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Electric Light Orchestra - The Night the Light Went On In Long Beach CD (album) cover

THE NIGHT THE LIGHT WENT ON IN LONG BEACH

Electric Light Orchestra

 

Crossover Prog

3.37 | 34 ratings

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progaeopteryx
Prog Reviewer
3 stars This live album was released in 1974 but limited to just a few countries. It would be the only live release of the band until 1998, long after ELO had broke up. ELO's lack of live albums was due to Jeff Lynne's disfavor due to the difficulties of capturing the band's intricate studio sound. If you have the original LP featuring the ugly sci-fi parody cover, you'll understand Lynne's dilemma as it has a very muddy sound. Even so, the original LP had a lot of raw energy.

In 1998, a remastered CD with a new cover was released. This featured the same performance as the 1974 LP, but was taken from a cleaner master tap that had been found. The improvement in recording quality is dramatic. The raw energy is still there, but it sounds much clearer.

The disc starts off with the instrumental Daybreaker off of ELO's On the Third Day. It is as energetic as the original, but Tandy's keyboards seem to get drowned out by the strings. An extended version of Showdown is next, again a lot of energy that is missing in the studio version. The three-minute instrumental jam at the end of the song is great with a superb performance by drummer Bev Bevan. Next they perform an amazing cover of the Beatles' Daytripper which features a nice interlude of classical music in the middle. Lynne's guitar work is surprisingly good on this.

The fourth track is 10538 Overture, from their first album. It truly does sound wonderful live, much better than the studio version. The addition of Tandy's Moog synthesizer (which is lacking in the original) gives it a new dimension and it also successfully duplicates the effect of the French horn on the original. Next, Mik Kaminski performs a short solo that segues into Orange Blossom Special, sort of like "hoedown" music. It shows how agile ELO was live. Nicely done.

Next they perform their cover of Grieg's In the Hall of the Mountain King. A truly stunning performance, with Lynne's guitar work being surprisingly powerful (on studio recordings, it is typically average or weak). They segue this into a short cover of Great Balls of Fire. Finally they end it with the shortened version of Roll Over Beethoven, ELO's signature live finale and fan favorite. It's performed very well with lots of energy, but somehow I wish that they had performed the longer version.

With all the sappiness and cheesiness of their later work, it is surprising to see how refreshing, raw, and energetic ELO was as a live band early in their career. This work is a wonderful historical document of one of the best known acts from the 1970's (cheesy or not). One question I've wondered about. Was this all they performed on that night? Just 40 minutes? It seems unlikely to me and it's a shame the entire concert (if my assumption is correct) wasn't included, or at the very least supplemented with more material from another concert. Adding In Old England Town, Kuiama, and the Ocean Breakup suite would've made this so much better. Alas, it's only wishful thinking, but nevertheless what we have here is a good release, but non-essential. I would give both the original LP and the remastered CD three stars (really, 3.00, 3.33 respectively). If it had been a 2-LP or 2-CD set containing those aforementioned missing songs, I would have ventured into four-star territory. In any case, an enjoyable listen.

progaeopteryx | 3/5 |

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