Oh Watchman…What of the Night? Yes NIGHT is the keyword for April on All About Lemons Music Passion, the forum where we try to inspire each other with music videos that we are passionate about. Without further ado, I give you The Moody Blues – Nights in White Satin – Live on German T.V. in 2012 (featuring Norda Mullen on Flute).
The Moody Blues (Mike Pinder, Graeme Edge, Justin Hayward, Ray Thomas, John Lodge) have never been afraid of artistic experimentation…after all, who builds a rock band around a FLUTE??????? Ray Thomas’s flute had been in evidence earlier (“I’ve Got a Dream”) on their debut album, however , with the release of the landmark, experimental L.P. Days of Future Passed (a concept album revolving around an archetypal day in the life of everyman) it became a far more featured instrument as they started incorporating distinct psychedelic influences.
The Moody Blues’ contract with Decca Records was set to expire and they owed the label several thousand pounds in advances. They had the support, however, of Decca A&R manager Hugh Mendl, who had been instrumental in the recent establishment of London/Decca’s new subsidiary imprint Deram Records. With Mendl’s backing, the Moody Blues were offered a deal to make a rock and roll version of Antonín Dvořák’s New World Symphony that would promote the company’s new Deramic Stereo Sound (DSS) audio format in return for which the group would be forgiven their debt.
The Moody Blues agreed, but they insisted that they be given artistic control of the project, and Hugh Mendl (as executive producer) was able to provide this in the face of Decca’s notoriously tight-fisted attitude to their artists. The group were unable to complete the assigned project, which was abandoned. However, they managed to convince Peter Knight, who had been assigned to arrange and conduct the orchestral interludes, to collaborate on a recording that used the band’s original material instead.
Although Deram executives were initially skeptical about the hybrid style of the resulting concept album, Days of Future Passed (released in November 1967) became one of the most successful pop/rock releases of the period, earning a gold record award and reaching No. 27 on the British LP chart. Five years later it was to reach No. 3 in the U.S./Billboard charts. The LP was a song cycle or concept album that takes place over the course of a single day. In production and arrangement the album drew inspiration from the pioneering use of the classical instrumentation by the Beatles to whom Pinder had introduced the Mellotron that year. It took the form to new heights using the London Festival Orchestra, a loose affiliation of Decca’s classical musicians given a fictitious name adding the term “London” to sound impressive, to provide an orchestral linking framework to the Moodies’ already written and performed songs, plus overture and conclusion sections on the album including backing up Graeme Edge’s opening and closing poems recited by Pinder. Strings were added to the latter portion of the album version of Hayward’s “Nights in White Satin” (absent on the single hit version) as was Pinder’s “The Sun Set”. The orchestra and group never actually perform together on the recording with the band’s rock instrumentation centred on Pinder’s Mellotron. The LP, despite being a lush concept album, was in fact cut in a very workmanlike manner, with the band recording a particular song, then the track being presented to Peter Knight who quickly composed a suitable “linking” orchestral portion which the Decca musicians (“London Festival Orchestra”) then recorded. The album was as much an original work by Knight himself as the group. The composing credits were listed on the sleeve as: “Redwave-Knight”, when in fact Hayward wrote “Nights…” and “Tuesday Afternoon”, Thomas provided “Another Morning” and “Twilight Time”, Lodge penned “Peak Hour” and “Evening (Time To Get Away)”, and Edge contributed the opening and closing poems (the first “Morning Glory” and the latter titled “Late Lament”) read by Mike Pinder who composed both “The Sun Set” and “Dawn is a Feeling” (sung by Hayward, with Pinder himself singing the bridge section).
Decca staff producer Tony Clarke produced the album, and afterwards continued working with the band. Sometimes known to fans as “The Sixth Moodie” he went on to produce all of their albums and singles for the next eleven years. Engineer Derek Varnals would also contribute heavily to the creation of the early Moody’s studio sound, working with Pinder and Clarke to create a more symphonic overlapping sound on the Mellotron as opposed to the sharp ‘cut off’ the instrument would normally give, partly achieved by removing all the “sound effects” tapes (trains, whistles, cockerel crowing, etc.) and then ‘doubling up’ the tapes of orchestral instruments’ sounds, which combined with Pinder’s ability and sensitivity at playing (Pinder having earlier worked for the company that manufactured the Mellotron) and Varnals’ recording skills at creating an orchestral ‘wave’ sound that characterised their non-orchestra accompanied sound thereafter.
The album, plus two singles from it, “Nights in White Satin” and “Tuesday Afternoon” (as a medley with “Forever Afternoon,” listed as “Forever Afternoon (Tuesday?)” on the album), took time to find an audience. In the Moody Blues’ native Britain, the two singles from the album didn’t initially catch on; “Nights in White Satin” only made No. 19 on the British singles chart in early 1968, and “Tuesday Afternoon” didn’t chart at all. However, the British public did learn to appreciate “Nights in White Satin” subsequently; it made No. 9 on the UK singles chart on re-issue in December 1972, and No. 14 on the charts on a subsequent reissue at the end of 1979, and is now regarded as the Moody Blues signature song by British audiences. In the US, “Nights in White Satin” did not make the Billboard Hot 100 in 1968 (although it would reach No. 2 on re-release in 1972); “Tuesday Afternoon” however was more successful on initial release Stateside, peaking at No. 24 on the Billboard Hot 100.
In 2014 The Moody Blues are still peaking. If you missed the boat (above) which is flauting as we read this, all you landlubbers will have another shot starting next month (partial schedule below). Catch the Blues if you can!
United States Of America
Wed May 7 ,8,9 08:00 PM NYCB Theatre at Westbury Westbury, NY
Sat May 10 07:30 PM Boston Convention and Expo Center Boston, MA
Sat Aug 2 The Seneca Niagara Events Center at Seneca Niagara Casino Niagara Falls, NY
Mon Aug 4 07:30 PM Saratoga Performing Arts Center Saratoga Springs, NY
Tue Aug 12 08:00 PM Bergen Performing Arts Center Englewood, NJ
Wed Aug 20 07:30 PM Toledo Zoo Amphitheater Toledo, OH
Fri, Aug 22 08:00 PM Embassy Theatre Fort Wayne, IN