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


The Moody Blues


Crossover Prog

4.17 | 790 ratings

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The Whistler
Prog Reviewer
4 stars The Night: 4.5

This is, quite possibly, the best of all the Sergeant Pepper rip offs I can think of. And I say that having listened...uh, to none of them. Well, except for one, but I don't really think it's a Sergeant Pepper rip off at all. Of course...I suppose if you wanna get "technical" or something, I haven't actually heard Sergeant Pepper either. So, really now, why should you trust me on ANYTHING rock 'n rollish at all?

Alright, this review is getting off to a bad start... Aha! Instead of Pepper, I think that a much better record to compare this too would be Dark Side of the Moon, the OTHER greatest rock album ever. I mean, they're both based on the same concept of a day in the life...or a life in a day, depends on how you look at it. And I can safely say that, without a doubt, this is the better album.

For one thing, the concept feels so much more...honest on this record. Sometimes Dark Side's use of the concept felt a little cheap, a way to tie up loose ends in the songs. Days though, the concept just strengthens the songs. So secondly is, of course, the melodies. Oh, God, the melodies. But hey, if you wanna hear me bitch about Dark Side, I should be reviewing that instead; let's talk about this puppy!

We open with "The Day Begins," which is actually hardly the best track in the universe. It's an overture in the absolute truest sense of the word. A bunch of the themes from the record played by an orchestra. It must have been kinda cool at the time. Now? Well, sometimes the converted themes are real good ("Nights in White Satin" comes off beautifully, for example). But sometimes it feels a little...soundtrackish? Oh well, it's all good enough, except that it ends in some...ugh, poetry. I shouldn't have to describe it, it oughta be (in)famous enough. Suffice to say that drummer Graham Edge is a very good poet...for a fifth grader. Or maybe an advanced fourth grader.

Okay, on to the actual songs. And, you know what? This is scary but...they're almost all amazing. "Dawn in a Feeling" is a nice piano ballad. Cool lyrics...mostly (the chorus is just a bit much). Ah, but "Another Morning?" Pure genius. A real hidden gem. That playful melody is enchanting, the medieval chorus is ghostly good, and the lyrics are practically deep! What more could you want? The orchestrals at the end even fit perfectly!

"Peak Hour" is the only track that I really don't like that much. I mean, the tune itself is solid enough, but the Moodies just can't rock sufficiently enough to make it work (the slow midsection is a little corny, surely you must agree). In the hands of the Who the song woulda kicked ass though. Although the orchestra at the beginning sounds starts to sound exactly like Warner Brothers cartoon stock music for "traffic." Oh well, the nods to "Dawn in a Feeling" are nice.

The Moodies then give the whole multi-part track thing a shot; "The Afternoon" is split among two "movements;" "Forever Afternoon (Tuesday?)" has this real cool, ghostly mellotron opening. The verses are pretty, and the chorus features a dirty piano! Well, at least as dirty as the Moodies could get. Soaring orchestrals get us into "(Evening) Time to Get Away." The verse is slow and solemn, but the chorus is so desperate, it's great. The ending with the falsetto might be a bit much, but then that mellotron comes back in and it's great.

"Evening" features "The Sunset," an Eastern themed rocker. It's a bit repetitive, and the lyrics are a tad schizoid, but the tune is so darn catchy. But the psycho rocker "Twilight Time" is yet another overlooked gem off the album. Spooky and driving, it might not rock as hard as "Peak Hour," but it's so much tighter. Freaky lyrics too. In a good way I mean.

Of course, the big number off the album is "Nights in White Satin," and it's easy to see why. I know I've said a lot of other songs are beautiful (and I mean in my life, not just on this album), but this thing might just be the most beautiful song ever recorded. And it's so simple! But it's gorgeous, AND, it's eternally resonant to boot. Best lyrics on the whole damn album (flawlessly sung by Hayward); I know I've done all that dumb crap in my quests for love and happiness...okay, so we don't, as a people, write letters anymore, but "text messages I've written, never meaning to send" probably doesn't fit into the melody quite as well.

And I'm not even going to mark it off for one more visit from our resident "poet" drummer. Nope. Of course, if they HAD ended the song after that nice, sufficiently bombastic orchestral rise before the dumb poetry, then the song honestly would be perfect. Oh well, can't have it all. Just stop the CD early; it's still the best song on the record.

Now, in one way, this record is not perfect. It's not even "so close to perfect that it hurts." Be they good song writers, the Moodies are hardly the best buncha song players. The vocals (Hayward) sure, and Lodge's bass is solid and Pinder's mellotron may not be masterfully played, but it is done with a goodly amount of cunning. Everything else? Never really rising above some artsy session players; no good guitar work, and Edge continues to be my least favorite member of the band (I can drum better than that!).

Secondly, of course, there is the matter of the occasionally cheesy orchestrations, and the pretty much always cheesy poetry ("Brave Helios, wake up your steeds?" "Senior citizens wish they were young?" Gimme a break!).

But, is this a cheesy album? Hell yeah! Sometimes the cheese even gets to me ("Peak Hour"). But the Moodies are a cheesy band. If you can't live with that, if you won't allow the melodies to bury themselves into your brain, then you're just not human. I love brainless Dragons and Dungeons metal just as much as the next guy, but you cannot not admire the gift these guys had for melody.

You see, barring those (effectively minor) weaknesses, this IS a perfect album. These guys were sonic geniuses who, by and large, knew their limits. What makes the album so good is that it never goes over its head. And yes, I realize that I just explained how it utterly goes over its head, but that was conceptually. Musically, it's one of the most adequate albums on earth.

This is probably the greatest art pop album ever, and, even if it's not, it's surely the most beautiful. Hell, it's prettier 'n Heavy Horses! Which, from me, means a lot (and, of course, disclaimer, Heavy Horses is a technically better album).

And, from that point of view, the Moodies would get "technically" better later on (compare the musicianship here with, say, Children's Children, and you'll see what I mean), but I can't think of a more solid album that they ever did. In fact, I can think of very few albums this solid period. Hell, I know for a fact that there are some bands that have not been able to scrape together enough material to rival "Another Morning," "Twilight Time," maybe just "Nights."

I've said it before, but I just honestly cannot envision a person who could possibly HATE this album. Complain about it? Sure. But hate it? No. They would have to be a heartless bastard. Don't be a heartless bastard. Buy this today.

The Whistler | 4/5 |


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