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The Moody Blues - Days Of Future Passed  CD (album) cover

DAYS OF FUTURE PASSED

The Moody Blues

 

Crossover Prog

4.14 | 524 ratings

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Chicapah
Prog Reviewer
3 stars When you're talking about "Days of Future Passed" you're going back about as far as you can possibly go in the history of progressive rock. Whether or not it's the first true prog album is somewhat subjective and not an argument I'm disposed to get into. What I do know is that in 1967 Deram Records signed this struggling little group mainly because they wanted a "mod" combo to record a hip version of Dvorak's Symphony No. 9 (bad idea). Evidently the group and more reasonable minds were able to find a compromise with the label and, as the notes on the back of the LP announce, create a "fusion of pop composition and classical writing." I feel that I'm walking a thin line in this review. In no way do I want to demean this album or in any way diminish the huge significance of its impact. On the other hand, I don't want some 16 year old to buy this thinking they're getting something along the lines of Pink Floyd's psychedelic "Piper at the Gates of Dawn" or the Beatles' revolutionary "Revolver." All three were on the shelves in 1967 but there the similarity ends. Compared to those two "Days of Future Passed" was as conservative as Barry Goldwater's politics.

As the album begins you get the feeling that you've somehow landed in the front row of a Broadway musical as the orchestra plays the glossy overture, "The Day Begins." Then Graeme Edge delivers his famous Shakespearean-like soliloquy that is still majestic and lofty even today. "Dawn is a Feeling" is a featherweight tune heavy on the orchestration but it is Justin Hayward's unmistakable voice that fits the song well. This is where the music starts to get really dated in a hurry. The flute beginning of "Another Morning" is very, very old school, downright corny and Ray Thomas' song is almost laughable in its naiveté. "Lunch Break" features an extremely contemporary orchestral score that sounds like it was borrowed from a syrupy Mantovani record. When the band starts up John Lodge's "Peak Hour" it reminds you of something from an Austin Powers movie. I'm not being disrespectful here, I'm just giving you the facts. But now we come to one of the reasons this album became so popular. The next segment features Hayward's excellent "Tuesday Afternoon" and the introduction of the magnificent Mellotron. This new device didn't really sound like a string section or an organ or anything else. Listeners didn't know what it was but they liked it. It added a unique sound to the proceedings and symphonic progressive rock may have truly been born because of it. Following that the orchestral score resumes and a dramatic piano leads us to a sort of acoustic guitar singalong, "Evening Time." The next section is the strangest. Starting with the strings performing something that would be more appropriate on a Christmas album, it moves into an Indian raga motif complete with tabla and flute for Thomas' "Sun Set." It's almost surreal. "Twilight Time" follows, a "groovy" pop song based on a heavy piano riff. The ending is another reason that this experiment worked. Hayward's haunting "Nights in White Satin" is classy, regal and showcases his one-of-a-kind voice perfectly. This, along with "Tuesday Afternoon," kept the album on the charts for two years running. The symphony delivers a big finish complete with another Edge poetry recital and a fitting, gigantic bash of the gong.

Listening to it now the whole thing comes off as being a bit camp but keep in mind that this precedes Deep Purple, The Nice and others who would attempt to blend a classical mentality with rock and roll. Credit the Moody Blues for even jumping into this project and for bringing the Mellotron to the "Top 40" list where the general public would experience it on a daily basis. Those were heady times and the notions of what was possible in music were evolving by the hour. And this courageous band of musicians was right in the thick of it all, opening as many doors as they could.

Chicapah | 3/5 |

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