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Category:    Home > Reviews > Rock > Progressive Rock > Multi-Channel Music > The Moody Blues – U.K. SACD Imports (Days Of Future Passed, In Search Of The Lost Chord, On The Threshold Of A Dream, To Our Children’s Children’s Children, A Question Of Balance)

The Moody Blues – U.K. SACD Imports


PCM 2.0 Stereo: B     DSD 2.0 Stereo:     DSD 5.1:    Music (including Bonus tracks):


Days Of Future Passed (1967)     B+/A-/B+

In Search Of the Lost Chord (1968)     B+/not available/B+

On The Threshold Of A Dream (1969)     A-/A/B+

To Our Children’s Children’s Children (1969)     A-/A/B+

A Question Of Balance (1970)     A-/A/A-



The one Progressive Rock band that stayed as such without going into another direction (ELO doing with The Beatles what Brian De Palma did with Alfred Hitchcock, for instance) to maintain commercial viability is The Moody Blues.  One of the greatest of all British Rock bands, they first gained attention in 1965 with their great Pop/Rock hit Go Now!  However, instead of just settling for status as a one hit wonder, British Invasion tag-along or singles act, they eventually reorganized into a much bolder group and in 1967 began one of the most prolific periods any band ever had.


Universal Music in the United Kingdom has exclusively issued the first five key albums of that period, where they distinguished themselves from their very talented competitors.  That they came up with Days Of Future Passed in 1967, the same year as The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is amazing.  Days has been as celebrated as it has been derided, but has endured as a creative, unique work that has remained an audiophile favorite for nearly 40 years.  This review will cover each album, including its extra tracks, than conclude with the audio section.  “Deluxe Edition” indicates SACD/CD set.  The tracks of each album are:





Disc One

The Original Album Digitally Remastered from the Original Master Tapes by Justin Hayward.
01: The Day Begins (5.51)
02: Dawn (Dawn Is A Feeling) (3.49)
03: The Morning (Another Morning) (3.56)
04: Lunch Break (Peak Hour) (5.29)
05: The Afternoon
 a) Forever Afternoon (Tuesday?)
 b) (Evening) Time To Get Away (8.23)
06: Evening
 a) The Sun Set
 b) Twilight Time  (6.40)
07: The Night (Nights In White Satin) (7.26)


Disc Two

Alternate Versions, Singles and BBC Sessions


01: Tuesday Afternoon - Alternate Mix (4.19) *
02: Dawn Is A Feeling - Alternate Version (2.19)*
03: The Sun Set - Alternate Version (2.48) *
04: Twilight Time - Alternate Vocal Mix (2.27) *
05: Nights In White Satin - Mono Single Version (4.26)
06: Fly Me High - Mono Single - Version (2.54)
07: I Really Haven’t Got The Time - Mono Single Version (3.07)
08: Love and Beauty -  Mono Single Version (2.23)
09: Leave This Man Alone - Mono Single Version (2.58)
10: Cities - Mono - Single Version (2.23)
11: Long Summer Days  - Stereo Version (3.12)
12: Please Think About It - Stereo Version (3.40)
13: Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood - BBC Saturday Club Session 9/5/67 (2.22)*
14: Love and Beauty - BBC Easybeat Session 20/9/67 (2.11)*
15: Leave This Man Alone - BBC Easybeat Session 20/9/67 (2.51)*
16: Peak Hour - BBC Easybeat Session 20/9/67 (3.21) *
17: Nights In White Satin - BBC Dave Symonds Session 1/1/68 (3.48)*
18: Fly Me High - BBC Dave Symonds Session 1/1/68 (2.44)*
19: Twilight Time - Live BBC Dave Symonds Session 1/1/68 (2.08)*





Though Tuesday Afternoon was the early big hit, made a single despite the way it is interwoven into the album, Nights In White Satin actually became a hit single in 1972 after years of being a favorite vinyl record album cut and these albums were issued in Quadraphonic editions.  The idea of an album trying to be about nature (outside of the Classical or Jazz genres) was part of the Summer of Love, partly psychedelic, partly abstract art, partly about expanding what music and an album could be and partly about the album being more than just a singles collection.  Perhaps this is why the first Moody Blues album is not being reissued as part of this SACD series.


