844 771-2 A Question of Balance
Produced by Tony Clarke
Released on August 1970
UK CHART POSITION #1 . . . US CHART POSITION #3
. . . GOLD RECORD (11/2/70), PLATINUM (11/17/94)
Find it at GEMM
844 771-2 cover  

T he following review comes courtesy of children's author and musician Claire Rosemary Jane, who provided the images and related album information here in addition to her keen insight into the Moodies' music:

Very much an album that I would call a search for some sort of meaning to life, this album, which I freely confess to being one of my very favourites by the Moody Blues, marked a return to rather more straightforward instrumental arrangements than the multi-tracking multi instrumental albums that preceded it. And it was to produce one of the finest songs that the Moody Blues ever recorded, "Question", with which the album opened. This in effect was virtually two songs joined together, the faster opening and closing sections sandwiching the slower and wistful questioning words of the middle section. It is followed by the introspective "How Is It We Are Here" written by Mike Pinder, and then moves on to "And The Tide Rushes In", one of Ray Thomas's wonderful tongue-in-cheek songs, so often written about his observations on life and its many ironies, and his inability sometimes to decide on what is the right thing to do, and does it really matter, as things will carry on long after he has stopped worrying about it. Then comes "Don't You Feel Small", a Graeme Edge Song, delivered in part in a whisper, putting things into perspective in how we are just a dot in the grand scheme of things. Side one closes with "The Tortoise And The Hare", a John Lodge song picking up the idea that sometimes life can be a case of more haste, less speed, but why worry, there should not BE any need to rush, and that even the tortoise will get there eventually.

Side 2 (of the vinyl album) opens with "It's Up To You", another Justin Hayward song played predominantly on acoustic 12 string guitar, which suggests that life is often what we ourselves make of it. Then follows "Minstrels Song", another of John Lodge's songs, and one of my personal favourites by him. With its marching beat, and well crafted harmonies, it is a truly beautiful song, about a wandering minstrel who travels through the beauty of the landscape, singing a simple song of love, a love that is there all around for those ones who want to find it. "Dawning Is The Day" again uses 12 string acoustic guitar, and is another song by Justin Hayward, about how perhaps, just perhaps, he is beginning to see that there is some hope for us all if we just keep looking for it. "Melancholy Man" is a typical Mike Pinder song in many ways, as he always seemed to manage to be the most pessimistic of the writers. This clearly comes across in the wording of the song with its slow melancholy feel and minor key, about a lonely man who is so wrapped up in misery that he cannot see the beauty that can be found around him. The album closes with the other item of the title of this particular album, "The Balance", by Graeme Edge, another of the oratorical style songs of which the Moodies were particularly fond, especially during the early years. The theme of the song is that one only has to look around, and if one looks for it, it IS possible to find some sort of hope and meaning to it all, you just have to find love and compassion to find the answer to all the questions with which the album opens.

844 771-2 inner gatefold 844 771-2 back cover
844 771-2 inner gatefold 844 771-2 back cover

T he second in an acoustic, amorphous trio that included Children and Every Good Boy. It’s a period of the Moodies that’s always left me nonplussed, a little too precious and psychedelic for my tastes, but fans consistently rank these among their best works, so I must be missing something. There’s no missing the opening “Question,” actually two songs, one encased in the other. Like “The Story In Your Eyes” from their subsequent album, “Question” is the exception to Balance’s sliding rule of subconscious spelunkering. Mike Pinder questions our own existence on a foggy cut, Ray Thomas delivers a lovely sea lullaby, and Graeme Edge pokes at the universal ego with “Don’t You Feel Small.” The first side ends with John Lodge’s retelling of “Tortoise And The Hare,” with Justin Hayward kicking up a little electric guitar dust at the end. Side two again splits the songwriting evenly, with Hayward getting two tracks (“It’s Up To You” is up to his usual standards) and a collaboration between Graeme and Ray closing the record on a classy note. The knock on this album (and those immediately before and after) is a shortage of standout tracks. With five songwriters, more should have been brought to the table than “Melancholy Man” (imagine The Beatles’ “Nowhere Man” rewritten by Bertol Brecht and Kurt Weill) and the limp “Dawning Is The Day.” The closest thing to a second hit on here is probably John Lodge’s “Minstrel’s Song” (Tide is a good track, but Thomas has written several better ballads) and then only as a novelty. As psychedelic rock goes, this is a good solid slab of the stuff, but I get impatient with the whole existential Id/Ego thing after a while. (dave c.)

THS 3 outer gatefold THS 3 inner gatefold
THS 3 outer gatefold
[high resolution photo]
THS 3 inner gatefold

TRACK LISTING

  1. QUESTION    (Justin Hayward)    5:40 (5:43)
  2. HOW IS IT (WE ARE HERE)    (Mike Pinder)    2:48 (2:44)
  3. AND THE TIDE RUSHES IN    (Ray Thomas)    2:57
  4. DON'T YOU FEEL SMALL    (Graeme Edge)    2:40 (2:38)
  5. TORTOISE AND THE HARE    (John Lodge)    3:23 (3:22)
  6. IT'S UP TO YOU    (Justin Hayward)    3:11 (3:12)
  7. MINSTREL'S SONG    (John Lodge)    4:27
  8. DAWNING IS THE DAY    (Justin Hayward)    4:22
  9. MELANCHOLY MAN    (Mike Pinder)    5:49 (5:45)
  10. THE BALANCE    (Graeme Edge/Ray Thomas)    3:33 (3:28)

    (CD track times in parentheses where they differ from elpee)

CREDITS

GRAEME EDGE - drums, vocals
JUSTIN HAYWARD -- guitar, vocals
JOHN LODGE -- bass, vocals
MIKE PINDER -- keyboards, vocals
RAY THOMAS -- flute, vocals
Derek Varnals -- engineer
Adrian Martins -- engineer
Robin Thompson -- engineer
Phil Travers -- cover painting
David Rohl -- all photos, photo montage
Mike Goss -- photo montage

return to THE MOODY BLUES discography

REGION RELEASE DATE LABEL MEDIA ID NUMBER FEATURES
WW August 1970 Threshold LP/CS THS/KTHC 3 gatefold cover, lyric insert
FRA   Threshold LP 278.013  
JPN   Threshold LP L20P-1032 gatefold cover, lyric insert
SPA 1970? Threshold LP CPS 9080  
YUG   Jugoton LP LST 73021  
US   London/Threshold R2R M24003 reel-to-reel
EEC/US May 20, 1997 Polygram CD 844 771 digital remaster
JPN 1997 Polygram CD UICY-2378 digital remaster
US November 17, 1998 Mobile Fidelity CD UDCD-737 gold disc
JPN April 24, 2002 Polygram Int'l CDLE UICY-9214 limited edition digital remaster
(5,000 copies)

 

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