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THE MOODY BLUES Live At The Isle Of Wight Festival 1970
Eagle Records EAGVD 380(2008)

Moody Blues

In many respects you could almost pose the same question about the Moody Blues now as you could back in 1970 when they confounded all musical trends to estlablish their enduring popularity. How did they ever fit in so well into a fast changing music scene?

The Moody Blues somehow seemed to appeal to both hardened rock fans as much as to an antithetical MOR audience, realising best selling albums and chart singles along the way. But when it comes down to it you have to suspend all incredulity and look no further than the quality of the songs and the adventurous arrangements.

The Moody Blues music is shot through with a folky feel, a west coast tinge (as evidenced by both 'Minstrel Song' and the first part of 'Legend of a Mind') and a symphonic bombast that undoubtedly appealed to Prog rock fans of the time.

They also delivered some excellent harmonies and at times majestically topped them with evocative voice of Justin Hayward. But the Moodies were no one man band with the songwriting and playing shared. Mike Pinder's 'Melancholy Man' with its slow building dynamic featuring his angst ridden voice and impressive mellotron playing cuts a swathe through the poppier elements of the band while the Ray Thomas/Justin Hayward co-penned 'Are You Sitting Comfortably' has a nice folky feel to it.

And much like The Strawbs it is the mix of the pastoral and bombastic passages that work so well both on record and when played live. And when it all beautifully coalesces as on the closing John Lodge penned 'Ride My See Saw' it is positively uplifting to the soul.

Not everything worked though as the Tull sounding Pinder composition 'The Sunset' drags a little while John Lodge's 'Tortoise And the Hare' sounds as if the tape was running a tad too slow, the quality of the recording having not apparently survived the passing of the years.

But no matter, there is plenty to delight Moody fans, particularly the greater sense of urgency displayed on 'Question' which is a set highlight, while the Proggy feel of 'Have You Heard Part One' takes us all back to a time when festival and concert crowds actually used to listen.

And when it comes down to it, The Moody Blues delivered complex compositions and proved themselves to be excellent musicians. And in spite of essentially being an album band they could occasional dent the charts as with the likes of the timeless 'Nights in White Satin'. Given the audience cheer of recognition here it suggests even the festival rock fans bought the chart topping single. 'Live at the Isle of Wight Festival 1970' will bring a warm glow to long time fans and perhaps remind a few more of a band that continues to successfully tour and record some 38 years on since the time of this restored live recording.


Review by Pete Feenstra

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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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