Knights In White Satin
Pet Sounds did not invent concept albums, and Sgt. Pepper’s did not invent psychedelia, but by 1967, critics were fawning over The Beach Boys’ record, and The Beatles were finishing theirs, inviting guests to the “A Day In The Life” session where they recorded their orchestral backdrop. The studios read the writing on the wall: concepts albums and psychedelia were the future. Deram Records commissioned The Moody Blues, an in debt R&B band, to record a rock version of Dvořák's Ninth with the London Phil. But left with the orchestra and no supervision, The Moody Blues ended up recording Days of Future Passed, an original record perfectly integrating the orchestra not as a backdrop, rather integral members of the band. The record, with a cover reminiscent of classical albums, combines classical motifs, vocal harmonies, and lyrical complexity with rock and roll, pop, country.
The Moody Blues released albums in this vein for the rest of their career, though possibly only their 1970 album, A Question of Balance, matched the brilliance of Days of Future Passed. Songs like “Question” and “Balance” can be amazingly beautiful. For a group to use strings the way they do and not be heavy handed or sappy is a real credit to the songwriting and arrangement. With the exception of Electric Light Orchestra, The Moody Blues effectively stand alone in this genre (possibly because of the difficulty and impracticality of integrating an orchestra like they do.) I also highly recommend ELO.