Monday, 11 July 2016

The Moody Blues - Non-Album Recordings Part Two: 1968-2009

  



Non-Album Recordings Part #5: 1968

Best known thanks to a cover by The Four Tops, of all bands, The Moodies' original version of [56] 'A Simple Game' wasn't so much soul as a typically Moodies epic powerhouse of a rock song. One of Pinder's better pieces, he oddly decided to give it to Justin to sing (the results being heard as a bonus track on the 'Lost Chord' set; that's the end of his original vocal you can hear over the fade-out) even though the track suits his slightly darker, rawer vocal a treat. Musically this song is a rollercoaster ride, presumably chosen by The Four Tops for both the chorus of 'du-du-doos' and the strong punchy clippes sentences that sound a delight to sing (and came with lots of  natural arm-waving at the end of each line even before I heard about their cover version). The song features one of Pinder's better lyrics too, about finding out that after a childhood of being told to follow a certain set of rules, he's discovered as an adult that there really aren't any except what humans make up ourselves: that life is, in effect, a 'simple game' that we've made complicated. Pinder's wry opening that 'you and me are going to be free' is sung like somebody who knows they'll never be truly 'free' and will always be trapped by something. An urgent middle eight is the icing on the cake, dismissing 'all of the great things our men have said' because they no longer 'fit' the 60s desire for unity and brotherhood, all accompanied by a sea of crashing chords and an epic production. A strong backing track, heavily dominated by percussion with the occasional sting from Justin's acoustic and electric guitars and John's see-sawing bass is also one of the tightest Moodies performances of the period. Why this song ended up a non-album B-side instead of a top five hit is as big a mystery as how we wrote so many restricting rules for ourselves. Find it on: 'Prelude' (1987) and the deluxe re-issue of 'In Search Of The Lost Chord'

[57] 'King and Queen' is another fascinating song of the period, recorded during the sessions for 'Lost Chord' and presumably missing from that album because it's tale of waking from (or into?) a mysterious dream world would have been an even more tenuous link with the album's 'searching' theme than the twelve songs that made the album. The band should have returned to it though, because this atmospheric Hayward song is exquisitely performed with a note-perfect band performance that sounds almost like a Moody Blues greatest hits (for once all four vocalists can be heard at different times on the harmonies, with Ray's angsty lead and John's falsetto especially prominent, there's a sea of Pinder mellotron that glows more golden than ever and the rhythm section pick up on the similarities between the 'freak out' rock conclusion to 'Legend Of A band' taped not very long before this track). As a composition too it's so Moody Blues like: Justin's life has been changed forever by a dream that's already fading from sight, caught halfway between the fright of 'Nights In White Satin' and the dispassionate haze of Blue Jays song 'Who Are You Now?' and 'I Dreamed Last Night'. However the biggest link is with 'I Know You're Out There Somewhere' a full 21 years later (especially the video): Justin's narrator is a superstar, driving around in a white limousine, but all his fame and riches mean nothing to him because they push him even further from the ordinary little boy who was once by a special little girl. Like many period Moodies songs, it sounds more like a surreal drug trip than a mere 'dream' - Justin asks 'how many faces have all you been?' (seeing people as multiple versions of themselves is common in drug trips - David Crosby's always writing songs about it in the 1970s) while telling us not that he wakes up but that 'my mind is back behind my eyes'. And just as well, because this song also uses the scariest use of contrasts in a Justin song yet, going from laidback dreamlike coo-ing to a full on Arthur Brown as the narrator keeps falling back into his hazy nightmare, 'My thoughts growing louder and my mind has lost it's way and the flames are growing higher every day!' Worryingly, the song ends not with the pretty fall back to the minor key but on a second repeat of this scary middle eight where, instead of letting the narrator lull back to sleep again, it has him so firmly in its clutches that it refuses to die, repeating again immediately until a terrifying mellotron call drops by to scare us out of our wits. It's a breath-taking moment on an excellent song that, while not really suitable for 'Lost Chord', would have made a great delayed-sequel to 'Nights In White Satin', reaching similar emotional heights but through very different and far less direct means. Though most of the 'new' songs available on 'Caught Live' add little to the band's legacy, this one is an out and out classic. Find it on: 'Caught Live + 5' (1977), 'Prelude' (1987) and the deluxe edition of 'In Search Of The Lost Chord'.

A tad more ordinary, but still too good to leave in the vaults, [58] 'Gimme A Little Somethin' reveals just what a great psychological boost the response to 'Days Of Future Passed' had been for John Lodge in particular. While Mike and Justin had already been writers or a while, John was new to the project and must have been thrilled when so many reviewers singled out his two tracks for special praise from the album (though I can't say I agree with most reviewers who wax lyrical about that record, the praise is deserved for 'Peak Hour' at least). John's third song submitted to the 'Lost Chord' sessions (or four if you count the two parts of 'House Of Four Doors' - six if you count each door as a separate song!) it was left behind simply because it's not quite as adventurous as the others, though still impressive for a writer so early in his career. Played with pretty Ray Thomas flute and with Justin doing a good job of singing lead (the only time John will give one of his songs away to his colleague), it's an early love song for then-girlfriend, since-wife Kirsten (they married at the end of the year) and returns to the theme of 'Ride My See-Saw', that everything is now possible and that 'my world is built on everything I want that can be won'. There's a nice sense of contentment about this song, especially the Beatley extended 'aaahs' of the middle eight (something that only bands who are feeling extra confident can pull off without sounding corny - thanks to those gorgeous four part vocals now breaking into full blossom it's the best moment of the record). However what you miss at first is the out of place growing resentment at the start: 'My life is not as easy as you say' is not your average starting point for a romantic love song and hints the narrator is only enjoying peace and contentment after a difficult old time of things. The band seem to have rather forgotten this song nowadays (it's the only one of the '+5' not to appear on the deluxe sets, for instance) and it's not been readily available since the late 1980s, which is a shame; though not the greatest lost jewel in the world it's far too good to risk being 'lost' and I'd actually prefer it over 'House Of Four Doors' if I'm honest, less ambitious as it clearly is (it even vaguely fits the idea of 'searching' for something - the 'lost chord' in this song being love, of course). Find it on: 'Caught Live +5' (1977) or 'Prelude' (1987)

