Monday, 20 June 2016

The Monkees "Good Times!" (2016) (Or are they?...)




The Monkees “Good Times!” (2016)

Good Times/You Bring The Summer/She Makes Me Laugh/Our Own World/Gotta Give It Time/Me and Magdelena/Whatever’s Right/Love To Love/Little Girl/Birth Of An Accidental Hipster/Wasn’t Born To Follow/I Know What I Know/I Was There (And I Was Told I Had A Good Time)

“Looking for the good times, gonna have a ball – but there’s more to life than you’ve been living, girl”

There’s an episode of the original run of the Monkees TV series (the eighteenth to be exact) where a mad scientist ‘steals’ the band’s musical abilities and adapts them to his own Monkee monster. The typically Monkee twist is that the monster’s actually pretty good and turns people on as much (more?) than the real thing, by sounding just enough like the original to make no difference with added hype and novelty factor. By the end of the show you’re rooting for the monster almost as much as the band themselves, even though he didn’t deserve all that success and luck which all came direct from what The Monkees were doing in the 1960s – which is kind of how I feel about the response to ‘Good Times’ at the moment. The world is currently going mad for The Monkees all over again, which is a delight for us fans to see in any form – who’d have guessed (certainly not the band it seems, judging by interviews) that they’d get a #1 hit album (at least on Amazon sales figures) out of it after the last two reunion projects managed a high of just #72 between them? After thirty odd years in limbo (after the point when MTV briefly made the band ‘cool’ again) and aborted reunion projects for the 20th and 30th celebration birthdays it seems the world was finally ready for Monkeemania again after 50 years and that a diet of boy bands, outside writers and talent shows (the word ‘talent’ is used loosely) alongside pure nostalgia has made the world a Monkee-friendly place again. That’s the good news about ‘Good Times’: no one whose ever dived into the lesser-spotted ends of this under-rated band’s great back catalogue could ever begrudge the band this belated success and five star reviews this record is receiving. Also as so many people have pointed out it’s just a shame that Davy didn’t live to see how loved The Monkees really are, beyond the ‘artificial band who don’t play their own instruments’ sniping; the outpouring of love for The Monkees is long overdue and more than deserved, whatever the cause of it.

However the bad news is this is far less of a ‘real’ Monkees album than anything we’ve had since Don Kirshner picked the songs, the singer and the studio time for the first two records. The band have gone back to the lesser 1966/1969 approach of barely appearing on their own records, undoing the one good thing about previous record ‘JustUs’ in favour of a slightly artificial and anonymous 1960s sound. Despite having twenty years to come up with something, the three remaining Monkees write just one song each between them – the same amount as ‘Pool It!’ in 1986 and less than every original Monkees album of the original run barring ‘Changes’ in 1970. Micky sings lead on no less than eight of the thirteen songs – perhaps inevitably after Davy’s sad death in 2012, but remember this is a band that was always bursting with more talent than could ever fit on one LP: this could have been a valuable chance to demonstrate just how much Peter Tork meant to the sound and shape of the band (he gets just two vocals and one composition, which is a waste given that they're two of the stronger here) or how eerily well those Monkee harmonies fitted together considering the four men had never met each other before the band auditions in 1965 (only two songs feature all three singing). Instead it seems like a Micky album that features a few special guests – and frankly the songs on Micky’s ‘real’ solo albums of late have been better. Adam Schlesinger’s (once of The Fountains of Wayne) much praised 1960s sounding production is, admittedly, far more suitable and ageless than the 80s eccentricity and 90s grunge of the other two reunion albums and is clearly made with care – but it’s not very Monkees-like to these ears, whether it be the slick but exciting inventions of the session musicians from the early days or the raw and even more exciting performances of The Monkees themselves. This is The Monkees given a makeover, the pre-fab four given plastic surgery and I can’t help shake off the feeling that I preferred them warts and all, trying (if failing) to be themselves as per last time out. Fans of the band’s first two teenybopper, mainly-covers albums might well enjoy it (The general public who only know ‘this’ Monkees certainly seem to love it!) – ‘Good Times’ is closer in feel to these two with the band ‘puppets’ to another man’s project and putting the time in the studio time when they need to rather than living and breathing this album and being there all the way through; unfortunately for this album I’m far more of a fan of ‘Headquarters’ and ‘Head’, real albums made by a ‘real’ band (whatever people said then and now) and can’t help but feel that this is a step backwards in terms of Monkee evolution (there’s nothing on this album that wouldn’t have been improved by having the band write, sing and play more – especially together. There are enough 60s soundalike bands out there after all, The Monkees’ sound is too precious to waste). ‘Good Times’ is a great soundtrack to a party – but like most plastic surgery it’s not going to last the way the band’s genuine youth did. I guess it really comes down to whether the band wanted a hit album or another cult; at least, having chosen the hit-making process the band have actually got a hit record this time around. If this turns people onto The Monkees back catalogue this can of course only be a good thing and for any newcomers reading this review here’s the good news: the original recordings are almost all far better than this – and this isn’t, after all, too low to start from.

There are, at least, more than a handful of things going for ‘Good Times’ which enables it to feel a little like the 50th birthday party it so badly wants to be. The Monkees finally get round to finishing off a few songs they’ve had hanging round since the 1960s – including four by the quartet of key Monkee writers who played such big roles in the band’s development. Micky has great fun duetting posthumously with Harry Nilsson in an early part-finished vocal demo from January 1968 (if that seems an odd mix then remember The Monkees gave Harry his first real break with B-side ‘Cuddly Toy’ back in 1968); ‘Whatever’s Right’ is a track by original Monkee songwriters Boyce and Hart which was never actually intended for The Monkees but suits them just fine, with Bobby’s own unfinished harmony track left hanging in the air as a reminder of the days when Boyce and Hart appeared on far more Monkee recordings than Mike and Peter ever did; it’s great to have Goffin and King represented by ‘Wasn’t Born To Follow’, an unfinished backing track recorded during ‘Birds and Bees’ sessions in February 1968, even if it’s a rather obvious choice (and The Byrds already did better). Most unexpectedly, even largely disliked producer Jeff Barry (who worked with the band in 1966 and 1970) sees his song ‘Gotta Give It Time’ from January 1967 (is the sessions just-past ‘More Of The Monkees’) completely re-made into one of the most contemporary songs on the album. 

 It’s especially great to have Davy turn up to the party with the appearance of one of the band’s most celebrated outtakes, Neil Diamond’s ‘Love To Love’ (which really should have been the sequel to ‘I’m A Believer’) and which features Davy at his vocal best – although even this feels like a cheat; we were promised a whole new invention of the song rebuilt from scratch to enable Micky and Peter to appear alongside their old friend – instead we got a few barely audible backing vocals that didn’t add much. How much better might this album have been if The Monkees had been given more input, recording one of the classy and truly unfinished Davy Jones compositions from his days with Charlie Smalls and Bill Chadwick; the vaults are full of them, with several turning up on Rhino’s deluxe editions of ‘The Birds, The Bees and The Monkees’ and ‘The Monkees Present’ amongst others (how great would an ‘Anthology style ‘The Girl Named Love’, as sung by Davy and Charlie in the TV episode ‘Some Like It Lukewarm’, have been if re-created with Monkee backing?) At least on the positives it feels as if producer Schlesinger knew his Monkee history (probably thanks to the help of Monkee historian Andrew Sandoval, who fulfilled a lifetime wish of producing sessions here and there): this is an album with its heart and the writing credits in the right place, a nice use of outtakes as the basis for new recordings (something The Monkees themselves got away with on 1969’s ‘Instant Replay’) and the presence of dear old friends like Coco Dolenz (Micky’s equally talented sister) and Nick Thorkelson (Peter’s under-rated writer brother, who sadly only turns up on the bonus tracks) is heartwarming too. I just wish I could hear them underneath all that production noise and sizzle, that the songs from the ‘big four’ had been slightly more interesting choices and that Micky, Peter and Mike had come up with more than one song each.

Still, there are plenty of good times to be had from this record if you adjust your sights to more of a consistent, enjoyable, three-star rating than an oh-my-God-best-album-since-1967 reaction like all the papers have been doing. Micky’s voice has barely aged and retains that golden purr that made him one of the 1960s’ best interpreters. How great too to hear that voice ‘properly’ without the Monkees’ lo-fi rocking of ‘JustUs’ or production extravaganza of ‘Pool It!’ getting in the way. His blend with Mike (perhaps the luckiest accident of the Monkees’ entire run, given that they had nothing in common before both becoming Monkees) is truly wonderful to hear again and we get to hear it lots – on ‘You Bring Me Summer’ ‘She Makes Me Laugh’ ‘Birth Of An Accidental Hipster’ and especially the album highlight ‘Me and Magdelena’. In fact Mike is the album’s dark horse – despite admissions that he hadn’t really been involved all the way through (and would only appear via skype on the accompanying tour) there’s actually quite a lot of Papa Nez here and in the end there’s only four of the eighteen songs that doesn’t feature at least his guitar. Some of the ‘guest writers’ really get The Monkees too: impressively so given that the two best songs were written by stars who weren’t born when the band were top of the pops. I groaned when I heard The Monkees had hired Ben Gibbard of cult modern band ‘Death Cab For Cutie’ who seemed about as  right for The Monkees as Jimi Hendrix did as their support act back on 1967 package tour. I was wrong: ‘Me and Magdelena’ may not have any one thing that sounds terribly Monkees but put together with Mike and Micky’s vocals it’s the single most Monkee moment here and clearly written by a fan (or at least someone whose heard more than just the hit singles). We know Paul Weller and Noel Gallagher are both music fans first and foremost and that both adore the 1960s so their grasp of the psychedelic era on ‘Birth Of An Accidental Hipster’ is less of a surprise – and yet this song too is terrifically Monkees like, recalling Micky’s bonkers suite ‘Shorty Blackwell’ with the gritty surreal confidence of anything from ‘Head’.  XTC’s Andy Partridge’s ‘You Bring The Summer’ is the single most 1960s sounding song around since Britpop even though Andy was all of thirteen when The Monkees formed (that’s even younger than Davy was at the time!) Mike’s own ‘I Know What I Know’ is also pretty good for a writer whose been delivering nothing musical except instrumental film scores and CD-with-a-books for the past twenty years, even if it’s not terribly Monkees. Peter’s ‘Little Girl’ (not the Micky Monkee song from 1969 sadly) is another good number, though again more of a solo track – and indeed a solo track fans have known for many years already.

That’s a pretty strong core for an album anyway, especially a reunion album, but it’s noticeable how much stronger ‘Good Times’ is when it stops wallowing in nostalgia and takes a risk. The Monkees are at their best here when aiming for the stars, not trying to return to cutesy pop from fifty years ago. Harry Nilsson’s title track was left unreleased and unfinished for a reason – to be frank it’s not very good and Micky over-sings it badly for perhaps only the third time ever in his career (The Monkees should have polished off the far more interesting Nilsson song ‘The Story Of Rock ‘n’ Roll’ from the Headquarters sessions). Rivers Cuemo (from the band Weezer, perhaps the only rock and pop group to split opinion more than The Monkees) pens ‘She Makes Me Laugh’, which sounds like one of the trite Boyce/Hart songs even Don Kirshner couldn’t stomach (it’s the original poppier recording of ‘Don’t Listen To Linda’ with less inspired words); producer Schlesinger’s own ‘Our Own World’ is the sort of teeny treacly love song Davy always used to get lumbered with (here sung by Micky) – in a case of history repeating itself it’s very much like Headquarters producer Chip Douglas’ ‘I Can’t Get Her Off My Mind’, an unbearably twee song from the man whose just re-invented a harder, more inventive Monkees sound in front of our ears; even Micky’s own ‘I Was There (And I Was Told I Had A Good Time!) is – aside from cleverly shoehorning a second reference to the album title in there – more like his self-referencing ego-trips of ‘Just Us’ than the golden Dolenz compositions of years past. Had The Monkees come to this album as a sort of 21st century exploration of psychedelia, with the inventive spirit of ‘Birds, Bees and Monkees’ with the consistency of ‘Head’, well they almost certainly wouldn’t have got a #1 record out of it. But fans like me (and maybe you too) who love The Monkees at their most daring and bold and unique would have been crying tears and throwing this album at all our Monkee-doubting friends shouting ‘this is why they were a real group!’ The biggest problem with ‘Good Times’ is that it considers the band’s early years-little input formula a winning one and the true Monkees spirit only peeps through occasionally – where it sounds not only like another band entirely but a far better and more satisfying one.

