Cratedigger: The Moody Blues, “Days of Future Passed”

Written by Cratedigger, Music

The Moody Blues - Days of Future Passed (label)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 is an illusion?

Thus begins the second official Moody Blues album, Days of Future Passed, which was released in 1967 on the Deram subsidiary of London Records. The first Moody Blues album, The Magnificent Moodies, was produced by Denny Cordell, and released in 1965. It presented them as an r&b band, led by Denny Laine. It was this band that created what is perhaps my favorite single of all time, the unforgettable “Go Now,” and from which Laine soon departed.

The Moody Blues, now led by Justin Hayward and John Lodge, returned with Days of Future Passed, and it couldn’t have been more different from the first album. Here we have what was the first of a series of concept albums from the band, who had now abandoned their r&b stylings for a lush, symphonic pop sound that foreshadowed the arrival of progressive rock.

The music on the album is credited to Redwave-Knight. The Knight in question was Peter Knight, the conductor of the London Festival Orchestra, the band’s collaborators on this project. Knight wrote orchestrations based on ideas from various band members, who went under the collective name of Redwave. The poems that open and close the album, though uncredited on the album itself, were written by Moodies drummer Graeme Edge.

Days of Future Passed, which is a song cycle about a single day in the life of a man, spawned two huge hit singles, which remain mainstays on radio, and in hearts of people everywhere. “Tuesday Afternoon” is an edited version of “The Afternoon: Forever Afternoon (Tuesday?),” which opens side two. The day ends, as does the album, with “The Night: Nights in White Satin,” perhaps the Moodies most indelible point of reference. My colleague here at Popdose, Scott Malchus, recent wrote a lovely essay which was inspired by “Nights in White Satin.”

For better or worse, this is the album that really put the Moody Blues on the map. For me, although I admire a number of songs from subsequent albums, this is their only album that hangs together for me, and it does so beautifully.

Breathe deep the gathering gloom,
Watch lights fade from every room.
Bedsitter people look back and lament,
Another day’s useless energy spent.

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