Another of the  strong outtakes from the 'Lost Chord' sessions, [59] 'What Am I Doing Here?' is a beautiful Hayward song that sounds more at one with what the band write in the 1970s than here. Like 'Are You Sitting Comfortably?' to come, it has a medieval setting with a 'castle dark and grey' and a princess locked away in the tower, pining outside for her true love. Justin's narrator, however, doesn't feel like the hero - he pauses outside her door to ask himself the very Moodies statement 'What am I doing here?' which runs throughout so much of their work. He figures he would be better off doing nothing but a pained middle eight suggests that's not the right thing to do either: 'Tenderly bury the fair young dead, place a wooden cross at his head...' A final conclusion that true love lies in being yourself and doing what you feel you ought to be doing ('Everyone's dream is deep within - find it and you'll be free') seems to offer a conclusion, but unexpectedly we're swept back into that middle eight again, repeated once more for added doom and gloom. You wonder why the Moodies abandoned such a promising song - they certainly spent a lot of time on the backing track, where Pinder's mellotron has rarely sounded so good or symphonic. 'Here' even fits the second record's theme of 'looking' for something rather better than some of the songs that did make the second album and was the highlight of both the 'Live Plus Five' re-issue of 1977 and the CD re-issues that finally gave this song back its rightful place at the end of 'Lost Chord'. Find it on: 'Caught Live+5' (1977), 'Prelude' (1987) and the deluxe re-issue of 'In Search Of The Lost Chord' 

Non-Album Recordings Part #6: 1970

On something of a creative role across 1970, [92] 'Mike's Number One' is Pinder's record third contribution to sessions for 'A Question Of Balance'. Happier than either of his songs that made the record, this unusually relaxed song promises that an answer to the world's current crises must be sought; that the seeds of the 1960s will flower into something more beautiful very soon. Pinder promises a 'happening' and - in contrast to his song 'The Sun-Set' - a 'sun-rise'. A lovely but rather slow-to-get-going melody is the perfect accompaniment, growing in size and scale along with the song until suddenly turning busy on the choruses where Pinder calls his listeners to arms. The fact that this song never saw the light of day at the time (despite sounding more 'finished' than most of the band's outtakes) and ended up being hidden in a vault until the 21st century is sadly indicative of the way the rest of the world went when the Moodies 'retired'. Ironically titled (this isn't the sort of material to be a best-seller in any form), Mike's Number One deserved a better fate. Find it on: the deluxe re-issue of 'A Question Of Balance' 

Non-Album Recordings Part #7: 1971

While clearly unfinished, the second of three Justin and Ray collaborations [102] 'The Dreamer' sounds like a promising song that would have made a nice extra to the under-running EGBDF' album. Ray sings lead, casting himself as a 'dreamer' with 'no answers' but a 'lot of dreams to sell' and offers some of his favourite metaphors of being a 'pebble on a beach' once again (which suggests the flautist wrote the words and the guitarist came up with the rather bleak music). A nice flamenco style guitar middle section tries to offer hope to the song, but it's got a lot to contend with, what with a scratchy bass part (which sounds like that double cello again) and a relentless rhythm section highlighted not just by drums but by tambourine as well. There's a nice middle eight that puts the song in the third person, suggesting that 'one day his dreams will come true' before a key change back to that depressing minor chord on the line 'but today he cries'. At one with the saddened, get-away-from-me songs of the band's last two albums, it would perhaps have overloaded EGBDF with a bit too much bleakness if released, but it's a promising song that's more suitable for the band than Ray's 'Nice To Be Here' or the band's 'Procession'. Find it on: the deluxe re-issue of 'Every Good Boy Deserves Favour' (1971)

Non-Album Recordings Part #8: 1973

The only song The Moody Blues recorded for their eighth album of the Hayward-Lodge line-up, [111] 'Island' is a logical next step from the austere coldness of 'Seventh Sojourn'. Justin's narrator is feeling isolated, trapped on an 'island' with a 'sinking feeling' that he's not going to get off while the sharks wait for him to die. Note too an early reference to being saved by 'wings', a theme Justin will return to in the 1980s. The Moodies at their bleakest, it's clear that they couldn't have gone on much longer with this song matching the many stories given in interviews about the band hiding in different corners of their mammoth private jet, refusing to talk to one another. However thanks to the wonders of overdubbing they turn in another powerful performance, with what sounds like Justin's lone angry snarled guitar washed through with some glorious mellotron from Pinder that drifts through the song like some unfeeling ghost, oblivious to the very real emotions shown by Hayward. 'Island' makes for a sad and rather cold end to the original run of one of rock and roll's warmest of bands and might have led to some difficult listening for fans had the whole of an album been like this. However it's still a clever little song, Hayward lyrics and Pinder's mellotron successfully conveying the sound of a collapsing band. Find it on: the deluxe re-issue of 'Seventh Sojourn' 

Non-Album Recordings Part #9: 1974

As if the two albums weren't more than enough already, you lucky fans of the 'Graeme Edge Band' also get the fun of an extra non-album single released in between the two albums, with 'Shotgun' from 'Kick Off Your Muddy Boots' on the flipside. Despite being an actual honest to goodness picture sleeve (with Graeme's fuzzy face smiling back out at you) the drummer has even less to do than the records, with the Gurvitz Brothers trying to out-disco each other upfront as Graeme hits the odd cymbal and sounds terribly bored. An even more unlikeable novelty song than most of the album [  ] 'We Like To Do It' is cod-stripper music meets music hall with a slight touch of Western saloon bar. If hearing a drunken salvation army band play out of tune while the vocalists get the giggles over cheap innuendo is the sort of thing you like to do then be my guest, but to my ears this might well be the single worst thing in the entire book and has about as much in keeping with The Moody Blues musically as The Spice Girls do. Cutting edge, you could say, but only in the sense that Edge is nearly cut out the song altogether. Find it on: the CD re-issue of 'Kick Off Your Muddy Boots', although in truth it's just another reason not to buy that record!

Non-Album Recordings Part #10: 1975

Though credited to The Blue Jays and a big hit in 1975 (well, big for a band who hadn't had a hit single between them for three years anyway) [122] 'Blue Guitar' is actually a much older song leftover from an aborted single Justin considered making alone back in the final days of the Moody Blues before the 'Blue Jays' project took off. Without a band to use, Justin booked time into Strawberry Studios in Stockport where the studio owners also happened to have a house band. Eric Stewart, Graham Gouldmann, Kevin Godley and Lawrence Creme all appear on the track which was one of the last they made backing other musicians before 10cc took off and took up all their time (I love it when AAA bands 'cross-breed'!; the sound is obvious once you know, especially Lol's hammer horror mellotron - far less 'sci-fi' than Pinder's - and Godley's characteristic 'Ringo'; style drum thumps, while the guitar part, long admired by Hayward fans, is actually a dead ringer for Eric's similar 'crystal clear' style before being joined by Lol's more eccentric playing in the duelled solo - at most, Justin plays the acoustic rhythm part though even that sounds more like Eric's to me, similar to his work on Paul McCartney's great and under-rated 'Press To Play' album; Justin will work with Eric again on the song 'Goodbye' from his 'Moving Mountains' LP and it's a shame this so suitable partnership didn't end up being used more). Being an older song, John doesn't appear at all, (the harmonies are just Justin double-tracked), despite getting co-billing. Hayward wasn't at all sure about releasing the song, which is quite a departure from his usual style and funnily enough much more like John's circa 'Ride My See Saw', a sweet tribute to the fact that playing some nice blue guitar makes him feel better whatever his mood (did the song start life after hearing George Harrison's 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps?', as the themes are similar even though the treatment is not; this song being bright and lively rather than low and morose). The Moodies are often at their best singing hymns to music and the freedom it can offer and Justin is quick to pay tribute to 'the making of my ways, the fortune of my days', before moving on to more general and vague lyrics about 'new hope for travellers in a storm finding love is warm'. The orchestral overdubs by Peter Knight also do a good job at filling up the 'spaces' left on the old take without taking the song in a different direction and are, arguably, his best work with the band, making a simple humble piece sound larger than life. If Justin had had his way this song would have stayed one for our 'unreleased' list, but Decca were keen to release something after the hit the duo had with the record and actively encouraged the pair to raid their tape vaults for something useable. In context this is more than useable, although it lacks a special certain magic and originality compared to the very best of the band's singles. It's a shame, too, that John didn't offer up anything from the sessions for 'Natural Avenue' (an album put on hold to make the 'Blue Jays' LP) which would have made this much more of a 'Blue Jays' effort) or that John didn't have time to add at least a harmony part to the record. Find it on: the CD re-issue of the 'Blue Jays' record, the 'Time Traveller' and 'Timeless Flight' box sets and a number of Moody Blues compilations.

