The Moody Blues were a British prog rock institution, and on this second effort they present a concept album based on the working day, as it was in the late 60’s.
Written by: Explorer
ARTIST: The Moody Blues
ALBUM: Days Of Future Passed
SERIAL: SML 707 (Original Vinyl), 844 767-2 (CD)
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: England
LINEUP: Mike Pinder – mellotron, piano, tambura vocals, (including spoken) * Ray Thomas – flutes, percussion, vocals * Justin Hayward – acoustic & electric guitars, piano, sitar, vocals * John Lodge – bass, vocals * Graeme Edge – drums, percussion, vocals * Peter Knight – conductor, arrangements * The London Festival Orchestra
TRACK LISTING: 01 The Day Begins: The Day Begins, Morning Glory * 02 Dawn: Intro, Dawn Is A Feeling * 03 The Morning: Intro, Another Morning * 04 Lunch Break: Intro, Peak Hour * 05 The Afternoon: Forever Afternoon (Tuesday?), (Evening) Time to Get Away * 06 Evening: Intro, The Sun Set, Twilight Time * 07 The Night: Nights in White Satin, Late Lament
WEBLINKS: Site Link
‘Days Of Future Passed’ by the Moody Blues is an album along with The Beatles ‘Sgt Pepper’ and ‘Revolver’ (and to a lesser extent Jimi Hendrix ‘Are You Experienced?’) that were the soundtrack to my growing up in the 60’s.
I wasn’t quite old enough to actually own these albums then, but thanks to my older brother who was the perfect age for that 60’s social/cultural explosion, I got to hear these pretty much every day back in the mid 60’s.
In those days, of course, I was too young to appreciate what I was hearing but these albums must have seeped into my subconscious at some point and without a doubt helped form my later musical tastes. Well, that’s enough about me, so what about the album?
For this review, I am using the original vinyl as my template as I believe this is the best way of listening to the album. Even though there has been a myriad of CD reissues throughout the years and because of issues with the original tapes and inferior mixes etc, I believe the original vinyl stereo mix is the perfect version to capture the magic contained in the grooves.
‘Days Of Future Passed’ is the Moody Blues second album, their first being a modest incursion into the white R’n’B which was prevalent back then which produced the hit single ‘Go Now’. With various changes to their line up and label change, it bought about an opportunity to try out the new ‘Deramic Sound System’, and for their new label they embarked on an ambitious ‘Song Cycle’ or concept album as we know it today.
What The Moody Blues produced was (in some quarters) hailed as the first progressive rock concept album. Whichever way you look at it, this album is a true cornerstone in rock history and its importance can never be underplayed. Its innovative use of mellotron and orchestra has ensured legendary status for this album.
Most concept albums do tend to hang together rather loosely, with not all songs lending themselves to the story that the band are trying to tell. This is not the case here. Every song flows seamlessly into the next.
The concept or song cycle is centred on the typical working day of the time, which starts us off nicely with side one’s ‘The Day Begins’ which is orchestral in nature with interlinking musical themes that can be found throughout the album before a spoken passage from Mike Pinder sets the scene, all very 1960’s but beautiful nevertheless.
‘Dawn’ follows which marks the first experience of the now very familiar voice of Justin Hayward, the song is a languid, pastoral affair which he has excelled at throughout his career. ‘The Morning’ is a lively, jaunty song complete with flute from Ray Thomas and delicate harmonies which adds a real vibrancy to the song.
‘Lunch Break’ starts with a busy orchestral arrangement which could easily have adorned any self-respecting TV documentary of the time, before breaking into a very upbeat, rocky affair with again the harmony work pushing the song to greater heights.
So that’s side one dealt with, now let’s flip it over onto side two, which starts with ‘The Afternoon’, Justin Hayward giving an impassioned vocal performance and the song moving gracefully through various movements before finishing with John Lodge telling us it’s time to get away and get ready for the evening.
‘Evening’ once more starts with lush orchestration and Mike Pinder and Ray Thomas sharing vocal duties on an (initially) strangely subdued, trippy piece before the pace picks up somewhat. The song then moves effortlessly into the closer which any self-respecting music fan will surely be aware of.
‘Nights In White Satin’ has through the years been half-inched by the MOR brigade for weddings etc, but here in all its 7 and a half minute glory it fits perfectly into the concept of the working day. Again a wonderful arrangement elevates the song onto unprecedented heights before once more a spoken outro ends the album in fine style.
This album is fast approaching its 50th birthday, and with that is showing definite signs of ageing. On the surface, the orchestral arrangements come across as twee and ‘BBC light Programme-ish’ but at the time were quite groundbreaking and the thought of combining rock music and an orchestra was unheard of.
Similarly with the lyrics and in particularly the spoken intro and outro with its 6th form style poetry which now from 50 years distance is easy to mock, but back then it was really something to behold. And of course although I failed to mention it when dissecting the songs, the use of the mellotron by the band was really a first for rock music.
The influence this album has had on musicians throughout the intervening years is immeasurable and hence the album’s stature has grown. I love playing it to this day and it recalls, for me a far simpler time but also a time when real experimentation and boundary-pushing by bands such as the Moody Blues and of course The Beatles was very much the fashion.
It’s been said that this album was the precursor for prog rock, I don’t know about that, all I will say is that ‘Days Of Future Passed’ is an indispensable piece of music which still fills me with awe and wonder to this very day.
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