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Electric Light Orchestra - Electric Light Orchestra [Aka: No Answer] CD (album) cover

ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA [AKA: NO ANSWER]

Electric Light Orchestra

 

Crossover Prog

3.60 | 242 ratings

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GruvanDahlman
3 stars When The Move was laid to rest Electric Light Orchestra was born. Jeff Lynne and Roy Wood got on with business but with a slight change in direction. The eclectic but heavy rock of The Move was replaced by a far mor progressive approach which had a strong flavor of The Beatles. I have heard or read that their intention was to take the legacy of The Beatles and revive it, as a sort of covers band but with original material. Did they succeed? Well, there are an abundance of Beatles paraphernalia but that can easily be put aside and instead I hear a highly original band that concentrated on some sort of baroque flavored progressive pop-rock that is both, as a whole, unfocused but very pleasant and listenable. ELO would become megastars, once Wood had left and Lynne shaped things up and brought the ship into waters of his own making. I think that this, the first, album is by far the most interesting and exciting of all ELO albums. That is not to say that it holds their best material, because it doesn't, but the experimentation and oddities found on here is mesmerizing. In many ways the album expresses the early prog movements eclectic side where everything goes and the will, need or urge to explore any and all genres and directions are evident.

The album kicks off with the only track usually included on "Greatest hits" albums of the band, "10538 Overture". The name is grand and pompous, like it ought to be. I hear a lot of the ELO to come in this track. A track that is forceful in a poppy way with a prominent violin. It is a magnificent opener, but really not one of my favorites. "Look at me now is a fine track in it's own right with baroque instrumentation. It's like queen Elizabeth I were to hire some minstrels and demand they play 20th century pop music. The result is not bad at all. A really fine track with som wonderful time changes and stabs of strings.

The first really amazing track is the dancehall-esque "Nellie takes her bow", blending the popular music of the early 20th century with all the ingredients of early prog. A weird, off-beat section with brass and string instruments that goes off the wall. The melody is amazing and I love this track to bits. It is perfect in every way. Dramatic, surprising and pushes the boundaries a bit. There are remnants of The Move on here but to me that is only the great finishing touch to a perfectly constructed prog song, laced with pop and classical music.

Another favorite, though of totally different reasons, is "The battle of Marston Moor". The English Civil War is a period in history that is fascinating, with a king being decapitated and Cromwell on his high horses. The track opens up with a dramatic spoken intro before a forceful and (a bit) strange instrumental section tells the story of, I suppose, the battle itself. It is really not one of prog's finest hour but still it manages to do the job and offer a baroquely progressive moment in time that is quite unique. You could argue that this is as close to the likes of Gentle Giant and Gnidrolog ELO would come and maybe that is a fair point to make.

"First movement" is a great little instrumental of which there is little to say other than it's nice. "Mr. Radio" once again harkens back to times gone by and evokes images of the 30's and 40's popular music, laced with a bit of The Beatles and wrapped up in Lynne's vision of music. "Manhattan rumble" is sort of avant garde, but only slightly. Interesting piece and surely one of the more proggier of the album, along with "Battle of Marston Moor" and "Nellie takes her bow". The track "Queen of the hours" is more in the pop direction but with a slight Kinks-ish touch. Great track. The ending "Whisper in the night" is a beautiful way to end an album of a wonderfully disjointed character.

To conclude I would say that this is not the ELO one is accustomed to, so do not expect to hear the carefully recorded studio albums of years to come. What you get is a moment in time, a photograph of the infancy of ELO. The raw product, the rough sound and heartwarming vision is unique in the discography and offers so much more. I am a fan of ELO through the years but this is my favorite album. I adore everything on it but still I cannot say that it is an essential album in any sense. If you like ELO and want to explore their humble beginnings, do have a listen, but as far as prog goes there are other, better albums. Having said that I'll give it three stars but add that my love of the album holds no limits.

GruvanDahlman | 3/5 |

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