Non-Album Recordings Part #11: 1977

The 'Songwriter' sessions also resulted in two outtakes, both of which have become CD regulars down the years (it's amazing how often 'Songwriter' has been re-issued on CD, actually - is it four now?) [  ] 'Learning The Game' is clearly Justin having a bit of fun in his home studio covering his beloved Buddy Holly (his first musical love growing up) rather than a serious take intended for release, but it's sweet enough with Justin playing everything including the faithful vibrato Holly guitar part and 'Crickets' like 'dit dits', although he's not quite fan-boy enough to include the famous 'Holly hiccup'. Find it on: the CD re-issue of 'Songwriter'

More interesting is the urgent rocker [  ] 'Wrong Time, Right Place', which probably got left off the album because it sounds so much like 'Doin' Time'. However it's nearly as good a song as the album highlight as Justin peacefully croons a lyric that's actually agitated and on edge. The lyrics are, actually, atrocious for Justin now I come to look at them properly, but at the time you're hearing them along with that oh so elegant tune it doesn't really matter if Justin is pouring out his heart or rhyming 'right place' with 'pretty face'. The guitar sound on this song is particular good, with two Justins distorted but not feedbacking as they dance around each other like the lovers in the song, playing a 'game' the other never quite understands. Give this song another re-write on the lyrics and it might yet have been the best on even an album as strong as 'Songwriter'. Find it on: the CD re-issue of 'Songwriter'

Non-Album Recordings Part #12: 1978

A third, rather less known Justin Hayward extract from an all-star cast recording was released in 1978 which you have to be a real Moodicologist to even know about, never mind own. 'Mandalaband' are a sort of looser-defined and slightly more bonkers equivalent of The Moody Blues, famous in the mid-1970s for their songs about Buddhism and Egyptology (their leader, David Rohl, is often cited as one of the inspirations for 'Indiana Jones'). The band only lasted for two albums in the 1970s (though they reformed in 2009) and a second record 'The Eye Of Wendor' originally started life as a 'War Of The Worlds' style adaptation of 'The Lord Of The Rings'. However a planned film adaptation using the music fell through (probably because The Beatles' label Apple still owned the rights to it in this period after playing around with doping a 'Bealtelyfied' version instead of 'Yellow Submarine'- director Peter Jackson had to pay a fortune to get the rights back again for the blockbuster what-I-did-on-my-New-Zealand-holidays-with-added-hobbits in the 2000s). When the project fell apart Rohl started re-writing it as an original piece and 'cast' superstars in certain roles, although it wasn't exactly that original - instead of 'one ring to rule them all' this version uses a 'gemstone' and while no hobbits were harmed during the making of this project lots of wizards and orcs and goblins and the like can be spotted. Justin sounds rather good considering on his own cameo appearance [ ] 'Dawn Is The New Day' (a title suspiciously close to his own Moody song 'Dawning Is The Day'), making the most of the most 'new age' backing for a Moodies track yet and he sounds really good once the band get going, even if he struggles at the start when there's just him and an orchestra. Like a lot of prog-rock, the song takes a simple premise and makes it sound mammoth, even though the song isn't strong enough to take it and it all sounds a little gee-mum-I'm-going-to-be-a-poet-when-I-grow-up, honest-I-am rather than moving or erudite. Lyrically it's 'In Search Of The Lost Chord' again, with the narrator 'searching for a new world...so beautiful', although whether this utopia is imaginary or real is never quite explained in the song (I should have struggled through more of the record to find out, really, but life's too short to listen to cardboard cut-out prog rock albums when I could be listening to the real thing). That said, at least it's a record that seems aware of its limitations rather than thinking it's God's greatest gift to music lovers, mankind and aliens which automatically makes it more likeable than 'War Of The Worlds' for me. Fellow guests on this album include 10cc and Maddy Prior, which must surely make this record pound for pound and groove for groove the most prog-rockish album ever! Find it on: The Manadalaband's 'Eye Of Wendor' is out on CD with a 'Volume II' attached on the same disc compromising outtakes from the sessions, though none featuring Justin I'm afraid. 

Non-Album Recordings Part #13: 1979

[  ] 'Marie' is a solo Hayward single released at Decca's request to cash in on the success of both 'Forever Autumn' and 'Songwriter' (Justin really is too nice a guy to say no!) and like 'Blue Guitar' was taken from a 1972 recording Justin never intended to use. Perhaps the most personal song in the Moodies canon, it's a love song for Justin's wife of the same name and is as schmaltzy a love song as they come. However it's not a bad song - the sighing melody is gorgeous and the lyrics, though less profound than most Hayward lyrics, are at least heartfelt and clichéd rather than boring and clichéd. Justin seems to know it too, as he sounds downright bashful about singing about seeing his soulmate against backgrounds of sun and moon. Like much of 'Songwriter', Justin seems to have been coping with Mike's absence by using a noisy synth part much higher in the mix than everything else and which leads the rest of the band to have to 'work round' the held two or three notes. As usual, the highlight is a stinging guitar solo that's similar to the one on 'Tightrope' and, despite this being a love song, every bit as loud! Find it on: the CD re-issue of 'Songwriter'

Not for the last time the B-side was better though, with [  ] 'Heart Of Steel' a convincing attempt to update the Hayward sound to the post-War Of The Worlds era. The synths don't quite scream 'ulla' but they do sound more space-age than 'Songwriter', while the melody for this song is as strong as any Hayward has written, full of the same panic and drama as the best Hayward songs like 'Nights' and 'Questions'. Only the lyrics let this one down although even they aren't bad, with Justin complaining about being 'lost on the far side of a mountain' and coming up against a brick wall as he turns to his loved one for support. Similar in feel to 'King and Queen's psychedelic haze, with another dreamscape echo-drenched backing track where twin Justin guitar parts seem to levitate above the rest of the track, this is however a much more 'real' and urgent sounding song. Too good for a B-side anyway. Find it on: the CD re-issue of 'Songwriter'

