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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 | 549 ratings

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4 stars I reluctantly give 4 stars to this album, as there is no denying that it is an excellent addition to any prog music collection.

The main reasons for supporting it are fairly numerous, so here are a few;

1) After "Sergeant Pepper..." it was the most progressive album to come out of 1967. 2) It features the London Festival Orchestra, so that's pretty prog. 3) It has a Mellotron. 4) It has Justin Hayward - one of the most achingly melodramatic singers with one of the purest voices ever. Better than Greg Lake. 5) The Moodies fused classical and rock before Keith Emerson did. 6) It's just got that Prog Rock ambience, OK - it's not really prog when you listen hard, but it's got the right attitude and nuances to sit comfortably alongside your Yes and ELP albums - although probably more comfortably next to your Barcly James Harvest collection...

So on to the music;

The day begins is a quickly hacked together overture that introduces the main themes of all the songs on the album. The fading in gong is brilliant, but the rest is Cheesey to the max; it's inoffensive in a kind of MGM films kind of way, with little tinkly bells, harps and piano trills making you feel like you're in an airport waiting lounge.

Suddenly a theme shines through all chirpy and cheeky, sounding like a happy version of part of Orff's "Carmina Burana", but soon all is tinkliness and light again... Then the first glimpse of "Nights..." is exposed, weaving a little darkness into the texture at last, but I wish they'd dropped the harp - the crashing noise would have been highly amusing...

Next, poetry. Well... sort of. Somehow I think of the Small Faces "Ogden's Nut Gone", except that the words just aren't funny - they're just pretentious. But hey, this is proto- prog - it's SUPPOSED to be pretentious!

The orchestra drifts away on a mushy pillow, and gives way to "Dawn...". More orchestral cheddar feeds into a Mellotron and some great melody from Mr Hayward. This is a great, great, song - even the lyrics are comfortable, but it is a standard song structure - no formal fireworks - that wouldn't have been out of place on "Sgt. Pepper", the standard is so high.

An orchestral interlude interrupts - here I feel the fusion is not quite as successful as it could have been.

Then we move into "Morning..." - I must admit I'm not a fan of happy, chirpy mornings, and even less of a fan of that naff riff that seems to have come from "Carmina...". The following song is of a reasonable quality when it moves to the minor key chorus, but I find the upbeat parts remind me of the Small Faces but without the humour.

The next orchestral interlude should have been CUT IMO - it's more horrible than a horrible thing, and repeating Orff's riff doesn't make it work better.

"Lunch Break" starts in a way that reminds me of so many things, and is made even worse by constant repetition of the "Orff riff", for want of a better term. The tempo does kind of suggest the peak hour subject matter, but I wish it had been done differently. I hate it. Your Mileage May Vary.

Then we get a bit of ROCK. Just when you thought you'd been settled into that easy chair, the tempo is lifted, and the song "Peak Hour" sounds like something that might have come from Yes' debut, except with decent vocals and a more sensibly moderated bass.

The central vocal harmony section is interesting for its obvious Beach Boys roots, and the "grow out", with carefully felt guitar and organ solos. The organ / drum outro is a nice surpise, and ends side one of my MONO first press with style :o)

Unlike Sergeant Pepper, No suprises await the vinyl listener in the run-out groove, so straight over to side two we hop for the next stage of this trip.

"Tuesday Afternoon" goes straight in with the proto-Prog, and OH! Those Mellotrons!! Frankly, Mr Hayward could be singing about a mucky Monday morning on the M25 and it would still sound glorious - you just know it! The way he lifts the melody with a semitone, and drops it again is creative genius at work.

This pleasant little number drops into and out of different styles, the influences apparent but not in your face - this is original Moody Blues music, and the high point of the album for me - the closest it really gets to prog. And just because it doesn't stray away from 4/4 doesn't mean it isn't.

Nice flutes and harps with sawing and soaring violins prepare us for "Nights..." before "Evening" has even begun.

The melancholy music is much more worth listening to than the lyrics, which in this song start to grate a little from the precious and patronising podium from which they preach, and the moaning over the loss of morning - but there is a sudden twist to the realisation that evening is "time to get away", which redeems it a little. There are also a lot of changes in this song - which ends up feeling a little like something from an Andrew Lloyd Webber production.

One yucky orchestral interlude later and into awful lyrics zone: "Take a look out there, planets everywhere...", and it doesn't get better, although the backing music is arguably the most interesting on the entire album due to its experimental nature, give or take the odd nasty orchestral interlude. Twilight Time carries this on extremely well, maintaining a wonderfully "moody" feel, and more great proto prog.

More orchestral nastiness with harps and horns, and it's finally into "Nights In White Satin" - without doubt the most famous song on this album. There's no point covering this, as everyone knows it, except Herman the Hermit and his hamster, Hugo. The orchestral intro is so bad that the song stands out in fairly painful relief - as if it's just been crowbarred in any old how, which is a cruel thing to do to such a beautiful song, IMHO.

The other cruel thing to do is continue on with dodgy orchestral music, and round it off with horrendous "poetry" that wanders between the outright naff and the downright pretentious.

Oh, then there's a really nasty orchestral ending.

But you should still own this album because it's historically very important, contains some very, very fine singing, songwriting and proto-prog - even if in small doses - and you can get it in the bargain bins practically everywhere!!

And what about those Mellotrons, eh?

Certif1ed | 4/5 |

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