Timeless Flight
Live At The Isle Of Wight 1970
Live At Montreux 1991

The Moody Blues

If you love the Moody Blues, 2013 is a banner year. For the total completist, there's a career spanning 17-disc (11 CDs and six DVDs) box set called Timeless Flight. You get key album tracks, previously unreleased mixes, outtakes and complete live concerts, including three DVDs of rare television performances from around the world, promotional videos and a previously unreleased live concert from Olympia, Paris in 1970, along with three DVD audio discs containing the long-deleted 5:1 surround sound mixes, a 120-page book with a new essay by Moody Blues researcher Mark Powell, plus rare and previously unseen photos, a full-color tour poster, a Threshold press pack containing photos and memorabilia and an exclusive Timeless Flight fabric patch.

Find this set a bit overwhelming? There's a four-CD version of Timeless Flight. This isn't your garden-variety greatest hits set (1994's Timeless Traveler did an adequate job of that). What you get instead is an interesting mix of obscure cuts, remixes and previously unreleased material. An early single from 1967, "Love And Beauty," features the band's first use of the Mellotron, the instrument that would define the Moody Blues' sound. Stereo mixes from Days Of Future Passed double the head trip, while chunks of tracks from In Search Of The Lost Chord and On A Threshold Of A Dream fill out the first disc.

More album tracks from To Our Children"s Children's Children, A Question Of Balance and Seventh Sojourn, plus "It's Up To You" and "When You're A Free Man," both previously unreleased, comprise the second disc. The third disc is a departure from the album formula, and includes songs from Justin Hayward and John Lodge's side project, Blue Jays. "Blue Guitar," the first Blue Jays single and featured here, is credited to Hayward and Lodge, but was actually elegantly recorded by Hayward and members of the band 10cc. Other Blue Jays songs include "I Dreamed Last Night" and a live number, "Who Are You Now."

Songs from Octave, Long Distance Voyager, The Present, and The Other Side Of Life make up the rest of the third disc, along with a couple of odd Hayward solo excursions - "Driftwood" and "Forever Autumn," released as a single from Jeff Wayne's sci-fi 19785 concept album, War Of The Worlds, released in June 1978. There are also live versions of "The Other Side of Life" and "Your Wildest Dreams" from a 1983 concert at the Forum in Los Angeles. The fourth disc covers the rest of the Moody Blues' studio output through 2003, and includes songs from Sur La Mer, Keys Of The Kingdom, Strange Times and the band's Christmas album, December. There's also a selection of live material from Gloryland: World Cup, the famous 1992 concert at Red Rocks and a 1997 BBC session to make up the rest of the fourth disc. A slick 40-page booklet completes a package that's merely a snapshot of a bigger set.

Crave the visual? Then Eagle Rock has you covered with two DVD reissues: Live at the Isle of Wight 1970 and Live at Montreux 1991. Companion CDs are included with the specially reissued DVD sets. Live At The Isle Of Wight 1970, previously reviewed, however questionable audio-wise, finds the band at their absolute peak. Live At Montreux 1991 is taken from a July 1991 concert and remains the band's only Montreux appearance to date. The lineup includes Lodge, Hayward, Ray Thomas and Graeme Edge. Songs like "Question," "Nights In White Satin," "Tuesday Afternoon," "Legend Of A Mind," "Ride My See Saw," "I'm Just A Singer (In A Rock And Roll Band)," and "Your Wildest Dreams" comprise the setlist. By this time, the Moodies were spending more time on the road and only occasionally stepping into the studio (they've only made two studio albums since). Thomas, of course, would retire from the band in 2002. And the Moody Blues continue to carry on, with more collections to come. In the meantime, Timeless Flight, Live At the Isle of Wight 1970 and Live At Montreux 1991 should hold you over.

~ Shawn Perry

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