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Electric Light Orchestra - Face The Music CD (album) cover


Electric Light Orchestra


Crossover Prog

3.36 | 243 ratings

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3 stars In retrospect, "Face the Music" was the transitional album between the more serious downbeat earlier ELO material and the superficial pop with violin that became their bread and butter. As such, along with "Eldorado", it is one of their best albums, combining lessons already learned with a more radio friendly sensibility, even if the blatant commerciality was barely round the corner at this time.

The album starts off with a roar, the superb instrumental "Fire on High" easily standing as a career highpoint. For a rare occasion the orchestra is used to dramatic and bombastic ends, and the several themes interweave skillfully. It is almost the only track that is detectable on the prog scale on the album. "Waterfall" is pleasant but exceedingly dated in its laid-backness and psych feel. In contrast, "Evil Woman" and "Nightrider" are two highlights, both possessing fine orchestral touches and very catchy choruses. The fact that Lynne made a career of parodying these styles for another decade should not take away from what they represented at the time.

Side 2 is weaker, although "Poker" is a pretty good rocker and "One Summer Dream" a beautiful ballad. "Down Home Town" is neither fish nor fowl while the hit "Strange Magic" does more than hint at the lameness which was to follow. Indeed I never realized how edgeless some of this material was at the time, and 3+ decades of erosion has completed the job.

More of a good but not great quality pop album than a prog album, this might be the last album where ELO really faced the music rather than the audience. While they made millions with their new approach, it was to the steady detriment of their art.

kenethlevine | 3/5 |


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