Question Of Balance - The Moody Blues

Category: Music

It was very interesting auditioning my original vinyl and 1997 CD remastered versions of The Moody Blues 1970 album "Question Of Balance", in particular having just done a similar review between vinyl and a late 80's vintage CD release of "Days Of Future Passed" here on Audiogon.

DOFP is unique in the Moody's catalog in that it was conceived from the outset as an audio showpiece, and the CD copy in particular in fact delivered a true knockout performance.

Unfortunately, I have no sonic revelations of equal magnitude to report in revisiting Question Of Balance. Both vinyl and CD recordings were very serviceable, but different, each in a manner generally consistent with the traditional strengths of each medium.

The vinyl copy (which admittedly has seen considerable use over the years but is still in pretty good shape) had the touch of analog warmth combined with a smooth and rhythmic presentation and perhaps a bit more overall impact in the bass and percussion which helped carry things nicely.

But I felt in both cases the low end was the biggest weakness in both recordings of QOB.

The vinyl copy had perhaps a more involving flow to the rhythm and persussion lines.

The CD copy presented a sharper more detailed focus on the low end that was perhaps more revealing and accurate, but perhaps abit less satisfying musically.

In this case the CD copy was remastered and the differences from vinyl were quite distinct as a result. The remastering really did bring things more into focus and provided a more detailed and revealing presentation overall. I could really hear this with the CD in particular after listening to the vinyl, more so than when initially listening to CD prior.

This may be the kind of album that lends itself to digital remastering to new, high quality vinyl. The warmth and analog flow of vinyl + the crisp and clear detail of a good digital remastering? Now, together, that might be really be the best of both worlds!

I think there may be some new remasterings of the Moodies classic 7 albums on the near horizon that could be worth keeping an eye on in this case.

Otherwise, for now, I'd say if you have original vinyl of Question of Balance that is still in good shape and a good system to play it on, and you are a vinyl affectionado, probably no reason to change.

But if you are the type that is always interested to see what fruits the latest and greatest digital mastering technology applied properly can yield, definitely check out the newer digital remasterings.

I would say the nature of the way most of the classic 7 Moody's albums were produced makes them a unique challenge to get totally "right".

Both copies of QOB I auditioned were enjoyable, but I don't think I've heard the best possible version yet. We'll see.....

I'm thinking I will do at least one more similar review for the album "Seventh Sojourn", which is one of my all time personal favorites. I have both vinyl and Mobile Fidelity CD versions (maybe one other version as well) that I can try. Stay tuned....

The rhythm sections have considerable weight and flow that provide the foundation for the unique and rather dense sonic tapestry of sound that characterizes several Moodies albums from this period.
Seventh Sojourn is my number 1 favorite Moodys recording, the MFSL is better than the U.S. pressing but I have not heard the UK original pressing, which may or may not be better than the MFSL. One problem I think with this recording is the use of the Mellotron which has this harsh distortion of it's own nature.

Agree on Seventh Sojourn.

Pinder actually used a related instrument called a Chamberlin on Seventh Sojourn for the first time, not a mellotron.

Can't recall the details but it was supposedly an improvement on the mellotron, both from a sonic and mechanical reliability perspective.
Very nice write-up.

I have an original pressing that I haven't spun in years and years.

Your motivating me to dig it up and spring for a SACD copy and doing the audiophile thing.

Have Fun.
The liner notes with the SACD version talks about the Chamberlin.
I have three versions of "Question", but none on vinyl as I sold it years ago.

The original CD => worst

Mobile Fidelity and the SACD sound different and much better than the original, but I am not sure which I prefer.

"Question" is without question my favorite Moody Blues album.

Don't stop with Seventh Sojourn! I'm really enjoying these reviews. I would like to here your take on "On The Threshold Of A Dream." This has been my favorite since its release.
Your first review prompted me to order the newest release of Threshold and "To Our Children's Children's Children." I sold off my lps a few years ago but kept some sentimental favorites; the Moodies were among them. The Moody Blues lps were not only sentimental but too worn out to sell.

Thanks for the kind words. I'll see what I can do.

This is fun!

I have a couple of reviews of Moody albums and a few other progressive rock titles that focus more on the art than the sound already on if anyone is interested.

Would be interested if you can provide some feedback here on the newer releases as well if you get a chance.
I've always found the mellotron to be a fascinating instrument.

There is a lot of good information available on it on the net for anybody interested.

Not too many around anymore as I understand it and they are seldom ever seen in live performances anymore.

If you hear what sounds like one these days, and perhaps is even made to look like one, it is usually a synthesizer programmed to sound like the mellotron (which itself was manually configured with tape loops to produce the various orchestral sounds).

If anybody ever spots a real mellotron in a live performance these days, please drop a posting here and let me know.

I attended a wonderful presentation of the Genesis album "foxtrot" recently by premier Genesis cover band "The Musical Box". The set was designed to look like the actual set from back in the day when Genesis with Peter Gabriel performed these works live in concert...very authentic looking and sounding. It was a fabulous concert.

But I asked a roadie prior to the show if that was a real mellotron that would be played. No, it was a synthesizer dressed up to look like a mellotron. HE said that the group actually did have a mellotron in working condition back home but it was far to fragile and temperamental to try to use for real on the road.
It would be great to see your review of In Search of the Lost Chord. ANy chance??