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By Chris Moore:
Hello and welcome to an all-new week of cover song music videos at my personal favorite blog on the web today — and I swear I’m not biased! I had a busy but very enjoyable weekend, including going to see the Moody Blues as they tore the house down at the “Chevrolet” Theater in Wallingford, Connecticut. (I put the Chevrolet part in quotations because I refuse to recognize that as the name. Just about everyone I know still calls it the Oakdale, despite Chevy’s blatant self-promotion.)
The song I chose to learn and record came out of the music I listened to on the way home from the concert on Saturday night, namely the Moody Blues’ “Live at the Isle of Wight Festival,” a concert from 1970 that was released a year or so ago on CD and, more recently, on DVD. As could be expected, this concert includes songs from their first three LPs, but it certainly includes a healthy portion of songs from their A Question of Balance album, released that same year. My session tonight, a John Lodge track titled “Minstrel’s Song,” is a song from that aforementioned album.
The live version from 1970 is an upbeat version and a great performance, but there really is no comparison to the studio recording on the album. Even though I agree that A Question of Balance simply doesn’t hit the same peaks of concept album perfection that On the Threshold of a Dream and To Our Children’s Children’s Children did — what a year 1969 must have been for Moody Blues fans and music lovers in general! — in my opinion, it can’t be beat in terms of production quality and a constant flow of catchy, interesting songs. I suppose this makes sense, as it has been said that the album was an effort on their part to record songs that would be more easily reproduced in concert. Thankfully, though, they did return to their inventive soundscapes for their following two releases.
Now, let’s pause for a moment to add in some Laptop Sessions trivia. In the past, there have been two other tracks from A Question of Balance recorded as cover song music videos here at the blog. One is a foregone conclusion — the truly amazing album opener “Question,” a true acoustic masterpiece, if only for the opening guitar strum pattern. And I’ll even tell you that Jim recorded it.
My question is: what was the second song from this album to be recorded by a Laptop Sessions contributor, and which guitarist here at the blog recorded it? If you know, then be the first to add a comment below!
The reason I chose this song is the same reason I have spent the past two days listening to the Moody Blues nonstop — first the concert CD, then A Question of Balance, followed by Strange Times — namely, because the concert was such an entertaining experience. This is probably the third or fourth time I have seen Justin Hayward, John Lodge, and Graeme Edge in concert, and they continue to impress every year they come around. (They must have a decent fanbase in Connecticut, as they appeared at the Mohegan Sun on Sunday, the next night after performing at the Oakdale!) As my third and final concert of the summer, there was some pressure here based on how much I enjoyed my previous two, Bob Dylan and Wilco respectively. And, again, there was no contest; the Moody Blues only get better — or, more realistically, stay at the same level of greatness — with age.
Some highlights from this stop on the Moody Blues’ “Summer Nights Tour 2009” included Justin Hayward foregoing his usual collared shirt for a lime green t-shirt with a definite summer feel to it, then a white t-shirt after the intermission break. The set list included some interesting song choices, most notably “Peak Hour” from the “Lunch Break” segment of their debut album Days of Future Passed. Supposedly, this song has not been performed in concert for about 40 years! Regardless, it was one of the highlights of the night, combining catchy vocals and impressive harmonies with amazing instrumental work.
Perhaps the funniest moment of the night came when Graeme Edge, before performing “Higher and Higher,” recalled the classic mentality that it’s all about “sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll.” He claimed that it was still true, even if the drug of choice may have changed to Viagra.
Obvious crack at their age aside, I can’t stress enough that the Moody Blues are still at the top of their game. Ever since Jim and I spent a summer a couple years ago listening to all of their albums (each one repeatedly) in sequence, the Moody Blues have held a special place in my heart and in my thoughts of the summer time. Each time they come around, I realize they have a lot to live up to in terms of their past performances and their impressive discography. All in all, they played for almost two hours and included at least one song from just about every studio album they ever released, with the exception of two of my favorites, The Present and Strange Times. Jim might correct me here, as I decided to entirely enjoy this concert without keeping track of the set list or writing a full review, but my full review would have gone something like this: don’t miss out on the chance to see the Moody Blues if you get the chance!
Well, that about does it for me. On a final note, is it a bad sign if, after playing my finished Laptop Session as I wrote this post tonight, my cat reached over and hit the “Volume Down” key on my MacBook? I’m not even kidding here. I hope you don’t have the same reaction!
See you next session!