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

DAYS OF FUTURE PASSED

The Moody Blues

 

Crossover Prog

4.18 | 858 ratings

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bfmuller
5 stars First of all: The Moodies are NOT prog.

Second of all: WHO CARES? These guys are GREAT anyway, no matter what genre you wish to place them.

For those who doesn't know (I don't believe it is the case), Days of Future Passed (1967) is the second album of the Moodies AND also the second conceptual album of rock history (after Beatles' Sergeant Pepper's, released shortly before this one, in the same year).

Its history, in brief lines: Deram wanted to experiment its new stereo sound and suggested the Moodies a rock version of Dvorak's Ninth Symphony, accompanied with orchestra. The Moodies managed to convince the producers to record their own songs, and the rest, as it's said, is history.

The seven tracks on this album account for a day in the life. As far as I'm concerned, this is the first rock album to be accompanied by an entire orchestra, what, in itself, makes this a historical, fundamental album in any rock collection. BUT the album is MUCH MORE than just a historical relic. It is magnificently produced, executed and conceived. It becomes even more impressive after you learn that the songs were composed separetely by the members, even before the concept was defined. Talk about synchronicity!!!

To pay attention to details improves even more the experience. The first track, The Day Begins, is the first one to reproduce the opera's artifice to begin the "concert" with excerpts from the main themes, artifice so often repeated ever since in other conceptual albums (like The Who's Tommy and Quadrophenia).

The orchestral sound reminds me of the 1960s musical movies, with its touches of jazz and Gershwin.

Track 3, Another Morning, has flutes emulating the song of birds. Lunch Break: Peak Hour, for its matter, emulates the sounds and hurry of a metropolis at lunch hour. Pure genius. As "night" comes, so the album becomes also calmer and more reflexive. Track 6 first part, The Sun Set, showcases the influence of Indian music and talks about the desolation of a working man seeing another day going by in vain, at work - a theme to resurface in Lament, the poem (narrated, not sung) that closes the album. Incidentally, the album opens and closes with a poem, written by drummer Graeme Edge and narrated by keyboardist Micheal Pinder, a tool that would become the Moodies' trademark for the next 6 albums.

Still, for the majority of listeners, it's Nights in White Satin, the first part of track 7, the highlight of the album and, in fact, of the whole Moodies career. This fame is not unjustified, as this is a ballad, with wonderful singing by Justin Hayward and great flute solo by Ray Thomas. Nights in White Satin was to become the most famous song and, in certain ways, outshined the rest of the album, and here lies the unjustice. Days is an excellent album in its entirety, cohese, with no fillers or low points. Apart from Nights in White Satin, I'd quote as highlights the beautiful track 2, Dawn Is a Feeling - another wonderful vocal from Justin, the aforementioned Another Morning (more great flutes and evocative lyrics about childhood) and Twilight Time (second part of track 6) - the last two written by Ray Thomas.

The result is a true instant classic. Itssound is clearly sixties, but not less appealing because of that. The orchestral passages might sound a little too much, but are good nevertheless, and the band's passages are anchored with great, catchy melodies. Still, they both blend in perfectly, as the 2008 edition demonstrates clearly with some non-orchestral versions as bonus tracks, that are just not so moving as the official versions. Justin's voice is magnificent, mellotron and flutes are prominent and, as it should be the case of a sixties band, the vocal harmonies are simply PERFECT - as it is, indeed, the whole album. Don't let this one pass by unnoticed. I reccomend the aforementioned 2008 remastered edition, on which the bonus tracks let you perceive the transition from just another r'n'b band to a top psychedelic one.

For its conceptual character and use or orchestra, Days is seen by many as the first prog rock album. I particularly don't agree with that. It's sound is pure psychedelic sixties rock - but it is a landmark nevertheless, a phenomenal, collective genius work in its kind, and, in short, a true classic of rock, no matter what genre. It is, however, undeniable its importance in defining and influencing the prog rock scene.

In sum: it can't get more essential than that.

bfmuller | 5/5 |

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