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Electric Light Orchestra - Eldorado CD (album) cover


Electric Light Orchestra


Crossover Prog

3.86 | 335 ratings

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3 stars I remember reading an article about ELO around the time of the release of "Eldorado" that tried to establish the origins of the rather unique group sound at the time. The author seemed transfixed on the BEATLES, the mini symphony at the end of Abbey Road, etc. That it didn't mention some of the other groups who had pioneered the rock symphony concept already - MOODY BLUES and PROCOL HARUM for instance - reflected the author's tunnel vision. I did not fully appreciate at the time that there are parts of "Eldorado" that sound like GEORGE HARRISON on strings, but at times we also get BOB DYLAN and, no surprise, CHUCK BERRY, so why focus on just one of the major influences? What remains is that, for a half an album at least, this was as close as ELO came to a masterpiece in their own right.

In the days of the LP, Side 1 was a TKO, a free flowing yet lovingly connected story line that takes the listener along breathlessly. One forgets that 1974 was not that far removed from the peak of psychedelia, hence the stoned narration of the intro sounds quaint considering the production values and technology mustered here, but the overture, the reverent "Can't Get it Out of My Head" and the rousing "Boy Blue" possess a timeless charm. In particular, "Boy Blue" combines a sweet rock melody with all out orchestration and cascading keys. The next couple of tracks are also strong, and the end of "Poor Boy" sounds for all the world like a finale. In some sense it was, for what follows simply doesn't measure up. It ranges from dispirited and mundane to more of their "Roll Over Beethoven" overkill to an attempt at swing, none of it convincing. The title cut is better, but only if you like 2nd rate PROCOL HARUM or BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST from several years prior. The CD version includes an instrumental medley which could have served as a more involved overture and done quite well.

On Eldorado, even during its weaker latter half, ELO showed they had the capacity to do more with their arrangements than boorish cellofied rock and roll and superficial twiddly bits. Unfortunately, before long they would reach the end of that road. It's funny, because the album always conjured for me the great "Wizard of Oz" film for some reason. Perhaps I subconsciously remembered the red glass slippers on the sleeve even though I never owned the LP, or perhaps the connection was achieved simply through the power of rock fantasy.

kenethlevine | 3/5 |


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