It should be mentioned straight off that this is an, albeit slightly, revisionist overview of the Moody Blues’ career. Of the quality of material on the four amply-filled discs there is no question, but why no mention of the band’s output from their formation in 1964 until Justin Hayward’s arrival in 1967? This overlooks the band’s early, formative period, completely neglecting their first album, EP and several singles (including the fantastic ‘Go Now’). Still, the collection is what it is – an overview of the Moody Blues’ career from 1967 – 2003, and, as such, it is pretty much indispensable.

As any music buyer will know, and their wallet testify, there has been no shortage of “career review” box sets in recent years, but this four disc compilation stands above many of them in terms of contents, listenability, liner notes and, above all, affordability. ‘Timeless Flight’ is a great primer for those new to the music of the Moody Blues. It’s a great career retrospective, far better, in my opinion, than a straight “greatest hits” package, and there are several nice little rarities for the die-hard fan.

What really appealed to me about this particular set is that, unlike many of their peers, the Moody Blues seem happy to acknowledge that group members had careers out with the band. This liberal approach benefits the compilation, as it allows the inclusion of material from Hayward and bass guitarist John Lodge’s Blue Jays project (notably, the superb ‘Blue Guitar’) and Hayward’s ‘Forever Autumn’ from Jeff Wayne’s ‘War of the Worlds’ among others.

The four discs are arranged chronologically, and the sequencing is a real joy. I confess that, as a casual listener, it is decidedly pleasing to get ‘Nights in White Satin’ out of the way relatively early in proceedings. That said, for a song I don’t much care for, the version included here is a far superior mix than I have previously heard.

Of the four discs, my favourite is the second, mainly on account of the two previously unreleased tracks, 1970’s ‘It’s Up to You’ and 1972’s ‘When You’re a Free Man’. I also particularly enjoyed disc three, as it deals with the Moody Blues on hiatus, and includes a live recording of the Blue Jays’ ‘Where Are You Now’?

The fourth disc was, for me, something of a slog. Opening with the superb ‘I Know You’re Out There Somewhere’ (from the 1988 album ‘Sur La Mer’), the rest of the disc seems somewhat disjointed to me, possibly because, in my opinion, the more recent material seldom reaches the highs of their previous output. This may, however, be due to the fact that my early teens were scarred by my father’s constant playing of Justin Hayward’s ‘Moving Mountains’…

All things considered, this is a handsome package, and one which has been put together with care and consideration. The four disc package is, for me, just about right. For the listener less interested in the minutae of a career, there is a two disc version (which I have already ordered for the car), while for the true enthusiast, a gargantuan SEVENTEEN disc version is available, containing, well, just about everything you’d care to imagine. In short, ‘Timeless Flight’ is the distillation of a truly remarkable career into a hugely enjoyable package.









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