Non-Album Recordings Part #14: 1980
Part of the Moodies 'reunion' manifesto was that all the band would be allowed to record as much solo material as they wanted as long as they had some left over for band albums, though until recently only Justin made the most of this new 'rule'. The exception is a standalone John Lodge single [  ] 'Street Cafe', released on the eve of 'Long Distance Voyager' and much more in keeping with the band's 1980 work although it often appears on CD re-issues of John's first solo album 'Natural Avenue'. Patrick Moraz guests and makes his presence felt immediately with the sea of synth effects on this track, alongside the band's future producer Pip Williams, though what surprises you more is John's vocals which are spoken not sung and are clearly trying to make him sound like period Blondie, although the effect ends up making him sound more like period Bill Wyman. The lyrics are effectively a chat-up line, with John's narrator asking someone (a passer by? a waitress? a fellow customer? if she fancies going out with him and adds 'the way you smile is just like the sun...you blew my mind just like a neutron bomb!' The solo is more inventive, played on a fiddle while John sings along, but the rest is rather forgettable, sadly. Find it on: the CD re-issue of 'Natural Avenue'  

[  ]'Threw It All Away' doesn't even have a whistled solo going for it, a slow dreary ballad with an unusual 'Roy Orbison' growl from John so unusual I actually had to check I had the single on at the right speed the first time I heard it. Lyrically, it's a depressing contrast to 'Ride My See-Saw' in which the narrator once had everything but rejected it, not realising that this would narrow his horizons, not make them limitless. John sounds awful, the gospel backing singers sound worse and the horns and strings don't help matters much either. 'Threw It All Away' can, rather neatly, be 'thrown away' itself. Find it on: the CD re-issue of 'Natural Avenue'  

Non-Album Recordings Part #15 : 1982

The only song to break the silence between 'Long Distance Voyager' and 'The Present' is a rare Justin Hayward song recorded for the soundtrack of the movie 'She'. Though the commission rather goes against Justin's traditional ideas (he's never written a song to order before, although there are many more examples to come in this book) and is closer to horror than prog-rockish fantasy. Set in the future, a man tries to recover his sister from werewolves dressed in togas, Egyptian mummies bandaged through cosmic radiation and a giant wearing a tutu (it's one of those 1980s films like 'Time Bandits' and 'Princess Bride' that's a definite throwback to the surrealism of psychedelia). The 'she' of the title is the girl who befriends the hero in his quest and - guess what - Justin's been roped in to sing the soppy ballad [  ] 'Eternal Woman' as they reunite at the end of the film. Like all the best Justin Hayward songs without actually being a good song at all, this track has Justin singing about how horrible life was when they were apart and how far apart the two soulmates seem, before it all comes good at the time. The song sounds more like Justin's 'Moving Mountains' album than the period Moodies albums, with synths used for warmth rather than coldness, while the melody sounds like it's about to go into the not yet written 'It's Cold Outside Of Your Heart' in places. Sadly there never was a soundtrack album or even a single - the only way you can hear this song is by watching the end credits of the film. As a hint I'd skip straight through to the end if I were you - the sight of that giant in a toga will haunt you a lot longer than the song will.

Meanwhile and far away, as the night draws in, over in America Mike Pinder is trying to come to terms with the fact he isn't a Moody Blue anymore and in two minds about whether to re-launch his solo career or simply spend time with his young family.  As it turns out we won't hear anything new from Mike for another twelve years, but he's not out of ideas yet and recorded a couple of tracks in his home studio around this time, both later added as welcome bonus tracks to the CD re-issue of 'The Promise'. First up is [  ] 'Island To Island', a sweet and very Pinderesque combination of reggae and prog. 'I need some time to regain my senses, partake in leisure and fun...now all my hard work is done' sings Mike as he seems to be knowingly withdrawing from the world with one last message of 'we are all one'. Alas an intriguing lyric, lovely warm melody and an excellent vocal are rather undone by the very period synths which are just as obtrusive as Patrick Moraz's will be on later records. Mike's guitar actually sounds better, with a quick flamenco flourish that proves what a good player he was becoming. A lovely extra and - in different circumstances - a solid backbone for a new album, one that sadly never came. Find it on: 'The Promise' (CD re-issue).

Mike was never happy with the band recording of [  ] 'One Step Into The Light' and Pinder may even have been considering 'reclaiming' the track before he left the project (before the others ran out of material). However, while the home studio version of 'Light' features a much warmer and more confident vocal from Pinder, the rest of the song is badly mis-cast. Rather than ear-warming mellotron we get soul-freezing synths that make this sound like a period Madonna or Michael Jackson record (yuk!) with a few Caribbean sounds thrown in for good measure. It all sounds like a bit of a mess, to be honest, sounding divisive as none of the elements from round the world come together despite the brotherly love theme of the lyrics. Though the rest of the song is the same lyrically, the last verse makes a clumsy change from Pinder's 'I' to the idea of God and now instead of a 'mellotron' to 'play for you' there's 'God's love' to 'see you through', which seems rather too obvious and specific for the always-questioning Moody Blues. Find it on: 'The Promise' (CD re-issue).

Non-Album Recordings Part #16 : 1987

Little did I know it at the time, but my first experience of Justin Hayward's voice came from the opening titles of 'The Shoe People', a cartoon that was footloose and fancy-free and broadcast on TV-AM when I was five. Actually I was more of a fan of Walsall Arboretum's light show than the programme itself, which contained a great lit-up 'Trampy' and 'Charlie' the worn-out hobnailed boot and clown shoe who were the stars of the series. At ten minutes a cartoon and a lot of the plot taken up by 'wouldn't it be nice if we all got along?' rhetoric, I'd given it the boot long before all twenty-six episodes were shown although there was just enough character in the early episodes to give it some welly.  The simple 'sh-sh-sh-sh-shoe people' theme tune written by Justin is a cross between 'Sh-sh-sh-sh-sh-Sugartown' and the sort of bland lift music you used to get down the other end when you were on the telephone for a really long time. The song was written for Justin by show co-creators Martin Wyatt and Colin Frechter; Martin just happened to be a neighbour of the Hayward's Surrey address and met Justin at a party where he politely said he'd be interested in making a song for the pilot that had already been turned down by several stations across Europe before TV-Am came to the show's rescue. There are just two verses and an irrepressibly catchy chorus, which sound better in context than they do written out: 'Every time you're skipping down the street, think about the shoes on your feet, it's a magic world when your toes uncurl!' In truth, it's not one of Justin's better ideas but, hey, it kept him in clogs for another year and it's important to keep in with the under-fives. Wyatt returned the favour by producing Justin's 'Moving Mountains' album for him - though sadly wasn't inspired to invent a 'crampon' style character despite the title song. Officially titled [  ] 'The Shoe People (Theme From The TV Series)', I actually prefer the wordier B-side 'Welcome To The World Of The Shoe People' which has more room for character development. Sadly this flipside has yet to appear on CD and is now so rare even Golda Van Der Clog probably couldn't afford it, although the A-side does occasionally pop up on 'greatest children's TV themes of the 1980s' type compilations. You may also be interested to learn that the entire series is out on a very reasonably priced single-disc DVD with an impressive nearly four-hour running time and that the show's creators are working on a sequel coming our way soon (although that said their fan page has been promising that for ages); wonder if they'll keep the same music?

