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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 | 543 ratings

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seventhsojourn
Special Collaborator
RPI
3 stars Days Of Future Passed (1967) has been variously described as influential, innovative, groundbreaking; some have even hailed it as the first progressive album. I don't want to resurrect any old arguments on this issue, but for me (and others of course) an album has to be more than merely significant to make it great. Sadly, The Moodies' debut (let's draw a veil over The Magnificent Moodies, it wasn't the same band) simply doesn't cut the greatness mustard in my opinion.

There are several problems with DOFP, but let's start with Peter Knight's orchestration. Most of his previous work had been in the fields of film and television and this influence is alarmingly clear on this recording. Basically, I think that the orchestrations on DOFP sound incongruous alongside the songs. If I want to listen to English light orchestral works I'll have Ralph Vaughan Williams, thank you. Apart from that, this wasn't a true collaboration as the band recorded each song before it was handed over to Knight to add his orchestrations. I've never been keen on rock albums that feature orchestras in any case, but if anyone wants to hear a truly cohesive integration of rock with orchestral music I would suggest they listen to Contaminazione by Il Rovescio Della Medaglia.

Normally I can do without the Graeme Edge poems (Morning Glory and Late Lament), but they don't actually bother me on this album. I'm more concerned with the songs and instrumentation this time around. Setting aside the Justin Hayward compositions, the evergreen Nights In White Satin and Tuesday Afternoon, we're left with some very patchy material. Also, the instruments aren't so much vintage, more like fossilized. This is certainly a far cry from the heights that the band would scale on future releases, along with their producer and 'sixth Moody' the late Tony Clarke.

Justin Hayward shares the vocals with Mike Pinder on the latter's composition, Dawn Is A Feeling, but the normally soulful Pinder doesn't connect with me on this song. Ray Thomas's Another Morning is beyond twee, even by his usual standards, and the Mellotron sounds truly primitive. Thankfully, John Lodge's Peak Hour saves the first half of the album from total oblivion. The intro to his later composition I'm Just A Singer borrows from this song (listen to how the drums speed up after the break in the middle of the song). There's no sign of Justin Hayward's trademark guitar here though, just a twanging '60s sound.

The second half of the album is stronger and opens with the two-part The Afternoon, comprising Tuesday Afternoon plus Lodge's Time To Get Away. The latter sounds like typical '60s pop and features Lodge's distinctive falsetto. Another two-part song follows; this time coupling Pinder's Eastern flavoured The Sun Set with Thomas's psychedelic Twilight Time. Don't expect anything like his signature Legend Of A Mind though.

The interesting thing about DOFP is that many of the elements that would contribute to the band's distinctive sound are already present here in embryonic form. However the orchestra would be missing from the string of classic albums that followed, so I don't think this recording is particularly representative of the band. As I said in my introduction I don't want to re-open any debates about whether The Moody Blues deserve the label of 'Pioneers' of prog rock, or whether DOFP was the first prog album. What I will say is that as far as I'm concerned there are a good number of superior Moody Blues albums for people to choose from, despite this one having the highest rating.

seventhsojourn | 3/5 |

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