From Justin: My Version of the Moody Blues Story

Posted on 03/01/2005
March, 2005
Just when I’m beginning to believe Spring might be on its way, I find myself talking with friends in Australia who are getting ready for Winter which will begin to arrive around the same time we do. The last time we were “down under” was in February/March of 1987, and in the last few years I thought our chance of returning had gone forever. No Promoter in the intervening years has been bold enough to make an offer of a few gigs, but this time the approach came from New Zealand, where we have never played before, and the enthusiasm of the local Promoter inspired us to actively encourage a return to Australia. I know our trip in April will be an adventure. Every time I visit the Southern Hemisphere of this beautiful world I meet up with old pals and make new ones, as well as being reminded that our music can take us anywhere and everywhere. At the moment I’m trying to go via South Africa to see a good friend, and also to make a small break in what I remember as being a long, hard journey whichever way you go. If only they had persevered with Concorde!
This coming weekend I’m spending three days with yet another film crew and an informed (I hope) interviewer, trying to explain my version of the Moody Blues Story. This is for a BBC Series which looks like its becoming a DVD release as well. I say ‘my version’ because when I see the other guys being interviewed I usually find myself thinking ‘I don’t remember that bit at all!’
Why is there a seemingly endless fascination with what happened in the late 60’s and early 70’s? For me, as I write this, there is only the now and what I’m listening to, the guitar I’m playing and the way it makes me feel in the moment. I’m so glad that in those days we mostly resisted doing in depth interviews and’ through the keyhole’ stuff and concentrated on the music.
But, the reason people are obsessed with those times is occasionally brought home to me in a powerful and moving way. Because Universal are soon to release a collection of our first seven studio albums, along with previously unreleased songs and out-takes, as well as alternate versions of tracks, I was asked by them to approve the 5.1 surround sound parts ,which have been mastered using the original quad mixes done by Tony Clarke and Derek Varnals in the early 70’s. I was absolutely stunned listening to them, I was suddenly right back in the centre of the studio floor where we had spent days and nights, had magical, mind blowing experiences, at the same time working very hard to make it all sound and feel right.
To hear backing tracks and vocal sessions separated and truly surrounding me was something I was unprepared for. Within a couple of minutes of the opening bars of Days of Future Passed I was unable to judge the sonic quality of the masters because my emotions had taken over. I don’t feel that I, or any of us, should change anything from those mixes. If anyone really wants to know what the Moodies were about, just listen.
With regard to this release though, next week I’m going to Alberto’s to hear the original stereo masters of the early albums and to master, properly, the unreleased tracks and out-takes which are in their original, unmixed state. I recently realised how poor the mastering was on the versions of the first seven albums re-released on C.D. in the late 90’s, and I would encourage anyone interested to seek out the C.D. versions released by Decca in the 1980’s which were much truer to the original records as well as having the proper sleeves. The 90’s re-masters were bad re-masters of re-masters of copy masters. Why weren’t we paying attention to the quality at the time? Hopefully the new Universal collection will become the definitive, true CD representation of those recordings.
It seems that we will be on the road quite a bit this year. Maybe we will run into a record executive who is more interested in the future than the past. Now that would be something!
I regret it’s taking so long to release and send out the Monaco/Nice fan DVD. It should be coming along soon. The US tour I have just got home from was very enjoyable with some really good gigs, from my side of the stage at least .
Thank you for the support and strength you give.
With love and warm wishes,
Justin
Picasso once said ” You mustn’t always believe what I say. Questions tempt you to tell lies, particularly when there is no answer.”
He also said “Everyone wants to understand art. Why not try to understand the song of a bird? Why does one love the night, flowers, everything around one, without trying to understand them?”
Next interview please!!