[Review] The Moody Blues: A Question of Balance (1970)

A less delicate album than their last, but with the usual assortment of delicacies from all five members.

Kronomyth 6.0: And the light, and the account balance.

The vainglorious beasts of summer, boasting in their ardor, had their mungoes. But as for us, the whisperers of secrets, the summer was a seeking of balance. The Moody Blues’ last album was admittedly understated, timid even. Producer Tony Clarke didn’t make the same mistake again, and A Question of Balance, while cut of the same cloth, was a more robust-sounding record than the titularly challenged To Our Children’s Children’s Children.

The album’s title likely draws its name from the band’s Spring single, Question (included here as the opening track), and the carefully preserved balance of songwriting from every member. Once again, the effect is like a box of mixed chocolates, from the sour (Mike Pinder) to the sweet (Justin Hayward). Although nothing on the album is as immeditaley catchy as “Question,” Hayward’s It’s Up To You is nearly up to the task and Pinder’s Melancholy Man is the very model of a memorable maudlin melody.

In a notable departure from the past, A Question of Balance doesn’t begin with Graeme Edge’s philosophical poetry. You’ll have to wait until the end to hear that, and even then The Balance is only a half-poem (ah, but what a half!) with half a wonderful song from Ray Thomas tacked on. Mike Pinder’s pro-Earth How Is It (We Are Here) features some wonderful imagery (“Men’s mighty mine-machines digging in the ground”), Ray Thomas delivers one of his best ballads, Graeme Edge whispers along to his very own song and John Lodge comes up short with a soppy fable. The second side features two tracks from Hayward, including the gentle Dawning Is The Day and Lodge giving peace a second chance (Minstrel’s Song).

The Moody Blues made albums, not singles, but they understood the music machinery well enough to know that at least one radio-friendly hit would keep them in the public ear. A Question of Balance continued their winning ways, reaching #1 in the UK and #3 in the US, eventually selling over one million copies. It is probably not the first, second or third Moodies album you need to own. In fact, the succession of Children, Question and Every Good Boy Deserves Favour has always represented the soft middle of the Moodies to me. I’m not knocking softness, it’s a hard world in sore need of the stuff, simply pointing out that it was the earlier albums that launched their career, and what followed is a floating in space: lovely to behold but a bit less thrilling.

Read more Moody Blues reviews

Original elpee version

A1. Question (Justin Hayward) (5:40)
A2. How Is It (We Are Here) (Mike Pinder) (2:48)
A3. And The Tide Rushes In (Ray Thomas) (2:57)
A4. Don’t You Feel Small (Graeme Edge) (2:40)
A5. Tortoise And The Hare (John Lodge) (3:23)
B1. It’s Up To You (Justin Hayward) (3:11)
B2. Minstrel’s Song (John Lodge) (4:27)
B3. Dawning Is The Day (Justin Hayward) (4:22)
B4. Melancholy Man (Mike Pinder) (5:49)
B5. The Balance (Graeme Edge/Ray Thomas) (3:33)

CD reissue bonus tracks
11. Mike’s Number One (3:36)
12. Question (alternate version) (6:08)
13. Minstrel’s Song (original mix) (4:35)
14. It’s Up To You (original mix) (3:19)
15. Don’t You Feel Small (original mix) (3:02)
16. Dawning Is The Day (full original mix) (4:36)

Original 8-track version
A1. Question
A2. Minstrel’s Song
B1. Dawning Is The Day
B2. Melancholy Man
C1. How Is It (We Are Here)
C2. Tortoise And The Hare
C3. It’s Up To You
D1. And The Tide Rushes In
D2. Don’t You Feel Small
D3. The Balance

The Players

Graeme Edge (drums, vocals), Justin Hayward (guitar, vocals), John Lodge (bass, vocals), Mike Pinder (keyboards, vocals), Ray Thomas (flute, vocals). Produced by Tony Clarke; engineered by Derek Varnals, Adrian Martins, Robin Thompson.

The Pictures

Cover painting by Phil Travers. Photography by David Rohl. Photo montage by David Rohl and Mike Goss.

The Plastic

Released on elpee, cassette, 8-track and reel-to-reel on August 7, 1970 in the UK, the US, Australia, Denmark, Germany, Greece and Italy (Threshold, THS/KTHC 3/THS M 24803/THS O 24003) and Japan (Threshold, SLC 805) with gatefold cover and lyrics insert; reached #1 on the UK charts and #3 on the US charts (RIAA-certified platinum record).

  1. Re-issued on elpee in 1975 in Japan (Threshold, LAX-1025) with gatefold cover.
  2. Re-issued on elpee in 1976 in Yugoslavia (Jugoton, LST 73021).
  3. Re-issued on compact disc on September 22, 1986 in the US (Threshold, 820 211-2).
  4. Re-released on remastered compact disc on November 17, 1998 in the US (Mobile Fidelity, UDCD-737).
  5. Re-issued on remastered compact disc on April 24, 2002 in Japan (Universal, UICY-9214).
  6. Re-released on expanded, remastered super audio compact disc in 2006 in Europe (Threshold, 983 770-6) with 6 bonus tracks.
  7. Re-issued on remastered compact disc in 2008 in the UK (Threshold, 530 662-6).

A Question of Balance gatefold cover

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