Oh well, half a decent record is still better odds than anyone expected twenty years after ‘JustUs’ tested our patience (and our hearing). Back at the end of 2012 it didn’t seem like we’d ever get a Monkees record again, with Davy’s sad passing taking everyone by surprise. One wonders what Jones might have added to this album – whether he’d have added more treacle (the other two reunion albums are big on Davy ballads and love songs, which is odd given that he was one of the band’s most adventurous writers in their first incarnation), or picked up on this album’s eccentric character struggling to make itself heard beyond a wall of conformity. Davy was in fact on something of a creative upturn in his final decade or so: 2001’s ‘Just Me’ (a far better album than ‘Just Us’) had seen him back to his writing best at long last while the unfinished ‘Let Them Be Little’ may be short but it features many compact gems (not least the title track, which would also have made a good extra here with its Monkee humour and Davy twinkle). Even without Davy’s songs the harmonies would no doubt have been that bit sharper and that bit closer to that distinctive Monkee sound. The album does a good job at covering up Davy’s absence, with a sort of Beatles Anthology-style pretend-he’s-still-here-and-we’re-finishing-the-song-up-for-him song, but the album still feels slightly empty without him (compared to the three-way ‘Pool It!’, which never really sounded as if it was missing Mike’s contributions).

So why, if this album is missing the band's original heart-throb, has this album done so much better than 'Pool It!' or 'Just Us'? Timing for one: twenty years is a long time to miss a band and if you can't forgive and forget a band's faults for their 50th anniversary when can you? Production is another: the band aren't chasing a current trend but offering a rough forgery of their original sound, which makes far more sense. It helps that The Monkees as a concept makes far more sense in 2016 than it did in 1966 when bands didn't do auditions or TV shows or meet up for the first time on the day of rehearsals. But the biggest factor in all of this is the genuinely joyful mood of most of the album. It sounds as if the band (or at least their producer) had been doing a lot of listening to three of their biggest hits: 'I'm A Believer' 'Daydream Believer' and 'Pleasant Valley Sunday' (not 'Clarksville' oddly). Yes there are sad songs, but most of them share 'I'm A Believer's wild-eyed wonder stare that good times are happening or about to happen and the narrators thought that good times were meant for someone else, never for them. 'She Makes Me Laugh' is the lyrics to 'Believer' all over again, with the music to 'Daydream Believer' while other songs speak of bringing sunshine and good times back again (the album title is name-checked twice in two songs that bookend the album after all) and share a similar call-to-arms as the chorus of 'Sunday'. This is no bad thing: The Monkees are one of the few bands who never really had a formula in the 1960s (all their singles are very different to each other, except perhaps 'A Little Bit Me A Little Bit You' and Clarksville clone 'Tear Drop City'). Fifty years is a long enough time to wait for capitalising on the Monkees feel-good factor (and weirdly it's something neither of the other two reunion albums really seized on). The Monkees were indeed a source of good times for the writers on this album, whether they were the band who helped make their name or they were still in short-trousers watching the TV episodes or re-runs and the joy of the first half of The Monkees project is captured nicely. That's why this album has been such a big seller: not so much because it sounds like The Monkees always did but because it captures what people felt The Monkees did for them: songs of high summer, laughter and hope.

It isn't all good times though. This album had a lot of problems to overcome: the loss of the Monkees’ biggest idol, twenty years of silence, a slowing down for all three remaining songwriters and an attempt to make old 1960s recordings sound as if they belong on an album from the 21st century. On all those scores ‘Good Times’ is a highly impressive success, still sounding by and large like The Monkees in a way that neither of its predecessors ever quite did and giving Davy a voice without dwelling on his death (although a ‘Porpoise Song’ style track musing on mortality theme wouldn’t have gone amiss, this isn’t really that sort of an album) while making The Monkees appealing again to both those who were there (whether they had a great time or not) and curious newcomers who want to know why their heroes Noel Gallagher and Andy Patridge are writing pop songs for a manufactured band. Even the album’s ‘perfect imperfections’ have their moments - a Monkees harmony vocal blend here or a Nesmith Rickenbacker part there – so that very little on this album is truly bad either. I just wish that instead of being dashed out in a few hurried sessions either side of February 2016 (which will show you just what a rush this album was made in) and with the band barely passing each other in the studio corridors this record had been properly structured and worked out, giving Peter and (via the vaults) Davy a lot more to do and with less emphasis on turning the clock back to 1966 where The Monkees were told what to sing and when, despite all the victories won in 1967 and 1968. As a one-off 50th birthday party this is a pretty fair facsimile of the old days and The Monkees are well worth remembering, with fans feeling just about included enough to be here at the party with the proto-1960s production (though it’s most decidedly not ‘psychedelic’ as every other reviewer seems to think, barring ‘Hipster’ anyway), vault dips and old guitar vocal and even banjo sounds in the mix like the days of old. Please, though, if this album’s runaway success leads to a sequel, let’s skip a couple of year’s worth of development and move straight to 1968 when The Monkees weren’t just a bunch of talented charges recording songs in a few snatched hours but a genuinely brave, adventurous, pioneering and talented band that was as strong and committed as any other out there. Good times? Of course – a splendid time has always been guaranteed for all (except perhaps for ‘JustUs’), but remember in their time The Monkees weren’t just ‘good’, they were ‘great’!

'Yeah, Harry!' Micky has fun duetting with his one-time protégé, beefing up an unfinished recording from January 10th 1968 he probably didn't even know was being recorded at the time (and thus recorded either side of sessions for Monkees tracks 'Your Auntie's Municipal Court' and 'Zor and Zam'). Micky 'James Brown' Dolenz' was clearly always intended to get this track as it appeals to his r and b instinct and sounds like Monkees B-side 'Goin Down' being re-made by Sha Na Na. Had it been released in 1968 this song would have been an embarrassment - even in the year rock and roll got back to basics (see Lady Madonna, 'The White Album' and The Beach Boys' 'Wild Honey' etc) this would surely have been a throwback too far. In 2016 it's less of an embarrassment given that to most ears 1958 now seems nearly as long as 1968, but even so it's a curiously clunky and unlovable track. Nilsson's vocal is clearly a guide one, without the magic or energy of Micky's and the pair's vocals make for an uneasy blend, even if you can tell the affection from Dolenz's die of the microphone. Nilsson was often a great writer ('Cuddly Toy' and 'Daddy's Song' are evidence of that), but he was quite often a poor and derivative one too, far more than his passionate fanbase ever admit to, and 'Good Times!' is just 'Dancing In The Streets' with less interesting lyrics. Many fans have commented on how seamlessly Micky's vocals have merged with the original backing track - that's not strictly true as Micky over-sings horribly. However what does merge in well is the twin attack of Nesmith (rhythm) and Schlesinger (lead) guitars which sound so authentically 1960s I had to check with the sleevenotes they weren't made at the time (Harry nearly always used piano on his demos, not guitar). The end result is still rather unconvincing though, both as a song to kick off a reunion record and as a song that sounds as if it really is having a 'good time'. The Monkees' instincts for adding to an old recording are good, but they chose the wrong one - get back in the studio and re-make 'The Story Of Rock and Roll' (as heard on the 'Headquarters Sessions' set) right now!

Andy Partridge's 'You Bring The Summer' sounds more like The Turtles than The Monkees (the two bands' DNA was after all pretty close, thanks to Chip Douglas' involvement with both), but at least sounds like a song The Monkees might well have sung back in 1967 (probably on one of the Don Kirshner albums). After all what could be more summer of love than a girl who brings the summer with her every time she shows up? Chances are Partridge was thinking of The Monkees themselves and his own fond feelings for them and their show (note that the first line has the narrator bringing out 'chips and dips' and to all intents and purposes settling in front of the TV). Sadly the song gets a bit stuck after an interesting beginning, but there's a neat conclusion where the song's middle eight gets tacked on the end and Mike and Peter take over for some harmonies that sound mighty good after so many years apart (they sound very Beach Boysy actually, especially Mike Nesmith's Mike Love style bass notes). The band themselves also seem to have been far more involved with the making of this song which features Mike's guitar and Peter's organ alongside Schlesinger doing double time on bass and keyboards (presumably the one-note mellotron, a nice nod to 'Daily Nightly') and the usual host of backing session musicians. However it's a shame they didn't go the whole hog and get Micky on drums too: this is a song that would benefit from happy-go-lucky sloppiness; the version heard here is just that bit too sterile and 'perfect' without the warmth a 'Headquarters' era Monkees would have brought it. I don't know why we get sped-up laughter at the end either when this isn't that sort of a song (keep the effects for 'Hipster'!) Still, at least this song feels like a Monkee song should and has a good riff underpinning everything too.

'She Makes Me Laugh' is right on the borderline between catchy and embarrassing. One wonders if anyone had told Rovers Cuemo that Davy had died as this sounds very much at one with his drippy soggy teen ballads from the first two Monkee albums ('The Day We Fall In Love' 'Laugh' 'When Love Comes Knockin' At Your Door And Gets Re-Delivered Down The Street Because It Arrived Four Days Earlier Than It Was Meant To Like My Copy Of This Album - Thanks Amazon!') Instead it's Micky trying to sound all silly and to be honest  it's too silly even for Micky's silly side. Cutesy and teenagery, it's not what a bunch of 70-year-olds should be recording on their reunion album (sample lyric: 'I think about her all the time - cross my heart and hope to die!') Only the lyrics about sending 'text messages and pictures' date the song past the 1960s, but truly this is one of those songs weedy music pin-ups deliver in all eras. At least it is until the chorus, which comes over like a warm hug with some belated authenticity as the narrator admits that his girl 'makes me cry' as well as laugh and he shyly admits he wants to be with her 'for a while'. Some more Mike and Peter harmony vocals really embellish this chorus too, while the bass riff, which rises in octaves in the middle, is pure mid-1966 and can be heard on everything from 'Last Train To Clarksville' to that song's main source of inspiration 'Paperback Writer'. It don't make me laugh in other words (these lines are cheap and ordinary and nothing like as clever as we're meant to think), but the chorus makes me smile, so that's halfway there I guess.

Perhaps the album's weakest song, Schlesinger's 'Our Own World' is another moon 'n' June song Davy would have been saddled with had it been written 50 years before. The song is also more Rutles than Monkees, copying bits from all sorts of 'Magical Mystery Tour' era Beatles songs (notably 'Your Mother Should Know' and 'Hello Goodbye') and not doing enough interesting things with the source material to be clever (it's the sort of thing everyone accuses this album's guest writer Noel Gallagher of doing, even though he'd never be as blatant or as unimaginative as here). The idea of the song has been done to death too: the narrator and his girl have their 'own little world' that 'no one can see except you and me'. No song from the 1960s would really use the expression 'you blow my mind' (well, only Eric Burdon - he was a law unto himself) and the opening supposedly 'witty' counted introduction is so unfunny for a band as naturally funny as The Monkees for you to wonder how this got past quality control. At least there's a nice harpsichord part from Peter though which recalls genuine good times, most of them during the 'Headquarters' sessions and a pretty thrilling guitar solo (by Schlesinger). As for this song, though, it's not in its 'own' world at all but has simply stolen bits from lots of other people's - and then the least interesting bits.

