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Electric Light Orchestra - Electric Light Orchestra II CD (album) cover

ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA II

Electric Light Orchestra

 

Crossover Prog

3.52 | 150 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

micky
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Every one of us have that prog album.. or two or three... that opened our eyes to the beauty and the power of prog to put convential music to absolute shame. I have several that did that for me. This album ELO 2 was one of them. The musical journey I undertook in my life got it's start the day I found a groovy looking 8-track sitting on my mother's stereo. At the time I was diving deep into Assimov's Foundation series.. and saw the cover.. that lightbulb sure looks like a spaceship. I put it on.. and was transported to a different world full of celestial music that took the words off of the pages I was reading and put me in them. The album is very close to me like special albums are close to you for whatever reason that might be. Still 30 years later the album transports me... to a shy bookworm of a kid sitting for hours in front of his mother's 8-track player. Throughout the years I've floated through the musical changes... Disco, Country (remember Urban Cowboy hahaha), New Wave, Hair Metal, Grunge, Blues Rock, and finally back home in the last couple years to prog.

As far as the album itself. Fairly 'characteristic' prog release. Characteristic in that it has much of what many see prog as... long instrumentally driven songs (5 of at least 7 minutes long), classical not only in instrumentation but in style and structure (no pop prog here), lots of great solos, and topical yet at times rather obtuse lyrics. Many have said and I agree that this may have been ELO's, along with No Answer, most traditionally prog release. The album gets off to a great start with the sawing cellos of IN OLD ENGLAND TOWN. Is it just me or does that cello intro remind you of the intro to Dvorak's Symphony No. 9 In E Minor, Op. 95 'Z Noveho sveta': IV. Allegro con fuoco. Well it does to me hahaha. The intro coninues on for about a minute and a half with some saucey violin and some stinging guiar by Jeff Lynne coming in. However at that point we are faced with one of the major issues with the album... Lynne's vocals. They sound rough, and rather unpleasing to the ear. He would not hit his stride until their next album.. the masterpiece ON THE THIRD DAY. The production on this album is not exactly all that great either. I've heard that this album has been remastered and reissued in England with superior sound quality as ELO2 : LOST PLANET. Unfortunately I haven't procured that release yet. The intro theme is reprised several times through the song. Vocals aside love the cello work and think it is a great opening song. MAMA the next song up, is a favorite of many who like this album. Most indicative of where ELO influences lie.. in the Beatles. Also most indicative of where ELO would head over the course of 70's. Strong well written song with nice symphonic touchs. The next track is the oft regarded cover of Chuck Berry's ROLL OVER BEETHOVEN. Not much too add that hasn't been said.. other than it's fun.. just enjoy it for what is was. A progressive workout of a pop classic. That outragious violin solo though.. still raises the hair on the back of my neck.

Now we come to the last two tracks.. the two that represent all that I love about this album.. love enough to sustain a passion through 30 years of musical change. FROM THE SUN TO THE WORLD begins with a beautiful piano and moog intro by the criminally underrated keyboardist of ELO Richard Tandy. The intro runs into the stirring main theme on the moog. Lynnes vocals here suit the music perfectly and are probably the best on the album. The piano interlude here I directly attribute to my latter passion for Rachmaninoff and piano driven classic music. SO beautiful and I STILL get goosebumps when I listen to this (as I am as I type this) Tasteful moog and violin assist Tandy's spotlight here. This interlue ends with a jarring dynamic change with a pounding boogie piano underneah a reprise of the main theme. The theme is repeated several times by the violin and the moog before Lynne's vocals come back in. The song wraps up with an incediary Lynne guitar solo and several reprises of the main theme. This song never fails to remind me of everything I love music for. The last track Kuiama is a mixed bag. The first half for lack of a better word.. rather boring. Lynne sings of the evils of war of something like that. However at roughly the 4 minute mark... the pretention of the lyrics disappears and we have the music. A moving cello solo overtop Tandy's grand piano that still brings a tear to my eyes when I hear it. You can hear the sorrow on that cello. Next up the violin takes a solo spot... it keeps up with the predominant them of sorrow and sadness. Tandy's pounding out the chords underneath it just adds the overall effect here. Lynne adds some guitar noodling for lack of better word which leads to the finale of the instrumental section. A jarring 'air raid siren' sound effect with the grand piano being pounded for all that Tandy was worth. A short quiet section with some celestial piano brings us back to the vocal section and the end of the song.

ELO is many things to many people. For a look into the Symphonic ELO, take a listen to this. You may find yourself sitting for hours in front of your CD player being taken away to a place far more interesting than the one we are in now. For me.. 5 stars.. the truest definition of Essential. For anyone else.. 3 stars. A good.. but a non-essential album.

Michael (aka micky)

micky | 3/5 |

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