The interesting thing about this album, which was the second-ever for the band, is that you have to hear it with the best possible fidelity playback possible.  It was a hit because this was a time when people really had the attention span and desire to listen to something new and different.  Though Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was the first concept album, this is widely acknowledged as the first Art Rock album and beginning of the Progressive Rock movement.  Now referred to as Prog Rock, this was not like later albums by the likes of Yes, King Crimson, Gentle Giant, Pink Floyd or Emersion, Lake & Palmer.  The Moodys (as some fans call them) were in a class by themselves and carved out this philosophical mix of British Western and general Eastern philosophies that meshed well enough to make them distinctive auteurs few even tried to imitate.  For the most part, you can tell a Moody Blues song by the vocals, smoothness of the combination of Classical and Blues influences with a Rock edge.  John Lodge (bass, vocals) and Justin Hayward (lead vocals, lead guitar) had replaced Clint Warwick and Denny Laine in 1966 and their replacements eclipsed them.  They would be core insiders from now on and the future of the band was assured.


The attempt here was to do a sort of fantasy tale of adults and they succeeded very well, needless to say.


The band greenlighted the excavating of extra tracks for all five releases and that includes obvious alternative tracks, including alternate mixes.  The tracks here are all interesting, good and make for interesting comparisons to original versions where applicable.  The only strange misfire here is a live cover of The Animals’ Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood, which is just too light and soft to be effective.  It also lacks their signature sound and feel, meaning they unsuccessfully made the song their own. 



The second album with the new line-up was:






Disc One

The Original Album Remastered from the Original Master Tapes


01: Departure (0.45)
02: Ride My See Saw (3.39)
03: Dr. Livingstone, I Presume (2.58)
04: House of Four Doors - Part One (4.13)
05: Legend Of A Mind (6.36)
06: House of Four Doors - Part Two (1.47)
07: Voices In The Sky (3.28)
08: The Best Way To Travel (3.14)
09: Visions of Paradise (4.15)
10: The Actor (4.39)
11: The Word (0.48)
12: Om (5.50)


Disc Two

Previously Unreleased Demos and BBC Radio 1 Sessions
01: Departure - Alternate Mix (0.55)*
02: The Best Way To Travel - Additional Vocal Mix (4.03)*
03: Legend Of A Mind - Alternate Mix (6.43) *
04: Visions Of Paradise - Sitar Mix (4.30) *
05: What Am I Doing Here? - Alternate Mix (3.53) *
06: The Word - Mellotron Mix (1.01)*
07: Om - Full Version (6.07) *
08: Simple Game - Justin Hayward Vocal Mix (3.26) *
09: King and Queen (3.53)
10: Dr Livingstone, I Presume - BBC Top Gear Session 16/7/68 (2.57) *
11: Voices In The Sky - BBC Top Gear Session 16/7/68 (3.52) *
12: Thinking Is The Best Way - BBC Top Gear Session 16/7/68 (3.38) *
13: Ride My See Saw - BBC Top Gear Session 16/7/68 (3.49) *
14: Tuesday Afternoon - BBC Afternoon Pop Show 7/10/68 (3.23) *
15: Simple Game - Single Version (3.44)





There are so many good tracks here, but Ride My See-Saw is always one of the most striking to me and the alternate version is very paired down as compared to the studio version being live and all.  This can also be said for the performance of Tuesday Afternoon that follows.  It also shows what a great live band they always were.






The Original Album Remastered from the Original Quad Masters plus Bonus Tracks
01: In The Beginning (2.08)
02: Lovely To See You (2.34)
03: Dear Diary (3.56)
04: Send Me No Wine (2.20)
05: To Share Our Love (2.54)
06: So Deep Within You (3.07)
07: Never Comes The Day (4.43)
08: Lazy Day (2.43)
09: Are You Sitting Comfortably (3.29)
10: The Dream (0.58)
11: Have You Heard - Part One (1.28)
12: The Voyage (4.11)
13: Have You Heard - Part Two (2.26)


Bonus Tracks

14: In The Beginning - Full Version (3.26)*
15: So Deep Within You - Full Version (3.28)*
16: Dear Diary - Alternate Mix (4.02) *
17: Have You Heard - Original Take (3.50)*
18: The Voyage - Original Take (4.17)*
19: Lovely To See You - BBC Top Gear Session 18/2/69 (2.24) *
20: Send Me No Wine - BBC Top Gear Session 18/2/69 (2.38) *
21: So Deep Within You - BBC Tony Brandon Session - Mono 2/4/69 (3.05)*
22: Are You Sitting Comfortably - Mono Version (3.38) *




There are not as many bonus tracks on this single disc, but these are pretty good, but the original versions are king in this case.




