Categories

Moody Blues

The Moody Blues are an English rock band. Among their innovations was a fusion with classical music, most notably in their 1967 album Days of Future Passed.

The Moody Blues have sold in excess of 50 million albums worldwide and have been awarded 14 platinum and gold discs. As of 2010 they remain active with one member from the original band from 1964 and two more from the 1967 lineup.

Early years, Decca Records 1964–1967

The Moody Blues formed on 4 May 1964, in Erdington, Birmingham, England. Ray Thomas, John Lodge, and Michael Pinder had been members of El Riot & the Rebels. They disbanded when Lodge, the youngest member, went to technical college and Michael Pinder joined the army. Michael Pinder then rejoined Thomas to form the Krew Cats. The pair recruited guitarist/vocalist Denny Laine, band manager-turned-drummer Graeme Edge, and bassist Clint Warwick. The five appeared as the Moody Blues for the first time in Birmingham in 1964. The name developed from a hoped-for sponsorship from the M&B Brewery which failed to materialise, the band calling themselves both “The M B’s” and “The M B Five” and was also a subtle reference to the Duke Ellington song, “Mood Indigo”. Around this time the band were the resident group at the Carlton Ballroom, later to become rock music venue Mothers, on Erdington High Street.

Soon, the band obtained a London-based management company, ‘Ridgepride’, formed by ex-Decca A&R man Alex Murray (Alex Wharton), who helped them land a recording contract with Decca Records in the spring of 1964. Initially they were signed to a management company who then leased their recordings to Decca. They released a single, “Steal Your Heart Away”, that year which failed to chart. The Moody Blues appeared on the cult UK series “Ready Steady Go!” singing the uptempo ‘B’ side “Lose Your Money (But Don’t Lose your Mind)”. But it was their second single, “Go Now” (released later that year), which really launched their career, being promoted on TV with one of the first purpose-made promotional films in the pop era, produced and directed by Alex Wharton. The single became a hit in the United Kingdom (where it remains their only Number 1 single) and in the United States, where it reached No.10. The band encountered management problems after the chart-topping hit and subsequently signed to Decca Records in the UK (London Records in the US) as actual recording artists. A four track Extended Play release titled: “The Moody Blues” featuring both sides of their first two Decca singles was issued in a colour picture sleeve in early 1965.

Their debut album The Magnificent Moodies, produced by Denny Cordell with a strong Merseybeat/R&B flavour, was released on Decca in mono only in 1965. It contained the hit single together with one side of classic R&B covers, and a second including four Laine/Pinder originals. “Bye Bye Bird” (Decca AT 15048) was lifted from the album in December 1965 as an overseas single charting in France (No.3).

Alex Wharton left the management firm and the group released a series of relatively unsuccessful singles. They enjoyed a minor UK hit with a cover of “I Don’t Want To Go On Without You” (No.33) in February 1965, while the Pinder-Laine original “From The Bottom of My Heart (I Love You)” (No.22) produced by Denny Cordell (with a vocal choral sound towards the conclusion that anticipated their later more famous vocal sound on “Nights in White Satin”) was issued as a UK single in May 1965. Further UK singles were: “Everyday” (No.44) in October 1965, another Pinder-Laine song, plus their later “This is My House (But Nobody Calls)” (Decca F 12498, 1966) and “Boulevard de la Madeleine” also issued in late-1966.

In June 1966 Warwick left the group. He was briefly replaced by Rod Clark (born Rodney Clark, 23 November 1942, Surlingham, near Norwich, Norfolk), but in October, Clark departed the group, which split for a month.

Denny Laine quit in late 1966, and a final ‘Mark One’ Moodies single, Pinder-Laine’s “Life’s Not Life”, was scheduled for release in January 1967 (Decca F 12543) c/w “He Can Win”. (This single’s release is often listed as being cancelled, however, both promo and regular stock copies have been seen over the years.)

Arrival of Hayward and Lodge
The group re-formed in November 1966, and new members were John Lodge, their bassist from El Riot, and Justin Hayward, formerly of The Wilde Three. Hayward was recommended to Pinder by Eric Burdon of The Animals and was endorsed by famed UK singer Marty Wilde, the leader of the Wilde Three. Pinder phoned Hayward after reading his application, and was impressed when Hayward played him his 45 rpm single “London Is Behind Me” during their car ride to meet the other members in Esher

After financial misfortune and a confrontation from an audience member, the band soon realised that their style of American blues covers and novelty tunes was not working for them and they decided that they would only perform their own material. The band were introduced to Decca staff producer Tony Clarke who produced a recording session which saw Justin Hayward’s “Fly Me High” and Mike Pinder’s older-styled “Really Haven’t Got the Time” (Decca F12607) as the ‘Mark Two’ Moodies first single released in May 1967. This picked up both radio airplay and favourable reviews, but failed to chart in the UK. However the sound gave clues to the direction their music would evolve. Their new style, featuring the symphonic sounds of Pinder’s Mellotron, was first introduced on Pinder’s song “Love And Beauty” (Decca F 12670) which was issued as a single c/w with Hayward’s rocker “Leave This Man Alone” in September 1967. This too was not a UK hit, but further established their ‘new’ Moodies identity. Ray Thomas’s flute had been in evidence earlier (“I’ve Got A Dream”) on their debut album, however it became a far more featured instrument from this point onwards as they started incorporating distinct psychedelic influences, which was later developed in a concept album revolving around an archetypal day in the life of everyman.

Discography

Studio Albums

1965 The Magnificent Moodies – http://www.bopping-elf.co.uk/moody-blues-the-magnificent-moodies/

Days Of Future Passed – coming soon 16/11/2017

Every Good Boy Deserves Favour – http://bopping-elf.co.uk/moody-blues/moody-blues-every-good-boy-deserves-favour/

A Question of Balance – http://www.bopping-elf.co.uk/moody-blues-a-question-of-balance/

Leave a Reply