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On the Threshold of a Dream (Digitally Remastered)

The Moody Blues

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Album Review

On the Threshold of a Dream was the first album that the Moody Blues had a chance to record and prepare in a situation of relative calm, without juggling tour schedules and stealing time in the studio between gigs — indeed, it was a product of what were almost ideal circumstances, though it might not have seemed that way to some observers. The Moodies had mostly exhausted the best parts of the song bag from which their two preceding albums, Days of Future Passed and In Search of the Lost Chord, had been drawn, and as it turned out, even the leftover tracks from those sessions wouldn't pass muster for their next long-player project — but those albums had both been hits, and charted well in America as well as England, and had overlapped with a pair of hit singles, "Nights in White Satin" and "Tuesday Afternoon," on both sides of the Atlantic. Their success had earned them enough consideration from Decca Records that they could work at their leisure in the studio through all of January and most of February of 1969; what's more, with two LPs under their belt, they now had a much better idea of what they could accomplish in the studio, and write songs with that capability in mind. Equally important, they'd just come off of an extensive U.S. tour (opening for Cream) and had learned a lot in the course of concertizing over the previous year, achieving a much bolder yet tighter sound instrumentally as well as vocally, and they could now write to and for that sound as well. So this album is oozing with bright, splashy creative flourishes in two seemingly contradictory directions that somehow come together as a valid whole. On the original LP's first side (which was the more rock-oriented side), the songs "Lovely to See You," "Send Me No Wine," "To Share Our Love," and "So Deep Within You" all featured killer guitar hooks (electric and acoustic) and fills by Justin Hayward; beautiful, muscular bass from John Lodge; and vocal hooks everywhere. It's also a surprisingly hard-rocking album considering the amount of overdubbing that went into perfecting the songs, including cellos, wind and reed instruments, and lots of vocal layers — yet it even found room to display a pop-soul edge on "So Deep Within You" (a number that the Four Tops later recorded).

Side two was the more overtly ambitious of the two halves — after a pair of songs dominated by acoustic guitar and heavy Mellotron, "Never Comes the Day" and "Lazy Day" (the latter a piece of social commentary showing that Ray Thomas, at least, still remembered his roots in Birmingham), the remainder of the record was devoted to the most challenging body of music in the group's history. Justin Hayward's deliberately archaic "Are You Sitting Comfortably?," a piece that sounds almost 400 years out of its own time, evokes images out of medieval and Renaissance history laced with magic and mysticism, all set to Hayward's acoustic guitar and Thomas' flute, leading into Graeme Edge's poetic contribution, "The Dream," accompanied by Mike Pinder's Mellotrons in their most exposed appearance to date on a record. And all of that flows into Pinder's three-part suite, "Have You Heard, Pt. 1"/"The Voyage"/"Have You Heard, Pt. 2," a tour de force for the band — check out Edge's and Lodge's rock-solid playing on "Have You Heard" — and for Pinder, whose Mellotrons, in conjunction with Thomas' flute and supported by some overdubbed orchestral instruments, push the group almost prematurely into the realm of progressive rock. This synthesis of psychedelia and classical music, including a section featuring Pinder on grand piano, may sound overblown and pretentious today, but in 1969 this was envelope-ripping, genre-busting music, scaling established boundaries into unknown territory, not only "outside the box" but outside of any musical box that had been conceived at that moment — perhaps it can be considered rock's flirtation with the territory covered by works such as Alexander Scriabin's Mysterium, and if it overreached (as did Scriabin), well, so did a lot of other people at the time, including Jimi Hendrix, the Doors, the Who, et al. To show the difference in the times, the Moodies even brought this extended suite successfully to their concert repertory, and audiences devoured it at the time. Amazingly, On the Threshold of a Dream was their first chart-topping LP in England, and remained on the charts for an astonishing 70 weeks, a feat made all the more remarkable by the fact that the accompanying single, "Never Comes the Day" b/w "So Deep Within You," never charted at all.

Customer Reviews

Their BEST album of all

Okay, I was a full-blown Moody Blues Fan in the 70's, I admit. Only the Beatles topped them as the best band around, and after they split up, that left the Moodys . This album, Threshold, was my FAVORITE album for 10 years running, except when briefly eclipsed by their NEXT release. Each album by the Moody Blues is an intact work of art, a complete story; listening to singles or the Anthologies misses the composite whole. I would rate Threshold and EGBDF as the must-have albums. For live albums, the "Concert at Red Rocks" is very good.

Wow

Here's another great Moody Blues album. I originally owned this album on vinyl and somehow (I don't know how!) neglected to purchase it on CD. A friend lent me the Time Traveller Box set and I realized I was missing some great Moody tunes in my own collection. Are You Sitting Comfortably is just beautiful. Love the the flute throughout the tracks. You have to listen to this album with headsets very loud, especially through the dream sequence. Most of the Moody Blues albums, especially the earlier ones sound best listen to as a whole album. Buying select songs breaks up the unity of the album. Best to own the complete album. They're all great!

On The Threshold of a Dream

The first seven Moody Blues albums are a set of masterpieces,each one an intrical part of the set.Threshold is a very welcome addition to Itunes,to whom I say,Thank You.

Biography

Formed: 1964 in Birmingham, England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Although they're best known today for their lush, lyrically and musically profound (some would say bombastic) psychedelic-era albums, the Moody Blues started out as one of the better R&B-based combos of the British Invasion. The group's history began in Birmingham, England with Ray Thomas (harmonica, vocals) and Mike Pinder (keyboards, vocals), who had played together in El Riot & the Rebels and the Krew Cats. They began recruiting members of...
Full Bio