Saturday, April 5, 2008

Go Now, The Moody Blues (1964)

If I was coerced into making a Top 10 list of most-beloved British Invasion songs, unquestionably making the cut is the Moody Blues achingly beautiful hit Go Now. Right up there with the Zombies' She's Not There in the pantheon of perfection, this was one of those stunning songs that stopped me dead in my preteen tracks whenever I heard it.

The original blues-infused Moodies of Go Now fame were lead vocalist and guitarist Denny Laine (who later co-founded Wings with Paul McCartney), bass guitarist Clint Warwick, flautist and percussionist Ray Thomas, keyboardist Mike Pinder and drummer Graeme Edge. This is not the Nights in White Satin Moody Blues!

This incarnation of the Moodies never had another hit of this magnitude, and Laine and Warwick quit in frustration, to be replaced by Justin Hayward and John Lodge (who are the Moody Blues of Nights in White Satin).

The big thrilling payoff for me today in writing about this is discovering that Go Now was a cover, originally recorded, also in 1964, by an American blues singer who it appears is still living, Bessie Banks, and produced by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller.

And here's her astonishing version of the song, with Cissy Houston on backing vocals. I found a page maintained by Corey Banks, the son of Bessie's former husband, Larry (who wrote Go Now with Milton Bennett) that goes into considerable detail on how her career was overshadowed after the Moody Blues charted with the song in the same time frame as her version was starting to get American airplay.

Along with affording an opportunity to learn about the other side of the coin, the site also offers a treasure trove of priceless audio clips of blues recordings written, produced, composed and arranged by Larry Banks. If you love blues, prepare to spend some time. My mind is blown.


cornbread hell said...

triple, quadruple whammy, wendy.

as one who's been to almost as many moody blues concerts as dylan concerts (now there's a dichotomy of musical tastes for you), i'm just NOW? learning "go now" was by the moody blues???? hah!

and the bessie banks version...holy cow.

you've done it again.

i'm still listening to the songs on your last link, but felt compelled to come back here to thank you for posting this.

wendy said...

Well, the pleasure is as much mine as yours. One of the most compelling aspects of doing this blog now is learning these backstories, so many of which I was clueless about at the time, particularly in the earlier part of the 60's when there wasn't much rock journalism to speak of. Plus when I was a young teen I wouldn't have had any interest in those backstories anyway.

karmasartre said...

The Bessie Banks' version is incredible! Thank you for the connection. The MB's song felt so fresh then, had no idea it was a cover. Ms. Banks makes the concrete and the clay beneath my feet begin to crumble....

Linda G said...

You're not alone, cornbread...I had no clue that Go Now was done by the Moody Blues.

The Bessie Banks's version was infused with a totally different's a shame it was overshadowed by the Moody Blues.

cornbread hell said...

the new bessie banks version you posted is great.

the video is interesting, but kinda odd. i wonder who the lady with 2 small boys is?