Strange as it may seem now in 'The Present', sci-fi dramas on television were in something of a slump in the 1980s. One of the many new series that came and went without making much of an impact was 'Star Cops', a curious combination of gritty police crime drama and Battlestar Galactica. The show was written by Blake's 7's best writer (sorry Terry Nation) and one of the better Dr Who ones too, Chris Boucher, but even he never quite nailed whether this show was meant to be about realism or escapism (a little like 'Blake's 7' itself, though 'Star Cops' was a little clumsier and rougher around the edges, despite a slightly bigger budget). Anyway, Justin was hired to provide the soundtrack's theme song - probably on the back of his work for 'The Shoe People', although that  in itself seems a questionable decision given the two very different audiences. Justin's song titled [  ] 'It Won't Be Easy Without You' is exactly what you'd expect a drippy ballad written to order composed in between two of the most empty and bland pop albums of the Moody Blues' career might sound like. To be fair, though, this track does sport a better tune and one you can actually sing along to, whilst simultaneously being unlike anything else Justin ever wrote (the keyboard trills are a good rehearsal for 'I Know You're Out There Somewhere'). There's also a scorching guitar solo from Justin which is full of the hard-hitting power and longing that had been missing from the band's albums for what seemed like generations at the time. The lyrics though are generic stuff and easy the weakest of the many Hayward lyrics about loss and regret, complete with a suitably cosmic middle eight about looking for a loved one 'across the stars' which sounds more like a Moody Blues parody than anything else. Not unlikeable, but I wouldn't go too far out of your way to track this one down and it never really fitted the shots of space over the opening titles. Well, as the song says, some things just aren't easy - a sci-fi/police/romance drama was perhaps one genre too many for Justin to try. Find it on: only the original single I'm afraid, which came and went quicker than an astronaut in a faulty radiation protection suit. Still not available on CD: perhaps in the year 2027? (When the show was set?)

The B-side was a generic blues instrumental titled [  ] 'Outer Space'. Sounding more like a spacey Mike Pinder track than a Justin Hayward one, it's significant only for the co-credit to producer Tony Visconti, which reveals what a close working the relationship the pair had during the mid to late 1980s (Visconti appears to play the keyboards too, which are quieter than Moraz' work but still not exactly subtle). If Hank Marvin had ever been sucked through a time vortex to the future and forced to play really slowly against an 80s drum machine, it would sound like this - only probably better. Find it on: the same single - this track has also yet to appear on CD to date, though that isn't necessarily a bad thing. 

Non-Album Recordings Part #17 : 1987

Whose the first singer who comes to mind when you think of creepy things that go bump in the night, blood-stained vampires and greedy ghouls? Yes that's right, the evil overlord known for his evil stares and devious ways who goes by the name of...Justin Hayward?! Hang on a minute - what is lovely Justin doing writing a song named [  ] 'Something Evil, Something Dangerous' for the soundtrack of straiught-to-video-which-is-a-euphemism-from-back-in-the-day-for-no-one-in-their-right-mind-would-pay-to-see-this-at-the-cinema horror film 'Howling IV: The Original Nightmare'. Actually, the song's not too bad, with a nice sense of gradually increasing terror and an actual bona fide guitar sound not smothered by peripod synths (although there's a few of those too) and a melody that, while no 'Nights In White Satin', is at least less depressing than most of the period 'Other Side Of Life' record. It's good fun to hear Justin out of his comfort zone as he turns in a song quite unlike any of his other compositions, a cross between 'Thriller' and 'Werewolves Of London' (awooo!) At least the music is more palatable than the film, which is about a nun spying a werewolf and being attacked by evil spirits. Would you believe that there are now eight films in this series - more than there are original Moody Blues albums featuring Justin and John! Find it on: only the actual film soundtrack itself, I'm afraid - no soundtrack album was ever issued, which is a shame: unlike the straight-to-the-bin film the music is pretty good! 

Non-Album Recordings Part # 18: 1990

These non-album recordings are intended to feature true 'solo' releases where one or other of the Moody Blues (though nearly always Justin) sings lead, which meant that at first I was going to skip the duet with Sally Oldfield the guitarist made in 1988 for the album 'Instincts', but only released as a single long after the album had faded away (there seems some confusion on release dates too: some sources say 1989, others 1990, but more say 1990 so that's what we've listed here). The single gives co-credit to Justin on the sleeve and original copies feature a rather fetching picture sleeve of the two of them together looking 'romantic' in a posed kind of way, so here it is. Mike Oldfield's older sister, Sally had been knocking on the 'nearly' doors of success for longer than her brother and any of her albums are a lot more deserving of your time and money than that horrific 'Tubular Bells' thing (at least overblown prog rock albums usually have some ideas to sustain them - I never did find any in this waste of good vinyl...) I'm not convinced that [  ] 'Let It Begin' works as ever a song or as a duet, as neither vocalists' voices go together and the 80s backing is slapped on with more layers than even 'Sur La Mer' (it sounds to me as if it's a little dated for 1990 too - this more of a '1985' sound, the musical equivalent of flatpack furniture where everything happens in the wrong order and sets the layers tumbling like a house of cards - the 1990 sound was more about filling every available hole with something, however loud or obnoxious. And I say that as someone who thought both of these an improvement on the token sound of 1980: wishy washy synths with all the colour and emotion washed away). The song, written by Sally, is prog rock fluff about 'dreaming a daydream' and 'seeing visions' of a utopian future where 'the tears that are raining turn into sunshine'. It's just enough like the Moody Blues for Justin to sound a lot more comfortable than the author does, to be honest, although it's not even in the same garden universe as the master of this sci-fi prog-rock stuff.  The B-side, for the record, is a Sally solo song 'Oleanders' (a plant of the 'Nerium' variety, so my gardening consultant has just butted in with his green fingers to tell me) without any Justin Hayward involvement - a shame as it's smoky atmosphere and slightly less grating contemporary sound make for a much more interesting song. Find it on: the Sally Oldfield album 'Instincts' (1988) or the original single (1989/1990)

