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Days Of Future Passed
The Moody Blues

Deram 18012
Released: March 1968
Chart Peak: #3
Weeks Charted: 103
Certified Gold: 10/2/70

Ray ThomasGraeme EdgeMike PinderJohn LodgeJustin HaywardOne of the several English groups that has survived more or less intact since the days of the Beatles is the Moody Blues, who take their place next to the Rolling Stones, Hollies, Kinks, Zombies, and Who in this regard. To be sure, this is a mixed bag of company, but it is certainly surprising to what extent the old English groups still share certain qualities that mark them off from their American counterparts.

The Moody Blues are part of the English rock group family that includes as nearest relatives the Hollies, the Beatles, and the Who. All these groups give prominence to their vocal work, and all still adhere to the basic English rock instrumentation (guitars, bass, drums, occasional organ or piano) with occasional orchestral augmentation. Their historical lineage may be traced back to the American rock and roll (not blues) of the late Fifties. Granted these not insignificant similarities, the English groups have each by and large developed their own stylistic character.

The Moody Blues, on the evidence of their most recent recordings, have matured considerably since "Go Now," but their music is constantly marred by one of the most startingly saccharine conceptions of "beauty" and "mysticism" that any rock group has ever affected. To be specific: Days of Future Passed claims to "have extended to range of pop music," finding "the point where it becomes one with the world of the classics." This is pure nonsense.

There are some quite fine rock tracks on Days of Future Passed ("Tuesday Afternoon" especially), but all of these songs have next to nothing to do with "the classics." In any case "the classics" for the Moody Blues apparently are Rimsky-Korsakov, Brahms, David Rose, and Elmer Bernstein; the London Festival Orchestra is generally used between tracks to play Hollyridge Strings changes on the rock compositions on the album. The whole execution of the album is so perverse that the only real surprise is the discovery that between the movie soundtrack slush there is some quite palatable rock which makes no compromises, even in the direction of orchestral accompaniment -- as a matter of fact there is almost none on the rock tracks. Then why the Festival Orchestra? Why the hideous spoken introduction and conclusion? If this crap is supposed to be breathtakingly beautiful or the aesthetic raison d'etre of the album, God deliver us back into the hands of prosaic rock, like "Peak Hour," or "Forever Afternoon," or "Nights in White Satin". Or even the triteness of "Twilight Time."

This must remain the real curiosity of Days of Future Passed: what is obviously a fine, tight English rock group has chosen to strangle itself in contextual goo. Ironically almost every one of the rock tracks has something to recommend it -- but what might have been quite capable, even exciting, album is willfully turned into sometin musically akin to Milo's chocolate cotton. Which is too bad.

So although the concept of Days of Future Passed is disastrous, some interesting, listenable music surfaces. The Moodies' writing is not consistently imaginative, but it is not especially derivative either; the singing is consistently good and the arrangements are effectively executed with little reliance on studio musicians. Hopefully next time around the Moody Blues will leave their London Festival Orchestra and Yantra at home and get together a straight-ahead, no bullshit album of rock; judging from even this album they should be quite capable of doing this and, furthermore, doing it well.

- Jim Miller, Rolling Stone, 12-7-68.

Bonus Reviews!

Cringingly dated in its pop philosophising, Days of Future Passed will in all probability be bought on CD for the hit single "Nights in White Satin." The move was bold for a rock group in 1967 but the fusion of classical orchestra and rock band rarely if ever works. Here the result is some fourth-rate note spinning in a light classical vein which often sounds too much like the backing for a Disney nature film.

Decca's remastering has finally proved on CD how truly fine these master tapes were and few people can have heard this music as it was intended. Compact Disc clarity in the "voice overs" is startling though the orchestral sound is at times boxy by the standards of that genre. The Deramic Sound System mentioned in the quaint sleeve notes is the mid-sixties figment of an overactive "marketing-oriented" imagination.

Decca should do the decent thing and issue Nights... as a CD single as soon as humanly possible!

- David Prakel, Rock 'n' Roll on Compact Disc, 1987.

The reconstituted Moody Blues, with Justin Hayward and John Lodge established on guitar, bass, and vocals, venture into progressive rock territory with the London Festival Orchestra and have their first major success, both with the album and the singles "Nights in White Satin" and "Tuesday Afternoon." The material seems pretentious but really rocks pretty hard, and the orchestral interludes, courtesy of Peter Knight, have an epic sweep that still dazzles the ear. In 1967, a lot of people hungry for something to put on the turntable after Sgt. Pepper turned to this, and turned it into an international hit with good reason. * * * *

- Bruce Eder, The All-Music Guide to Rock, 1995.

Days of Future Passed is one of the earliest collaborations between rock band and orchestra, a flowing, conceptual piece that houses the hits "Nights in White Satin" and "Forever Afternoon (Tuesday?)." * * * *

- Polly Vedder, Musichound Rock: The Essential Album Guide, 1996.

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