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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

The Moody Blues

A Night at Red Rocks With the Colorado Symphony Orchestra

Review by Gary Hill

For my money a lot of the albums where rock bands record with symphony orchestras are suspect. It’s not that I don’t think some good music is produced, but for some bands it seems like they were just jumping onto the gimmick train and that the mix isn’t a natural one. That’s not the case with The Moody Blues at all. In fact, their very first album was recorded with a symphony and their music has always welcomed that sort of addition. So, this release is a fairly natural idea. It’s also quite good. I’d say that some of the live renditions here are the best live versions of these tracks I’ve heard. Some even rival the studio recordings. If you get only one live Moody Blues album, this should probably be it. You won’t be disappointed.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2010  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.
Track by Track Review
Overture

This is a purely symphonic introductory piece that definitely calls to mind the first Moody Blues album.

Late Lament
This poetry reading piece comes from the first album, too – and it’s performed in style here.
Tuesday Afternoon (Forever Afternoon)
The orchestra brings this one in line with the studio version that appeared on the debut Moody Blues album. It’s always been one of their better known songs and this is an excellent version. It strikes me that parts of this are even more lushly arranged than the original version was. 
For My Lady
This ballad is basically a madrigal song. It’s got a definite old world texture to it and is quite pretty. The orchestral arrangement is a nice touch. 
Lean On Me (Tonight)
The orchestra leads off here and then the band move out into a bouncy, balladic cut that’s pretty and catchy. 
Lovely To See You
This is a harder rocking piece, and indeed, feels even harder rocking than the original to me. The orchestral arrangement adds some nice layers, though.
I Know You're Out There Somewhere
A pretty cut that’s catchy, this is a nice version. The orchestra adds a little, but not as much as on some of the other material. 
The Voice
I’ve always loved this song. Yes, it’s a rather pop rock oriented number, but it’s strong. The orchestra serves as icing on the cake here as this rocks out in pretty typical fashion. 
Your Wildest Dreams
This comes from nearly the same time period of the Moody Blues as the previous piece. For my money, it’s a similar tune, but not as strong. That said, the orchestra brings more to the table here, elevating this a bit more.
Isn't Life Strange
An earlier Moody Blues song, this is a powerful track and I’ve always loved the juxtaposition of the extremely sedate section with the powerfully orchestrated one. I think I might like this live version better than the original. The orchestra really brings a lot to the table here. 
The Other Side Of Life
This rocker seems to be more effective here, too. It’s got a great dramatic flair to it in this live telling. 
I'm Just A Singer (In A Rock And Roll Band)
One of the Moodies’ most rocking tunes, this is a cool one. The orchestra adds an interesting flavor and this is one of the strongest cuts on show here. Of course, there are a few moments where the vocal performance feels a bit lacking. The scorching extended guitar solo, though, makes up for a lot of that deficiency. 
Nights In White Satin
This is one of the true classics from the band. It came from the Days of the Future Passed album, and that means it originally had orchestration. For both of those reasons this live version is awesome. 
Question
There’s a more symphonic flavor to this song and it feels more playful than the original. 
Ride My See-Saw
The opening of this feels a lot different. It’s more orchestral with an almost Disney-land kind of feeling to me. It works out to a rocking rendition, but this doesn’t seem to have the same kind of magic as the studio version.
 
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