Non-Album Recordings Part # 19: 1990

What could be more Moody Blues like than an album of poetry set to music, accompanied by orchestras and eerie wind sound effects (not unlike the end of 'On The Threshold Of A Dream' - is this a continuation?!) Originally released under the clever name 'Poetry In Motion', this tribute to the poet laureate John Betjeman organised by DJ and fan Mike Read  is a curious affair - some parts of it work surprisingly well (Betjeman was stricter on his rhythms than most poets, which is usually the downfall of projects like this), while other parts all too obviously sound like two styles that don't go very well together. In Justin's case he gets the highs and lows all in one song as he sings a typically Moody-esque version of [  ] 'Tregardock', a tale of a fog that seems to swamp the coast of Cornwall which is surely a metaphor for the sense of malaise and acceptance that seemed to be sweeping Britain from the South up in the mid-1960s (no swinging sixties for Betjeman it seems!) Some even claim the song is about impending suicide and features a jumper about to leap off - which puts this piece firmly inside the 'bedsitter lament' end of the Moody Blues canon (funnily enough, while Justin has never pinned down the date when he actually did write ''Nights In White Satin', 1966 seems pretty likely there as well - did Justin feel this same 'wind'?) The start of the song is superb - atmospheric and with the long held notes that are so suited to Justin's voice, while you can believe that lines like 'In waiting awfulness appear like journalism full of hate' is a rock and roll lyric by a writer from the intellectual end of the spectrum (Pete Townshend or Paul Simon perhaps). However the chorus undoes most of that good work by being all upbeat and poppy - even though the song is as gloomy and thunderstruck as ever - and for some reason a fiddle part arrives and turns the whole thing Irish (despite the very deliberately named Cornish setting). Justin is pitched a tad too high here too and risks doing himself an injury, although on the opening he's as note-perfect as ever. Find it on: the original 1990 release was titled 'Poetry In Motion' but it sold few copies under that name. A ,more common sighting is the two-disc set 'Sound Of Poetry' re-released in 2009 with a 'bonus' disc of Betjeman reading his own poems. 

Non-Album Recordings Part #20: 1991

Usually non-album B-sides are an encouraging sign for an album, with a sense that the band had enough material to choose from to have releaseable bits left over rather than just recycling album tracks. However when that album is 'Keys To Kingdom' you begin to dread what you might find when you turn the singles over if something wasn't thought good enough to make even that album and, sure enough, [191] 'Once Is Enough' is a horror. Released as the flip of 'Bless The Wings', the two songs between them mark the single worst release the Moodies ever made and alarmingly this B-side is even worse. Parping mid-80s synthesisers (yep even in 1991) suggest that Moraz was still a part of the band when they made this, while Justin has never sounded more unlikeable as he plays the part of a strutting rock star.  The song gets better when the harmonies slot in, but this is a case of wrong song, wrong band as the Moodies even start mocking their old pretentious selves (and not in a good way): 'Sometimes you're first, sometimes you're last, then again you're somewhere in your days of future past'. Thank goodness this song is, to date, one of the hardest Moodies band songs to track down and has never been re-issued. Please don't start an online petition to release it whatever you do - some songs are 'lost' for a reason. Find it on: the 'Bless The Wings' single and good luck tracking that one down!

The B-side of 'Say It With Love', though, is [192] 'Highway'  - a Hayward/Lodge collaboration that's better than every single song on the 'Keys To The Kingdom' album, updating the Moodies sound while still staying in touching distance of it the way the band should have done from the first. A kind of 'Long and Winding Road', this life journey down a 'highway' tries to be a love song but is clearly more about the pair's career with the band. The 'Blue Jays' sound unusually arrogant here ('No one else can see things like I do!') but that statement is true, the pair reflecting on how proud they are to have ploughed their own furrow and where the 'harvest' of the seeds they harvested is their loyal faithful listeners. In typical Moodies fashion Justin and John tell us what they've learnt on their journey - to 'trust your heart' and that even though dismissed as a 'dreamer' the narrator proved everyone wrong in the end, simply by carrying on doing what he was doing.  Justin also pays tribute to 'The rays of the sun and the light of dawn, my inspiration since the day I was born', a neat nod of the head to the changing hours of 'Days Of Future Passed'.  The opening burst of bagpipes tries to make this song 'traditional' but it's actually very much a song about 'now' (well, 1991) with the band reflecting on how far they've come and how much they've seen, feeling vindicated by their mutual decision to join a band in trouble that fateful day in 1967. Cleverly used as the grand finale of their first box set 'Time Traveller', 'Highway' is a clever taking-stock song where even the modern stylistic trappings don't irritate quite as much as normal, a vindication of how far the band have come and how much great music they've somehow managed to make along the way. May the highway never end! Find it on: a sensible finale to both box sets - 'Time Traveller' in 1990 and 'Timeless Flight' in 2014. as well as the occasional Moody Blues compilation. 

Non-Album Recordings Part # 21: 1992

I despair sometimes, dear reader. There we were in 2000 being sold a pup (well, a dodgy reindeer) with the Moodies' Christmas album 'December', a record that was so bad it made me about as unfestive as a snowman with a cold in his carrot. The world - well bits of it - went made for an album that by the band's past standards was mediocre in the extreme and the usual excuse 'it's only Christmas' didn't work either b3ecause it was so...Un-christmassey. The Moody Blues had, however, already proven that they could do the real deal thanks to the inclusion of [  ] 'What Child Is This?' on  various artists compilation raising money for British children's hospitals (the song was then re-released on various other sets with similar names down the years, all raising money for similar charities - we'll list what we know at the end). A poem written in 1865 that's very Dickensian in its tale of poverty and greed and the innocent babes trapped in the middle, the song is set to the tune of 'Greensleeves', the best song King Henry VIII probably didn't write (though his Royal Head-Choppingness took all the credit in history books). Justin sings a powerful lead over a lovely Paul Bliss keyboard part (so much more subtle than Moraz's work), Ray gets a rare flute solo and John and Ray provide some heart-warming harmonies. This, dear readers, this is more like it: not inventive, ambitous or as great as the Moody Blues can be, of course, but then it is only a good deed for Christmas and I can forgive it more for that. 'December' however - without the charity, band performances or the care, with ten times the keyboards - I still can't forgive. This was missing from the album presumably because of copyright issues (the band probably gave full terms over to the charities) but also, one sense, because it would prove how wretched the rest of that album actually is. Find it on: *deep breath* the various artists compilations 'A Gift Of Life Volume Four' 'A Miracle Holiday For Kids' 'Celebrate The Season' 'A Rock 'n' Roll Christmas' 'Christmas Classics' ';A Christmas Miracle' and 'Holiday Collection II'. 

