One of the several English groups that has survived more or less intact since the days of the Beatles is the Moody Blues, who take their place next to the Rolling Stones, Hollies, Kinks, Zombies, and Who in this regard, To be sure, this is a mixed bag of company, but it is certainly surprising to what extent the old English groups still share certain qualities that mark them off from their American counterparts.
The Moody Blues are part of the English rock group family that includes as nearest relatives the Hollies, the Beatles, and the... Read More
Who. All these groups give prominence to their vocal work, and all still adhere to the basic English rock instrumentation (guitars, bass, drums, occasional organ or piano) with occasional orchestral augmentation. Their historical lineage may be traced back to the American rock and roll (not blues) of the late Fifties. Granted these not insignificant similarities, the English groups have each by and large developed their own stylistic character.
The Moody Blues, on the evidence of their most recent recordings, have matured considerably since "Go Now," but their music is constantly marred by one of the most startlingly saccharine conceptions of "beauty" and "mysticism" that any rock group has ever affected. To be specific: Days of Future Passed claims to "have extended the range of pop music," finding "the point where it becomes one with the world of the classics." This is pure nonsense.
There are some quite fine rock tracks on Days of Future Passed ("Tuesday Afternoon" especially), but all of these songs have next to nothing to do with "the classics." In any case the "classics" for the Moody Blues apparently are Rimsky-Korsakov, Brahms, David Rose, and Elmer Bernstein; the London Festival Orchestra is generally used between tracks to play Hollyridge Strings changes on the rock compositions in the album. The whole execution of the album is so perverse that the only real surprise is the discovery that between the movie soundtrack slush there is some quite palatable rock which makes no compromises, even in the direction of orchestral accompanimentas a matter of fact there is almost none on the rock tracks. Then why the Festival Orchestra? Why the hideous spoken introduction and conclusion? If this crap is supposed to be breathtakingly beautiful or the aesthetic raison d'etre of the album, god deliver us back into the hands of prosaic rock, like "Peak Hour," or "Forever Afternoon," or "Nights in White Satin." Or even the triteness of "Twilight Time."
This must remain the real curiosity of Days of Future Passed: what is obviously a fine, tight English rock group has chosen to strangle itself in contextual goo. Ironically almost every one of the rock tracks has something to recommend itbut what might have been a quite capable, even exciting, album is willfully turned into something musically akin to Milo's chocolate cotton. Which is too bad.