Back on January 21st 1967 a whole new Monkees era was being born. Forced to choose between loyalty to the band or musical director Don Kirshner, Colgems went with the former - but their original concept was to get a whole new musical man in to keep the band sounding commercial. Jeff Barry was effectively sold the band under false pretences - he'd only get to release one single with them ('A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You' - it's a sign of how big The Monkees were doing at the time that it's chart high of #2 was considered 'disappointing') and The Monkees were, rather bravely, given the go ahead to make music by themselves under their choice of producer (The Turtles' Chip Douglas). Barry, though, thought he'd been hired to make album number three and recorded all sorts of backing tracks that day that The Monkees never added vocals too (though Davy, 'Kirshner's favourite Monkee', was persuaded to flesh out '99 Pounds - which appeared on 'Changes' in 1970 - 'If I Ever Learnt To Play The Violin' and 'You Can't Tie A Mustang Down'). 'Gotta Give It Time' is an unheard backing track from the same day that's never been heard before (even on bootleg) and perhaps because it features the original Monkees wrecking crew sounds more immediately Monkees than anything else on the album. Like everything else recorded that day except 'Little Bit Me', this is a Barry composition and shares the same 'bubblegum soul' flavour as most of his tracks, but with rather more joy, energy and depth than most. Micky's 2016 vocal is a delight, amongst his best work on the album, while Peter and Mike make their last appearance together on the very Beatley backing vocals. It helps that the middle eight ('You gotta take it slow girl...') is, unwittingly, identical to the chorus of 'Pleasant Valley Sunday' which Carole King hadn't quite written yet (maybe she heard a copy?) Fittingly for a song that's waited some 49 years to be finished off, this is a song about the benefit of taking things slow in relationships - probably not what most teenagers would have wanted to hear in 1967 (though at least it's less morally dubious than the skinny girl praising of '99 Pounds'), but with so much of a passing of time and so many failed Monkee marriages it makes one hell of a lot more sense in 2016.By far the best of the album's four dips into the vault, despite Barry's relatively unloved status within Monkees fandom.

The album highlight though has nothing to do with 1966, vaults or Monkees formulas - 'Me and Magdelena' is just a gorgeous song performed with real gusto by Mike and Micky whose vocal blend seems to have got even better together with the passing years. Ben Gibbard is clearly enough of a Monkee fan to know that they would handle a sensitive heartfelt ballad well and this song feels like the best of them ('Sometime In The Morning' 'As We Go Along' 'Early Morning Blues and Greens') while also sounding quite unlike anything the band have ever done before. Fittingly for a duet it's about a couple suddenly realising, apropos for nothing, how close they've become over the years, a nothing 'journey South through Monterey' delivering a destination neither of them quite realised when they set out that day. With its tale of summer sun going down and a maturing couple finally finding true love and holding on with all their might, it sounds like what The Beach Boys album 'That's Why God Made The Radio' was aiming at but failed miserably at getting: by contrast with that overdone over-written auto-tuned album this is natural and easy-going, the slight blur or mistake in Micky or Mike's vocal only making this song more heartfelt. Sadly that's not Peter playing the lovely circling piano part but Schlesinger again, but that aside this is a welcome attempt to breathe new life into the Monkees sound and I could listen to these two vocalists sing the phonebook together all day - hearing them on a heartfelt, gorgeous song that does them proud is the icing on the 50th birthday cake. Magical.

'Whatever's Right' is something of an oddity. Original Monkee songwriters Boyce and Hart recorded the song very early in the Monkees run (July 26th 1966, three days after 'Tomorrow's Gonna Be Another Day' and three weeks after 'The Monkees Theme' if that helps with the dating), but despite the best efforts of record label Rhino and the Monkee fanbase no tapes have ever been located (unusual for The Monkees). More unusual still, Boyce and Hart didn't recycle their Monkees rejects for their own career (suggesting they didn't like it much in any case - did they destroy the tape? To put this in context remember the deeply unfunny Boyce/Hart song 'Ladies Aid Society' from the same time not only survived the furnace but ended up on record). Wanting Boyce and Hart on this album somewhere, Schlesinger persuaded Bobby Hart out of semi-retirement to help manage the session for this song and sing backing vocals on it. Unfortunately the song all too obviously reveals the limitations of the first rush of Monkee recordings before anyone knew what the band's identity quite was yet. Far from being a long lost classic, this is one of those cheesy Boyce/Hart songs that simply rips off The Beatles while sounding vaguely sexist and patronising to the girl in the song (see 'Don't Listen To Linda' and 'Me Without You' - even the riffs of these last two are similar). Like so much on this album had it been released in 1966 it would have been a disaster - hearing it as a fan-pleasing curio in 2016 allows you to forgive its faults a little more. It's still a very empty-headed song though and it's given a very empty-headed performance here. Personally I'd have given The Monkees one of the spin-off Boyce/Hart singles they never got to sing such as the mini-masterpiece 'Sometimes She's A Little Girl' or the lovely ballad 'Shadows', which are far more 'Monkees' as we know them rather than 'I've-got-to-write-for-a-group-called-The-Monkees-but-all-I-know-about-them-is-they-sound-like-The-Beatles'.

'Love To Love' is, depending on how you look at it, either the album's greatest moment or the most wasted opportunity. If you're the kind of fan who gave up after the first few albums and mainly know about the band through compilations you might not realise that the band left as much quality material in the vaults after their split as they let out - thankfully there's a whole outtakes series of 'Missing Links' CDs that rectify this and are (by and large) as good a listen as the albums themselves. Neil Diamond's smoky, grown-up take of a woman playing games with a man who still cares too much to let go was highly praised when finally released on volume three in 1998 (why wasn't it on the first two?!) and remains one of Davy's greatest vocals: sassy, snarling, hurt, betrayed - and yet still bursting with love. Schlesinger sensibly decided that Davy had to be on the album somewhere and though he could have taken the safe route and given us a re-make of 'Daydream Believer' thankfully he went for this lesser known option only true fans adored. Many new-ish fans who don't know the original already think this is the best song on the album and I'm not going to disagree. However when news leaked that work was being done on this song it sounded amazing: 'You won't recognise it!' said everyone involved on the project down to the tea-boy it seemed, 'We've rebuilt it from the ground up and it's going to sound fabulous!' As it turned out it just sounds like the original, with less double-tracking on Davy's voice on the ear-grabbing opening verse and some half-hearted Micky and Peter backing vocals (Mike's missing this time). Take nothing away from this recording - it's truly great - but the Monkees could have done so much more to this song or better still paid proper tribute to Davy by re-cutting any of the dozens of unfinished backing tracks in the vaults or starting from scratch with one of the songs Davy wrote with his best collaborator Charlie Smalls. It's a little like toasting the friend who never lived to see your family/school reunion with stories everyone knows when there are so many better, more fascinating tales nobody knows which, all these years on, are in danger of getting lost.

Peter's 'Little Girl' oddly shares a name with a mournful Micky song from 'The Monkees Present' but the two have very little in common. Peter's simple tale of love is sweeter and more heartfelt than anything he wrote for 'Pool It!' or 'Just Us' and it's great to actually hear him singing lead at last. The track sounds as if it was written with Peter's gentler folk idiom in mind (that's how he performed it live across the 1990s to present in solo shows), but it's been slightly awkwardly re-worked into an unwieldy electric monster here, with no other Monkee appearing at all according to the sleeve notes (though guitarist Mike Viola does sound a little like Micky on the harmonies). It's nice to hear Peter so obviously in love after quite a few difficult years and his postmodern take on songwriting (he's trying to be 'shining and soft' in his songwriting because that's what his girl is like) and he performs the song well in an au natural Peter sort of a way. However this song doesn't sound even remotely like The Monkees and sounds rather out of place on the album. It's a shame too we couldn't get a totally new track out of Peter like we did from Mike and Micky.

Switching nauseatingly to 'Head' era psychedelia, 'The Birth Of An Accidental Hipster' appears to be the most dividing song on the album according to reviews I've seen. The song was 'commissioned' for the album by Schlesinger from no less than Noel Gallagher and Paul Weller, both quiet Monkee fans who've kept their allegiance rather under wraps! These good friends had never written together before though they've performed together lots and - perhaps inevitably - the track has ended up coming out as pure 1967 Beatles. However it's more Monkees-like than the other Beatley tracks here, recalling the multi-part writing of Micky's own Beatlish 'Shorty Blackwell' and the sheer weight of feeling heard in 'Porpoise Song'. My guess would be that Noel wrote the more psychedelically tinged verses which recall Oasis' own trippy drugs phase on 'Be Here Now' which turns from cocksure to paranoid in a heartbeat ('I'm gonna make it out on Tuesday - that's if I can make it out at all!') and the 'sunsheeiine' lyrics give it away particularly, while Weller added the 'Cuddly Toy' style music hall middle eight (again, did they not know Davy had died as this verse is very him?) and possibly the sudden glorious burst of adrenalin-fuelled guitar as well (which is actually Mike Viola doing a pretty neat Weller impression). Amazingly, Oasis are now at the same 20th anniversary point The Monkees were during their first big reunion with 'Pool It!', a fact which seems to have struck a chord with Gallagher. The lyrics to this song ring true for both bands: they were once the world's darlings, got too full of themselves, their audience parted ways and they're left abandoned and lonely and (the worst thing possible for a band from the ever-youthful 1960s) 'feeling old'. Mike and Micky trade lines superbly, their voices treated with Beatley echo and reverb so that they sound other-worldly and, well, 'high', imagining choirs of angels joining in with the song. Some people have got the wrong end of the stick and gone either 'The Monkees were never about drugs!' (oh yeah? Have you heard 'Can You Dig It?' or 'Daily Nightly' recently?) or 'how cliched to write a song for a 1960s band about a drug trip!' This song isn't either: it's about the drug-fuelled feeling in the 1960s that time was an illusion, that we knew what we were doing and we would never grow old; suddenly the narrator's fears have come true and it's fifty years later and he still doesn't know where he's going or what he's doing. If you take the 'Head' and  '33 and a Third Revolutions Per Monkee' TV special as gospel Monkees (and you should, the first project anyway) then this may well be the most Monkee moment on the whole record: what once seemed so certain and so golden and so magical has become stifling and confining and cynical. This song nicely captures that late 1968 feeling of confusion and distress in the Monkees camp, even if it is also clearly written by two people who are 1960s fans first and foremost, rather than survivors. Another album highlight.

I wish there was more Peter on this record. I think that about many Monkees records, but especially this one with less Davy here. His low-key cover of Goffin and King's 'Wasn't Born To Follow' is the album's quiet heart, a folk-roots song that's as daring as any of Micky's psychedelia or Mike's country-rock (actually there's notably little of that on this album) that's the album slow 'grower', the equivalent of Head's 'Long Title' or Missing Links' 'Lady's Baby'. The last of the sessions' vault lucky dips, the backing track was recorded on March 9th1968 (the same day, but in another room, as the re-make of 'I'll Get Back Upon My Feet' that appeared on 'Birds, Bees and Monkees') but like the other 'old' songs here has been given a new lead vocal. This time round, however, it's pretty likely that the original intention was never for the song to sound like this. Carole King was notoriously sniffy of Peter's vocals and had no folk blood running in her veins at all. She almost certainly wouldn't have allowed either that vocal or that banjo on this song - which makes you wonder what would have happened to this song. Micky's bright hopeful vocals would have been a good fit (so good you wonder why he's not on this version), but the slightly chugging harpischord-heavy backing is, in truth, something of a drag without the folk vibe and the snarling lead guitar part from Dennis Buidmir sounds rather out of place. What once looked a fascinating prospect on paper (the song's own writer producing a version of one of her most famous songs, a mere two months after The Byrds released their famous version on 'The Notorious Byrd Brothers' and the 'Easy Rider' soundtrack; we've seen this song in session lists for years) would actually have been deeply boring had Peter not completely re-worked the song into a quiet statement of personal rebellion (very Monkees) rather than the preening chest-beating pop song it usually is. Though poor Peter struggles to sing and sounds like he needs new teeth, that only enhances the song's tale of returning to nature and all things being feted. Unexpectedly moving - this song took a while to click with me but is quickly becoming my favourite on the album.

Mike's slow earnest piano ballad 'I Know What I Know' is pretty good too for a man who hasn't written a 'normal' song since '...Tropical Campfires...' in 1992. Actually it's a little bit too 'normal' (back in the old days Papa Nez was the Monkee you relied on to stretch the envelope after a side's worth of Micky pop songs and Davy ballads), but no matter: this song is heartfelt and pretty and Mike sounds mighty good singing it solo. The song reflects Mike's own 'I Am Not That' via the 'I've just begun to care' lyric of 'Propinquity', a postmodern song of refusing to be labelled or pigeonholed, this time reflecting that he can only go on what he sees and knows - and he's confused because without his soulmate he can no longer see or think. This brings up the realisation that actually he does know more than he's ever realised before - that without his lover in his life he feels nothing and that, at long last, he's come to the conclusion he's in love, probably several years too late. By far the simplest song Mike's written since 'Mary Mary' back in 1967, this is nevertheless a very effective and emotional tour de force, nicely sung, nicely performed (Schlesinger performs everything - Mike just sings and neither Micky or Davy appear) and nicely 'real'. More original songs from the heart like this and less pop songs from the bank balance and 'Good Times' might have been 'Great Times' after all.

