Wednesday, 7 June 2017

"The Magnificent Moodies: Official 50th Anniversary Edition" by THE MOODY BLUES (December 2014 Esoteric Recordings 2CD Mini Box Set of Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry...

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"...I've Got A Dream..."

Even if their 1965 debut album doesn’t musically come anywhere near reflecting the sound THE MOODY BLUES acquired circa 1967’s “Days Of Future Passed” (and stayed with for the whole of their lengthy career) – you have to admire Esoteric Recordings and their full-throated reissue of their Sixties Pop debut – it’s properly gorgeous and then some. If only some of the major labels would pay attention to the superlative presentation that’s on offer here…

Housed in a glossy 5” Mini Box Set, it features top-class remasters from original 4-track master tapes (including rare STEREO versions on Disc 2), a monstrous 43 bonus tracks (29 of which are Previously Unreleased), a lavishly annotated 24-page booklet, three black and white postcards with fan-club info on the rear and even a foldout colour poster rammed on the flip side with a memorabilia montage that will thrill fans to their little cotton socks. Both CDs are picture discs housed in different card artwork – and it doesn’t cost £49.99 but twelve quid - wow!

There’s tons of material to get through here - so onwards towards that dreamy Threshold (if you know what I mean)…

UK released 15 December 2014 – "The Magnificent Moodies" is an 'Official 50th Anniversary 2CD Edition' on Esoteric Recordings ECLEC 22473 (Barcode 5013929457348) and breaks down as follows (all songs are MONO except Tracks 21 to 29 on Disc 2 which are in STEREO):

Disc 1 (74:41 minutes):
1. I’ll Go Crazy
2. Something You Got
3. Go Now
4. Can’t Nobody Love You
5. I Don’t Mind
6. I’ve Got A Dream
7. Let Me Go [Side 2]
8. Stop
9. Thank You Baby
10. It Ain’t Necessarily So
11. True Story
12. Bye Bye Bird
Tracks 1 to 12 are their debut LP “The Magnificent Moodies” released July 1965 in the UK (in Mono only) on Decca Records LK 4711

The album was issued in the USA (also in Mono only) on London Records PS 428 entitled “Go Now – Moody Blues No.1” with an entirely different track running order. Fans can sequence the American LP using the following song numbers on Disc 1:
Side 1: I’ll Go Crazy [1], And My Baby’s Gone [14], Go Now [3], It’s Easy Child [16], Can’t Nobody Love You [4] and I Had A Dream [6]
Side 2: Let Me Go [7], I Don’t Want To Go On Without You [17], True Story [11], It Ain’t Necessarily So [10], Bye Bye Bird [12] and From The Bottom Of My Heart [19]

13. Lose Your Money (But Don’t Lose Your Mind)
14. Steal Your Heart Away (tracks 14 and 13 are the A&B-sides of their debut UK 45 released September 1964 on Decca F 11971)
15. Go Now! (First Version) (Previously Unreleased – Recorded 24 July 1964)
16. It’s Easy Child (non-album track, B-side to “Go Now!” released as a UK 7” single in November 1964 on Decca F 12022)
17. I Don’t Want To Go On Without You (see US album run above)
18. Time Is On My Side (tracks 17 and 18 are also the A&B-sides of their 3rd UK 7” single released February 1965 on Decca F 12095)
19. From The Bottom Of My Heart (I Love You)
20. And My Baby’s Gone (tracks 19 and 20 are on the US album (see above) and are their 4th UK 7” single released May 1965 on Decca F 12166)
21. Everyday
22. You Don’t (All The Time) (tracks 21 and 22 are non-album, their 5th UK 7” single released October 1965 on Decca F 12266)
23. Boulevard De Madeleine
24. This Is My House (But Nobody Calls) (tracks 23 and 24 are non-album, their 6th UK 7” single released October 1966 on Decca F 12498)
25. People Gotta Go (non-album track, taken from the French “Boulevard De Madeleine EP” released January 1967 on Decca 457117)
26. Life’s Not Life
27. He Can Win (tracks 26 and 27 are non-album, their 7th UK 7” single released January 1967 on Decca F 12543)

