Days Of Future Passed

The Moody Blues

Threshold, 1967

http://www.moodybluestoday.com

REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 01/18/2005

When this came out in 1967, nobody knew what to make of it. Of course, they had Pet Sounds, The Who Sell Out and Sgt. Pepper's to deal with that same year, so nothing was surprising. But pairing a festival orchestra with a former R&B/pop band? It was a risky gamble.

But boy, did it pay off.

Days of Future Passed left behind the R&B and bluesy leanings of the original Moody Blues; perhaps sensing the sheer number of British bands making the same kind of music (the Yardbirds, Cream, Spencer Davis Group, the Animals, etc.), the remaining Moodies decided on a different path and, in the process, launched the second phase of their career. More so than the other albums of this phase, Days has aged well and continues to be held up as a landmark of the psychedelic/progressive rock movement.

Even with the orchestra, this music is accessible, vital and fascinating; there has been little like it in rock before or since. Some of the rock passages are definitely dated ("Peak Hour") and not everything is great ("Dawn is a Feeling"), but much of this works very well. The concept is simple: trace an entire day through seven songs, from sunrise to night.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The orchestra weaves in and out of the songs, sometimes starting them, sometimes splitting them in half, as on the "Tuesday Afternoon/Forever Afternoon" and "The Sunset/Twilight Time" portions. But what works best is how the Moodies are able to write songs that evoke the feelings of the day; the optimism and fatigue of the morning, the all-cylinders-go energy of lunch break, wistfulness of late afternoon, the unsettling feeling of evening, the romance of the night.

The music improves as the album plays; the jaunty, childlike "Another Morning" and the soporific "Dawn is a Feeling" start the project off with the snooze button, and these songs have probably held up the worst over the last 40 years. "Peak Hour" improves the first half, though, with some hard British rock (for that time, anyway) and a whistle-while-you-work approach to the orchestration combining.

Side two (or the final three songs on your CD) are the best. "Tuesday Afternoon" is an acoustic classic, but the "Forever Afternoon" coda is its equal, a moody arpeggio setting the tune instead of chords for much of the piece. "The Sunset" has the sort of quasi-Indian mystical crap that is horribly dated, but it's only three minutes, and "Twilight Time" totally redeems it with its beautiful harmonies and driving minor chords.

And, of course, "Nights in White Satin" ends the album with a gorgeous, timeless flourish, sounding perfect in context (assuming you skip the overblown poetry bit at the end and go right to the orchestral finish, which ends with a gong).

Experiments don't always work 100%, but most of the flaws are due to the dated nature of some of the rock songs and the poetry, although in context one is apt to overlook this. Had the first side been beefed up with more energy, this would be a true classic, but the sheer originality of the piece and the best songs continue to keep it in the upper echelon of both the Moodies' catalog and progressive rock as a whole. Even those who mostly listen to classical music will find much to enjoy about the marriage of the two styles.

Rating: A-

User Rating: A


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© 2005 Benjamin Ray and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Threshold, and is used for informational purposes only.