Unfortunately this uneven album has to end with a mess. Micky and Schlesinger wrote 'I Was There' together, based around a saying of Micky's about the 1960s ('I'm told I had a good time!' is his stockline in interviews since 1976, quoting the Jefferson Airplane's Paul Kantner's line about 'If you remember the 1960s then you weren't there'). Unfortunately one line (and a derivative one at that) doesn't make for a song and this track soon descends from wannabe 'Sgt Peppers Reprise' into a song full of nonsense 'dit dit doo-dah's before repeating the song's only line again. At least the creepy echo on Micky's voice is new, giving him a Liam Gallagher-style sneer that's more effective than it has a right to be (had he been trying to work out how he might sound on a typically Oasis style Noel Gallagher track before 'Hipster' arrived and he realised it didn't sound like that at all?) As a song though this is another track that's more Rutles than Beatles though ('Sgt Happy's Up and Coming Ragtime Band' especially) and curiously empty considering this is from the writer who once wrote with the depth of 'Randy Scouse Git' and 'Mommy and Daddy'. Let's hope, too, that The Monkees' catalofue doesn't end forever with the forced humour of Micky dropping his drumstick and cracking a joke about it (not coincidentally, The Rutles did that joke too...)


Oh well, this is what tends to happens at a lot of birthday parties: things take a while to warm up and for everyone to lose their frostiness, end badly with everyone drunk and talking gibberish while the old faded family memories don't always seem as good revisited with real recordings from the times. In between that, though, there were old friends to catch up with, old stories to enjoy being re-told and even a few new exploits to enjoy that nobody would have guessed the men in the room would have been capable of half a century ago. We didn't always have a good time, sometimes at this party we had a lousy time - but sometimes we had a ball. Better to have had this party to have turned up to than not, even if I can't quite understand why the world that's been stubbornly refusing to accept my love of Monkees for the past twenty years has suddenly decided they loved them all along after yet another reunion album that's lukewarm at best. Like 'Pool It!' and 'JustUs' this record just needed a bit more work and it really could have been the album everyone says it is: ditch the lesser new songs, choose a couple of stronger tracks from the vaults from the same writers, get The Monkees to actually turn up and work together for more than a couple of songs and force Micky, Mike and Peter to start writing again and the world could have been the limit, even for a band as once-hated and under-rated as The Monkees. Maybe, judging by all the glowing reviews and mega-sales, it still is - though I can't help feeling that has more to do with how genuinely great The Monkees were in their day than what they represent now. Next time (assuming there is one - and hopefully it won't be another twenty years wait) hopefully the real band will turn up to the show, not just the artificial monster who does a good job at sounding like them. 

Other Monkee-related business from this website you might be interested in reading:



'Pool It!' (1986) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.com/2014/01/the-monkees-pool-it-1986-album-review.html
'Only Shades Of Grey' : The Monkees In Relation To Postmodernism (University Dissertation) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/university-dissertation-monkees-in.html

Auditions, Screen Tests and Pre-Fame Recordings 
http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2016/04/the-monkees-auditions-and-screen-tests.html
Surviving TV Clips http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2016/04/the-monkees-surviving-tv-clips.html

The TV Series - Season  One (19966-1967) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2016/05/the-monkees-tv-series-season-one-196667.html

The TV Series - Season Two (1967-1968) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.com/2016/05/the-monkees-tv-series-season-two-1967.html

'HEAD/33 and a third Revolutions Per Monkee/Episode #761' http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.com/2016/05/the-monkees-head33-and-third.html

Monkee Sidetrips: The Boyce and Hart Catalogue http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.com/2016/05/monkees-side-trips-boyce-and-hart.html

Live/Solo/Compilation Albums Part One 1967-1975

http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.com/2016/05/the-monkees-livesolocompilation-albums.html


The Moody Blues: Surviving TV Clips 1964-2015








The visual experience has long been as integral to Moody Blues fans as the audio, as nearly from the first this was a band who took the artwork on their album covers as seriously as the music (gloriously and occasionally less gloriously weird though both could be at times). So it makes sense that out eighteenth trawl through the AAA television archives should have come turned up with one of the longer lists. Sadly, though, not much footage exists of the original Moodies in their late 1960s/early 1970s prime: like all too many British bands of the 1960s many of the band's original recordings seem to have been lost forever and unlike some other bands on our list America didn't properly discover the band until their 1972 split so there is relatively little plundering from the United States' bigger archives to date. Fear not, though, because there is a series of rather good and rarely seen European TV appearances, many of which were equally assumed lost until they turned up on bootleg a few years back and which includes an impressive ten performance haul by the rarely seen Denny Laine era alone. A worthy assortment of concerts, mimed performances, interviews and even an all-too rare half hour show, much of it remains unseen and unavailable sadly, although we'll give you a nod when something is out on disc.

The reunion years are far more plentiful, with the new-look band rather keener on promotion than their old mysterious selves co-inciding with a rise in video-tape meaning that countries tended to keep more of the Moodies' guest appearances. Though actual performances become scarcer in this period, The Moodies were always keen for a chat and were pioneers of the music video, with several collections of these released officially down the years. Do be aware, though, that we could live to be a million and get to see the things that all the other Moodies children see (look at me! I know you're out there somewhere...) and still not have tracked everything down, so we don't pretend at all that this list is a complete one. It is, however, a complete list of everything that we know to have survived the tests of time because we've seen it with our own eyes. Please bear in mind too that dates are approximate, although there've been a few useful lists of TV clips out there on the net and in the fanzines to cross-check against for once. Do feel free to write in if you know of another clip however - and if we can get to see it too.

Bear in mind, though, that we have stuck in a few caveats: though appearances by individual Moodies are few and far between and tend to promote a band product anyway, we have tended to stick with just the band performances (if we'd have included them all we'd have run out of pens - though we've made an exception of a rare and lengthy interview with Mike Pinder, a particularly fine Justin Hayward Glasto set or when more than one Moody is present but still not the whole band, as the Moodies often split in two to promote albums across Europe or the USA in the 1980s); we've taken a decision not to include the fan-shot videos (however good) of The Moodies from around the world or even TV concerts that never broadcast because this is, technically, a list of broadcast material; equally anything that was recorded for a direct-to-video market (such as the Red Rocks concert or the odd documentary) is already covered by our 'DVD-ography'; frustratingly my copy of 'Timeless Flight' had a few scratches on the DVD so I still haven't seen the band on Nationwide discussing their reunion yet (and no, I'm not forking out another £400 just to see this one clip, dedicated as I am to this site!) - understandably the band have pulled it from Youtube now its out officially so I never got to see it - the same goes for the 'Beat Club' performance of 'Nights' although I did see enough to suggest its much liked the other mimed performances of the song); finally, we've also deliberately steered clear of a few interesting sounding clips which fans remember because they sadly appear to exist only as memories and we can't really review memories (only music that invokes memories). As ever, we've compiled our own special handy whatever-format-you're-reading-this-on sized guide to go along with our own special Youtube playlist - if you're reading this on the website then look no further because the videos will be embedded into the top of the page; if you're reading this in a book then visit our very own Alan's Album Archives page on Youtube (https://www.youtube.com/user/AlansArchives) and have a scroll through until you see 'Playlist #18: The Moody Blues' (there's a few fun extras added at the end for you too!) Do be warned though - there are some official and even some official videos out there which aren't on Youtube and videos are a-coming and a a-going on the site like nobody's business so though we'll try and keep on top of these lists a few may have disappeared by the time you read this book a while after publication. Anyway, join us as just the singers in a rock and roll band become TV stars as well...

1.    Unknown ('I'll Go Crazy' French TV 1964)

Before Justin Hayward and John Lodge, before 'Gemini Dream' and I Know You're Out There Somewhere', before even 'Nights In White Satin' 'Tuesday Afternoon' or even 'Go Now' The Moody Blues were a raucous five-piece R and B band made up of 'superstars' from five different Birmingham-and-area bands. Sadly the first ever Moodies performance, for the German TV show 'Beat Room', seems to have been lost to the ages - strange that the band should already be appearing across most of Western Europe before ever getting a TV spot in their homeland. Though dates are sketchy, the earliest surviving clip features the band miming to a track from their first album, probably chosen because the band were still considering it for release as their debut single (the song lost out to 'Steal Your Heart Away', which will be along on this list a little later). In a typically 1960s sign of security the crowd rush on and off the stage so much you're not sure who exactly is in this band - doubly so as the cameraman spends most of his time 'behind' the band's backs (probably for safety!) That's Denny Laine miming the vocal and guitar and Clint Warwick miming the bass guitar, while a moustache-less Ray stands awkwardly stage-right. Sadly we don't get to see Graeme's face at all in his first TV clip, just his hands, while there are no shots of Mike on piano at all. However the video is nicely artily shot and the band look good in black-and-white.

2.    Hullabaloo ('Go Now' UK TV 1964)
By now the band are already stars not wannabees, hitting big with their second single, a number one (no mean feat: remember it took The Beatles three singles to get there and The Rolling Stones four, while the likes of The Who never had a number one record). This is a 'live' performance (at least it was at the time - in 'our' world it's fifty-two years and counting...) and The Moodies start a life long habit of sounding a bit scrappy in concert compared to their pristine studio recordings. This version of 'Go Now' is taken horribly fast with a clearly nervous Denny forgetting to add the 'pauses' before each verse and sounding like he wants to get off the stage as soon as possible. However this is a great video for showing the band all looking impossibly young - piano player Mike Pinder even has quite a bit of hair! Ray is having fun too, nearly knocking Clint out with his tambourine during the piano solo he's bashing it so hard! The promotion on one of America's biggest and hippest TV shows certainly didn't do the single any harm where it peaked at #6 - the band's biggest single over there until a 1972 re-issue of 'Nights In White Satin' (wonder what Americans made of the Brummie accents?!)

3.    Top Of The Pops #1 ('Go Now' UK TV 1964)
The Moodies seem a lot less, well, moody in front of their home-crowd on what, amazingly, appears to be the first of only two appearances the band ever made on the UK's flagship music programme. Perhaps it's just because they're miming again, but this era Moodies a few weeks later seem to have much more confidence and a very early 60s laidback cool shrug throughout the whole performance. Much repeated on TOTP compilations, the show features Graeme really swinging in time to the beat, so much he rather distracts the cameraman who spends most of the shot on him and Denny.

4.    NME Pollwinner's Concert 1965 ('Hey Bo Diddley!/Go Now' April 1965)
The Moody Blues won their spot in the annual Easter concert organised by music magazine The New Musical Express thanks to 'Go Now' one of the biggest sellers of the previous year. However, because it had been nearly a year since 'Go Now' by this time The Moodies are booted to the less prestigious opening act where they perform two rather jittery versions of some old favourites. Introduced by Jimmy Saville (were those boos I could hear in the audience or a chant of 'Blues'?!) the band turn in a rather thrilling rendition of Bo Diddley's self-aggrandising piece 'Hey Bo Diddley!' which the Moodies never did put on record, making this one of their more essential TV clips for fans of their early work. With most of the music provided by Grame'es heavy beat during the opening, Mike even leaves his piano stool to lean past Ray's shoulder for a mass group harmony - a sign of things to come? - before Ray pours out his soul on the harmonica before the band veer off into another American R and B song 'You Pretty Thing'. The highlight though must be Denny's dancing, something he isn't often seen to do again! Without a pause the band try to launch into 'Go Now', but Mike hasn't had time to rush the piano yet and the band mess up. When they finally get going The Moodies turn in arguably the best of their live performances of this song with a bit of an added extra kick from all the adrenalin of the previous song and some particularly fine harmonies.

5.    Shindig! ('I'll Go Crazy!/Go Now' US TV 1965)
Following their rivals The Animals onto the stage (who play a cracking version of 'We've Got To Get Out Of This Place' - the band became good friends and Eric Burdon will even tell a failed auditonee for his New Animals named Justin Hayward to give Mike Pinder a call), The Moodies' sound is beginning to sound a little, well, 1964. This performance of two R and B standards from nearly 18 months ago is still met with screams - so much so that opening song 'I'll Go Crazy' is rather hard to hear, but this is the start of the band beginning to look and sound a little desperate as their sound becomes a little old hat against the folk-rock and harder-edged re-cut traditionals of the year. 'Go Now' is the better of the two, but even that was better sung by the band a while before this.

