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Electric Light Orchestra - Eldorado CD (album) cover

ELDORADO

Electric Light Orchestra

 

Crossover Prog

3.85 | 223 ratings

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Chicapah
Prog Reviewer
3 stars By the time that this, their fourth studio album, arrived in the record bins any trace of co-founder Roy Wood's influence had long been washed away and ELO was pretty much Jeff Lynne's baby. He sang, wrote, arranged and produced every note. While the first three efforts were very inconsistent, "Eldorado - A Symphony by the Electric Light Orchestra" was a step forward. It was a concept album, for one thing, but really only in the musical sense because lyric content was never Jeff's strongpoint. The awesome cover art depicting Dorothy's ruby slippers unequivocally repelling the green, spindly fingers of the Wicked Witch of the West encapsulates the 1939 atmosphere that Lynne was shooting for. In that sense he succeeded on a grand scale but the album as a whole is far from being a masterpiece.

The "Eldorado Overture" lays down the foundation for this adventure by creating a nostalgic aura; complete with a haunting voice-over that sounds as if it were lifted intact from any number of fantasy movies made in the 30s and 40s. "Can't Get it out of My Head" is just a great pop ballad, no question about it. The backing chorale and flowing orchestration that characterize most of the tunes on the album work to perfection on this song and the public couldn't resist, sending it soaring to the top of the singles charts and solidifying ELO's significance in popular music. "Boy Blue" follows and, after a short intro that sounds suspiciously like Handel, they break into this incredibly catchy tune that is joyous in its delivery. It mixes rock and roll with symphonic themes beautifully and is a great example of why these guys were so hard to ignore. "Laredo Tornado," has a bluesy rock track running underneath Jeff's over- the-top vocalizations as the members of the band chime in with some rather wolf-ish animal howls throughout. It's an odd duck of a song, that much is certain. Unfortunately, it suffers mightily from Bev Bevan's clumsy drumming (as do many of the tunes ELO recorded). "Poor Boy (The Greenwood)" is straightforward rock that features a swirling whirlwind of strings but it's no better than mediocre when all is said and done.

I hope Lynne was attempting to pay homage to The Beatles on the next song because he couldn't have come closer to actually copying the melody to "Across the Universe" than he does on "Mister Kingdom." It's an okay song if you can manage to ignore Bevan's tasteless banging from start to finish. (Makes you wonder how good ELO could have been with even a half decent drummer). With "Nobody's Child" things take an upward turn. It's a cabaret-style, big band jazz tune that has the boys singing "painted lady" in unison and it's yet another memorable number that will stick in your head for days. There's even a refreshing horn section starting to take part in the proceedings and they reappear from time to time in the album's remaining songs. "Illusions in G Major" is a throwback rock and roll ditty that reminds me of Jeff's former band, the magnificent "Move." That group loved to recreate the raw ambience of 50s studio techniques (on songs like "Don't Mess Me Up, " "California Man" and "Down on the Bay") and here Lynne does it again splendidly. "Eldorado" is a dramatic ballad in which Jeff's unenhanced voice is so dry that it sounds as if he recorded his vocal inside a cardboard box but it serves as a neat contrast to the rich, sweeping chorale behind him. It's a good tune and it leads directly into "Eldorado Finale" which is exactly what you would expect it to be in that it's a recap of the album's themes with the melodramatic voice-over returning to bookend the whole package.

My feeling about ELO is that they were progressive only in the fact that, rather than merely utilizing a string section, they made them full-fledged members of the group. If anything it made them different. Jeff Lynne was no fool, however, and knew how to manufacture hit singles with uncanny regularity. The quirkiness and wry humor that he and Roy Wood had exploited in The Move was also a part of this band and that's what gave them their unique identity. I feel that "Eldorado" is one of their finer creations and, by reaching #16 on the charts, expanded their audience and took them to the next level of popularity, paving the way for many more years of productivity.

Chicapah | 3/5 |

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