Disc One

The Original Album Remastered from the Original Quad Masters
01: Higher and Higher (4.06)
02: Eyes Of A Child - Part One (3.23)
03: Floating (2.58)
04: Eyes Of A Child - Part Two (1.23)
05: I Never Thought I’d Live To Be A Hundred (1.05)
06: Beyond (2.58)
07: Out And In (3.47)
08: Gypsy (3.33)
09: Eternity Road (4.19)
10: Candle Of Life (4.14)
11: Sun Is Still Shining (3.39)
12:1 Never Thought I’d Live To Be A Million (0.33)
13: Watching And Waiting (4.16)
Disc Two
01: Gypsy - Full Version (4.16) *
02: Candle of Life - Full Version (4.55) *
03: Sun Is Still Shining - Alternate Mix (4.03) *
04: Gypsy - BBC Radio Concert 17/12/69 (3.15) *
05: Sunset - BBC Radio Concert 17/12/69 (3.43) *
06: Never Comes The Day - BBC Radio Concert 17/12/69 (4.17) *
07: Are You Sifting Comfortably - Radio Concert 17/12/69 (2.53) *
08: The Dream - BBC Radio Concert 17/12/69 (0.57) *
09: Have You Heard - BBC Radio Concert 17/12/69 (5.50) *
10: Nights In White Satin - BBC Radio Concert 17/12/69 (2.58) *
11: Legend Of A Mind - BBC Radio Concert 17/12/69 (4.33) *




Once again, the alternate versions are interesting, but the originals work best.  This proves the band had really found itself and was in a confident artistic position rare for Rock bands.  No wonder they were on a roll!  Even the live version of Nights In White Satin has the band in rare form that brings out a new power and nuance in the classic not possible when they just reformed into this version of the band.






The Original Album Remastered from the Original Quad Masters
Plus Bonus Tracks
01: Question (5.44)
02: How Is It (We Are Here) (2.45)
03: And The Tide Rushes In (2.55)
04: Don’t You Feel Small (2.38)
05: Tortoise and the Hare (3.19)
06: It’s Up To You (3.11)
07: Minstrel’s Song (4.27)
08: Dawning is the Day (4.21)
09: Melancholy Man (5.45)
10: The Balance (3.27)


Bonus Tracks

11: Mike’s Number One (3.36) *
12: Question - Alternate Version (6.08) *
13: Minstrel’s Song - Original Mix (4.35) *
14: It’s Up To You - Original Mix (3.19) *
15: Don’t You Feel Small - Original Mix (3.02) *
16: Dawning Is The Day - Full Original Mix (4.36) *





Without any doubt, the vocal performance on Question is one of the most empathetic Hayward ever cut, even less restricted than before.  No wonder it was the big hit, but once again, the album offers so much more.  It is the summation of an album that is a summation of this period.  The band takes all this time the long way to explore tons of ins and outs, then gets to the point with their most powerful songs.  This is their most solid, self-contained work and has aged well.  The alternate version of Question proves the song works paired down very well, but the original is one of the most well-crafted singles of their career and as layered that the 5.1 is a standout artistically and sonically. 


Having laid out their thoughts and ideas on the previous albums very thoroughly, they really go for it here in a way that each song seamlessly goes from place to place in a way that builds up the complete album concept better than they had before.  Many bash the concept album idea, but this one is one of the hardest to argue again.

This is my favorite of these five, which says something, because they are all so exceptional.




Now for the sound quality:


These five albums were previously issued in long out of print Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab 24K Gold Ultradiscs, which were still the definitive CD editions until these versions arrived.  All bonus tracks are in 16bit/44.1kHz and sound very good, especially since they were kept so well in a vault all this time and debut in many cases here for the first time.  The regular CD tracks for each of the actual album tracks can compete with the Gold CDs noted.   Now for the audio performance on all five albums:


The first two albums were early stereophonic releases, with the albums boasting “Deramic Sound System” to show off the fact that they were true stereo recordings with even deeper separation.  At the time, many record companies were caught off guard when stereo took over and did not have many true stereo albums in their vaults.  Atlantic Records was ahead of the rest of the labels in this respect, but Deram (a subdivision of Decca) was ready to catch up fast.  Days Of Future Passed was a simple stereo recording and those master tapes were remixed later for Quadraphonic sound by Tony Clarke and Derek Varnals for a 1972 reissue.  Of these five, Days was reissued a few years ago by the music label arm of the DTS sound company known as DTS Entertainment.  That mix was not bad, but not great.  The 5.1 here is much clearer, revealing details that even the 20bit/48kHz 1,509 kbps DTS tracks could not.


