The Moody Blues (1967)
Days Of Future Passed contains some of the best and worst music of the 1960s. Fortunately, most of it skews toward being great. The Moody Blues, a progressive British pop group, were exploring full orchestral and classical songwriting in the rock tradition, and broke some significant ground there. Their small symphonic interludes are pretty boring and cheesy, but the real substance of the LP is how well the Moodies blend pop hooks with classical flair. There is also some very innovative use of a then-new electronic instrument called the Mellotron by Mike Pinder. If you can ignore some of Graeme Edge‘s hysterically pretentious and completely unlistenable “poetry” (which, for a while at least, is so bad it’s entertaining) then the musical highlights more than make up for the album’s shortcomings.
As with many revolutionary records, the group’s later releases (in this case, To Our Children’s Children’s Children) condense and perfect the winning formula, while avoding the pitfalls of the breakthrough. But, while consistent, these LPs also face the common problem that they just don’t have as many fantastic songs as the initial effort. Despite the clunky linking devices, every actual composition here is outstanding. Listening to this record requires some measure of acceptance for its idyllic, idealistic sound and concept, but for the most part, it’s really just a handful of great sensitive pop songs. The group had a very solid and democratic writing process, with every member except Edge being at least competent at making a tune. Plus, this album has a cover which, though not very iconic or timeless, is probably the coolest freaking thing ever. So much information crammed into one small image (although you may not be able to catch everything at the resolution shown here).
Key track: “The Night: Nights In White Satin/Late Lament”
See also: To Our Children’s Children’s Children – the Moody Blues (1969)