6.    Tete De Bois A Cannes ('Go Now/Bye Bye Birdie!' French TV August 1965)
Meanwhile over in France the band have taken the chance to slightly re-arrange their signature song. Less R and B heavy, with a softer sound all round by the band with the exception of a more aggressive part from Graeme, it's a pretty neat attempt to sum up both differing hit styles of the year.  Surprisingly this is the first appearance in this list of the band's live favourite 'Bye Bye Birdie', a song that sounds rather timid here but will in time become a tour de force with Denny doing everything humanly possible that you can do to a harmonica. 'You gotta say goodbye to someone but take my loving please...moi non parlez vous Francais!' Denny ad libs in this version (cut from the record) while the band try to vamp behind him though only Laine appears to know the song. Ray in particular looks as if he's about to do himself a mischief as he grooves along behind on maracas. Though the band still look much the same, things are on the move here too: Mike is beginning to grow the first hint of a moustache. The psychedelic years aren't far away.

7.    Ready Steady Go! ('Lose Your Money' UK TV November 1965)
A surprise revival of the band's first single, this marks sadly the only appearance by the Moodies on the UK's coolest 1960s music programme. Presenter Keith Fordyce comments that 'this week's opening song contains some rather dubious advice', but the really dubious item on offer is Denny's killer haircut that makes him look as if he's been in the army. The band mime throughout and appear in a snazzy mixture of their usual grey suits and pinstripes that look as if they belong on deckchairs (Denny and Ray).

8.    A Tou Vents ('Bye Bye Birdie' French TV January 1966)
Introduced by an ever-so-excited French TV presenter one by one (in great contrast to their very English shrugged waves at the cameras) the band are caught hopelessly off guard for the start of this mimed performance, with Denny's harmonica nowhere near his lips. This era of The Moody Blues look more like The Beatles than ever, with Denny a dead ringer for his later boss Paul McCartney.

9.    Vient De Paraitre ('Bye Bye Birdie' French TV February 1966)
Who'd have guessed the Denny-era band would play 'Bye Bye Birdie' more than 'Go Now' eh?! Dressed in beige overcoats (and looking not unlike Peter Sellers in the Pink Panther films of the period), The Moodies have another go at miming their album favourite on another French show, with equally mixed results. Everyone misses the first 'Bam-Bam!' when it comes and rather than start again the band just laugh and try to keep going. Denny still hasn't learnt all the words either and is often playing when he should be singing and vice versa! Still, this just makes this period clip all the cuter.

10. Beat Club #1 ('Really Haven't Got The Time' 'Bye Bye Birdie' August 1966)
'It's very unusual to play a harmonica with your mouth and especially the way he plays it!' Meanwhile over in Germany their next presenter rates the Moodies 'as one of the best sounds happening in England at this minute' - rather generous given that the Moodies last happened somewhere around two years ago by this stage. The presenter then singles out Denny for 'coming very high in the best rated pop artist in England', which again was true but only for 1964 - the music magazines must have taken a while to ship over to Deutschland. Denny's too busy signing autographs to play and keeps the presenter waiting before cutting off the final word of his introduction with a blare from his trusty harmonica on his last surviving filmed appearance with the band. It's a great performance, though, with this 'Bye Bye Birdie' really taking flight as Graeme goes all Keith Moon and Denny is forced into competing with him. The poor dancers in the middle of the floor just can't keep up at all. 'Excuse me' Denny jokes as he sucks instead of blows, but it's all part of the fun. Before anyone asks, I haven't got a clue what the ad lib 'You're looking a bit bow-legged there, Rodney!' is meant to mean - the only dancers on the floor at the time are two girls! A very early version of Mike's future B-side 'Really Haven't Got The Time' is equally though perhaps less gloriously messy, as Mike's first lead vocal on TV goes badly wrong early on with a messed up first line and goes downhill from there. Lacking the thumpy riff of the later record, this version sounds on the verge of falling apart throughout, but all is forgiven thanks to a thrilling piano solo that's outrageous and quite different from Pinder's usual careful style. The rest of the band,. meanwhile, are grooving so fast and in so many different directions that the poor director can't keep up and we frequently get shots of empty space and microphones! Overall one of the greatest Moodies performances of any era, make sure you watch this one whether you have the time or not.

11. Tete De Bois Et Tendres Annees ('Fly Me High' French TV May 1967)
It's all change nine months on as, with record sales falling and money running low, both Denny and Clint have left for pastures new to be replaced by Justin Hayward and John Lodge. It is perhaps a sign of the band's faith in their new and still unknown guitarist that their first TV appearance is singing to one of his, a sweet and very Beatley ditty that's a step closer towards the more common Moodies sound. The band clearly feel at home on and loyal to French TV and turn in another great revved up version of the song, short on finesse but high on power. The band perform in a very unusual setting set around what looks like a bar with a chequer board floor surrounded by a sea of dancers not wearing much (so we can forgive them for being distracted!) Things will get much more serious later on but for now the Moodies are still very much playing the pop game. Justin has never sounded more like the R and B favourites of his youth than here as he drawls 'fly me straight darlin', fly me high'. Interestingly Ray now shares his microphone with Justin, rather than Clint's direct replacement John.

12. Bouton Rouge ('Tuesday Afternoon/Peak Hour/I've Got A Dream' French TV January 1968)
A fabulous performance feared lost for years before being rediscovered in time to appear on Youtube. Though 'Days Of Future Passed' has been in the shops a few weeks, this is still a band in transition in terms of their stage-act and this is the only time you will see Justin singing a song Denny once did on 'I've Got A Dream' (sadly the bit that always seems to get cut from the occasional TV appearances). Funnily enough the band don't do 'Nights In White Satin' which is soon to be their next record and the song that changes their fortunes. They do however sing their recent hit 'Tuesday Afternoon' which is still gorgeously ripe and new before the band have got sick of singing it. The band are now dressed in psychedelic garb and Ray now looks much more like himself with thick moustache, though Mike is stilsl clean-shaven and Graeme is clearly at the start of growing his. The biggest change though is the massive mellotron that Mike now sits behind - famously impossible to play, even in a studio, the fact that Pinder manages to coax anything out of it during these as-live broadcasts is truly amazing. Interestingly 'Tuesday Afternoon' doesn't have its 'first'  flute solo yet despite the fact Ray is seen holding one amongst his frilly shirt sleeves - is the song still so new he forgot to play it? 'Peak Hour' is scrappier with only Justin's guitar cutting through instrumentally and the harmonies are at times painful. However it's great fun seeing this line-up of the band still playing like the old one, with their rough R and B edges on show, and it's still a triumph - of sorts (ie not 'Peak Hour' at its peak but The Moodies at some sort of peak). The 'they've got time' line is the first solo lead vocal John will ever sing on TV.

13. This Is Tom Jones ('Ride My See-Saw' UK TV 1968)
This may be Tom Jones, but this is The Moody Blues and the band announce their new-found sophistication with a load of psychedelic imagery to the spoken-word 'departure' (with Graeme miming the scream) before a funky performance of their lead single from second album 'In Search Of The Lost Chord'. The earliest Moodies TV clip in colour, it's a fittingly colourful performance with the usual Tom Jones Show set dressing limitations: wind-chime earrings hanging from the ceiling and obscuring our view for most of the set. Though musically things are actually simpler, The Moodies just look the part now, with this arguably the first recognisable band performance to fans of the Justin and John era. Curiously, though, John is the one stuck on the plinth at the back and clearly regarded as the 'junior member' despite having written this hit song! Justin, too, is only seen in close-up from the arms down - a far cry from the videos at the end of this list when this pair are the only two you'll get to see!

14. Colour Me Pop ('Opening > Ride My See-Saw/Dr Livingstone I Presume/House Of Four Doors/Voices In The Sky/The Best Way To Travel/Visions Of Paradise/The Actor/Ommmmmmmmmmmmmmm' UK TV 1968)
'Colour Me Pop' is such an important and under-rated UK music series we actually gave it a whole 'top five' on our site a while back. A chance for bands to promote an album rather than just a single or live favourite, each show was dedicated to one artist and though sadly most bands (including the Moodies) chose to mime, you do get to see the band 'performing' songs you wouldn't otherwise hear them do. The Moodies were seen in the 13th episode - a week after The Hollies - and look phenomenal. The opening song 'Ride My See-Saw' was a BBC repeat regular on programmes such as 'Sounds Of The Sixties' (it was on the 'yesterday' channel  only the day before writing this article actually so keep your eyes peeled!) However there's lots of other good stuff too: Ray sings a 'new' lead vocal and Mike plays a 'new' mellotron part to go along with the usual record of 'Dr Livingstone' which sounds both familiar and unusual all at the same time; the band perform 'House Of Four Doors' largely in shadow while cutting to ye olde photographs for the 'history' sections as mock doors open and shut; Justin sings a much more rock and roll lead vocal to go with the record of 'Voices In The Sky'; Mike makes 'The Best Way To Travel' sound more like Chuck Berry than Pink Floyd against a backdrop of stars that pulsate along with his mellotron; Justin performs 'Visions Of Paradise' solo without the massed harmonies; finally the band mime all sorts of weird and wonderful objects while everyone sings live on a very psychedelic 'Ommmmmm'.   So many of the 'Colour Me Pop' shows were wiped that it's amazing this one survived - what a shame it isn't seen complete more often (as far as I know it has never been re-broadcast).  All in all, a splendid time is guaranteed for all and with ten of the songs from 'In Search Of The Lost Chord' performed fans of that album should colour themselves pop right now! Three of the songs - 'Ride My See-Saw' 'Dr Livingstone' and 'Voices In The Sky' - all appeared on the 'Nights In White Satin' DVD, arguably the best of the many goes at re-releasing the same old Moodies videos, while the entire show was included on one of the DVDs included in the mammoth 'Timeless Flight' box set.

15. Ce Soir On Danse ('The Actor/Tuesday Afternoon/Nights In White Satin/Legend Of A Mind/Bye Bye Birdie/Fly Me High/I've Got A Dream/Beautiful Dream/Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood/Peak Hour/Nights In White Satin (Encore)' French TV July 1968)
The Moodies are clearly making a name for themselves by now with another full length programme dedicated to them, this time back in ever-loyal France. Though in some ways this is a backwards step - the band have temporally gone back to the Denny Laine era material to flesh out their set with Ray tackling 'Bye Bye Birdie', badly and Justin and John together doing 'I've Got A Dream' even worse - and it seems strange to suddenly watch the band in monochrome again. However this is an incredible entry for so many reasons: the band sound great throughout and clearly know each other well know; there are performances of several rare songs that don't often get heard such as Justin's cover of R and B standard 'Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood (which never made it onto album, although it does appear on the band's BBC set) and the debut TV performances of two key Moody classics: Ray's masterpiece 'Legend Of A Mind' and, unbelievably, 'Nights In White Satin' now a full year on after being released as a single. The song is already enough of an 'event' to be played twice and while neither is up to the best versions out there it's still fascinating to hear an acknowledged classic back when it's still fresh out of the oven and not yet quite as formed after decades of playing. There's also one exclusive song still left over from the Denny Laine days, a curious track named 'Beautiful Dream' which sounds like the flute solo from 'Legend Of A Mind' crossed with 'Tuesday Afternoon' before settling down into a rather drippy ballad sung by Justin and John (and later Ray and John) with a lyric that mutters something about flowers - it's hard to catch to be honest. However the best performance is surely 'Fly Me High', which has quietened down into a rather lovely little rocker. Another must-see for Moodies fans once considered lost - thank goodness it isn't as this is a key part of the Moodies development captured on film. 'Legend Of A Mind' is the only song officially available as part of the 'Nights In White Satin' set.

16. Unknown ('Nights In White Satin' French TV 1968)
A much more common clip, this is the famous one of The Moody Blues miming to their most famous single while standing down a flight of stairs for no apparent reason. I do worry for the cameraman, who has tilted his camera at a funny angle throughout. Without much to do, Ray Mike and Graeme stand around looking surly at the camera while Justin and John try to look other-wordly. Ray's big moment on the flute solo is rather spoilt by general shots of Paris, too. Parts of the clip later appeared on the 'Nights In White Satin' DVD of music videos.