Non-Album Recordings Part #22: 1994

(This review is brought to you by...EA Sports). Well, it's a game of two halves this Moody Blues lark isn't it? We're heading into extra time now and while the band came on in cracking form the play seems to have got very erratic recently, with several songs that should have been left on the benches. Against all the odds, though, this Veteran Cosmic Rocking team representing Birmingham with a dash of Surrey seem to have turned the tide. [  ] 'This Is The Moment' is a last gasp classic moment of Moody magic, even if it's a rare cover song that has little to do with the band at all. The best song (the only good song?) from the flop musical 'Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde' on Broadway in 1990, it's an eccentric choice made more palatable by the fact that it's the sort of song Justin was born to sing and with lots of space for his dramatic guitar (no wonder the bands put him centre forward, that's all I can say - and bless the winger, there, for bringing the ball back). Another sort-of return to 'Ride My See-Saw' this is a slower, maturer reflection on being in the right time at the right place to make a difference, with a plea to the heavens to make the future live up to this promise that is somehow very Moodies. What's really odd, though,  is why this song was recorded - as the band's contribution to the various artists charity fundraiser 'Soccer Rocks The Globe' (re-titled 'Gloryland' in the countries where 'soccer' is just 'football'), alongside Queen, Fleetwood Mac, Jon Bon Jovi, Santana and Kool and the Gang (all clearly widely known for their love of football!) Given the odd setting the Moodies cope rather well and the song made a nice addition to the re-issued 'Time Traveller' box set, but why the band got involved at all is one of the bigger 'questions' of this book (for the record the band have, perhaps oddly, never done much charity music work so it isn't just that; the only other charity single Justin and John appear on, for instance, is 'Doctor In Distress', the 1986 single dedicated to getting Dr Who back on air after an eighteen month hiatus that year, though the Blue Jays could be daleks for all it matters to the ginormous mass chorus gathered to sing on the less than inspiring track. Oft-quoted line: 'There was a Brigadier, a master and a canine computer, and each screaming girl just hoped a yeti wouldn't shoot her!') By the way The Moodies just sing to a backing track and don't actually play on this recording organised by the 'Soccer' album organisers (who also pitched the song to the Moodies' management), which means that Graeme doesn't appear at all. Find 'This Is The Moment' on the various artists sets titled 'Soccer Rocks The Globe' or 'Gloryland' depending on what country you're from (1994) and the bonus disc on the 1994 issue of the 'Time Traveller' box set.

Non-Album Recordings Part # 23 : 1997

Justin Hayward did some weird things down the years didn't he? Was he just too nice to say 'no' or did he have a lot of friends making strange projects? Anyway one of the ones in this book that's most likely to have passed you by is [  ] 'Skimming Stones', a Celtic sounding flute-based song released on the soundtrack of the Italian film 'Tre Uomini E Una Gamba', which translates roughly as 'Three Men and A Leg' (what doesn't translate so well is the joke: in Italian slang a woman is a 'leg' and the plot revolves around a missing artificial limb: hours of fun right there folks). Though largely unknown in the English-speaking world, the film was successful enough to make stars of its four creators Aldo, Giovanni, Giacomo and Veneir. Of course you have to ask yourself why Justin was helping out four unknowns on a modern comedy whose plot had nothing to do with the Moody Blues and where the local audience would only have had very distant memories of the band by 1997. Justin, though, always gives the best he can and 'Skimming Stones' is actually a sweet little song very much in the old Moody Blues folk tradition (and superior to most of 'Strange Times' thanks to the lack of synths). A lovely flowing melody is perfectly suited to Justin's vocals, even if you can tell that they're slightly fading by this time, whilst the lyrics are a nice take on the idea of meditating in nature to forget a loved one.  The song is available on the soundtrack album of the film, which was only ever released on the Italian branch of Sony records, so good luck tracking this one down! Find it on: Find yourself a rich young Italian bride, win enough races to earn a prestigious driving contract with Ferrari or create your own mafia: and afford the original album that way; the choice is yours.

Timothy Leary Lives! One of the best-kept secrets in The Moody Blues archives is a cracking re-recording of Ray Thomas' classic [  ] 'Legend Of A Mind' for a tribute album dedicated to the life and times of the counter-culture guru. Freed of the expectations of sounding like contemporary acts, the band are finally free to play around with their legacy and turn in a thrilling performance here with the single greatest Ray Thomas performance (both flute and vocals) in fifteen years. The performance is a little faster and a lot rockier than the 'Lost Chord' original and includes the sweet tribute that 'Timothy Leary lives now he's outside looking in!' and stripped down to just drums, guitar, bass and vocals the Moodies sound fab, especially a wide awake Graeme whose right on the money even more than in 1968 (they should have done this a long long time ago!) The only song on the album not written by Leary himself, Timothy would have been tickled pink by this faithful version (he always loved the original, picking up on the fact it was an affectionate joke rather than the drug trip everyone assumed). Heartfelt, raw and trippy, it's exactly what he would have wanted. Find it on: the various artists set 'Beyond Life With Timothy Leary' (1997)

Non-Album Recordings Part # 24 : 1999

One of the most famous of all prog-rock albums is Rick Wakeman's 1974 epic 'Journey To The Centre Of The Earth', a 'War Of The Worlds' prototype in which the Yes keyboard player tries to re-create Jules Verne's 1864 story (it's amazing how Victoriana and prog always seem to go hand in hand - you could tie in here the 'Sgt Peppers' brass band album cover that started the whole craze and the handlebar moustache Mike Pinder wore across 1967 and 1968 before he switched to a smaller model and then a full beard). Recorded back when Wakeman was an ambitious youngster rather than a self-proclaimed 'grumpy old man' (that's not ,me being rude - he really did take part in a BBC documentary series of that name and enjoys living up to the character even now on another excellent BBC show on consumer rights 'Watchdog'), it's had a mixed reception down the years - some fans love it genuinely for being the high-water mark of prog rock in all its epic ambitious over-zealous glory, while others now mock it for the same reasons. The album has always had a cult following, though, so it made sense when the 25th anniversary came round to record a sequel, this time with special guests (and, unlike the first album, vocals and lyrics). Justin Hayward probably got the call through his work on 'Forever Autumn' - with 'Return To The Centre Of The Earth' very much modelled on 'War Of The Worlds' - but the pair probably crossed paths - the Moody Blues had spent most of the past two decades working with Rick's 'Yes' replacement Patrick Moraz after all, though the signature band sound always had much more in keeping with Wakeman's more cerebral and introverted playing. For once I actually prefer the lesser known sequel, which has some excellent moments and sounds much more in keeping with the sense of adventure of the source material, somehow, while Star Trek's Patrick Stewart makes for a far more suitable and interested-sounding narrator than Richard Burton ever did. 
However Justin's guest spot [  ] 'Still Waters Run Deep', written by Wakeman without any Hayward involvement, is not one of the better moments on the record. 'Forever Autumn'-lite, it's ruined by the song's similarity to 'Bright Eyes', the booming echoey choir that doesn't add a great deal and the first Justin Hayward vocal where his voice is showing signs of strain (sadly it won't be the last). The song is still worth hearing, though, thanks to a suitably Moodies-ish backing that unites flutes and orchestras much more convincingly than most of that year's band album 'Strange Times', with a grandeur that hasn't been part of the band's sound for aeons. The lyrics are rather fittingly Hayward-like too, if not as inspired as most of Justin's work, with a Moody-ish theme of lost love and a 'Nights/Autumn' style sense of despair and loneliness. The piece takes place about two-thirds into the piece, when the explorers think they have been cut off from each other and the rest of the world.  The album is also interesting for being what must surely be the only record to feature contributions by both Bonnie Tyler and Ozzie Osbourne! Find it on: Rick Wakeman's 'Return To The Centre Of The Earth' (1999)

