Days of Future Passed – The Moody Blues

10 albums that shaped my musical tastes and styles

I remember the first time I heard “Tuesday Afternoon” by the Moody Blues on AM radio, and wondering about the strange-sounding instrument that helped give the song its dreamy, hypnotic quality.

Later, a classmate informed me that the Moody Blues were a rock band that had joined with a symphony orchestra to produce the album Days of Future Passed. My background was in classical music, so this piqued my interest. I bought the single version of “Tuesday Afternoon,” and eventually purchased the full album after hearing the extended version of the song on FM radio.

The album did not disappoint. It turned out that the strange sound I couldn’t identify came from a mellotron, a keyboard that had been created before the advent of the synthesizer to mimic the sound of a symphony orchestra.

One of the intents behind this concept album — a day in the life of everyman — was to seamlessly weave symphonic interludes between the rock songs and ballads, with the mellotron producing the symphonic sound during the songs themselves. It wasn’t exactly seamless, but it made for an interesting album.

The Moody Blues went on to create a string of six additional classic albums (without the orchestra) between 1968 and 1972, in which the band members wrote all the songs and played all the instruments themselves. I recall a quote from one of them that they were trying to create music for the head and the heart, and their ambitious albums certainly resonated with me.

Days of Future Passed is nowhere near my favorite Moody Blues album — that would be Every Good Boy Deserves Favour — but it opened the door to the band that was, and still is, my favorite rock group from that era.

Favorite tracks: Forever Afternoon (Tuesday), Nights in White Satin

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