"Question Of Balance" was a high-hitter for the Moody Blues and with this set, not only do you get the fantastically crisp sound of SACD, but they have finally released some rare tracks. All the bonus and alternate mix tracks are of fine quality and the difference may be as subtle as additional back-up vocals or extra instruments. Here is the complete list:
How Is It (We Are Here)
And The Tide Rushes In
Don't You Feel Small
Tortoise & The Hare
It's Up To You
Dawning Is The Day
Mike's Number One (Bonus Track)
Question (Alternate Version) (Bonus Track)
Minstrel's Song (Original Mix) (Bonus Track)
It's Up To You (Original Mix) (Bonus Track)
Don't You Feel Small (Original Mix) (Bonus Track)
Dawning Is The Day (Full Original Mix) (Bonus Track)
No previous Moody Blues album has contained such rare BBC sessions, outtakes and alternate mixes. The differences are subtle but many include backup vocals, new instruments and a different pacing to the songs. One needs no other recording of this classic album. The box is half plastic and half cardboard which might not last as long as a regular CD package. However, the liner package notes are exhaustive with many new pictures and a complete history.
(Note: This is an SACD mix made from the original quadraphonic tapes. The extra songs are the original remastered quadraphonic tapes - not SACD).
I'm heavily into The Moody Blues' albums at present, after having ignored them for years. For me, 'A Question Of Balance' is probably their second best in a tough contest between four. The concept of why we are, etc is not particularly original, but then, as has been said before, it's not what what you do, but the way that you do it.
'Question', which gave the band a big hit, features an uncharacteristically ugly vocal by Justin Hayward, but it seems to complement the music's energy. This is probably the band's most dramatic opening track, full of breathtaking elements: the flourishes, the bubbling bassline and a startling melody. Other highlights are Ray Thomas's reflective 'And The Tide Rushes In', Hayward's rockier 'It's Up To You' and the hypnotic 'Melancholy Man', one of Mike Pinder's finest creations. The only track that falls below the generally high standard is, I feel, Lodge's 'Minstrel Song' though even that isn't bad, just a little incongruous perhaps. I wish I'd heard this album years ago.
One of a slew of re-released Moody Blues albums (On the SACD surround sound format) that feature alternate versions and mixes of songs already on the albums “A Question Of Balance “ stands out because it contains the only “new” song. Hardcore fans will undoubtedly buy the new version of “A Question Of Balance” for that reason alone but for those who have never heard this album at all or are only aware of a couple of tracks then I’d advise you to buy this album anyway because like all of The Moody Blues material of that period (Late 60,s through to mid 70, s) it’s brilliant.
Every time I review a Moody Blues album I witter on about what an unjustly maligned band they are and how critical re-appraisal is long overdue and yadda yadda. It’s all true of course ,but I’m a bit bored of going on about it so I won’t, except of course I already have and lets just get on with the review shall we?
Originally released in 1970 “A Question Of Balance” saw the band move further away from the more conceptual approach taken with their previous albums and record a more traditional collection of conventional rock songs. The quintessential essence of the bands sound still remained with Justin Hayward’s pristine ringing chords, Mike Pinders ominous mellotron and Ray Thomas .s errr flute. There is still the pondering on the nature of existence , the universe etc and still a fair amount of cod-philosophy but as I’ve mentioned in previous reviews the band are so patently sincere that it’s not half as irritating as it might be in more pompous hands. (Hello U2)
The songs. Well, apart from arguably “Every Good Boy Deserves Favour” which followed this album I don’t think they ever released a stronger set. “Question” is the one track that virtually everyone must be familiar with and it’s urgent strummed acoustic guitar still gets my blood pumping every bit as much as songs off Big Blacks “Atomiser”. …Well maybe not quite as much .but it’s a close run thing. Ray Thomas’s “And The Tide Rushes In” is probably the best thing he ever wrote, a subtle incremental ballad with for him, some restrained poignant lyrics. “Don’t You Feel Small” features some rather sinister whispered vocals and plenty of the bands trademark egregious vocal harmonies. “It’s Up To You” luxuriates in some more crystalline guitar and yet another terrific Hayward vocal while John Lodges.s “The Tortoise And The Hare” revels around an appropriately galloping bass and tumbling percussion. “Dawning Is The Day” is yet another in the pantheon of classy Moody Blues ballads as is the morose and portentous “Melancholy Man” while the closing “The Balance” though hindered by some of the meta-physical sixth form philosophising the band often indulge in is rescued by some magnificent harmonising vocals and abundant waves of Mike Pinders mellotron.
So to the new track. “Mikes Number One”, which must be a tongue in cheek title, and though slightly inchoate the songs gently strummed intro leads to a melodious pleasant song which isn’t set to rush to the top of fans most liked Moodies song list but like previously un-released material is surprising in it’s quality .If only there was a lot more of this kind of stuff. The alternate versions and original mixes aren’t that stunning but special mention must be made of the version of “Question” which differs enough from the familiar version to make its inclusion worthwhile.
