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Electric Light Orchestra - On The Third Day CD (album) cover

ON THE THIRD DAY

Electric Light Orchestra

 

Crossover Prog

3.84 | 162 ratings

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ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk Researcher
3 stars This was the first completely Jeff Lynne product for ELO, with Roy Wood long gone and drummer Bev Bevan as the only other original member left. As with most ELO albums there are some interesting bits of trivia surrounding this one. “Showdown”, the first of the album’s singles to chart in America, wasn’t even on the UK release. The U.S. release had a different cover, as did their second album. This one featured a photo of the band standing with all their navels exposed for some reason. High McDowell appears in the photo but not on the album itself, and his name is misspelled on the cover. Marc Bolan plays on "Ma-Ma-Ma Belle" and "Dreaming of 4000" but is not listed in the liner credits, at least not on the U.S. version. And the band managed to sneak the word “fu**ing” into “Oh No Not Susan” several times by leaving it out of the printed lyrics and basically not telling anyone. This is also the album that featured the band’s ‘General Electric’ logo, a round symbol on the back cover that led to their being sued by that mega-corporation for copyright infringement. Somehow Lynne got the brilliant idea to cop a Wurlitzer logo as a replacement, and got away with that one.

This is a bit more polished than the first two albums, but the contrast between the artsy and commercial sides of Jeff Lynne’s compositions are remarkably pronounced. The instrumental “Daybreaker” and “In the Hall of the Mountain King” are full of strings and lively moog and are quite beautiful, as is “Ocean Breakup/King of the Universe”, while “Ma-Ma-Ma Belle” and “Showdown” are as light and poppy as anything the band would put out on “Discovery” or “Out of the Blue”. This is a band in rapid transition, and are only months away from a five year run of more than a dozen Top-10 pop hits over their next six albums. Except for ‘Hall’ these are all Lynne compositions, and feature several conventions that would become trademarks of the band: female backing vocals, Lynne’s overly-modulated vocal manipulations, synth strings laid on top of real ones, and tempos that border perilously close to disco at times. If you don’t take this stuff too seriously, it makes for a fun listen once and a while.

The production is much improved from the band’s second album, although the absence of a second cello causes the remaining one to become a bit tedious at times. Kind of sounds like half of a stereo recording.

Of the songs not mentioned so far “Bluebird is Dead” is probably the strongest other track, except that the drums are rather overpowering at times as a result of a lopsided track mix. “Oh No Not Susan” is unremarkable beyond the dirty words, and “New World Rising” gets forgotten at the end of the first side of the album.

This album gets overrated at times as far as I’m concerned, as it is a bit better than the second but not quite as good as ‘El Dorado’. It’s a must-have for ELO fans, but not much better than pretty-good for anyone else. Three stars for sure, but probably not more than that.

peace

ClemofNazareth | 3/5 |

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