17. Czecheslovakia TV 1968)
Another 'Nights' filmed in a foreign land where the performance is interrupted by shots of Prague - what is it with countries wanting to 'claim' this song?! An excited presenter briefly interviews Ray who introduces the song before a very cold looking Justin mimes to the single. For some reason John is parked way over left so he's barely seen in shot, while Graeme and Mike are perched uncomfortably on very low wooden chairs! A similar performance of 'Nights' was given on 'Beat Club' and included in the 'Timeless Flight' box set.

17b. This is where the 'Beat Club' version of 'Nights In White Satin' should be (1968) - you can all see it on the 'Timeless Flight' set, unless your copy is a secondhand scratched one like mine!

18. Jazz Bilsen ('Tuesday Afternoon/Have You Heard?/The Voyage' German TV 1969)
Meanwhile the Germans have hired The Moody Blues for their primetime jazz programme - no I can't see the link either myself, perhaps they thought they were booking 'Miles Davies' Kind Of Moody Blue'? This clip is effectively a real concert, with the cameras kept off the stage and something odd happening with the squeaky mellotron as it struggles to come to life under the studio lights (with roadies rushing forward at key moments to put things right). As grungy as the Justin 'n' John era of the band ever get, it's a shame the band also happen to be playing three of their most difficult songs this night. Mike (who by now has a very thick handlebar moustache) takes a rare lead vocal on 'Have You Heard?' as well as coping with the instrument from hell and the performance is high on atmosphere and colour if nothing like as fine as the record. The instrumental middle section goes a bit wrong, with Ray's flute vainly trying to fill in for a whole orchestra, but it's a valiant effort. The best of the three tracks is a charming live take of 'Never Comes The Day' that goes from beautiful to brittle by turns across the song. 'Tuesday Afternoon' later appeared on the 'Nights In White Satin' DVD.

18B) Somewhere round here The Moody Blues also appeared on 'TWEIN', a Dutch show broadcast in May 1969. Presumably the band did more though only a recording of 'Never Comes The Day' has come to light, included in the 'Nights In White Satin' DVD. In this mimed shot the band look uncomfortable miming in front of a local Medieval exhibit (the closest the Dutch had to something English?) - perhaps 'Are You Sitting Comfortably?' would have been a more fitting choice of song given the circumstances? Justin very much looks the part, actually, as a dashing young knight and has his guitar to hold as a prop. Most of the rest of the band aren't quite as lucky with Mike, Ray and Graeme reduced to clapping along (the mellotrons and drums wouldn't have fitted in the room anyway!) A most peculiar clip, with the band all standing behind a suit of armour as if he's the one about to sing (the sixth Moody?!)

19. It's Lulu ('Question' UK TV 1970)
Why do we never get an answer when we're knocking at their door? It's because The Moodies always seem to be busy that's why! So the band slowed down a touch when promoting their last three original records. However thank goodness Lulu used her usual charm to get the band on her show as it's the only record we have of the pre-split Moodies performing their second most famous single 'Question'. Another favourite of BBC music compilations, sadly the 'Sounds Of The Seventies' edition trims the beginning and end of the song to smithereens so most versions of the song have neither. However it's still a good performance with Justin, his famous blonde quiff now properly in place, singing along to the record and adding much more of a rock and roll vibe to the vocal. He even daringly sings 'ahhh hmmmmm hmmmm yeah' instead of 'yeaaaaaaaaaaaaaah', which is a major change when you've heard  this song as often as I have. This famous clip appears on both 'Nights In White Satin' and another DVD you'll be hearing a lot about 'The Universal Masters DVD Collection', as well as the 'Timeless Flight' box set, making it the most readily available early-era Moodies clip.

20. Taverne D'olympia (Part #1 'Lovely To See You/Never Comes The Day/Tortoise And The Hare/Are You Sitting Comfortably?/Legend Of A Mind/ Nights In White Satin' Part #2 'Ride My See-Saw/Lazy Day/Gypsy/Candle Of Life/Tuesday Afternoon/Don't You Feel Small?/Question'/'Home Video' French TV 1970) - entire thing in timeless flight box set, question and backstage missing
An interesting one this, with two entire half hour shows originally broadcast on French TV in the Moodies' 1970 heydey restores to the archives and - briefly - to DVD as well (though only  complete on a semi-legal/official set, which is why we're including it here - everything except 'Question' appears as an extra on the 'Timeless Flight' DVD). Sadly this is one of those shows that seemed a lot more enticing listed in sessionographies than it did when we got it: as so often happened with period European television the band mime rather than play live, although whoever is meant to be lead vocalist at any one time does 'sing along' (John doesn't even bother to plug in his bass!)  However this is still of interest simply because it's so unlike anything we ever see the band do again. Instead of some big arena they play in a small smoky French bar and even walk past the patrons at their tables to get to the stage. The camera-work is best described as 'shaky', often shot from the audience which ought to be irritating but instead gives you more of a sense of what it was like to 'really' be there for younger fans like me. The band seem bored as they often do, and yet they still exude a certain...something so it's hard to take your eyes off them. A few things happen exclusively to this set too: perhaps poking fun at the miming Mike mimes an acoustic guitar to 'Lovely To See You', Justin John and Ray all stand in a line and wobble (dance is too strong a word) in synch with one another, Mike and Ray are in a chatty mood mumbling away over song introductions ('Don't You Feel Small?' is introduced as 'Graeme's first actual song - usually he just does the poetry...'), 'Small' itself runs about ten seconds longer on the fade with a very different Ray Thomas flute solo, 'Question is a brand new song introduced 'as our new single released in two weeks' time' and Justin takes the vocal lines on 'Are You Sitting Comfortably?' and 'Tuesday Afternoon' in a  slightly different direction. In other words, if you don't know this lost concert or if it happened to go 'missing' again you're not missing much, but as the longest recording The Moody Blues ever gave in their heyday it's worth seeing as a flavour of what a period Moodies show would have been even if they are miming, often badly.

21. I'm Just A Singer (In A Rock and Roll Band) (Music Video 1972)
The band only discovered the importance of music videos relatively late on in their career - till this point there'd always been the feeling that The Moody Blues were a 'mysterious' band you'd never actually recognise if you saw them, a sentiment shared by the tie-in single 'I'm Just A Singer In A Rock and Roll Band' (interestingly the period album 'Seventh Sojourn' pulls back the shadows too, with illustrations of the band for the first time in ages). It may just be a case of hindsight, but the band seem to be drifting apart this one, with very few camera shots featuring any of them collectively. Ray has for one video only grown a beard, while everyone else has let their hair grow long which makes them all look even more like five individuals rather than a 'band' (this is also The Moody Blues at their hairiest). Another very famous clip, this one appeared on the 'Nights In White Satin' and 'Timeless Flight' box set DVDs and makes an occasional appearance in music retrospectives, though not as many as 'Question'.

22. Unknown ('I'm Just A Singer' French TV 1973)
The last telly the band did before the split was back in loyal France, during time off from their last gruelling tour. It's a psychedelic freak-out version of 'Just A Singer' in terms of visuals, with the band's silhouettes appearing over a lurid green hue that looks like a tie-dye shirt under a microscope. The sound is the single version as the band mime yet again and are even worse than normal - Ray isn't even miming the right verse when we cut to him this time! The quick flashes into colour from shadow is very off-putting and migraine inducing  while there are precious few close ups. In other words this last 'original' Moodies performance with Mike still in the band isn't one of their best but, hey, it's a historic moment so that must surely count for something?

23. Decca Reunion (Local News 1978)
After a five year absence the band are officially back - and someone has even baked them a cake to prove it! An orchestra has turned up to play for the band too, though oddly they play not 'Nights In White Satin' but 'Consider Yourself' from 'Oliver!' (I know Lionel Bart was a huge Moodies fan but even so this is ridiculous, like marking The Beatles reunion by playing The Monkees Theme on a xylophone or something). The press launch gets more exciting when lots of old friends turn up including The Small Faces' Kenny Jones. However you sense the crowd are slightly disappointed at having to break up their croquet match to see the Moodies shyly lounging out of a big house to say 'hello'. Decca boss Sir Edmund Lewis makes a speech about 'traumatic experiences' in the past but doesn't go into any details, instead saying how happy he is that they're all together again before sheepishly telling the crowd that 'Mike couldn't make it - he's back in Hollywood'. Suddenly a giant truck lined with gold records pulls up and a load of balloons are let go plugging the album. Then things get back to business with an announcement of 'Octave' and some of the band are then interviewed. Graeme's talks about 'having such a good time we didn't feel we were doing any work' is sadly a lie (the band had an awful time making this album, with Mike leaving partway through). At the end its cake cutting time, with the artistic Justin struggling to cut the cake on his own so the others pitch in to give it some welly - a pretty fair metaphor for the state of the band in this period as it happens.

24. Driftwood (Music Video 1978)
A simple yet charming video of a simple yet charming song, it would have been 'wrong' somehow if this video clip had featuring anything other than the band miming to cameras. Justin and John quietly slip  into lead place with the camera seeing them in close-up for almost the whole video (a sign of the times - it will be like this to the end) . Justin has something of a nervous facial tic as he faces the camera, though this is nothing on John who seems to have a trapped nerve in his left shoulder (either that or he's doing his Elvis impressions). Ray is seen briefly, miming a sax part at completely the wrong time, and Graeme even more briefly, but the sense is that the camera-work is trying to cover the fact that Mike is absent and the band is now a quartet, ahead of an 'official' announcement the following year. Oddly enough this is about where we left the band on the simiarly shot 'I'm Just A Singer'.

25. Steppin' In A Slide Zone (Music Video 1978)
At last The Moodies are back and clearly haven't been paying their repair bills while they've been away - there's even a blooming great wind blowing throughout the performance (surely it can't be an effect - that would just be silly!) The band start by re-creating their pose from the front cover of 'Octave' walking through a doorway, even down to the details of what they were wearing: we say 're-creating' because for the first time Mike Pinder isn't here (although he does perform on the song). Though mimed the band turn in an energetic performance and seem to be pleased to be back together again, with a lot of laughing going on. It's all remarkably professional compared to past videos, until we cut to Ray in a close-up and he gets even these simple words (the title, basically) wrong right on cue! Find this clip on 'Universal Masters' and 'Timeless Flight'.

26. Had To Fall In Love With You (Music Video 1978)
Still as a four-piece, The Moodies mime Justin's lovely ballad while perched awkwardly on a bunch of steps leading up to Graeme's drumkit. Clearly shot the same day as 'Driftwood' (the band are even in the same clothes), it features an odd set design with what looks like the remnant of a winged dinosaur stuffed into a giant vase at the back (what has that got to do with this lovely ballad then? Or was it always about oversized dinosaurs and I somehow missed that layer of meaning?!) It seems likely that 'Had To Fall In Love' was being considered as a third single from 'Octave' at the time - hence the trouble of making a video for it - but the idea got cancelled at the last minute. Though a shame for the world in 1978/1979 it does at least mean that this lovely and under-rated track got a new lease of life, appearing on the 'Nights In White Satin' and 'Endless Flight' DVDs (though oddly not the 'Universal Masters' set, despite a still from the video being used on the back cover).

27. Countdown ('Had To Fall In Love With You/I'm Just A Singer In A Rock and Roll Band/Question/Nights In White Satin' Dutch TV October 1978)
The Moodies' return was greeted as big news across Europe and the band were invited to plug their album with their own special edition of the pop show 'Countdown'. Alas things haven't changed much while the band have been away and they merely mime their four songs - three old favourites and an unusual choice from 'Octave'. The whole show is filmed in rather odd yellow light which makes the band look rather 'angelic' throughout - perhaps they were trying to re-create the white light coming out from the 'Octave' door on the front cover and getting it all a bit wrong? Someone goes bezerk on the 'dry ice' machine too, with the band hard to see at all during 'Question'.

28. Top Of The Pops #2 ('Nights In White Satin' 1979)
Amazingly only the band's second appearance on TOTP, although The Moodies were always more of an album than a singles band. Amazingly the band actually play this one live and added grit from Justin's snarling guitar makes this quite a unique and unusual performance of 'Nights', slightly slower and even more emotional than normal. This clip was actually on as part of BBC4's re-run of old TOTPs a few weeks back and seemed very out of place in amongst the disco and novelty singles cluttering up the charts in 1979, with this song suddenly sounding even more 'real' and poignant. This classic performance surely had something to do with 'Nights' third rise into the top ten that year despite the fact that the song had never been deleted or technically re-issued, one of the only songs in history to have managed this feat so many times.

