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The Moody Blues

The Moody Blues - Days of Future Passed

Record producer Phil Spector was always known for his “wall of sound,” but perhaps that term better suits the late 1960’s-early 1970’s Moody Blues albums.

The Moodies, also dubbed “the world’s smallest symphony orchestra” brought some wonderful melodies to the world of rock music, with lush production by Tony Clark that gave the band its particular “wall of sound.”

But that came later. Days of Future Passed was an experimental blend of rock and classical music, with the London Festival Orchestra conducted by Peter Knight brought along to do the classical bits.

We didn’t time the orchestra versus band parts, but it seems fair to say that at least half the album is orchestral, and there’s nothing wrong with that. The LFO takes Moodies themes and fleshes them out, beginning and ending the album and joining the songs together to create a wonderful whole.

The sound quality of the original vinyl album was about as good as one could expect from 1960’s analog recording. Alas, as is common with many other compact discs remastered from old analog sources, the CD sounded thin, and almost shrill in places. The wall of sound was more made of Styrofoam than anything.

But dts, with this “high definition surround” 5.1 channel remix, gives us the chance to hear this old classic in a new light: not only does it use state-of-the-art technology to bring the old master tapes to new life, it mixes it into surround, spreading instruments all around the room.

Alas, therein lies the rub, and it tears at us. The new version does sound very, very good. Oh, it doesn’t sound as if it were recorded yesterday, but it does sound as if it’s been given a new lease on life. It’s a tad sterile, but overall we’re very happy with the sound quality.

But we question some of the 5.1 mixing. Mike Pinder’s great baritone, used for the spoken parts, comes from the rear channels, as if he’s talking to you from behind. This doesn’t work, for us; his “voice of God” belongs in front, talking to us not talking behind our backs.

Other than that, most of the instrument placement is fine; we have a few quibbles that aren’t really worth mentioning - thing we would have done differently if we’d been hired to do the job.

And while we’re fan of 5.1 surround, and it works on many discs (Queen’s “A Night at the Opera” comes to mind, as does the DVD-A of “Brain Salad Surgery,” which restores the original quadraphonic mix), now that we’ve heard it we would have preferred dts to remix “Days” more like they have with some jazz releases: put the music up front and use the surrounds for reverb and ambience. That way, we feel, they’d have recreated that “wall of sound” in front of us that, now that instruments are all around the room, has instead become a circle of sound.

Still, when all is said and done this is still the best optical disc version of “Days of Future Passed” that we’ve heard. So our bottom line is that we’re happy, but not ecstatic.

1. The Day Begins
2. Dawn: Dawn Is A Feeling
3. The Morning - Another Morning
4. Lunch Break - Peak Hour
5. The Afternoon - Forever Afternoon (Tuesday?) / Time To Get Away
6. Evening - The Sun Set / Twilight Time
7. The Night - Nights In White Satin
Genre: Classic Rock Label: DTS Entertainment UPC: 710215441825


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