One more thing about this band. How many groups do you know where every member of the band is a consummate songwriter/singer? I can’t think of any of the top of my head , not even The Beatles, and anyone who says Westlife risks losing dangly bits of their anatomy. All five members of the band contribute notably on this album, one of their very very finest.
on 28 July 2004
'A Question of Balance', the fifth album released by the Moody Blues during their first string of releases, often suffers from an unjustifiable volume of criticism from those who felt the band lost their way somewhat with this work. Certainly, it's not their greatest or most consistent release, but if one looks at it as a separate work in its own right rather than what it followed ('Days of Future Passed') and what was yet to come ('Seventh Sojourn') then it still proves capable of standing the test of time.
With their previous release ('To Our Children's Children's Children') the Moody Blues had fallen into a trap which many bands find themselves unable to escape - that of increasing lush, even extravagant production and instrumentation - a sound that proved both difficult to reproduce live and also left the band wondering if they could outdo themselves with the next 'epic' in the sequence. Rather than bow to this pressure which would come to bear on so many prog-rock bands of the ensuing decade, the band chose to stand still, even step back to allow a more clear-cut sound to emerge. Not only that, but they managed to do so without losing either their definitive sound or sense of musicianship.
The result might not have been to all tastes, but even the harshest critics can't deny the quality exuded by tracks such as 'Question' (cruelly denied a UK No 1 by a combination of the BBC and England's World Cup squad) and 'Melancholy Man' which hold their own against anything ever recorded by the band. Sure, some of the songs (How Is It, Tortoise and the Hare, Minstrel's Song) suffer against these two by comparison, but so would many tracks from their other releases. And as a package, A Question of Balance achieves exactly that in terms of the way it flows as a whole album.
A worthwhile purchase, if you're a keen fan of their work. If not, perhaps you'd be better off with a Best Of package anyway...
on 20 April 2006
I have been a Moody Blues fan for years and have made a point of buying their albums, wearing the vinyl out in some cases. CD's helped eliminate that problem. Now, SACD allows us to hear this great group as they were meant to be heard...or does it?The sound quality disappointed me. I saw the sticker on the front of the digipak (I prefer jewel boxes) which touted a 5.1 mix within. So I popped it into my SACD player and got not 5.1 sound, but 4.0! That's right; no center channel, no subwoofer. They stayed perfectly true to the original quadraphonic master tape and did nothing more to the mix. If you look even at the listing here on Amazon, it says the album is in 5.1. Can't fault Amazon; they just print what they're told by the record company. So who is at fault here? I'd say it's Universal. They should have been more truthful. And what of the other SACD reissues? Are they going to be 4.0 as well? The surround mix also sounded so compressed, I thought I was listening to it on the radio! NO dynamics at all! The bonus tracks were also not available on the multichannel SACD layer. I had to go to a CD player to hear them. This is not the treatment the Moody Blues deserve.
on 20 April 2006
Got all 4 of the new Moody Blues reissues yesterday. I grew up with these lp's when they were released. I was happy with the last remasters, but these are really special. I don't have surround yet, so I am listening to the stereo layer. Other than being mastered loud, like everything these days, I have to say I love them! The packaging is exquisite - you can tell these are UK releases: laminated covers and excellent design, packaging and printing. Lots of very good photos I've never seen in the booklets, and great, informative liner notes. I have an "average" system at best, and have been listening on headphones as I do with 95% of music when at home. These may be the cds that finally get me moving towards upgrading my system to enjoy the surround experience.
My two bits: get them now! Glad I did - heck, I might even get DOFP to complete the set now that I know how nice they are. Excellent additions to my classic rock library.
on 14 August 2000
It's a shame the rating being limited to only five stars. Nine would come closer (10 stars are reserved for their Seventh Sojourn album). An excellent piece of work. There are no flaws on this alnum only positive exception. Milke's Melancholy Man may easily be regarded as one of the most beautiful songs ever written. And Ray's And the tide rushes in is another extraordinary gem on this string of pearls. If it wasn't for Seventh Sojour, A Question of Balance would be there best album.
on 12 September 2002
contrary to other reviewer opinions, if you need to chill, stick this album on. true, it is really for moody afficionados, but when the time comes for a major de-stress (and it will) these gentle songs will work wonders. this album sees the moodies in more reflective frame of mind. my favourite track has to be "don't you feel small", but "and the tide rushes in" has to come a very close second. call me an old romantic if you like, but I promise this set of songs will soothe you. anyway, it must be good, I've worn out the vinyl, and the cassette, and now i'm working on the cd.
on 2 August 2015
Arrived in good time and was in first class condition. The only annoying thing with these re mastered Moody Blues albums is the slight silent blip between the songs. On the original LP's the songs flowed into each other so this blip ruins it slightly for me.
on 31 October 2013
Another excellent release from the Moody Blues with the glorious 6 minute opening track, 'Question' being the highlight in my opinion although it has to be said that the quality is high throughout with the likes of lovely shorter songs such as 'And The Tide Rushes In', 'Minstrel's Song' and 'Dawning Is The Day'. This is definitely worth buying along with the other 6 'Moodies' albums released between 1967 and 1972.