The Moody Blues – The Six DVDs from the Timeless Flight package

by | Aug 26, 2013 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews

The Moody Blues – The Six DVDs from the Timeless Flight package:

In Search of the Lost Chord (BBC-TV Videos)
1970 Appearance Videos
Various promotional videos
Days of Future Passed
On the Threshold of a Dream
To Our Children’s Children’s Children
A Question of Balance
Every Good Boy Deserves Favour
Seventh Sojourn
Studio: Universal UMC (discs 12-17 of the complete boxed set)
Video: 12-14 4:3 B&W & color; 15-17 16:9 color
Audio: 12-14 mostly mono PCM, 15-17 DVD-Audio 5.1 surround, DD 2.0
Rating: **** (not available separately)

We have reviewed the 4-CD compilation from the elaborate Moody Blues package titled Timeless Flight. It is available separately at a much lower price than the complete $350 package of 17 discs plus 120-page book and various Moody Blues memorabilia. It also sports 11 CDs of remastered album tracks, previously unreleased mixes and outtakes, and complete concert recordings. It’s such a lavish set that there are videos on the Moody Blues site as well as on YouTube showing the set being “unboxed.” However, the six DVDs in the boxed set are not available separately, but here they are:

The first three DVDs are various British TV appearances by the band, promotional videos, and a complete previously unreleased concert film, mostly in 4:3 format and some just black & white. Each of the three DVDs is crammed with from a dozen to 14 tracks of separate tunes. A short film on the Moodies, Nationwide, is also included at the end of the first of the DVDs.

It is with the last three DVDs that we come upon a really unique attraction for fans of surround sound. And none of the rock groups except perhaps Pink Floyd did surround sound as well as the Moody Blues did. I recall having many of the open reel quadraphonic tapes and a Sony deck back in the early days of discrete surround. Most of the tapes weren’t worth the expense or bother, but of the pop offerings, the one that really stood out was the Moody Blues’ Days of Future Passed, with the London Festival Orchestra conducted by Peter Knight. That was their first album, when they were originally asked to go into the studio to create a rock version of Dvorak’s New World Symphony, but ignored that directive and did their own unique thing instead.

I didn’t know anyone was still offering DVD-Audio but this set of DVDs does. I suppose that was to avoid have all the DVDs be Blu-ray discs to get the highest lossless 5.1 reproduction, but a way to get higher resolution than the standard Dolby Digital 5.1 compressed surround used on standard DVDs. So now here are all six of the first six albums from the Moody Blues, in superb 5.1 surround sound, providing your deck is able to play DVD-Audios. I had a 2001 DTS HDS digital surround 5.1 version of Days of Future Passed, and compared it with the soundtrack of the UMC DVD-A. There was very little difference. I had expected there to either be no video at all with these DVD-As, or perhaps just a shot of the original album covers for the entire time. I was wrong. Someone was saddled with the creation of moving visuals to go with each and every minute of all six of these albums in surround. And they really had to scrounge to come up with appropriate visuals; imagine having to suddenly come up with images to go with one of your favorite music albums—which was never created with any visuals in mind at the time. Probably was almost no budget for this either. They are 16:9 aspect ratio, but no matter…I would have just left the screen dark thruout, but perhaps the Moodies wanted to offer something additional as part of this lavish package.

Most of the six DVDs begin with images of the entire album cover, then zooming in on various detail of the cover, spinning them around, etc. Sometimes the closeups are so close that they are just abstract patterns on the screen. Later various photos and footage clips of the band are used, with various sorts of psychedelic manipulation. It’s not the sort of thing you would ever want to look at again. Perhaps it would be appropriate background for a party, that’s about it. I would think most listeners would simply turn off the video display and just play the DVD-A 5.1 surround tracks. No lyrics or notes are provided, but they are probably included in the complete Timeless Flight package, which we didn’t have access to. Many of the Moodies fans would already have much of what’s in the package, but the book does have many never-before-released photos, there are many other extras (including a fabric patch of some sort) and the multichannel SACDs of the six albums are now only available from Japan or the U.K. at very high prices. So those who already own the SACDs may be less interested in the complete set.

—John Sunier

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