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

FACE THE MUSIC

Electric Light Orchestra

 

Crossover Prog

3.37 | 283 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

iluvmarillion
4 stars As another reviewer says, ELO got better as they shed their progressive roots. That's opposite to what people on a prog rock site expect to hear and consequently the ratings go down as you chronologically move through the ELO discography. If you seek lengthy compositions, unusual time signatures, flashy musical technique and multiple styles within a song, you won't find it on Face The Music, nor any subsequent album. However, in terms of song writing craft Jeff Lynne hits his strides in a trio of albums beginning with this one. The result is eight superbly written pop songs performed by a multi-instrumental rock band. The value you attach to song writing craft and arrangement over musical technique and style determines your rating score. Any star rating between one and five is equally valid here, as this is an instance where bad prog rock doesn't align with bad album.

Jeff Lynne hasn't shaken off all the influences that went to making Eldorado. We still get the heavy choruses, spoken word and strings that go into the instrumental opener, Fire On Water. However, this time the writing is much tighter. After the classical intro it moves into a fast rock beat with synthesizers and guitars and finishes with choir voices and flash of acoustic guitars.

Waterfall is a great song, one of Jeff Lynne's best, with great lyrics. This is a slower track with Beatles like harmonies and better use of the chorus. Evil Woman is another great song with a dance like beat with a catchy chorus and piano and clavinet riff. Would have sounded even better without the kitchen sink approach of adding too many strings and too many female voices.

Nightrider starts with synthesizer, then comes the ubiquitous strings and choruses as it develops into a very strong vocal line before the quiet piano finish. Again, great lyrics. Poker gives Bev Bevan something to do on drums and the song goes through a few time changes in a fast-paced guitar rocker with lots of synthesizer and drum fills. Strange Magic is another impressive song from Jeff Lynne. The orchestral intro is great but the strings in the middle spoil it a bit. It has breezy guitar at the start before it moves into piano and this time the female chorus really complements the song. Down Home Town is a play on Land Of Dixie with a catchy beat and chorus.

The final track, the acoustic ballad called One Summer Dream, is I think the best thing Jeff Lynne ever wrote. It could do without the orchestra and even the choruses because it works brilliantly purely as a guitar piece. You feel as if you're floating off into the sunset as you listen to it.

My major complaint with Face The Music is there are too many string arrangements on the album. I also think it could have done without all the choruses featuring on every track. You can achieve great harmonies with just a few voices. You don't need massive choirs. Sometimes less means more. But I'm quibbling here. The other instruments are fine with clever use of guitars, synthesizers, voices and piano. These songs are so strong they would survive any format. Jeff Lynne has peeled off some of his best songs, many of which were deserved single hits. He would outdo himself on his next album, A New World Discovery.

iluvmarillion | 4/5 |

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