- This early UK pressing offers excellent Double Plus (A++) sound, OR BETTER, from beginning to end
- This copy is tubey and rich and, most importantly, doesn’t sound murky or muddy
- The first Moody Blues album to feature their trademark mellotron arrangements
- “…the album on which the Moody Blues discovered drugs and mysticism as a basis for songwriting and came up with a compelling psychedelic creation, filled with songs about Timothy Leary and the astral plane and other psychedelic-era concerns.”
Achieving just the right balance of Tubey Magical rich-but-not-too-rich “Moody Blues Sound” and transparency is no mean feat. You had better be using the real master tape for starters. Then you need a pressing with actual extension at the top, a quality rarely found on most imports. Finally, good bass definition is essential; it keeps the bottom end from blurring the midrange. No domestic copy in our experience has ever had these three qualities, and only the best of the imports manages to combine all three on the same LP.
On the best of the best, the clarity and resolution come without a sacrifice in the Tubey Magical richness, warmth and lushness for which the Moody Blues recordings are justifiably famous. In our experience the best LPs are correct from top to bottom, present and alive in the midrange, yet still retain the richness and sweetness we expect from British (and Dutch) Moody Blues records. They manage, against all odds, to remove the sonic barriers put up by most pressings of the Moodies’ unique music. Who knew, after so many years and so many bad records, that such a thing was even possible?
Tubey Magic Is Key
This early British pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records cannot even BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.
If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.
If you have five or ten copies of a record and play them over and over against each other, the process itself teaches you what’s right and what’s wrong with the sound of the album. Once your ears are completely tuned to what the best pressings do well that the others do not do as well, using a few specific passages of music, it will quickly become obvious how well any given pressing reproduces those passages.
The process is simple enough. First, you go deep into the sound. There you find something special, something you can’t find on most copies. Now, with the hard-won knowledge of precisely what to listen for, you are perfectly positioned to critique any and all pressings that come your way.
Virtually all copies of this album will have noisy edges; the beginning of this track is fairly quiet and noise will be audible behind the music. Side two will suffer likewise.
Also, for some reason this track tends to not sound nearly as good as those that follow. We never really noticed that effect before but during the shootout it became obvious that the real Moody Magic starts with track two.
Ride My See-Saw
Dr. Livingstone, I Presume?
This is THE key track for side one. The chorus “we’re all searching…” can sound shrill and hard on some copies. When it sounds ABSOLUTELY MAGICAL you have a Hot Stamper for side one.
House of Four Doors
Legend of a Mind
This is the famous Timothy Leary song. Every studio trick in the book is used on this track, brilliantly. This song perfectly encapsulates everything that’s good about The Moody Blues in this period. If you have any audiophile friends visiting, and you have a top quality, big speaker system, play them this song from this pressing and blow their minds. I guarantee you they have NEVER heard it sound like this! (Or the Moody Blues for that matter.)
House of Four Doors, Pt. 2
Voices in the Sky
The Best Way to Travel
An outstanding psych arrangement — turn it up good and loud and let it rock!
Visions of Paradise
In Search of the Lost Chord is the album on which the Moody Blues discovered drugs and mysticism as a basis for songwriting and came up with a compelling psychedelic creation, filled with songs about Timothy Leary and the astral plane and other psychedelic-era concerns.
They dumped the orchestra this time out in favor of Mike Pinder’s Mellotron, which was a more than adequate substitute, and the rest of the band joined in with flutes, sitar, tablas, and cellos, the playing of which was mostly learned on the spot.
The whole album was one big experiment to see how far the group could go with any instruments they could find, thus making this album a rather close cousin to the Beatles’ records of the same era.
It is all beautiful and elegant, and “Legend of a Mind”‘s chorus about “Timothy Leary’s dead/Oh, no — he’s outside, looking in” ended up anticipating reality; upon his death in 1996, Leary was cremated and launched into space on a privately owned satellite, with the remains of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry (another ’60s pop culture icon) and other well-heeled clients.
Moody Blues records have a marked tendency to sound murky and muddy; that’s obviously the sound these five guys were going for because you hear it on every album they released.
Compound their “sound” with bad mastering, bad pressing or bad vinyl — not to mention vinyl that hasn’t been cleaned properly — and you may find yourself wading through an impassable sonic swamp. With anything but a Hot Stamper the result is going to be sound so thick and opaque that it will confound any attempt you might make to hear into it.
Only with the better Hot Stamper pressings can you begin to understand what this band achieved in the studio. The best pressings of their albums have the power to show you MOODY BLUES MAGIC that others only hint at. Oh, it’s there all right, and every bit as glorious as you’d hoped it would be.
The Revolutionary Changes in Audio of the last five or ten years have worked wonders for the sound of the Moody Blues’ albums. Old School Stereos will make their albums sound pretty much the way they always have — bloated, murky, compressed and just plain boring.
And those are the imports! The domestic copies, mastered from copy tapes, are smeary and full of transistory grain, a deadly combination. You’ll notice we never list domestic Moody Blues records on the site. What would be the point? They don’t sound good.