28B Nationwide - The other Moodies clip I haven't seen, but is on the 'Timeless Flight' box set, should go here. I'm willing to accept fans' verdicts that the clip doesn't give away very much and that the band seem somewhat muted given the state of their big comeback, probably because they're already splitting up with Mike Pinder, although the compilations of old footage is nicely handled. Until someone buys me the set at £400 and rising, however, I'm afraid we shall have to make do with this as the closest to a 'review' for now.


29. Gemini Dream (Music Video 1981)
Long time, no see! Well, two years anyway - the longest gap on this list so far barring the band's mid-70s  hiatus. This is a newlook Moodies who want to seem young and trendy, not progressively middle-aged and thoughtful and the first time we get to see keyboard whizzkid Patrick Moraz in action. Fans of the 1980s music scene, all four of you, are in for a treat as Moraz' big hair, shoulder-pads and a bank of seven synthesisers fill up the stage, although he' only seen in close up during the solo, the cameraman still shy of showing that this is a slightly 'different' Moody Blues. Though not my favourite Moodies song or video by a long shot, this one did the job and was popular on MTV where it helped shift a lot of copies especially in the States. Find it on all three DVD sets: 'Nights In White Satin' 'Universal Masters' and 'Timeless Flight'.

30. The Voice (Music Video 1981)
Apparently shot the same day, this is another straightforward mimed performance of the 'Long Distance Voyager' song. Moraz is giving it his all and then some, but the rest of the band seem oddly seriously and detached from this performance (are they late for lunch? They have that look about them). Find it on 'Universal Masters' and 'Timeless Flight'.

31. Blue World (Music Video 1983)
Ah dear Habridan and Catalunia! If you haven't met them yet, they're the rather mad pair of aliens who set up the album cover for Moodies album 'The Present', in our imaginations at least. They must have done something weird to the promo video as well as the sleeve because I don't remember them being in it quite so much last time I played this one back...A curious mix of history lesson and sci-fi, there they are in a lawless street where someone has clearly dropped an atomic something (this was one of the many cold war peaks this period) surrounded by posh people in Roman togas. IT certainly does look a blue world, but there's hope at the end when a young actor rather unconvincingly proves he's 'fallen in love' with a tribal tribe by putting his hand on her cheek (enough to get you arrested in our timestream in this day and age!) and the pair rush off to the posh new world of blue Roman pillars. In case you're wondering why we get a close-up of the old man at the end clutching a pendant, this was a Moody Blues special object available through the fan club shaped so that the letters could read 'M' or 'B' depending on how you looked at them. Oh and before the Moodies online forums start getting involved, yes I do think this is future not past as there's a brief glimpse of a red telephone box in one shot (we'll give the camera crew working to what's clearly a small budget the benefit of the doubt and assume it's meant to be there, not a mistake!) Despite all this, one of the band's better music videos starring a dearly delightful and wonderful being worshipped the whole galaxy wide - although if I know Catalunia, she'll have done some time-hopping meddling to go back and make that last sentence really complimentary. A real stepping stone towards the more 'story' orientated videos of later years. Find it on the 'Nights In White Satin' DVD and the 'Timeless Flight' box set.

32. Sitting At The Wheel (Music Video 1983)
One of those music videos it looks more fun to be in than it does to watch, this one surprised by not going the obvious (a car wheel) but the quite inventive (a roulette wheel). While a rather well dressed Moodies play there's some sort of a heist going on, with John looking, well, Moody again in a tuxedo while Justin in leather jacket hangs around outside waiting for the cash. Inevitably John ends up with the pretty girl at the end but why is she waiting for a lift in the last scene? (Has he pushed her out the van?) A mad OTT video which rather suits a mad OTT song. Find it on 'Universal Masters' and 'Timeless Flight'.

33. Wembley Arena ('Gemini Dream/Sitting On The Wheel/Tuesday Afternoon/ Isn't Life Strange?/The Voice/Question/I'm Just A Singer In A Rock and Roll Band/ Driftwood/Steppin' In A Slide Zone/Talking Out Of Turn/The Story In Your Eyes/Nights In White Satin/Ride My See-Saw' UK TV 1984)
A full broadcast of one of the nights from the band's 'The Present' tour is more interesting for the fact it exists than anything the band actually play. Hard to believe as it seems now with such lengthy gaps between tours but the two years away had seemed a long time and the band were still big enough news to be given their own occasional TV specials like this. It's noticeably slicker than the band's European TV shows and all a little anonymous, though, with a rather over-familiar looking setlist highlighted by a nice if over-long trot through 'Talking Out Of Turn' for nearly a whole ten minutes and a laidback 'Driftwood' the band didn't often play live.

34. The Other Side Of Life (Music Video 1986)
A rather weird one this, shot by a director whose clearly been watching too many Michael Jackson videos. The band don't even appear until quite a long way in, as instead we follow a besuited yuppie whose having an expensive looking meal in a Chinese Restaurant and is lured over to the darkness by a long cool woman in a black dress. The taxi he hires doesn't exactly go 'east Side' as requested but more like 'Dark Side', to a scary part of town full of dimly lit subways used only by crazy dancers, girls in fish bowls (?!) and weird creatures. Some of the weirdest looking creatures, though, are The Moody Blues trying to look cool in secret agent style macintoshes as they scowl at the camera. Weird. If you too want the surreal nightmares this video is going to give me tonight then look for 'Nights In White Satin' or 'Timeless Flight'.

35. Your Wildest Dreams (Music Video 1986)
The first in a two parter featuring a now noticeably older looking Moodies (Graeme is already turning white!) 'then' and 'now'. Full marks to the casting man or woman who hired this younger bands - though playing havoc with Moodies continuity (Justin and John joined late on of course, long after the band were wannabes in a flat) they don't half look like this era of the band would have looked circa 1963. 'Justin' gets to fall in love, but he and his girl breakup leaving both of them wondering what might have been. The band get to dress up a lot, enjoying a very 1960s hippie-ish looking party while Justin just misses his love - little does he know it but she misses it too and wonders what might have been whilst playing the Moodies records 'In Search Of The Lost Chord' and 'Long Distance Voyager'. In keeping with the theme of both this song and the earlier 'Where Are You Now?' this is an excellent depiction of the song's lyrics and themes, right the way up until Justin's unconvincing wink as he spots his former lover in the front row. The song ends with her waiting earnestly back stage...A veritable Moodies classic video included on the 'Nights In White Satin' 'Universal Masters' and 'Timeless Flight' sets.

36. Running Out Of Love (Music Video 1986)
One of the rarer Moodies videos - especially of the 1980s - 'Running Out Of Love' is one of the more straightforward ones. We follow the band walking from the wings on stage as the audience hold up banners proclaiming their love for all things Moody before the band mime to the noisy 'The Other Side Of Life' track. John gets into the spirit by unleashing his inner Elvis but everyone seems as uncomfortable as ever, especially when a bunch of newly recruited backing singers suddenly decide to pout and kick out their legs. Patrick is inspired to abandon his wall of keyboards near the end to walk centre stage holding one of those small keys that fit over your neck like a guitar, dressed in a red wizard's robe. Personally I wouldn't want to draw attention to the fact it was me making all those awful bleeps and weird noses that all but ruin the song.

37. WXIA-NBC (Ray and Patrick Only US TV 1986)
The Moodies split into two to promote their 1986 album 'The Other Side Of Life', with Ray and Patrick sent to America, John and Justin touring Europe and Graeme apparently back home in bed. This is a unique pairing and it's nice to hear someone other than the Blue Jays getting a turn in the spotlight. Ray giggles at the idea that Patrick is 'the young one' but is eager to talk about the early Denny Laine years. He is however not that clued up on Moodies history, confusing 'Seventh Sojourn' (1972) with 'Octave' (1978) as the 'comeback album'. Already Patrick is talking about the band being so old 'that you see parents bringing their kids' (it's grandkids nowadays) and he gives a passionate speech about the importance of the band's music to people the more laidback Ray seems surprised by. The interviewer ends by trying to be nice: 'So many other bands have lost a member but you're all so happy and healthy it's great!' Ray quips back 'Well hold on - let's see what state we're in after the tour!'

38. Good Morning Britain (Justin and John Only 'Question/Blue Guitar' UK TV 1986)
Meanwhile, over in moody ol' England, Justin is busking the guitar riff from 'Question' for the presenters whose speed genuinely seems to impress presenter Mike Morris. Asked the secret of their success Justin humbly holds up his lucky plectrum while John holds out his hands. Justin talks about having had 'a great summer' playing to sell out American crowds but looks shocked to learn that 'Nights In White Satin' is still being played in English discos at 2 in the morning! When asked about their English sound, Justin replies that this is what makes them stand out in amongst American artists, while John makes a speech about how the band struggled to find success as R and B cover stars until they started writing their own songs 'from their hearts' (which is a bit rich given that the band were, at the most, struggling for just six months after he joined). The interview breaks off for a nice version of 'Blue Guitar' unplugged style, which he says is the first time he's sung it since the record - as it happens it's the first time John has ever appeared on the song (which was really a solo track Justin cut with 10cc!) They sound great in harmony too - fans of the Blue Jays really need to watch this clip. Next up is the much-delayed 'Question' followed by a quick update about the other members which ends with Mike Morris complaining 'its Graeme who keeps buzzing me in his microlight isn't it?!'

39. Breakfast TV (Justin Only 'I Just Don't Care' UK TV 1986)
Justin's on his own this time for a much improved unplugged acoustic performance of the lovely but rather over-produced ballad from 'The Other Side Of Life'. Shot in mood black and white, with Justin's ever changing appearance (he still looks about twenty-five here) you can really fool yourself into thinking that this is some long lost classic from the band's original heyday. The performance is rather lost on a nation trying to eat their breakfast, though.

40. I Know You're Out There Somewhere (Music Video 1988)
Perhaps the most famous Moodies clip - certainly their most repeated - is this 1988 hit single which returns to the scene and theme of 'Your Wildest Dreams'. Justin is certain he'll track down his lost love, even if it means missing a crucial band gig. Young Justin is back, looking as cute as ever, though it looks like a different girl this time whose more pro-active, hanging out with the band and even driving in their van. Adult Justin keeps just missing her in a number of comic turns although he does imagine himself going round to her house and being greeted with as much affection as he still feels for her. This video also adds the detail that her dad doesn't like his daughter hanging around with rock-stars and includes a hysterical moment when Justin thinks he's spotted her blonde curls down the other end of a tunnel - and 'she' turns out to be John! Good fun, although it's sad that the couple still aren't an item even by the end. Find it on 'Nights In White Satin' 'Universal Masters' 'Timeless Flight' and, very probably very soon, a music video channel near you.

41. No More Lies (Music Video 1988)
Something of an overlooked single, 'No More Lies' sold suprisingly poorly on the back of such a hit single. Perhaps it was because the video is just so weird: a stop-fram animation made up of collages and photos as a girl walks past a sea of objects and people. Some of these turn out to be the Moodies themselves balancing on top of a column of ever-changing letters that look like someone has been a bit made with alphabet soup. The video calms down for the second half with a straightforward mimed performance of the song featuring the band in shadow (did they run out of newspapers to cut up?!) Justin finally gets 'the girl' though there's one heck of an age gap and both of them seem to be made out of paper. It's going to end in tears...Unusually the video includes a hybrid of the album and single mix, nclud9ng the false ending but fading on it mid-guitar riff. Watch this one on 'Universal Masters' and 'Timeless Flight'.

42. TV-AM (UK TV 1988)
Breakfast seems to be Moody time in Britain, with the band busy plugging their next record 'Sur La Mer'. Only Justin and John appears again (have they left the others in the States?) The young presenter (Anne Diamond?)  reads out the back cover blurb about how it's been '21 years since Days Of Future Past...' and has the temerity to argue with Justin who replies 'it seems like yesterday' with the words 'it seems a terribly long time ago to me!' (Wonder what she makes of that now she's Justin's age...) The presenters seem to have never seen a compact disc before and 'I Know You're Out There Somewhere' is piped into the studio over old photographs. We cut back to Justin and John playing air guitar to the song ('We should have done the steps as well!' quips John). The band have brought their awards to show off (including a golden ticket from Madison Square Gardens for playing to 100,000) and a poster for an early headlining gig at the Filmore with an early line-up of Chicago as their supporting act.

