Wednesday, 7 June 2017

"Every Good Boy Deserves Favour" by THE MOODY BLUES (April 2007 Universal/Decca/Threshold SACD-Hybrid Disc Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...






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"...One More Time To Live..."


As a newcomer suffers through the of-its-time near five-minute opener "Procession" with its monosyllabic three-point history of music (desolation, creation and communication are the only words doomily chanted throughout) - in the cold and brutal hindsight of 2017 those new ears might wonder how in God's name did July 1971's "Every Good Boy Deserves Favour" by The Moody Blues go to No.1 in the UK and No. 2 in the USA – and stay on both charts for months on end? 46 years after the event – this prettily packaged album is of its time indeed and maybe it should stay there, mate...

But then the fantastically guitar-hooky single "The Story In Your Eyes" kicks in - which in turn is followed by the cleverly layered "Our Guessing Game" and the melodic sweep of "Emily's Song" and even a newbee will begin to get it. Their seventh studio album was the Brummie Boys hitting something of an artistic peak – embracing the huge and complexity - leaving behind the Sixties and lashing into the musically adventurous new decade – the Seventies.

And this beautifully rendered 2007 Universal/Decca/Threshold 'Expanded SACD 5.1 Hybrid Disc Reissue' of that fondly remembered album only hammers that home. You get both the Stereo album and a 5.1 Surround Mix on the same disc and when you listen to that huge band crescendo that ends "After You Came" or the majestic keyboard build up in "One More Time To Live" - you also realise why people rave about good mastering and sympathetic transfers (band songwriter Justin Hayward is joined by a group of three renowned Engineers for this project). Here are the very favourable details...

UK released April 2007 - "Every Good Boy Deserves Favour" by THE MOODY BLUES on Universal/Decca/Threshold 984 550-6 (Barcode 602498455067) is a 'Expanded SACD 5.1 Hybrid Disc Reissue' with two layers - a Stereo Remaster and 5.1 Surround Sound Mix supplemented with Two Previously Unreleased Bonus Tracks (Session Outtakes). It plays out as follows (47:33 minutes):

1. Procession [Side 1]
2. The Story In Your Eyes
3. Our Guessing Game
4. Emily's Song
5. After You Came
6. One More Time To Live [Side 2]
7. Nice To Be Here
8. You Can Never Go Home
9. My Song
Tracks 1 to 9 are their seventh studio album "Every Good Boy Deserves Favour" - released 23 July 1971 in the UK and USA on Threshold Records THS 5 (same catalogue number for both country). Produced by TONY CLARKE (Engineered by Derek Varnals) - the album peaked at No. 1 in the UK and No. 2 in the USA.

BONUS TRACKS (Previously Unreleased):
10. The Story In Your Eyes (Original Version)
11. The Dreamer

THE MOODY BLUES was:
JUSTIN HAYWARD - Lead Vocals and Guitar
JOHN LODGE - Bass and Vocals
RAY THOMAS - Flute, Harmonica, Percussion and Vocals
MIKE PINDER - Keyboards and Vocals
GRAEME EDGE - Drums

Unusual for an SACD Reissue - "Every Good Boy Deserves Favour" comes in a card digipak – a tactile pleasure that repro's the gorgeous Phil Travers artwork of the original 1971 LP on Threshold Records (the Moodies own label). You don’t get the mottled effect of the actual album cover – but its close enough. Inside the left flap is a 20-page oversized booklet with new liners notes from MARK POWELL - a hugely respected force in quality reissues who runs the revered Prog/Avant Garde reissue label Esoteric Recordings for Cherry Red and is listed here as 'researcher, compiler and producer' of this lovely 2008 version. The swirling, dancing faces of the inner gatefold artwork is reproduced on Pages 2 and 3 - the lyrics are on Pages 14 to 17 (an insert on the original UK LP and an inner bag on US copies) and it ends with compiler notes about the four-speaker Quadrophonic Tapes used to construct the 5.1 Surround Mix (approved by Justin Hayward and John Lodge).

Their transformation away from British R&B band into International Mellotron Prog Rock flag-holders is discussed in detail - as are the first two years of the Seventies where three successful tours began to see them become huge in America and a major chart presence there. The cohesion of "A Question Of Balance" LP from 1970 (a whole album that could be reproduced live on stage for US audiences) was essentially continued for 1971's "Every Good Boy Deserves Favour". There are colour photos, a foreign picture sleeve for "The Story In Your Eyes" with "My Song" on the flipside and period snaps of the boys looking suitably perplexed and physically jetlagged. But the big news here is the AUDIO...

ALBERTO PARODI and JUSTIN HAYWARD did the STEREO Mix for the album from original Master Tapes at Logical Box Studios in Genova, Italy - while the 5.1 SURROUND SOUND Mix was reconstructed from original Decca Quadrophonic Master Tapes by PASCHAL BYRNE and MARK POWELL at The Audio Archiving Company in London (Bonus Tracks remastered by Paschal Byrne). Always a well-produced near-Audiophile band - the combined talents of all these Engineers has brought huge presence to these songs.

Focusing on exceptional remaster moments - that piano intro to "Our Guessing Game" is beautifully clear - the acoustic guitars that open the lone contribution from drummer Graeme Edge "After You Came" are full - as are the combined wall of voices that give us its 'I've been doing my best' chorus. John Lodge offers the very Simon & Garfunkel beauty of "Emily's Song" and the flute acoustic ballad "One More Time To Live" - sweeping organ builds as it accompanies acoustic guitars and voices that sooth with "...for I have riches more than these..." The second Ray Thomas track "Nice To Be Here" has always been a bit too childlike for my tastes (Jack Rabbit and Daffodils) but fans will find that the bass and acoustic guitars are sweetly transferred. Justin Hayward gives us the superb bombast of "You Can Never Go Home" that’s now even more epic.

The 'love with all your might' song "My Song" from Michael Pinder ends the album with Mellotrons, gently plucked guitars and harps - getting a bit Genesis in that brilliant heavy breathing mid section. The two bonus tracks will please fans no end – recorded in November 1970 before they departed for yet another US Tour – the original version of Justin Hayward’s "The Story In Your Eyes" is essentially the band live in the studio. A spoken one-two count-in and that great guitar riff excites again – even coming with an extended solo in its 3:30 minutes. The Hayward/Thomas composition "The Dreamer" was recorded 9 November 1970 and promptly forgotten about for 35 years until research for this reissue located its dusty and unloved box. Called a 'work in progress' because it clearly needed further polishing – "The Dreamer" nonetheless has enough of a finished feel to it to warrant calling this session outtake a bit of a find...

To sum up – "Every Good Boy Deserves A Favour" by The Moody Blues is a beloved album around the world and its most definitely been given a very tasty 2007 sonic do-over here (both mixes gleaming).

"...Lovely to know the warmth your smile can bring to me..." – Hayward sings on the hopeful "Emily's Song". Well I’d say the favour has been returned...

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