[Review] The Moody Blues: Days of Future Passed (1967)

Originally conceived as a stereo demo record, the first “classical” rock album raised the bar even higher than The Beatles.

Kronomyth 2.0: As different from the past as Knight and Days.

1967 was a watershed moment in pop music, as the broad horizons of the post-Pet Sounds landscape beckoned to bands like The Beatles, The Moody Blues, Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones and many others. Each went off in their own directions, Pink Floyd in pursuit of the ultimate sonic acid splash, The Beatles to perfect Britpop in the studio, and the Moodies to make a classical pop record. (The Stones, for their part, tripped and took a noisy tumble down the hill.)

While the artistry of Days of Future Passed is undeniable, the psychedelic precocity of its intent has left a patina that obscures some of the fine handiwork involved in its painstaking fabrication. The London Festival Orchestra, conducted by Peter Knight, might have been the subtle salting needed to bring these songs a better flavor, but mostly it places the Moodies in Pepperland (for those of you who remember George Martin’s score to the animated film, Yellow Submarine). The spoken poetry, introduced here for the first time, is the height of pretension, invoking Helios in a Homeric summoning of the dawn as if the sun shined out of their arts. And yet, it’s this ambitious pretense to music as classical art that makes Days so compelling.

Much of what the Moodies reach for is simply beyond their grasp; “Dawn Is A Feeling” and “Another Morning” are mawkish attempts to merge classical and pop themes. But no amount of failure can diminish the album’s great achievement: “Nights In White Satin.” This was, and remains, one of pop music’s most sublime victories, invoking a majesty that elevated the medium in an instant from popular voice to artistic expression. Not to be overlooked is “Forever Afternoon (Tuesday?),” which achieved much the same effect as Nights without the strings. The remainder of the record has its moments, “Peak Hour” (which always reminds me of The Who) and “Twilight Time” among them.

At this early stage, Justin Hayward’s songs carry the day, while John Lodge, Mike Pinder and Ray Thomas search for a suitable muse. That would all be in the past, however, as the Moodies looked forward to a new future where each songwriter found their own voice. It was indeed a new day dawning for the Moodies and for pop music in general. Not bad for a day’s work.

Original LP Version

A1. The Day Begins (5:49)
A2. Dawn: Dawn Is a Feeling (Mike Pinder) (3:49)
A3. The Morning: Another Morning (Ray Thomas) (3:40)
A4. Lunch Break: Peak Hour (John Lodge) (5:16)
B1. The Afternoon: Forever Afternoon (Tuesday?) (Justin Hayward) / (Evening) Time To Get Away (John Lodge) (8:48)
B2. Evening: The Sun Set (Mike Pinder) / Twilight Time (Ray Thomas) (6:14)
B3. The Night: Nights in White Satin (Justin Hayward) (7:38)

All orchestral music composed by Redwave-Knight.

CD reissue bonus tracks
8. Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood (BBC radio session) (2:25)
9. Fly Me High (2:54)
10. I Really Haven’t Got The Time (3:07)
11. Love And Beauty (2:24)
12. Leave This Man Alone (2:59)
13. Cities (2:23)
14. Tuesday Afternoon (alternate mix) (4:20)
15. Dawn Is A Feeling (alternate version) (2:19)
16. The Sun Set (alternate version without orchestra) (2:49)
17. Twilight Time (alternate vocal mix) (2:27)

The Players

Graeme Edge (drums, vocals), Justin Hayward (guitars, vocals), John Lodge (bass, vocals), Mike Pinder (keyboards, vocals), Ray Thomas (flutes, vocals) with Peter Knight (conductor), The London Festival Orchestra. Realisation by Tony Clarke and Michael Dacre-Barclay; executive producer: Hugh Mendl; recording engineered by Derek Varnals.

The Picture

Cover painting by David Antsey.

The Plastic

Released on mono and stereo elpee, 8-track and reel-to-reel tape on November 10, 1967 in the UK (Deram, SML 707), the US Deram (DE 10612/DES 18012, M 77812, X77012), Australia (Deram, SMLA 707), France (Deram, 258058), Germany (Deram, AML 707), Israel (Pax, ISK 1070), Japan (Deram, SLC801) {deramic sound system}, the Netherlands (Deram, 6412 347). 8-track features different track order.

  1. Re-issued on cassette in the US (Deram, DER M 77612).
  2. Re-released on quadrophonic 8-track in the US (Deram, DER L 77712) with different track order.
  3. Re-issued on elpee in the UK (Deram, SML 707) {brown/white label}.
  4. Re-issued on elpee in September 1972 in the US (Deram, DES 18012) {dark brown/white label}.
  5. Re-issued on elpee in 1973 in Japan (Deram, K18P-31) with lyrics insert.
  6. Re-issued on elpee in 1982 in Japan (Deram, L20P-1042).
  7. Re-issued on elpee in the US (Deram, DEES 18012) {dark brown/white label + barcode}.
  8. Re-issued on elpee, cassette and compact disc in the US (Deram, 820 006-1/4/2).
  9. Re-released on remastered elpee in the US (Mobile Fidelity, MFSL-1-042).
  10. Re-released on remastered compact disc and cassette in 1997 in the US (Deram, 4767-2/4), Europe (Universal, 844 767) and Japan (Deram, UICY-9210).
  11. Re-released on remastered DTS 5.1 surround compact and cassette on May 20, 1998 in the US (DTS, VLE4418TC).
  12. Re-released on remastered gold compact disc on September 30, 1998 in the US (Mobile Fidelity, UDCD 512).
  13. Re-released on expanded, remastered compact disc in 2008 in the US (Deram/Polydor, B0011210-02) with 10 bonus tracks.
  14. Re-released on expanded super high material compact disc on April 27, 2016 in Japan (Universal, UICY-25554) with 10 bonus tracks.
  15. Re-issued on elpee in 2017 in the Netherlands (Deram/UMC, 00602557866001).

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