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Electric Light Orchestra - Live at Winterland '76 CD (album) cover


Electric Light Orchestra


Crossover Prog

3.18 | 18 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars In the midst of the ELO Part 2 spinoff and Jeff Lynne producing every big name artist under the sun, the mid-to-late 1990's saw a greatest hits collection, a box set, and two live recordings from the 1970's released under the ELO name. This is one of those live recordings, released 22 years after this performance that took place at the Winterland in San Francisco during the Face the Music Tour of 1976.

ELO had been known for having difficulties performing their music live and often resorted to using taped recordings of strings and effects used in their studio recordings. Whatever they did during this performance, certainly the difficulties must have taken the night off. That's not to say this is a perfect recording. It has its mixing problems in places, but the raw energy of their performance clearly overshadows the occasional imperfection.

I can't think of a better way to kick off the show than the opener "Fire on High." Wow does this sound different live! Although there are some problems, like a little sloppiness, a few mixing issues, and an out-of-tune lead guitar, the performance is just full of raw energy. Groucutt's bass playing is absolutely amazing compared to his contributions on their studio recordings. I had no idea he was capable of playing with this much energy.

They follow this up with the rocking "Poker." Again, some mixing problems, but lots of energy and overall a great performance. This leads into a fantastic performance of "Nightrider," although I found the strings to be too low in the mix. I was somewhat disappointed with "Showdown." The cellos weren't loud enough in the mix, being totally drowned out by the rest of the band. The cellos are the hallmark of this song. Their performance of this song on The Night the Light Went On In Long Beach was much better.

Next ELO gives us a 13+ minute suite featuring the Eldorado Overture, Can't Get It Out of My Head, Illusions in G Major, Eldorado, and the Eldorado Finale. This suite starts off rather poorly, mostly because of Lynne's lousy guitar playing on the Overture section. He sounds like he was trying to brush his teeth with a 5-piece patio set. Fortunately, things really improve when they move into "Can't Get It Out of My Head" which is really nicely done. "Illusions in G Major" sounds great and is quite energetic. Their performance of Eldorado is also nicely done and the ending of the suite is fantastic.

They follow the suite with "Strange Magic." Although I've never liked this song and find it quite boring, nevertheless it was performed quite well. The "10538 Overture/Do Ya" medley is another fantastic performance. "Evil Woman" is okay and "Ma-Ma-Ma Belle" has lots of energy, but sounds like it's being rushed. They wind up the show with "Roll Over Beethoven." This piece has the usual energy that ELO has been known to give it, but the mix on this is poor ending this CD on a low note.

I really enjoyed this, even with its mixing difficulties and the occasional don't-know-how-to-play-my-guitar moments from Mr. Lynne. The raw energy is really great to hear and its nice to listen to a couple songs that didn't get a lot of radio play. Still, in the overall scheme of things, this is nowhere near the live output from other prog greats like Genesis, Yes, and others. Thus, it gets a respectable three stars. Good, but not essential unless you are an ELO fan.

progaeopteryx | 3/5 |


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