43. After Ten With Tarbuck ('I Know You're Out There Somewhere' 'Nights In White Satin/It's So Easy' UK TV 1988)
Comedian Jimmy Tarbuck knew John Lodge well - both are passionate amateur golfers and often played at charity tournaments back then - which is probably how the band ended up on his usually edgy and non-musical chat show. Justin sings live over the record of 'Somewhere' and sings at least as well as the record, which is out 'this coming week'. Tarbuck presents a 'brass' album for 'sales of three records in Andora' which is greeted by a surprisingly generous round of applause. The second song is a nice rendition of 'Nights' played completely live and with some particularly lovely Patrick Moraz keyboard work as Justin tears his heart out for the millionth time and still makes it sound like it's the first. All in all one of the better modern-day Moody clips.

44. Say It With Love (Music Video 1991)
Another much overlooked minor Moody gem, this nostalgic pop song features a snappily dressed band playing in front of a blow-up globe that revolves next to people from all over the world. I'm not sure if all these people are meant to be Justin's relations or whether they just look and dress like him, though the shot of a nine-year-old with a Ray Thomas moustache is clearly making some sort of a joke! A sort of multi-cultural secret Santa seem s to be going on at the end with everyone passing on their prize possessions to the person next to them - one lucky boy even gets Justin's guitar! Oddly the video ends with some short outtakes, including what look like smarties being poured over an umbrella (I'm not sure whether to be relieved this didn't make the cut or saddened). The last music video the band have made to date, it's not the best but it's not the worst. Find it on 'Universal Masters' and 'Timeless Flight'.

45. Garden Party ('Say It With Love' 'Bless The Wings' UK TV 1991)
'The Garden Party' was a bonkers attempt to cash in on the success of 'Pebble Mill' by holding the discussions...outside! (The Botanic Gardens Glasgow to be precise). This was a revolutionary idea in its day though not altogether practical given how often it tended to rain around the time of broadcast. It is, at least, nice and sunny for the Moody Blues who were one of the last guests in the third and final series and they play in front of a hedge to an audience of OAP crown bowlers (only on English telly eh?!) Justin's usually perfect coiffured quiff is ruffled by all the extra wind as the band mime to their latest single. In the intervening three years the band have all visibly aged, with Ray now as white as Graeme, but still turn in a spirited 'performance' (we'll have to get a different word for when a performance is 'mimed'). The interviewer sounds astonished that the band have taken three whole years to make an album; what Justin doesn't mention is that the band were in a bit of a mess, with three aborted attempts to make the record with three different producers and the loss of Patrick Moraz late on in the sessions (luckily there's not as many keyboards as usual on either single to mime to). The interviewer tells Justin he was 'in the biggest group in the world in your heyday' - Justin looks more embarrassed than pleased. He mentions the band being picked up by younger fans and of soldiers writing to him in between bombing raids in the gulf war with 'Nights' and co as their soundtrack and how much this gives him de ja vu for the days when the latest American victim was Vietnam. Just as the interview is going well there's this faux pas:  'You couldn't get more middle of the road nowadays than recording Andrew Lloyd Webber which of course you have done'. Justin had the right to storm off but English gentleman to the last breaths in and quips 'erm...thankyou?' Coming next week: should corporal punishment be banned for all children? This really was a different time, something we're used to saying in these TV clips articles for the 1960s and 1970s but even for the 1990s? I feel old... This clip was featured in the 'Timeless Flight' box set.

46. Pebble Mill ('Voices In The Sky' 1993)
Bluebird flying high, tell me what you see? I see the Moodies chatting on TV most uncomfortably-hee...Yes its kind of inevitable that Birmingham's most successful band would end up appearing on Birmingham's flagship talk show. Though the interview is stilted and repeats old ground the performance of an old classic from 1968 is exquisite, revisited as a near-acoustic slower song from a much 'older' perspective. The band have no new material to promote except a best-of by the way, which this song wasn't even on. Now that's what I call an impressive back catalogue, although it doesn't make much marketing sense.

47. Talk Of The Town (US TV Mike Pinder 1994)
'Where is that hair?!' We last saw him a full twenty-one years before and now finally Mike Pinder has a chance to talk. And talk he does, for nearly an hour to presenter John Craig as the main guest before an audience who have 'come at no expense at all'. Mike talks about being away from the music business to raise his children for sixteen years, his childhoods love of early jazz and Nat King Cole records and his dad's own band who played in that style. When asked why he returned now PInder talks about being tired of seeing disposable music used like fast food and wanting to add something 'more substantial'. The keyboard player also talks about being in love with America from an early age - long before he made his home there - and his thrill at supporting Sonny Boy Williamson on the Moodies' first American tour. Impressively, Mike's jazz-loving dad loved the music the early Moody Blues were making and were very supportive and Pinder's love of his instruments still shines as he talks through all of the instruments he used to play, complete with pictures. There's an especially good rap over 'Melancholy Man' being about depression over the state of humanity going one step forward and two steps back, while Mike admits to doing the heavy breathing on 'My Song', that Graeme's laughter on 'Departure' was genuine as his own poetry struck as being funny and that he ended up as the band's unofficial poetry reader as he did all the band announcements on stage. Pinder also claims to have never seen the archive clip they show of 'Really Haven't Got The Club' Mike is on good form, just as eloquent as he always was and it's a good humoured chat, although Craig's bald jokes against Pinder are a bit rich given that he has even less hair! Well worth watching, this is a revealing chat with the Moodies' gentle erudite founder so many of us fans wish would talk more.

48. This Morning ('Oh What A Beautiful Morning!/The Actor' US TV 1995)
Next up, a truly appalling rendition of Oklahoma's 'Oh! What A Beautiful Morning', apparently unplanned and delivered instead of the CBS' show's usual opening tune. I don't know about you, but I've got a horrible feeling nothing is ever quite going to go the band's way in this interview. However while the questions are dull they are at least being put to different people for a change, with Graeme and Ray encouraged to talk for once. Graeme talks about the band 'loving - and sometimes fighting - like brothers', Ray talks about the flute being an unusual instrument for a rock and roll band and Justin talks about having 'something new out soon' - actually it will take another four years until the release of 'Strange Times'. The band are presumably promoting 'The Very Best Of The Moody Blues', which had come out recently, although in true Moodies style they never actually mention the CD and
choose a track that isn't from that set at all, but the overlooked 1968 Hayward song 'The Actor' which had been only recently returned to their setlists. Justin starts a bit uncomfortably high, but it's still a good version and the song sounds nice played acoustically, suddenly springing to life in the middle eight ('The sound I heard in your hellooooo'...)

49. This Is Your Life (Justin Hayward 1997)
The big red book surprised the big Moody Blue in one of Michael Aspel's more deserving choices. Justin thinks he's busy promoting his new album 'The View From The Hill' and is being treated to a nice day out at a hotel to promote the album - the perfect excuse to have so many cameras around. Justin is in the lobby singing up a storm when Aspel interrupts him and as you'd expect from one of the Moodies his re-action isn't shocked screaming but more stunned silence and then a disbelieving 'No!...That's weird, it's really you isn't it?!' More than almost any other programme, the success of 'This Is Your Life' comes from showing the celebrities in mufti as it were and how they re-act around 'family' and 'friends' rather than fans but Justin is as gracious, humble and kind as you'd expect and unlike some shows in the series where tributes were given through gritted teeth there's a lot of love in the room for Justin. This is a rare chance to see wife Marie, Justin's now grown-up daughter Doromy, mum Glenda and sister Theresa. There are reminisces about Justin meeting his wife at the Club the Bag O'Nails (which should have hired themselves out as a dating agency - it's where Paul and Linda McCartney met too), being driven mad by family budgies and 'humming' rather than crying as a baby. Graeme talks on video about matchmaking ('The thirty years of hell I put you through is all my fault!') while John and Ray appear in person. Other musical guests include Jeff Wayne, Mike Batt and Roger Greenaway. Big Moody fan Jimmy Turback is back as well, talking about seeing the band first 'when I was still at school' (he's older than they are!) and getting a framed gold disc - for the sale of one copy of a record he made with them! The final guest - traditionally the biggest one - is astronaut Robert 'Hoot' Gibson, responsible for bringing his Moody Blues collection on board with him and making the band 'first in space' ('It was a pleasure to carry such fantastic cargo into space and back' - well said!) As usual the most interesting story comes from someone who isn't famous at all, the story of Justin being 'volunteered' for the part in a local school musical by his mum aged thirteen and of being good enough to be hired for the whole summer rather than the two weeks he was booked for! Best quote: 'At various times you were an Offbeat, a Woodpecker and a Rebel - the names of various groups!' The biggest grin comes for Justin's mentor Marty Wilde who advised him to take up songwriting ('The best advice I ever had!' says Justin). A real treat.

50. The View ('Tuesday Afternoon' 'English Sunset' US TV 1999)
Next up, we're back in America with the band busy plugging the 'Strange Times' album. Host Meredith Viera hosts an informal discussion with the band perched on stools as they talk about enjoying 'going back to just the four of us like it used to be'. Asked how they've aged so well like a fine wine John jokes 'good cork' . Alas the interview is cut short by yet another performance of 'Tuesday Afternoon' and a rather out of tune one at that, although it's still more palatable than a terribly unconvincing performance of new single 'English Sunset', a song best left forgotten and especially when the band run out of sync with their backing track. 'I've decided I can live with humility' sings Justin, which is just as well as the band throw in chants of 'England' and a yelled 'more tea Vicar?!' Meredith looks shocked. Sadly this is a less than dignified farewell to Ray Thomas in this list, who gets even less to do than normal.

51. Unknown ('Nights In White Satin' German TV 2004)
A last return to German TV with a pretty darn good 'Nights In White Satin' that's very bass-heavy but all the better for it. That's new flautist Norda Mullen replacing Ray for the first time on this tour and her solo is far folkier than the rockier performance Ray traditionally gives. Sadly there's no space for an interview - at least, not on my copy - and the band are only one of many acts on a general '50 years since The Beatles' type show. The Moodies are easily the best in case you're wondering and get the biggest cheers of the night.

52. Justin Hayward At Glastonbury ('Nights In White Satin' 2015)

To finish, it's a frustratingly short televised set of Justin's first Glastonbury performance. Frustratingly The Moody Blues have never played the festival despite it being right up their street (this is the first time Justin has played any festival since The Isle Of Wight in 1970) but hopefully they will after this, with a gorgeous acoustic performance of Justin's old warhorse sounding in great health. The full acoustic treatment brings out a whole new angle to the song, with the song curiously sounding feistier and more determined the more instruments that get stripped out of the sound. It makes a fitting end to the Moodies list of videos to date - perhaps a full band acoustic show on similar grounds is just what the band need to keep them going into another decade? 

Other Moody Blues-related articles from this site you might be interested in reading:


'The Magnificent Moodies' http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/the-moody-blues-magnificent-moodies.html

'In Search Of The Lost Chord' (1968)  http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2008/07/review-22-moody-blues-in-search-of-lost.html

'On The Threshold Of A Dream' (1969) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2010/02/news-views-and-music-issue-53-moody.html

'To Our Children's Children's Children' (1969) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2008/07/review-32-moody-blues-to-our-childrens.html

‘A Question Of Balance’ (1970) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/the-moody-blues-question-of-balance-1970.html

'Every Good Boy Deserves Favour' (1971) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2008/07/review-49moody-blues-every-good-boy.html

'Seventh Sojourn' (1972) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2008/07/review-53-moody-blues-seventh-sojourn.html

'Blue Jays' (Hayward/Lodge) (1976) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2009/07/news-views-and-music-issue-38-blue-jays.html

'Songwriter' (Hayward) (1977) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2011/09/news-views-and-music-issue-112-justin.html


'Long Distance Voyager' (1981) http://www.alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/the-moody-blues-long-distance-voyager.html

'The Present' (1983) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2011/05/news-views-and-music-issue-98-moody.html

'The Other Side Of This Life' (1986) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2014/10/the-moody-blues-other-side-of-life-1986.html

'Sur La Mer' (1988) http://alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2015/03/the-moody-blues-sur-la-mer-1988.html

‘December’(2003) http://www.alansalbumarchives.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/the-moody-blues-december-2003.html