002: The Moody Blues - On the Threshold of a Dream (1969)
“For me, it’s probably the defining Moody Blues album. It’s the time when we critically reached our peak where the media and the press still liked us.”
Episode 2 of Discord & Rhyme features On the Threshold of a Dream, the third album by the Moody Blues. We start with our own adaptation of “In the Beginning,” the poem that begins the album, and we couldn’t resist throwing in a Simpsons joke. (You get a bunch of thirtysomethings together, Simpsons jokes are inevitable.) We also compare the Moody Blues to Carly Rae Jepsen for probably the first time in history.
Much like the previous band featured on Discord & Rhyme, the Moody Blues were huge in the 1970s but have since faded into relative obscurity. You’d never know that by talking to us here at D&R, though! The Moody Blues are the one band that all of us have in common, and we’re all crazy about them. If you enjoy listening to people talk enthusiastically about stuff they really, really love, this is the episode for you. We’ve all known this album for most of our lives and the Moody Blues have had a big impact on all of us – even directly leading to the existence of this podcast! We will love this music forever.
Fire up your music player of choice and listen to some R&B-flavored art rock, then join our debate over whether the Moody Blues are a prog band or not. (Narrator: They aren’t.)
Amanda accidentally paid three of the band members a backhanded compliment when she said they are “not bad” singers. What she actually meant was that they’re all very good, especially Ray Thomas and his lovely operatic baritone, but nobody in the world sings like Justin Hayward.
John misspoke slightly in his otherwise great history of the band. The English record label that picked up the Moody Blues was Decca; Deram was their American imprint.
The Mellotron was an early synthesizer that the Moody Blues - specifically, Mike Pinder - used to make it sound like they had their own orchestra. Pinder had worked at the factory that made them and was able to customize one to do exactly what they needed. He was good buddies with the Beatles (in fact, Ray Thomas once claimed that he and Pinder sang backup on “Fool on the Hill,” but we haven’t been able to find confirmation of that) and he’s the one who showed the Mellotron to John Lennon around the time the Beatles were recording “Strawberry Fields Forever.”
We neglected to mention that Ray Thomas, groundbreaking rock flautist, unfortunately died at the beginning of 2018 (after retiring from the band in 2002 due to poor health). He introduced the flute to rock music well before Ian Anderson took it up, and without any gimmicks like standing on one leg like a deranged flamingo. He was a major contributor to the development of the Moody Blues and deserves a lot of the credit for their success.
The Moody Blues toured in 2017 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Days of Future Passed, and at these shows they played the entire album straight through. At some shows they had a live orchestra, and at others they played along to a recorded orchestral track. Amanda caught the tour at the Sony Centre in Toronto, and not only was there a real orchestra, but that show was recorded and has since been released on DVD! If you pause the DVD right after “Twilight Time” you can sort of see the back of her head.
Discord & Rhyme Roll Call
Amanda Rodgers (host)
Phil Maddox (moderator)
Mike DeFabio (guest appearance)
On the Threshold of a Dream tracklist
In the Beginning
Lovely to See You
Send Me No Wine
To Share Our Love
So Deep Within You
Never Comes the Day
Are You Sitting Comfortably
Have You Heard (Part 1)
Have You Heard (Part 2)
Other clips used
The Moody Blues:
Your Wildest Dreams
Nights in White Satin
Legend of a Mind
Dr. Livingstone, I Presume
The Land of Make-Believe
Meet Me Halfway
DJ Honda feat. Jeru the Damaja - El Presidente
Elvis Costello – (I Don’t Want to Go to) Chelsea
Justin Hayward – Vocals, guitars, cello, Mellotron on “Never Comes the Day”
John Lodge – Vocals, bass, cello, double bass
Ray Thomas – Vocals, harmonica, flute, tambourine, oboe, piccolo
Graeme Edge – Drums, percussion, vocals
Mike Pinder – Vocals, Mellotron, Hammond organ, piano, cello
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame - Class of 2018 (Amazon Video)
What the heck is a Leslie speaker (Wikipedia)
“Discord & Rhyme (theme),” composed by the Other Leading Brand, contains elements of:
Amon Düül II - Dehypnotized Toothpaste
The Dukes of Stratosphear - What in the World?? ...
Faith No More - Midlife Crisis
Herbie Hancock - Hornets
Kraftwerk - Autobahn
Talking Heads - Seen and Not Seen
The Moody Blues – So Deep Within You (this episode only)
You can buy or stream On the Threshold of a Dream and other albums by the Moody Blues at the usual suspects such as Spotify, iTunes, YouTube, and Amazon. Follow Discord & Rhyme on Twitter @DiscordPod for news, updates, and other random stuff. Follow Rich @zonetrope, Amanda @MagneticInk67, John @tarkus1980, and Phil @pamaddox. Special thanks to our own Mike DeFabio, the Other Leading Brand, for production, editing, and that extremely informative explanation of Leslie speakers. See you next album, and be ever wonderful.