Since the dawn of time there have been stories and story tellers. Music can actually just be a really good story, told through musicians and leading the listener to truly understand the highs and lows of what the writer was or is feeling when singing their songs. Today’s band may not be the first to bring a theatric element to music, but they sure did do it well.
All the way back in 1964 in Warwickshire, England, a few guys had been tinkering around with music and debating forming a band. They did, and after some local touring the band generated some steam, getting noticed by M&B Brewery. They wanted to be a sponsor for the band, so the band started going by “The MB’s” or “The MB Five.” The sponsorship didn’t materialize though, and because the band already had a bit of a following with the MB name, The Moody Blues were born.
The focus today will be on their sophomore album, Days of Future Passed which came out in November of 1967. After initially struggling to fit in the R&B genre as a new band, they were asked to create a concept album. The band came up with the idea to create an orchestral song cycle album as a commentary on the typical working day. Recording took over six months and dozens of complimentary artists were brought in for collaboration. Even the entire London Festival Orchestra was asked to come in and help out on a few tracks.
As someone who was born two decades after this album was released, my viewpoint may be quite different than those who were more familiar with this type of music. But I will say, this album is unlike anything I’ve heard before. And given the timing of when it was recorded, I would put this album as almost the founder of progressive rock. Not only is this listed as an essential album by various publications, it’s also cited to have created an entire genre. That’s pretty powerful. Sales of this album may not be enormous, but the universal respect certainly is.
If someone asked you about The Moody Blues, your word association response would probably be ‘Night in White Satin.’ Understandable, as it’s easily their most recognized song. The good news is that track is found on this album. The even better news is that track is just a small piece of this symphony of a record. When you let it run, it blends right into the surroundings, which goes from dawn to night. This version offered on Amazon has a few extras on it, which I’d say are good too, but the original format of the album is a masterpiece.
Not all albums stand the test of time, and this one certainly has. It defines what it means to be a storytelling album, and it paved the way for other progressive rock and psychedelic rock bands in the future. Without elements of how this was made, you may not have Pink Floyd making ‘Dark Side’ or other amazing albums of that genre. That alone makes it worth your fiver today.
Top 3 Tracks: