Days of Future Passed “marked the formal debut of the psychedelic-era Moody Blues” (Eder) and is “probably the most successful integration of orchestra and rock band” (Morse). “The Moodles were dealing with the relative failure of their R&B career and had decided to shift styles” (Morse) so, in 1966, they brought Justin Hayward and John Lodge on board “to give the band an infusion of new songwriting talent and began writing material with a ‘cosmic’ edge to it” (Morse).
The new lineup recorded a pair of new singles before launching into the “bolder and more ambitious” (Eder) Days of Future Passed. Interestingly, the “album was created out of deceit” (Morse). Decca Records “approached them to record a rock version of Dvorak’s ‘New World Symphony’ with the London Festival Orchestra” (Morse) “to showcase its enhanced stereo-sound technology” (Eder). The Moodies “agreed to this idea, but when they got into the studio” (Morse) “at the behest of the band, producer Tony Clarke (with engineer Derek Varnals aiding and abetting) hijacked the project” (Eder). The Moodies “began recording their own material” (Morse) “with conductor/arranger Peter Knight adding the orchestral accompaniment and devising the bridge sections between the songs and the album’s grandiose opening and closing sections” (Eder).
“The record company didn’t know what to do with the resulting album, which was neither classical nor pop, but following its release…, audiences found their way to it as one of the first pieces of heavily orchestrated, album-length psychedelic rock to come out of England in the wake of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s and Magical Mystery Tour albums” (Eder).
“What surprises first-time listeners – and delighted them at the time – is the degree to which the group shares the spotlight with the London Festival Orchestra without compromising their sound or getting lost in the lush mix of sounds. That’s mostly because they came to this album with the strongest, most cohesive body of songs in their history, having spent the previous year working up a new stage act and a new body of material (and working the bugs out of it on-stage), the best of which ended up here” (Eder).
The album “was refreshingly original, rather than an attempt to mimic the Beatles; sandwiched among the playful lyricism of Another Morning and the mysticism of The Sunset, songs like Tuesday Afternoon and Twilight Time (which remained in their concert repertory for three years) were pounding rockers within the British psychedelic milieu, and the harmony singing (another new attribute for the group) made the band’s sound unique” (Eder).
“With ‘Tuesday Afternoon’ and Nights in White Satin to drive sales, Days of Future Passed became one of the defining documents of the blossoming psychedelic era, and one of the most enduringly popular albums of its era” (Eder).
- Bruce Eder, All Music Guide
- Tim Morse, Classic Rock Stories. St. Martin’s Griffin; New York: 1998. Pages 189-190.