Thursday, June 7, 2012

"Days of Future Passed" by The Moody Blues (Jan., 1968)

Dad's Take:

This is one of my desert island discs, one of the seminal prog rock masterpieces, a blend of rock and roll and classical that leads the listener through a day, morning to night. It was a complete surprise to those who knew the Moody Blues as a relatively minor British R&B band, known primarily for their biggest hit, 1964's "Go Now."

One of the biggest changes between "Go Now" and "Days of Future Passed" was the addition of two new band members, Justin Hayward and John Lodge. These two set the direction of the Moody Blues throughout their classic period and beyond.

Fittingly, the record begins with an overture, "The Day Begins," which starts with an orchestral crescendo that informs the listener that this is not going to be your typical rock and roll record. The "story" itself begins with a poem, echoed by it's near twin at the end of the record, a brilliant set of bookends. The record moves through song after song of orchestral rock and roll, leading us through the day. Along the way, we get the classic "Forever Afternoon (Tuesday)," better known as "Tuesday Afternoon." At the end, of course, is the even more classic "Nights In White Satin," a hit at least twice, and the final song of many dances I attended as a kid.

But those aren't the only worthwhile songs here. The moody (blue) "Dawn Is A Feeling," the wild "Peak Hour," and one of my favorite tracks on the record, "Time To Get Away." It's a record that lends itself well to multiple listenings, with a musical depth most normal people don't fully catch the first time through.

Do the Moody Blues present rock and roll? The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame don't seem to think so, but there's no question that, despite the orchestrations, this record has R&B roots, blended with mid-sixties psychedelia and art rock. It's a wonderful record, and I can't imagine life without it.

Brad's Take:

This was my first time listening to a Moody Blues record. I can't imagine that all of their stuff sounds like this, especially this classical. But either way, this is great, and definitely something new to our list.

The orchestral pieces on this album are fantastic. "The Day Begins" was probably my favorite of the classical songs, or interludes, whatever you want to call them. The instrumentation sounds so big and full on these recordings. They're gorgeous and listening to them actually makes me want to listen to an entire classical album right now.

Days of Future Passed isn't only classical music though. It's got some rock songs too. "Forever Afternoon (Tuesday)" is a track I recognized immediately. I've heard this song many times in random places. I think I remember a recent commercial using that song, in fact. One of my favorites is "Dawn Is A Feeling."

Aside from "Forever Afternoon," this isn't an album of singles. I feel like this is an album that needs to be listened to as a whole. It's no surprise that their record label was a little hesitant on releasing this. It's different than anything we've reviewed so far from this era. It's different, but I love it.

I wouldn't expect the classical music to run so smoothly with the rock songs, but (somehow) it works magically.

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