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Moody Blues Have ‘Much Love’ for Bluegrass

David Livingston, Getty Images

When the Moody Blues were hitting the top of the charts with songs like ‘Nights in White Satin’ and ‘Go Now,’ they couldn’t have imagined that 50 years later they would be doing those songs in another shade of blue — bluegrass!

‘Moody Bluegrass Two…Much Love,’ which features Moody Blues songs done bluegrass style with some of the great players from that genre, releases this week. It is a follow-up to the first album with that concept, ‘Moody Bluegrass,’ which came out in 2004.

Moody Blues members Justin Hayward, John Lodge, Graeme Edge, and band co-founders Mike Pinder and Ray Thomas join with Vince Gill, Ricky Skaggs, Sam Bush, Peter Rowan, Ronnie Bowman, Larry Cordle and Jon Randall, among others, to offer new translations on a few old standards, produced by David Harvey.

It’s certainly not the first time bluegrass has crossed with other genres of music. Many bluegrass bands choose rock or country tunes to perform, giving them that bluegrass edge through instrumentation and vocals. Certainly they crossed genres on the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band classic album, ‘Will the Circle Be Unbroken,’ when the long-haired guys from California came to Nashville to record with Roy Acuff, Earl Scruggs and Mother Maybelle Carter.

Vince, who made his mark in country music but has a rich background in bluegrass, provides the opening track, ‘I Know You’re Out There,’ along with singer/songwriter Carl Jackson. Tim O’Brien puts a Nashville spin on Ray Thomas’ ‘Dear Diary,’ adding a recitation that recalls Nashville landmark Phonoluxe used record store along with ‘Bluegrass Unlimited’ magazine and bluegrass group Cherryholmes. Founding members Ray Thomas and Mike Pinder join them on flute and a vintage mellotron (the Moody Blues signature synthesizer), respectively.

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The late Harley Allen is featured on ‘Meanwhile,’ in what became one of his last recordings. Peter Rowan offers his excellent vocals on ‘Dawn Is a Feeling,’ and Justin Hayward tackles lead vocals on ‘It’s Cold Outside Your Heart.’

Ricky Skaggs offers just the right feel to ‘You and Me,’ while Moody Blues member John Lodge grabs lead on ‘Send Me No Wine.’ Ronnie Bowman sings ‘The Story in Your Eyes’ alongside John Cowan and David Harvey. John stays around for ‘Nice to be Here’ featuring Sam Bush and Russell Smith of the Amazing Rhythm Aces. He then joins Jon Randall and Jan on ‘Tuesday Afternoon.’ Jon also sings lead on ‘Highway.’

Carl and Larry Cordle harmonize on ‘Have You Heard,’ with Carl playing a few banjo solos for good measure. Graeme Edge sings ‘Higher and Higher.’ The only new song is the David Harvey/Tim May penned instrumental coda, ‘Lost Chord,’ a tribute to the Moody Blues classic album, ‘In Search of the Lost Chord.’

‘Moody Bluegrass Two …. Much Love’ is in stores and available for download now.

Track Listing:
1. ‘I Know You’re Out There’ – Vince Gill
2. ‘Dear Diary’ – Tim O’Brien
3. ‘Meanwhile’ – Harley Allen
4. ‘Dawn Is a Feeling’ – Peter Rowan
5. ‘It’s Cold Outside Of Your Heart’ – Justin Hayward
6. ‘You And Me’ – Ricky Skaggs
7. ‘Say It With Love’ – Jan Harvey
8. ‘Send Me No Wine’ – John Lodge
9. ‘Story In Your Eyes’ – Ronnie Bowman
10. ‘Nice To Be Here’ – Sam Bush
11. ‘Voices In The Sky’ – Emma Harvey
12. ‘Have You Heard’ – Larry Cordle
13. ‘Higher And Higher’ – Graeme Edge
14. ‘Tuesday Afternoon’ – John Cowan
15. ‘Highway’ – Jon Randall
16. ‘Lost Chord’ – David Harvey & Tim May

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