The Moody Blues were in the right place at the right time with the right product to benefit from all the hoopla that surrounded the release of the Beatles
' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
in the spring of 1967. As pop music drifted into the resulting Summer of Love and its attendant psychedelia, the Moody Blues
released Days of Future Passed
, a concept album of sorts that presented an archetypal day through pop songs embedded in conductor and arranger Peter Knight
's languid and inspired orchestrations. The whole project struck a chord with the Summer of Love crowd and yielded a pair of unlikely AM hits, "Nights in White Satin" and "Tuesday Afternoon." Part prog, part easy pop, and either profound or bombastic, depending on one's point of view, the band kept things rolling with a string of lushly recorded hits, with member Mike Pinder's Mellotron standing in for the orchestra (Pinder, unlike many rock musicians who picked up on the Mellotron during those heady days, actually knew how to play it). This two-disc, 23-track collection presents the band's essential singles, including "Nights in White Satin," "Tuesday Afternoon," "Ride My See-Saw," "Question," "The Story in Your Eyes," "I'm Just a Singer (In a Rock and Roll Band)," and others, and adds in several key album tracks (including "December Snow" from the band's 2003 holiday album) to make a concise survey of the group's career. They may have known a whole lot less philosophically than their songs hinted they did, but the Moody Blues certainly had the right set of songs and the right musical setting to put together a nice legacy. The group's albums can seem a bit pretentious and even ponderous all these years on, but this set shows they were a pretty darn good singles band when all was said and done.