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

DAYS OF FUTURE PASSED

The Moody Blues

 

Crossover Prog

4.17 | 703 ratings

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JLocke
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Well, here it is. The album that is considered by many to be the first concept album, and possibly even the first truly progressive album. While I do not personally agree with this, I do recognize it as a very important step in music, and is certainly one of the first albums of it's kind. In the same year that saw the release of ''Piper at the Gates of Dawn'' and ''Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band'', DAYS OF FUTURE PASSED by The Moody Blues serves as one of the three 'key' albums pertaining to prog's origin, at least in my opinion.

My first impression of this album was actually not a good one, as the dated style of the orchestral arrangements and lack of rock influence (More blues and R&B traits would show up in the album later) made me feel like I was watching an old, all-too-happy 50s romantic musical. So while the record is in my opinion quite 'cheesy' to begin with, I decided to listen to it several times more before I came to a final verdict. I feel now like I have given it enough spins to merit a fair, well-rounded review that will be written in the proper perspective. The point is this: DAYS has many shortcomings, but also many wonderfull moments as well, and hopefully both of those points will be accurately made without too much embellishing done to favor either side. My wish is that this will come across as even and balanced across the board as I express my opinions on what the album is like to listen to.

''The day begins'' Is a complete symphony orchestra piece, first very powerfull and works very well to begin this interesting and very original musical journey. Soon though, I just can't help but feel like things could have gone alot better than they did, and even though the melodies are very beautiful here, there are moments scattered throughout the song (and really, the entire album) that feel a little too 'bouncey' and don't really fit the rest of the album's mood. So, even though there are weak points concerning the orchestra, when it is good, it is amazing. The amazing parts far outweigh the weak points in general, so that only takes off one star for me, as the rest of the time, I am fully engrossed by it, and the strength the classical influence brings is actually very effective for what The Moodies were going for. Unfortunately, we then hear what resembles a reading from Dr. Seuss himself, as the spoken line: ''Cold-hearted orb that rules the night, removes the colours from our sight. Red is grey, and yellow white, but we decide which is right, and which isd an illusion . . . '' is delivered in a painfully atrocious manner, being overly dramatized and without any real emotion, which is quite unfortunate, because it isn't the lyrics that were the problem there; it was merely the poor way in which they were delivered that ultimately killed this track for me.

''Dawn: Dawn is a feeling'' Is the first time we actually hear The Moody Blues themselves perfoming with their instruments, and the vocal work here is superb. This is merely a taste of what greatness will come as far as the singing is concerned. The musicians themselves aren't all that bad, either, and the lyrics on this song are still some of my favorites from the record: ''Dawn is a feeling, a beautiful ceiling. The smell of grass just makes you pass into a dream. You're here today, no future fears. This day will last a thousand years if you want it to . . . ''.

The concepts found in this album deal with discovery, awakening, spiritual enlightenment, and universal love. It tells of an average man going through his daily routines who finds himself discovering these things for the first time, and while something along these lines may not sound like anything too original, you must remember that these were the first guys who told that story, so it was original for the time. There are no reall 'rock n' roll' moments on this album, but there don't need to be, because this is true progressive music, through-and-through. The forementioned concept along with the marriage of electric instruments and orchestra are both prime examples of just how progressive this album was when it was first released. Even now, it stands out as quite an original piece of music. The next song continues this concept quite well.

''Morning: Another Morning'' Is one of my favorite songs on the album, and when the lyrics ''Time seems to stand quite still; in a child's world, it always will'' come into play, I can't help but be extraordinarily uplifted by, and the quality of Justin Hayward's voice is almost supernal at times. The very insightful lyric: ''Yesterday's dreams are tomorrow's sighs'' helps solidify the band's prolific quality for the time they were in. Then the orchestra takes over for another syrup-clad treatment that I am not very fond of, but luckily it doesn't last for a very long time, and it soon becomes bearable before ending well. All in all, another excellent track.

''Lunch Break: peak hour'' Isn't all that great of a track, though it does have its moments. The opening is more of the same with the classical influence, but it soon transforms into a much more straightforward track, before becoming an all-out rocker around the four minute mark, complete with a guitar solos, and everything. I didn't even know they had it in them, but it is the only time on this record that the band sounds anything remotely similar to rock, which is fine, because that isn't what I like about the album, anyway.

''Tuesday afternoon'' is my personal favorite on the album. Perfect use of instruments at just the right moments, and the voice work on here is the best as well. The melody is also very catchy and easy to hum along to, so it may not be as obscure as some of the other tracks, but it is no less enjoyable, and for me, the most enjoyable of all. Ironically, there is hardly any orchestra found in this particular track fore quite some time, which also makes ''Tuesday afternoon'' the most Moody Blues-specific song on DAYS OF FUTURE PASSED. Even when the symphonic aspect comes in to play, it is actually very wonderful to listen to, and not overly cheery at all. Quite tasteful, I think. Probably the best usage of the orchestra to be found on the whole thing. The song then returns to more Moody-only work, and the tone is now much darker and more, parden the pun, 'moody'. Nothing is wrong with this song, and it is the only track that holds my interest from beginning to end without feeling contrived or boring.

''Evening: the sun set: twilight time'' Is the worst track on the record since ''The day begins'', just because it feels like a little bit much, and the tune or song structure doesn't particularly speak to me like the other songs on the record do, and while the slightly celtic quality of the track, with echoing drums, slighty distorted vocals and prominent flute work, can be appealing, it just didn't work to me, and felt very out of place. However, the song does pick up speed a bit later, and that is when I can find some enjoyement from it, but even then the feeling is minimal, as it starts to feel repetitive very quickly, The orchestra comes back in now, and plays my personal favorite moment on the enitre album as far as the classical musicians are concerned. Still not enough to save the track from being too long and redundant, I'm afraid.

''Night: nights in white satin'' Well now, what can I say about this track that hasn't been said already countless times? Um . . . it is an absolutely goregous track from start to finsih. The only other song that is completely flawless on DAYS. The orchestra is amazing, the acoustic guitar (what can be heard of it) is masterful, showing the band members' susperb musicianship for one of the few times on the record, and of course Hayward's voice is perfect as always, and this song truly captures what the album as a whole is about, as it has everything that is good about the album included in it, and none of the bad aspects. Very powerful.

''Late Lament'' pretty much sums up everything that has happened over the course of DAYS, and it serves as a good album closer I suppose, but is not necessary, I don't believe.

As a whole, this album is very good, but it is by no means a masterpiece, and for me to claim that it is just because of it's reputation among progheads would be unfair to my personal view of DAYS OF FUTURE PASSED as a complete piece. I also consider it an excellent addition to any collection, but I still don't want to give it four stars, because I feel like the music has to really do something to my soul in order to be worthy of four stars and above, and that just didn't happen for me, even when I revisited this album numerous times. Nevertheless, it is undeniably an important album that shoudln't be overlooked by any serious prog fanatic. There are flaws, cpomplete with over-the-top symphony compositions sometimes, and moment sin which I feel as if the band was trying to achieve something that they ultimately failed at. So yes, there are things about that date it considerably (including yet another Dr. Seuss reading shortly before the album's close), but there are many more things about it that were pulled off very well, and have stood the test of time. It is certainly an enjoyable album to hear, but not worthy of four stars, in my own point of view. Will it stand the test of time for forty more years? Well, only time will tell, but at this point there are still enough aspects about it that make it worth listening to. A very solid effort from a very solid band. One of the first real prog works, and still a great experience. An absolute recommendation from me.

JLocke | 3/5 |

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