The Moody Blues – in session for Top Gear – July 16, 1968 – BBC Radio –
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Anyone of a certain age who was around at the time remembers just about exactly where they were when they first heard Days Of Future Past. The Moody Blues up to this point were part of the initial wave of the British Invasion of 1964 and had established themselves as an R&B Beat group of some merit. Their first hit single was a cover of Bessie Banks’ Go Now and this laid the groundwork for a successful introduction to Top-40 radio in America and a string of hits in the UK.
But in the three years that followed music was continuing to change and the first wave of the British Invasion were fading rather quickly.
And then in late 1967 the Moody Blues released Days of Future Past, an album that combined Classical and Rock and was later considered one of the first Concept Albums to be released and one of the pivotal bands in what was later to become termed Prog-Rock. The popularity was almost instant, and Nights In White Satin became something of an anthem for the age of Psychedelia that reigned (or melted) over much of 1968.
In the 51 years since, Days Of Future Past holds up for the most part, while later endeavors and follow-up albums from The Moody Blues ran the gamut from cutting-edge to precious – not all of it has aged well.
But put yourself in that position of never having heard this before, and not having anything like this anywhere near your turntable prior to November 1967 and you’ll get an idea of how new, interesting and significant this all was.
This session, done for the Top Gear radio program, broadcast on July 16, 1968, comes within days of the release of In Search Of The Lost Chord, the follow-up album to Days Of Future Past. Needless to say, by this time The Moody Blues were just the kind of group you dropped acid to, and their musical tribute to Timothy Leary gives some indication where things were inevitably heading.
Knowing what most listeners know now, it’s almost impossible to put yourself in the shoes of someone who is encountering this for the first time – but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it for the historic artifact that it is. It did alter the course of Pop music at the time, and that’s good for some respect, and a closer listening for a frame of reference.