Non-Album Recordings Part # 25 : 2002

It was, I fear, inevitable. Thirty-five years on from 'Days Of Future Passed's supposed blend of the rock and classical styles (which mixed about as well as oil and water) and singer Mario Frangoulis is surprisingly the first tenor to attempt to tackle [  ] 'Nights In White Satin' (perhaps they're all afraid of being shown up by a rock singer?) Why are we telling you all this when we could fill another book just on covers of the band's most famous song? Because Justin is along for the ride too, unwisely warbling along during the crescendo at the end for a few seconds. Sadly for Justin, he's not on particularly good vocal form and the tenor is singing in his native Greek anyway (including taking some liberties with some of the lines, which now ends a word or sometimes two or three short of the line). All things taken into consideration, though, and it's actually not that bad: Mario at least sounds as if he knows and respects the song and is brave enough to risk a similar wrath amongst his peers for doing a 'pop' song that the Moodies did back in the day, while it's Justin who sounds all at sea. Please though, guys, let's leave it at that - ok? We don't want any more crossovers and once every thirty-five years is about right! Find it on: the Mario Frangoulis album 'Sometimes I Dream' (2002)

Non-Album Recordings Part # 25 : 2002

It was, I fear, inevitable. Thirty-five years on from 'Days Of Future Passed's supposed blend of the rock and classical styles (which mixed about as well as oil and water) and singer Mario Frangoulis is surprisingly the first tenor to attempt to tackle [  ] 'Nights In White Satin' (perhaps they're all afraid of being shown up by a rock singer?) Why are we telling you all this when we could fill another book just on covers of the band's most famous song? Because Justin is along for the ride too, unwisely warbling along during the crescendo at the end for a few seconds. Sadly for Justin, he's not on particularly good vocal form and the tenor is singing in his native Greek anyway (including taking some liberties with some of the lines, which now ends a word or sometimes two or three short of the line). All things taken into consideration, though, and it's actually not that bad: Mario at least sounds as if he knows and respects the song and is brave enough to risk a similar wrath amongst his peers for doing a 'pop' song that the Moodies did back in the day, while it's Justin who sounds all at sea. Please though, guys, let's leave it at that - ok? We don't want any more crossovers and once every thirty-five years is about right! Find it on: the Mario Frangoulis album 'Sometimes I Dream' (2002)

Non-Album Recordings Part # 25 : 2002

It was, I fear, inevitable. Thirty-five years on from 'Days Of Future Passed's supposed blend of the rock and classical styles (which mixed about as well as oil and water) and singer Mario Frangoulis is surprisingly the first tenor to attempt to tackle [  ] 'Nights In White Satin' (perhaps they're all afraid of being shown up by a rock singer?) Why are we telling you all this when we could fill another book just on covers of the band's most famous song? Because Justin is along for the ride too, unwisely warbling along during the crescendo at the end for a few seconds. Sadly for Justin, he's not on particularly good vocal form and the tenor is singing in his native Greek anyway (including taking some liberties with some of the lines, which now ends a word or sometimes two or three short of the line). All things taken into consideration, though, and it's actually not that bad: Mario at least sounds as if he knows and respects the song and is brave enough to risk a similar wrath amongst his peers for doing a 'pop' song that the Moodies did back in the day, while it's Justin who sounds all at sea. Please though, guys, let's leave it at that - ok? We don't want any more crossovers and once every thirty-five years is about right! Find it on: the Mario Frangoulis album 'Sometimes I Dream' (2002)

Non-Album Recordings Part # 26 : 2007

Are you sitting comfortably? Because next up is an unexpected return to the scene of the second half of 'On The Threshold Of A Dream' - specifically the golden age of Camelot when Guinevere was queen. Only this time it's Justin Hayward guest-singing on yet another various artists prog rock album hoping for the same success as 'War Of The Worlds'. This time it's former Pink Floyd engineer Alan Parsons, who gathered together another bunch of stars for his musical about King Arthur named 'Excalibur' after his famous sword in the stone. Strangely, it took a French composer and dramatist, Alan Simon, to bring this very English tale of heroes, sorcery and democratic furniture to musical form and it was a relative success - particularly in a 2011 revival (no doubt helped by the success of the BBC show 'Merlin' which was still running back then). In typical prog rock form, the musical ended up a trilogy, with Justin appearing on the middle part which was officially titled 'Excalibur II: The Celtic Ring'. The song Simon wrote especially for Justin was [  ] 'Celtic Heart', a sweet piano ballad that's one of Hayward's best extra-curricular releases. Simple but moving, it's a heartfelt love song in tribute to a loved one who can dance like no one else and which features (almost) the last great vocal Justin has given. Justin sings about being left 'frail' by the bitterness and hardness of the world but realises that together their team is unstoppable, that 'as a team we can't fail' and soon everyone the world over will be dancing the way Justin does here.  There's a nice sense of Irish folk music in the tune too, with a closing tin whistle solo that somehow manages to avoid the usual clichés of tin whistle solos on folk tunes. Not sure what it has to do with Camelot exactly, but unexpectedly excellent and well worth looking out for. The rest of the album's not bad either, with contributions from Pentangle's Jacqui McShee and members of Jethro Tull and Fairport Convention making this a folk-prog-rock collector's own personal Camelot.

Non-Album Recordings Part # 27 : 2008

Justin was at it again, appearing as a guest on a various artists charity project named 'Gaia' in 2008, an ecologically themes album organised by the French prog-rock composer Alan Simon (who'd already worked with Justin on 'Excalibur' a decade earlier) and using many of his friends. Under the banner 'We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors - we borrow it from our children', the CD presents twenty songs loosely based around the environment by a wide range of artists including a young Heather Small and two members of Fleetwood Mac. Justin's song, written for him by Alan Simon, is as usual a ballad but [ ] 'On The Road' is also a refreshing change from Justin's usual work. With a melody that sounds uncomfortably close to Paul Weller's 'You Do Something To Me', Justin sings in clipped near-haiku lines of short sharp sentences which sound nicely archaic and olde worlde, although it's probably a side effect of translating the song into English. Sounding not unlike a half-century-later update of John's 'Eyes Of A Child' the piece declares 'My child has gone, full of awe, full of life' as the Earth becomes a live-in home full of natural resources to exploit rather than a cause of wonder. Justin is in great voice - the best he was in all decade - but the song itself is rather bland and forgettable, sadly. Do be aware, too, that a different singer with more of a hip-hop taste and also named Justin Hayward recorded a song named 'Battle For Gaia' so ignore that one if you come across it (unless you like hip hop of course - Moodies fans have always had a wide range of tastes!) Find it on: 'Gaia' 'created' by Alan Simon (2008)

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