To create the symphonic like sounds, the electronic Mellotron was implemented (Led Zeppelin’s The Rain Song is another famous example) throughout the album.  Though the sound field is decent for the 5.1 mix, some may still prefer the DSD 2.0 Stereo of the actual album tracks.  The tracks show their age and the Quad mix is an older one; so don’t expect the soundfield of the 5.1 SACD of Tommy, also from Universal reviewed elsewhere on this site.  Plus, some of the sounds are supposed to sound distant and muffled, so enjoy it in the spirit in which it was made and you’ll get the most out of it.


In Search Of The Lost Chord was the next album in the same mode, Mellotron in tact, also was reissued in 1972 in a new Quad mix used for this SACD.  At first, this was supposed to also be a 5.1 SACD and when originally reviewed, we thought it was, but the receiver used was bouncing the 2.0 DSD around, so it is no wonder this critic was somewhat disappointed by the 5.1 saying:  “Though good and solid, they still show their age.  As expected, Ride My See Saw is the best of the 5.1 tracks and the alternate version is very paired down as compared to the studio version on an audio level.”  They were not true 5.1 and I still cannot believe the receiver did that or could do that was an SACD signal.  Nevertheless, it sounds good and should not be skipped despite no 5.1, though why no 5.1 when the LP was once available in Quad?


On The Threshold Of A Dream was made as a Quadraphonic recording moiré effectively than the previous albums and the leap forward in fidelity is instantly noticed, especially in the 5.1 mix where that has been cleaned up and expanded.  Even when and where fidelity is limited, including some portions because of the way sound is purposely manipulated as part of the recording, but this one includes dialogue instead of the voiceovers of Days.  This also translates into more interesting articulation in the alternate mixes.


To Our Children’s Children’s Children was their first release on the Threshold label and thus was the launch of their own label.  This once again uses the Quad mix and the improved results are clear in 5.1 SACD playback.  Again, the band is ahead of its time in the use of multi-channel playback for music and is another sonic treat, give or take some portions purposely not meant to be crystal clear.  The live Nights In White Satin has some harmonic distortion, but is a great take on the classic.


A Question Of Balance is also another one of the great Quad albums from that brief period where the format was tried out.  The mixes continued to be as clever as the band’s reputation was known for, but has some subtle articulation the previous albums do not have, and that is not just because it is the newest of the five releases.  Though the recording can still show its age, it is still designed very cleverly, but then all five mixes are bound to become favorites of audiophiles everywhere.



The .1 bass is also not bad on the 5.1 mixes, but the latter three are marginally better.  In all but the first case, this is the first time any multi-channel versions of these recording have been issued since 1972!  Those lucky enough to have the Quad vinyl, reel-to-reel or Quad 8-tracks are small in number and players to play them back very rare.  The band, its producers and engineers where creating more than just animated radio of some sort, but aural worlds.  Like other Art Rock/Progressive Rock, these were meant as landscapes for thinkers to enjoy no matter what level of attention they paid it.  To compare, the DVD-Audio of Yes’ classic Fragile and SACD of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon both have some remarkable 5.1 mixes, but other tracks have some major remix troubles.  Every track on all five albums here are problem-free, something we have not encountered initially in either format, making this the most consistent 5.1 series since the Elton John SACDs arrived.  The Moody Blues do not always get the respect it deserves, but these SACDs put the band in a new perspective long overdue.


These are the kinds of reissues that will bring them new fans as well as appreciation by a new generation of music lovers who are not shallow and willing to try out real music they may not have heard before.  These same listeners may have heard a few singles, but not entire albums.  The great thing is that they have more albums of this caliber, more of which have also been Gold CDs and Seventh Sojourn was a 5.1 DTS CD as well.  The reproduction of the original cover art (not seen in a while) and some great booklets with rare stills and rich text is up to Universal’s high standards.  Let’s hope Universal U.K. gets to issue those with the same high quality attention and richness they have given these volumes.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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