The Moody Blues may have had a less than straightforward transition into the highly creative album band we came to know. But by the final year of the 1960s, they were well into their stride. 25 April 1969 saw the release of their fourth album On The Threshold Of A Dream, and in May it became their first UK No. 1 LP.
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The record was the third by the “second generation” of the Birmingham band. The original rhythm and blues-oriented line-up had hit the top of the UK singles chart with ‘Go Now’ and made the Magnificent Moodies set. They changed direction with dramatic success in 1967 with Days Of Future Passed, which gave them the confidence to follow another conceptual release the following year with In Search Of The Lost Chord.
Now, as they again worked with producer Tony Clarke and once again with all five members contributing songs, they knew their audience would travel with them on another thematic journey. In a specific demonstration of how the Moodies were, with Clarke, becoming a self-contained unit, the album inspired the title of Threshold, the production company and record label they established that year.
Just six months later, when they released the follow-up To Our Children’s Children’s Children, it appeared on Threshold, via Deram in the UK and London in the US. Threshold even had its own record shop, in the band’s adopted base of Cobham in Surrey.
“It got to the point where we were doing more and more of the things ourselves,” bassist and co-lead singer John Lodge told Circus magazine in 1970. “Like we began working up our own designs for the packages. And it got more and more us, so we finally went to [Deram] and said, ‘How about giving us the complete bill, and you just distribute,’ and they said ‘Yes!’
“Another thing is our interest in other artists,” Lodge continued. “We’ve got four other acts signed to Threshold, and we don’t want to interfere with their thing at all. So with Threshold we’re doing all the things we’ve wanted to do for a long time.”
While they would go on to have many further successes in the singles market, Threshold didn’t contain any hits. The only 45 to come from it, Justin Hayward’s ‘Never Comes The Day,’ missed the UK charts and only reaching No. 91 in America. But that didn’t hold the album back one bit. It entered the British listings at No. 3, hit the top a week later, and made No. 20 in the US, their best showing there to that point.
The LP also included Hayward’s ‘Lovely To See You’ and ‘Have You Heard,’ a Mike Pinder song that had been around as part of the Moodies’ live set since before Days Of Future Passed. Justin told Record Collector magazine in 1996 of the album title: “We could just as easily have said ‘On The Doorstep Of Nirvana,’ because that’s the feeling we were trying to translate.
“Religious and psychedelic influences”
“We were trying to collect religious and psychedelic influences into an album and make them into a pathway of enlightenment, if you like. I know it sounds terribly pretentious now, but as young men, that’s what we were searching for.”
Drummer Graeme Edge once described the Threshold album as “…when this collective thing really clicked. That was the ignition point when we decided to almost irrevocably intertwine our lives.”