The Moody Blues

Go Now

Song Review by

"Go Now" was the only big hit the Moody Blues had in their first, pre-art rock incarnation, when Denny Laine was their lead singer and their repertoire combined pop, blues, soul, and R&B. Originally, though, it had been an obscure soul single for Bessie Banks, who put the song (produced by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller) on a Blue Cat single in 1964. It is sometimes said that British Invasion bands were doing little more than copying American rock, blues, and soul music, getting much more success with their cover versions because they were white and the originals were done by blacks, and "Go Now" has sometimes been held up as an example of that. While the Moody Blues' cover of "Go Now" was pretty close to the arrangement of the original, such criticism is not wholly justified, because they did add something of themselves (and the Banks single had already flopped before they were astute enough to dig it up). In particular, there was Laine's uniquely pained voice; the group's odd haunting harmonies, particularly ghostly on this recording; and Mike Pinder's dignified piano, already showing the hint of classicism that would flower in the late-'60s Moody Blues. The record starts with an unaccompanied, dramatic trill of Laine on the opening lyric, before Pinder's descending piano lines come in to form the bedrock of the arrangement. The song, a torn lament for an affair the singer both does and doesn't want to end, is not conveniently divided into verses, choruses, and bridges, but continually winds through varying passages with eloquent, melodic despair. Particularly wrenching are the points at which the instruments drop out to leave Laine singing unaccompanied, and then get joined by backing harmonies as the group whines in tandem that their girl better "Go Now." Although "Go Now" is nominally a soul song, there's a pronounced gospel feel to the chord progression, and a Brill Building-savvy pop touch to the unusual and catchy melodic structure; there certainly isn't much of straight blues or R&B. Pinder particularly excels during the instrumental break, which gives him full opportunity to stretch his choppy classical-blues figures. The coda is also cool, as the band unexpectedly sings the final chorus with a melody slightly different and more declarative than the one they used throughout the rest of the track, ending with a last unaccompanied wail on the title phrase that almost instantly fades into nothingness, as though the fader in the control room has been lowered too fast. Banks's original single, not known to many but available on some reissue compilations, is also a fine record, differing from the famous Moody Blues version in the insertion of horn lines that are not heard on the cover. Banks also takes the vocal with a more soul-conscious delivery that emphasizes the sad regret of the lyric more than the anguished hurt (as Laine does), and the implicit gospel feeling of the composition is stronger in Banks's version.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
The Magnificent Moodies 1965 The Great American Music Company 3:11
Go Now 1965 Kudos (UK) 3:10
Collection [Castle] 1986 Castle Music Ltd. 3:10
Brit's Blitz: The Very Best of British Rock 1987
Various Artists
Polytel (Silver Eagle) 3:12
The British Invasion: History of British Rock, Vol. 5 1988
Various Artists
Rhino 3:14
British Rock, Vol. 1 [Original Sound] 1988
Various Artists
Original Sound Entertainment 3:07
Classic Rock: 1965 - Blowin' Your Mind 1990
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 3:14
No Image 1991
Various Artists
Rhino
British Rock [Original Sound] 1995
Various Artists
Original Sound Entertainment 3:08
Great Britons, Vol. 2 1995
Various Artists
Special Music
Best Sixties Album in the World Ever 1995
Various Artists
3:10
Time Is on My Side 1996 Ps-Nems 3:12
The Best of the Moody Blues 1997 Chronicles / Polydor 3:11
Daytrippers, Vol. 1 1997
Various Artists
Dressed To Kill 3:12
Daytrippers: 50 Classic Tracks from the Sixties by Original Artists 1997
Various Artists
Cleopatra 3:12
No Image 1997
Various Artists
Crimson Productions
No Image 1997
Various Artists
Age of Panik 3:11
Greatest Love [Crimson] 1998
Various Artists
Crimson Productions 3:10
The Best of the 60s 1998
Various Artists
Crimson Productions 3:11
60's Beat [Crimson] 1998
Various Artists
Crimson Productions
Anthology: The Moody Blues 1998 Polygram 3:10
Double Decker Triple Tracker 1998
Various Artists
Recall (UK) 3:11
Disraeli Years 1998
Various Artists
Dressed To Kill 3:12
40 Hits: 1960-1964 1999
Various Artists
Millennium Hits (Netherlands) 3:10
60's Box Set 1999
Various Artists
Cleopatra 3:12
Millennium Box Set 1999
Various Artists
Disky 3:10
No Image 1999
Various Artists
Varese
No Image 2000
Various Artists
Disky 3:10
The Woodstock Generation: Wonderful World Beautiful People 2001
Various Artists
Woodstock Records 3:10
The Singles+ 2001 BR Music 3:10
Totally Number 1 Hits of the 60s 2001
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 3:11
A Decade in Sound 2001
Various Artists
Dressed To Kill 3:10
Complete Collection 2001
Various Artists
Disky 3:10
Up the Junction: 60 Original 1960's British Classics 2002
Various Artists
Disky 3:10
Up the Junction [CD1] 2002
Various Artists
Disky 3:10
Sixties Rock 2004
Various Artists
Passport Audio
Greatest Hits of the 60's 2006
Various Artists
Disky 3:10
Collected 2007 Collected 3:13
Cavern: The Most Famous Club in the World 2007
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 3:10
Not Fade Away [Music From the Motion Picture]
Original Soundtrack
ABKCO Records 3:13
Time Life Presents the 60s
Various Artists
Time Life 3:12