From left, Moody Blues singer-guitarist Justin Hayward, drummer Graeme Edge, and bassist-singer John Lodge.
BLADE PHOTO ILLUSTRATION Enlarge
Next month marks the 50th anniversary of the Moody Blues’ first single, Go Now, an R&B-meets-pop lament over a failed relationship that, sonically at least, sounds like it was recorded in a small garage.
As far as milestones go, Go Now’s Golden Jubilee is the equivalent of the throwback jersey: nostalgia for diehard fans only. It’s generic British invasion, and in no way a forerunner of the psychedelic musical journey the Moody Blues would embark upon only a few years later.
Even the band isn’t planning anything special for the occasion.
“No, I’m afraid not,” said Moody Blues singer-guitarist Justin Hayward. “I think we’re probably looking to the [50th] anniversary of Days of Future Past when it comes up in a couple years of time. That might be interesting. It’s more of a promotional tool than something the band is eager to do.”
The Moody Blues
When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday
Where: Circle K Concert Series at the Toledo Zoo
Tickets: Tickets are $42.50, $59.50, and $79.50, and are available at all TicketMaster locations, livenation.com, by phone at 800-745-3000 or 419-385-5721, or visit the Toledo Zoo main box office Monday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Besides, Hayward didn’t join the band until 1966, the same year as bassist-singer John Lodge. Drummer Graeme Edge, the only other classic Moody Blues member left, was in the original line-up.
“I was lousy at rhythm and blues when I joined,” Hayward recalled in a recent phone interview with The Blade. “I don’t know why they asked me. I think Mike [Pinder, the band’s original keyboardist] asked me because I was a songwriter and I think ... he had a feeling the group needed to change, from the cover versions to our own material.
“We had some success with a song called Fly Me High, before Days of Future Past, and that was nice.”
Of course, it was 1967’s pioneering Days of Future Past that changed everything for the Moody Blues.
Among the first commercially successful fusions of psychedelic rock and roll and classical music, the landmark album spawned the classics Tuesday Afternoon (Forever) and Nights in White Satin, and introduced Pinder’s use of the Mellotron, the hallmark sound of the band through the early 1970s.
Justin Hayward of the classic rock band the Moody Blues performs in concert at the American Music Theater on March 12 in Lancaster, Pa.
Owen Sweeney/Invision Enlarge
It also launched a remarkable run of seven albums in seven years — Days of Future Past, In Search of the Lost Chord, On the Threshold of a Dream, To Our Children’s Children’s Children, A Question of Balance, Every Good Boy Deserves Favor, and Seventh Sojourn — that placed the Moody Blues at the top of the charts and as a vanguard in the progressive-rock scene.
But even as the band pushed the limits of popular music in the studio with a larger and larger sound, it found recreating those songs live to be increasingly difficult.
“There was an album called To Our Children’s Children’s Children which we loved but it got so impossible to play on stage that we followed it up with A Question of Balance that was really trying to pull back to a kind of live position, something that we could do live easily,” Hayward said. “It’s so much easier now with the balance and the in-ears [monitor] instead of having monitors on stage to try and get that ... In truth I think we’re more faithful to the records now than we ever were in the ’60s.
“A couple years ago we were on the bus — I was remastering something for Universal and going through these tracks — and we just said, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to work some of these songs up that we only played for like one or two days in the studio and see how they work on the stage.’ And we’ve got a few things in the show now that were not big hits but they really work as songs on stage and it’s lovely to rediscover the catalog like that.”
The Moody Blues haven’t recorded an album of all-new material in 15 years, since 1999’s Strange Times. Hayward, however, released a solo disc last year, Spirits of the Western Sky, with a live concert recording from that tour due out this month.
“I could not see a Moody’s album on the horizon or an opportunity to make a Moody’s album and so I had so much material left, I thought, I’ve got to do it properly and make a good album. All of these songs deserve to be recorded and heard,” he said.
And when will Hayward collaborate on a new Moody Blues record? Fans shouldn’t get their hopes up. Hayward said the band is enjoying the status quo of touring frequently and releasing live recordings.
“If we do any kind of big production it will be in the DVD audio-visual kind of format,” he said. “I think that’s probably where the future lies for the Moodys. Just to do another album [means] we’re always competing with our own catalog.
“But the three of us are so enjoying our old catalog and having this freedom of not having the pressure to do that. Our dilemma always — and it will be at the zoo there — is not what to play but what to leave out. There’s just too much material.”
Contact Kirk Baird at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6734.
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