Moody Blues – Live at the Isle of Wight Festival 1970 [reissue]

January 01, 1970



With the recent spate of re-releases spanning the Moody Blues’
seminal catalogue, the band’s fans – particularly those whose college years
were experienced through a filter of incense, black lights and the heady
soundtrack provided by early Moodies’ classics like Days of Future Passed, In
Search of the Lost Chord
and On the
Threshold of a Dream
— have been given the chance to reacquire the group’s
catalog with a wealth of add-ons.  While
there have been various BBC recordings included in the bonus bonanza, these
tracks, recorded in 1970 at Britain’s
star-studded Isle of Wight Festival, offer a rare opportunity to hear the band
live and unvarnished, without the advantage of any studio embellishments.


In fact, for a band so seemingly dependent on elaborate
instrumentation and production prowess the Moodies proved surprisingly
successful in making the transition from studio to stage.  There’s a tougher, rawer edge to certain
songs – “Gypsy,” “Question,” “Legend of a Mind,” and of course, “Ride My See
Saw” – but here, in full flight, Justin Hayward’s stirring vocals are less
constrained and considerably more emotive. 
If there was a sort of sterility or reserve to their sound before, it’s
not in evidence here. That said, the beauty of their ballads – particularly,
“Never Comes the Day,” “Are You Sitting Comfortably,” “Tuesday Afternoon,” and
the venerable “Nights In White Satin” – tap the supple, sensuous appeal of the
original incarnations, with Mike Pinder’s mellotron and Ray Thomas’ flute ably
providing the orchestral arrangements.


These days, the Moody Blues continue to tour, but Pinder and
Thomas have long since departed, leaving Hayward,
bassist John Lodge, drummer Graeme Edge and younger, newer recruits to
replicate their live legacy.   It also
finds them emphasizing their more obvious crowd-pleasers while leaving many of
the gems heard here languishing in the archives. As a result, the true devotee
will find Live at the Isle
of Wight Festival 1970
a fine flashback and a good excuse to
revisit the band’s better material.


Stand-out tracks: “Never Comes the
Day,” “Tuesday Afternoon,” “Ride My See Saw” LEE ZIMMERMAN


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