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The Moody Blues

From Academic Kids

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The Moody Blues were best known for fusing an orchestral sound with rock and roll, as seen in one of their most popular songs, "Nights in White Satin."

The Moody Blues were originally a British rhythm and blues-based band; they later became best known for psychedelic music and early progressive rock.

The Moody Blues originated in Birmingham, England. At the time, Ray Thomas, John Lodge, and Michael Pinder were members of El Riot & the Rebels, a regionally popular band. El Riot disbanded when Lodge went to technical college and Pinder left to join the army. Pinder then rejoined Thomas to form the Krew Cats and had moderate success. The pair recruited Denny Laine, Graeme Edge and Clint Warwick, appearing as the Moody Blues for the first time in Birmingham in 1964.

Soon, the band had a contract with Decca Records and released an unsuccessful single, "Steal Your Heart Away", that year. "Go Now", released later that year, became a huge hit in the United Kingdom and charted moderately in the United States. After a series of unsuccessful singles, Warwick and Laine departed, replaced by El Riot bandmate John Lodge, and Justin Hayward, formerly of The Wilde Three, in 1966. The band soon realized that their original style of American blues covers and novelty tunes was not working for them, and they determined to develop an original style. Their new style featured the symphonic sounds of the mellotron and Ray Thomas' flute, with the performance organized around a concept—one day in the life of Everyman.

The Moody Blues contract with Decca Records was set to expire, and they owed the label several thousand pounds in advances. Deram Records (a London/Decca imprint) chose the Moody Blues to make an LP in order to promote Deramic Stereo and the group was to be forgiven its debt to the label to make a rock and roll version of Dvorak's New World Symphony. The Moody Blues agreed, but insisted that they be given artistic freedom and left without supervision; they then convinced Peter Knight, who'd been assigned to arrange and conduct the orchestral interludes, to collaborate on a recording of their stage show instead. The original album, Days of Future Passed (1967), was not the demo recording the label had ordered, but instead a successful commercial release.

The album plus two singles, "Nights in White Satin" and "Tuesday Afternoon" became massively popular, as was the 1968 followup, In Search of the Lost Chord. The top-40 single from this album, "Ride my See-Saw", was the first single to be mastered using eight-track recording technology. The band's music continued to become more complex and symphonic, resulting in 1969's To Our Children's Children's Children, a concept album based around the band's celebration of the first moon landing. After that, the group decided to record only albums that could be played in concert, losing some of their bombastic sound for their next album, A Question of Balance (1970). This album, reaching No. 3 in American charts (No. 1 in British charts), was indicative of the band's growing success in America. For their next two albums, Every Good Boy Deserves Favour (1971) and Seventh Sojourn (1972) (which reached No. 1 in both the UK and the US) the band returned to their signature orchestral sound, which, while difficult to play in concert, had become the band's trademark.

The Moodies also pioneered the idea that a successful rock band could promote itself through its own label. Following their On the Threshold of a Dream album (1969), they created Threshold Records, prompted in part by disputes with London/Deram over album design costs—their gatefold record jackets and expensive cover art were not popular with the company execs. Threshold functioned by producing new albums and delivering them to London/Decca, which acted as distributor. The group attempted to build Threshold into a major label by developing new talent—most notably the UK hard rock band Trapeze and the Portland, Oregon classical-acoustic sextet Providence—but these efforts proved unsucessful, and the Moodies eventually returned to more traditional recording contracts. However, they did lay the groundwork for other major acts to set up similar personal labels and distribution deals, including The Rolling Stones' own label and Led Zeppelin's Swan Song.

After that, the group took an extended break—originally announced as a permanent break-up—to recuperate from a heavy touring schedule. Hayward and Lodge released a duet album, the very successful Blue Jays (1975) and the members each released solo albums: Edge produced two, Kick Off Your Muddy Boots (1975) and Paradise Ballroom (1976); Hayward generated Songwriter (1977); Lodge released Natural Avenue (1977); Pinder produced The Promise (1976); and Thomas also with two, From Mighty Oaks (1975) and Hopes, Wishes and Dreams (1976).

In 1977, the group reformed and after a tempestuous recording session, 1978's Octave was released. However, Pinder refused to tour and was replaced by former Yes keyboardist Patrick Moraz. In spite of these difficulties, the album was a hit, as was 1981's Long Distance Voyager. On these albums the Moody Blues embraced a more modern and less symphonic sound, although synthesizers were still a strong part of their composition.

The band's popularity waned through the release of The Present (1983), but in 1986 they enjoyed renewed success with their album The Other Side of Life, in particular with the track Your Wildest Dreams, a top-40 hit which garnered a Billboard "Video of the Year" award after being frequently featured on MTV. The Moodies continued their early video-generation success with Sur la Mer (1988) and its video/single I Know You're Out There Somewhere, a sequel to Your Wildest Dreams.

The early 1990s saw the departure of Patrick Moraz. The band had begun to reinforce their concert sound in the later 1980s with the addition of a second keyboardist and female backing vocals, and they decided not to hire a permanent replacement in the keyboard chair, but instead to tour as a quartet with extra hired musicians. Keys of the Kingdom (1991) had but modest commercial success. However, a heavy touring schedule kept them among the highest-earning concert acts, and a series of video and audio versions of their A Night at Red Rocks concert enjoyed great success, particularly as a fund-raiser for American public television. Their 1999 studio album, Strange Times, generated little interest beyond the group's enduring fan base.

The new millennium saw the Moody Blues reducing their touring schedule. In 2004, founding member Ray Thomas retired from the group, leaving Hayward, Lodge and Edge to continue without him. In 2003, they released, with the absence of Thomas, a Christmas themed album entitled December. The songs included originals and covers such as John Lennon's Happy Xmas, War Is Over.

The remaining three members have continued to tour over the years. In 2005, they toured a number of countries.

Discography

External links

fr:The Moody Blues pl:Moody Blues

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