A Question Of Balance

2020 Album Draft- Round 6- Pick 8- Run-Sew-Read selects- The Moody Blues- A Question Of Balance.

The Moody Blues were going to be in my desert island mix from the start, but I mulled for weeks over which album. I was leaning toward Days of Future Past from 1967, but then decided it should be Long Distance Voyager from 1981. Then I ended up choosing this one from 1970. This was their fifth studio album after transitioning from their early blues music with Denny Laine.

The album opens with the song Question, which shouts confrontational questions about why the world is the way it is.  Then the song abruptly slows down in the middle and expresses a yearning for closeness.  Then the tempo and intensity resume to finish the song with a passionate instrumental.  The theme of questioning, seeking, reflecting and yearning is present throughout the album.  Question was written and sung by lead singer Justin Hayward. 

Three more songs I want to specifically mention:

And the Tide Rushes In – This is the beautiful lyrics and voice of Ray Thomas (player of the Moodies’ iconic flute solos).  Ray’s songs as a rule are something to savor, but this one is a particular favorite of mine for its insightful lyrics and vocals.

The Balance – By this fifth album, the spoken verse had become a Moodies’ calling card.  Each album had a spoken track composed by drummer Graeme Edge.  The Balance may be his masterpiece for inspiring love, caring and redemption.  Graeme has published a book of his verses, and also produced it in an audiobook.  Graeme composed some excellent songs on other Moodies albums, including ‘22,000 Days’ on Long Distance Voyager, and the lovely ‘Going Nowhere,’ sung by Ray Thomas on their album, The Present.

Dawning is the Day – This is yet another lovely song, written and sung by Justin.  I deduct a point for the many lyrical cliches, but still, it is truly uplifting.  Years ago I read that the US Air Force used this song in a recruitment ad, until asked to stop.  I’ve looked but haven’t found a copy of the ad.  I’d love to hear it.

The rest of the songs on the album are catchy and/or enjoyable while in some way questioning, seeking, reflecting or yearning.

The track listing:

  1. Question
  2. How Is It (We Are Here)
  3. And the Tide Rushes In
  4. Don’t You Feel Small?
  5. Tortoise And The Hare
  6. It’s Up To You
  7. Minstrel’s Song
  8. Dawning Is The Day
  9. Melancholy Man
  10. The Balance
  11. Mike’s Number One (bonus track on the 2006 remaster).

Prior to this album, the Moody Blues had become known for their orchestral compositions, which were difficult or impossible to replicate live on tour. The band members have said that this album was their effort to make music that could be performed live. Mike Pinder’s mellotron was still prominent on this album, though, and went with them on tour.

For live performances of these songs, look on YouTube for the Isle of Wight Festival in 1970, and the filmed-for-tv concert in La Taverne de L’Olympia, Paris in 1970. At the Olympia, the vocals were live, but much of the instruments were filled in with a backing track; still a superb time capsule.

A Question of Balance reached #1 in the UK, and #3 in the US album charts. There is more than one version of the album cover, which was created by artist Phil Travers. Initial versions have a hunter in a safari helmet. After legal claims over the likeness of that individual, later versions altered the man, and put black rectangles over the eyes of some people on the cover.

Here is Question, performed at the Isle of Wight Festival, this week, 50 years ago.


  1. A very fine band that delivered some great music for at least 20 years. My favorite of theirs would be Long Distance Voageur, but this looks to be really good… “Question” is a terrific track and I think I remember ‘The Balance’ . I’ve had LDV, a few singles and two different greatest hits compilations through the years but if I ever had a big winfall I’d probably buy the entire catalog of their studio albums at least. glad you picked them and wrote about it!

    • Yep, the no compilations rule makes it more of a challenge, but that’s fine! I still listen to the best of that I have of theirs quite a bit….one of a few bands that delivered very good music in 60s, 70s and 80s.

  2. I knew they had to be coming at some point. Excellent choice…they had lovely melodies in their songs. I owned all of their seventies albums…I would also say they had some of the best album covers of anyone. They all look like classic.
    Great Pick!

    • Thanks! Yep, you would have expected me to pick something from this band. I agree about the album covers. They were the kind of art that needs to be viewed in full vinyl size. CDs don’t convey the impact.

    • Probably my favorite cover was Every Good Boy Deserves Favour…the light looked so real.

      They easily switched between baroque pop, hard rock in a few, and pop and it still sounded like The Moody Blues.

  3. I wrote about this one on its 50th very recently. May I go ahead and replace what I wrote with what you’ve written here? 🙂 This is really good. As is the album and the timing of the pick with the 50th of the Isle of Wight Festival.

    • *Austin Powers voice* Oh go on then!
      Thanks, really! The timing was an accident. I decided I was ready to go with my Moodies pick, and then realized what week it was when I was picking out the music to sample. I need to head over and read what you had to say about this album.

  4. Great pick. I’ve long been fan of the Moody Blues, and loved their lush orchestral sound. I bought the 45 single of “Question” and the album “Days of Future Past”. To this day, “Nights in White Satin” remains one of my top 10 all-time favorite songs.

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