With almost a half century of music-making to their credit, the Moody Blues have been long overdue for the sort of sprawling retrospective usually accorded rock royalty. That oversight is history with the June 11 release of an 11-CD box set.
“Timeless Flight: The Voyage Continues” also contains three audio DVDs, three video DVDs and assorted memorabilia. Preorders are going for about $350.
The “Timeless Flight” audio DVDs feature 5.1 surround mixes of six Moody Blues albums on Deram Records, including the psychedelic music classics “Days of Future Passed,” “On the Threshold of a Dream” and “To Our Children’s Children’s Children.” Group leader Justin Hayward oversaw the surround-sound remastering.
The last Moody Blues reissue project of note came in 2008. Those expanded releases of the key Deram albums received mixed reviews for audio quality, as did the SACDs that came out several years earlier.
On “Timeless Flight,” CDs 1 through 5 round up most of the group’s best-known psychedelic, prog and symphonic rock songs, heavy on the mellotron. The studio recordings begin in 1967, at the beginning of the Justin Hayward-Michael Pinder era, and run through 2003. Conspicuously MIA, as usual, is their 1964 smash hit “Go Now.” (Before 1967, the act recorded Britpop and white-boy R&B for the main Decca label).
CD disc 6 is dedicated to the Dec. 12, 1969, concert at the Royal Albert Hall. CD 8 has a 1979 show from the Coliseum in Seattle, most tracks unreleased. CDs 9 and 10 cover the Dec. 3, 1983, gig at the Forum in L.A., previously unreleased. Disc 11 collects recordings with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra and the World Symphony Orchestra.
Out of left field comes a live CD dedicated to the Blue Jays, a one-off project by Hayward and Moodys bassist/singer John Lodge.
The trio of digital video discs focus on TV appearances, promo clips and a previously unseen film of a 1970 concert at the Olympia in Paris, with the group filmed at or near its creative peak (two sample videos below).
“It is a collection of oddities for fans with 300 odd quid,” Hayward said recently.
The set comes in an “LP-sized hardback slipcase.” Goodies include a 120-page hardback book, a discography and a poster. A limited numbered “special version” of the box set includes a “mounted” replica of the Moodys cassette tape that flew on four space shuttle missions.
Moody Blues researcher Mark Powell pulled together the project and wrote the set’s book.
The box set comes out a week earlier in the U.K., where there are also are two- and four-disc samplers on offer that don’t include the surround sound or video discs. (View the Moody Blues box set list of content by disc.)
The band sells about a half million catalog albums a year, the Moodys web site says.
The Moody Blues are touring the U.K. in support of the project throughout June, and return to the States in the fall. Hayward has been doing some solo gigs featuring songs from his 2013 solo album.