This Is The Moody Blues and the album definitely has a significant place on our list of ‘The Best Music on the Planet’. Plus, if you’re like us on this one, you don’t always link the music with the title until you hear the song. And these two disks carry many fantastic and memorable songs that you need to hear. They are great when you’re happy and comforting when you’re sad. Perhaps one or two will even make you cry. They certainly put the ‘moody’ into their attempt at curing our shared common blues.
The Moody Blues seem to have missed recognition from the powers that be in the so-called mainstream since from where I stand they are the most overlooked rock band of their era. No other group even comes close. Ultimate Classic Rock has called the group “perennial victims of an unaccountable snubbing”. They have never received a nomination for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and in 2013 readers of Rolling Stone voted for them as one of the ten bands that should be inducted. A bit of research reveals a recent article that also protests the shunning of the Moody Blues. It ranks the band as the 3rd most overlooked, behind Warren Zevon and The Kinks.
One would think that after selling some 70 million records and building a global following of perhaps that many fans as well, the nameless faces in the boardrooms of Cleveland would at least acknowledge their enduring legacy with a nomination. Frickin’ Abba is in the Hall of Fame. Abba. Did they even play instruments? And that’s just the first undeserving (no offense to Abba fans, but c’mon…) outfit found under “A” on their inductee list!
The five original members first became a group in May of 1964, and the name they took was inspired by band hopes of a publicity deal with Mitchells & Butlers Brewery, which eventually fell through. Mike Pinder, Ray Thomas, Denny Laine (of later Wings fame), Clint Warwick, and Graeme Edge called themselves both “The M Bs” and “The M B Five” until they made their first appearance as the Moody Blues at a ’64 gig in Birmingham.
Upon wrangling a record deal with Decca, the band put out a single which didn’t sell, then got some camera time during an appearance on Ready, Steady, Go, a cult television show, in May of that year. Their second single, “Go Now”, rocketed to Number One in Britain and jumped into the 10th spot on U.S. charts. Strangely, the tune is their only single to reach the top spot in Britain.
The group switched to London records and in 1965 their debut album, The Magnificent Moodies, was released. Three singles that followed went mostly unnoticed, and management-related issues compounded problems, leading to an eventual dissolution of the group in October of ’65. In November the following year, the band was back together, with bassist John Lodge and guitarist/vocalist Justin Hayward joining the fold. A few singles again failed to gain recognition, and the contract with Decca/London was expiring soon, however, a recording deal was reached with Deramic, a new subsidiary of Decca. The band was offered the chance to record an album that utilized a brand new sound technology, Deramic Stereo Sound (DSS). The deal was to have the band record a rock version of Antonín Dvořáks New World Symphony.
After arguments regarding creative control of the project, and with various delays causing conflict, the album, Days of Future Passed, went public in November of 1967. It grew into one of the most successful recordings of the period, achieving Gold Record status and reaching Number 27 on the British album charts. It took five years (underrated from the start?) to finally peak at Number 3 on the U.S. Billboard charts.
Two singles from the record, “Nights in White Satin” and “Tuesday Afternoon” soon came out, and ‘Nights’ made it to spot 19 on British charts in early 1968 but did nothing in U.S. sales, and “Tuesday Afternoon” failed to chart in Britain but got to the 24th slot on American lists. Both singles were reissued in 1972 and gained much wider popularity, and from then on it was no turning back.
Through the end of the decade in into the early seventies, the band produced a handful of albums that debuted many noteworthy, cherished and popular songs. We all know them: “Ride My See-Saw”, “Dear Diary”, “Question”, and, from the November 1972 U.S. Number One album Seventh Sojourn, “I’m Just a Singer (In a Rock and Roll Band).”
The Moody Blues were also one of the innovators in pursuing the premise that a famous rock band could promote itself by forming their own record label, as did The Beatles with Apple. In 1969, following the release of On The Threshold of a Dream, the group created Threshold Records. From that point on, every recording they released could be found with their label on various formats.
In the spring of 1974, after undertaking a major world tour that ended with a mini-tour of Asia, the band took a long overdue, extended break, which was erroneously reported as a break-up at the time. The musicians produced solo efforts and got involved in other projects, and after a few years reunited in 1977. The following year Justin Hayward made the charts (Number 5 in the UK and Number 47 stateside) with the single “Forever Autumn”, a cut from the cult concept album War of the Worlds from Jeff Wayne. The release lasted a remarkable 290 weeks in the UK album charts. It was in the top 10 in 22 countries and reached the Top of the Charts in 11 countries.The band toured in the United States and Europe during much of 1979 and recorded tracks for The Moody Blues Live in Seattle 1979, which did not hit the racks until 2013. In 1981, Long Distance Voyager was released, and two singles from the record made some chart noise: “The Voice” and “Gemini Dream”. In 1986 they enjoyed another round of success with their album The Other Side of Life. When “In Your Wildest Dreams” came out as a single and reached U.S. Top Ten, it made the group “the first act in history to earn each of its first three top 10 singles in a different decade”. The song also won the Billboard Video of the Year award due to extensive MTV airplay.
These days the band still performs and tours, with a ‘cruise and schmooze’ vacation package setting sail in January of 2018, and they are still extremely popular. Updated group information and band history can be found on their website, and we hope to soon hear of the group making plans for a trip to Ohio.