Disc 2 (77:06 minutes):
Previously Unreleased Sessions 1964-1966
1. Go Now! (Second Version)
2. Lose Your Money (But Don’t Lose Your Mind) (Early Version)
3. Steal Your Heart Away (First Version)
4. I’ll Go Crazy (First Version)
5. You Better Move On
6. Can’t Nobody Love You (First Version)
7. 23rd Psalm
8. Go Now
9. I Don’t Want To Go On Without You
10. I’ll Go Crazy (“Saturday Club” Session – BBC Light Programme Recorded 12 April 1965)
11. From The Bottom Of My Heart (I Love You)
12. Jump Back (tracks 10 and 11 “Saturday Club” Sessions – Recorded 3 May 1965)
13. I’ve Got A Dream
14. And My Baby’s Gone (tracks 13 and 14 “Saturday Club” Sessions – Recorded 1 June 1965)
15. It’s Easy Child
16. Stop
17. Everyday (tracks 15 to 17 are “Saturday Club” Sessions – Recorded 21 September 1965)
18. Interview With Ray Thomas and Graham Edge/You Don’t (All The Time)
19. I Want You To Know (tracks 18 and 19 are “Saturday Club” Sessions – Recorded 9 November 1965)

20. Coca Cola Radio Commercial 1965

The 1966 Denny Cordell Sessions (In Stereo):
21. Sad Song
22. This Is My House (But Nobody Calls) (First Version)
23. How Can We Hang On To A Dream (First Version)
24. How Can We Hang On To A Dream (Remake)
25. Jago & Jilly
26. We’re Broken
27. I Really Haven’t Got The Time (September 1966 Version)
28. Red Wine
29. This Is My House (But Nobody Calls) (Stereo Mix)

The line-up for the debut consisted of – DENNY LAINE on Vocals, Guitar and Harmonica, MIKE PINDER on Piano and Vocals, RAY THOMAS on Flute, Maraccas, Harmonica, Tambourine and Vocals, CLINT WARWICK on Bass and Vocals with GRAHAM EDGE on Drums.

It should be noted right from the word go that if you’re looking for dreamy Mellotron soundscapes (their trademark sound) – then look elsewhere because this is Beatles influenced Sixties Pop. Having said that large chunks of it are shockingly good – and the number of Laine/Pinder original compositions on Disc 1 alone comes to an impressive 14 – and this is back in a time where whole albums were composed of American cover versions because many of the British R&B bands hadn’t developed writing chops from the outset.

As you can see from the photos I’ve provided – the booklet with MARK POWELL liner notes and general presentation are top notch. The only minor thing I find odd about it is that neither of the inner card sleeves boasts the actual UK album artwork (which is left to the outer box). But quite apart from the lovely presentation – the first thing that hits you is the quality of the remaster – clean, punchy and sounding alive like never before. PASCHAL BYRNE and BEN WISEMAN – both names familiar to many collectors (hundreds of Universal and Esoteric reissues) – have carried out the transfers and both may be standing at award ceremonies soon – stunning job done.

The album is dominated by their first bona fide hit “Go Now” which hit the coveted Number 1 Slot in the UK charts in December 1964. “I Got A Dream” is pure Brill building sweetheart Pop – better is a Bluesy cover of the Gershwin standard “It Ain’t Necessarily So”. The boys go harmony Hollies with “Thank You Baby” and gritty Animals with “True Story” (both impressive Laine/Pinder originals). We get Rolling Stones R&B on the excellent harmonica driven “Lose Your Money (But Don’t Lose Your Mine)” – and identikit melodrama with “Time Is On My Side”. A genuine collector’s prize is the funky Sixties pop of “People Gotta Go” exclusive to the rare “Boulevard De Madeleine EP” on Decca France.

Disc 2 opens with a winner - in-studio chatter as the engineer tells Denny Laine to slow the vocal intro to “Go Now!” and they launch into what has all the hallmarks of a hit (even in rough form). Their cover of Arthur Alexander’s “You Better Move On” is new and worthy of inclusion – but their Sixties slow version of the “23rd Psalm” that then goes into a Gospel boogie – is just plain misplaced. Some of the BBC stuff like “I Don’t Want To Go On Without You” is preceded by fab and groovy DJ intro while they sound accomplished on “I’ll Go Crazy” and real collector’s prizes are the two recently discovered outtakes Mike Pinder’s “I Really Haven’t Got The Time” and the Laine/Pinder “Red Wine” – both aired here for the first time in 50 years. There’s even an interview two days after Denny Laine “packed up and left”…

For sure – musically - fans will be wishing this kind of luxurious 2CD Mini Box set response could be afforded to later albums by THE MOODY BLUES…

But as a starter - and as an example of how to do it right – Esoteric Recordings are looking at a reissue of the year 2014 for me…
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