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

ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA II

Electric Light Orchestra

Crossover Prog


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progaeopteryx
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars The Electric Light Orchestra is one of those bands that you either love or hate. There could be a myriad reasons why. Possibly one of the reasons was their long history of making sappy, cheesy pop songs. Another may have been their movement away from the experimental art rock they embraced on their first three albums. But it was this experimental era of their history that was most interesting.

After the departure of Roy Wood, Jeff Lynne was left in charge of the band. Lynne moved the band to a more accessible sound, yet continued to embrace the experimental. ELO II featured the addition of several new band members including two cellists, a violinist, Richard Tandy on keyboards, and Mike De Albuquerque on bass. With this new lineup ELO created a more accessible symphonic prog/art rock sound that was less experimental than their debut, but much more refreshing. I happen to think the cello makes a wonderful addition to a rock band's sound and ELO (on ELO II and On the Third Day) probably makes the best use of a cello I have ever heard on a rock album. The addition of the Moog synthesizer also contributed to this new "symphonic" sound.

ELO II starts off with a dark cello line on In Old England Town, probably one of the darkest songs ELO ever made. This song is a negative look at the problems of the world back in 1972 dealing with pollution, the military, money and so on. For example...

Down, down, at the launching pad; Giant phallus stands erect; Ten thousand tons of waste throb, then eject; Look out space, we're gonna change our place.

These kinds of lyrics are far beyond the sappy nonsense ELO would practically mass produce on most of their later albums. Although this is one of the most interesting songs ELO ever did, it is far from perfect. Lynne's guitar playing is at best adequate, something he would always be known for, never being considered exceptional. The drums are also low in the mix. Lynne's vocals fit this song nicely having an angry edge to them, but they are somewhat muffled and it isn't always clear what he is singing without actually reading the lyrics.

The next song Mama is a prelude to the future sound of ELO, a simple straight-ahead rock song, slightly Beatlesque. It's a sad song about a daughter who is alone, now that her mother is gone. It sounds like it would easily fit on their Face the Music album. The cellos are nice on this, but it is the weakest track on the album. It is however, mixed much better than the first track.

The third track is one of ELO's best known songs and has always been the closer to their live sets. Here they cover Chuck Berry's Roll Over Beethoven, but they turn it into an 8+ minute prog and straight-ahead rock classic featuring those famous notes from Beethoven's Fifth Symphony first played by the string instruments as an intro to the song and then interspersed throughout the song by most of the other instruments. The long instrumental sections of this song are great featuring great violin solos and some highly-skilled drumming from Bev Bevan. A lot of energy on this one.

From the Sun to the World has a very majestic symphonic sound to it, mostly due to the beautiful, yet uncomplicated Moog passages. The middle instrumental section (between verses 3 and 4) is a calming, beautiful passage. Although the music has a distinctly positive vibe throughout, the lyrics on this are dark and deep. The music is a little sloppy, but the energy of the track surely makes up for it. Great song.

The finale on this is the 11+ minute epic, Kuiama. Kuiama is about war, possibly Vietnam although it isn't mentioned in the song. The lyrics again are dark and quite upfront. Lines like "...in this country, they got rules with no reason, they teach you to kill and they send you away, with your gun in your hand, you pick up your pay, so cruel, that no-mercy tool" are a far cry from later stuff like Mr. Blue Sky and Telephone Line. This song is just filled with dark emotion. Musically it has a very haunting sound, with the deep cellos and the wonderful use of the Moog to produce those strong stabs. The instrumental section from about 4:50 through 8:30 is stunningly beautiful, yet sad and dark. The violin solo of Wilf Gibson is full of deep emotion and Bevan's drumming is superb. It climaxes at the end with dark and spacey Moog sounds. A brilliant ending to this dark album.

This, in my opinion, is the peak of ELO's creativity. That unfortunately says a lot for this band considering they will have almost a dozen more albums released after this one. Their incorporation of two cellists and a violinist, not just as background instruments, but as vital components of the band created a unique sound for ELO that was nothing like any of their contemporaries. True, they made uncomplicated music that pales in comparison to bands like Yes and Genesis, but the uniqueness of their sound made them standouts. Unfortunately, this is the last album Lynne would have lyrics as inspiring as this, forever degrading into a never ending sea of cheese. ELO would never sound more raw and with as much energy as on ELO II. The downsides of ELO II are the somewhat muddy production, the somewhat sloppy playing, the weak guitar work, and Lynne's vocals being difficult to decipher without lyrics and their lack of range (which is surprising as on later albums Lynne has an incredible range). Overall, this is an excellent addition to a prog collection, well worth four stars. Highly recommended and one of the two best ELO albums ever made, far better than anything made from 1974 to the present.

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Send comments to progaeopteryx (BETA) | Report this review (#64446)
Posted Thursday, January 12, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is the album, which takes you into higher dimesnsions. Great symphonic work goes hand in hand with rock themes and opposites to nice melodys of "Mama" and "Kuima". "In old England town" is really dark song with genial cello work and great vocals. "Mama" is a bit long, but the melody is nice and catchy. "Roll over Beethoven" starts with violin and cello parts and then the lead guitar comes in with heavy Chuck Berry riff. This song is stunning mixture of classic work and rock'n'roll. "From the sun to the world" is my favourite. It starts piano in 3/4, then the Moog comes in and lately really good vocals by Jeff Lynne. And another good part comes in lately with heavy piano with the main theme over it. Absolutely uncomparable song, the two Boogies are superb. "Kuiama" closes the album with nice melody, great cellos and a dark piano ending theme.

If it would be possible, this album would have to recieve more than five stars. This is where the symphonic prog is at its peak. Highly recommended!!!

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Send comments to bobesh (BETA) | Report this review (#64805)
Posted Sunday, January 15, 2006 | Review Permalink
nkon1984@hotm
5 stars The First record I heard was "Discovery" (like everybody I think), the second was this one, the other extreme of ELO, an amazing record I every aspect, Jeff Lynne composition are fresh and powerfull. "Mama" is an amazing ballad 70`s style and the cover of Chuck Berry blows my mind!.

Quite a change they made after the "the light shines on" compilation, but i love anyway his "disco era", the vocals part are amazing (the seems like a black funk band), with ELO & ELO II they proved why they must be in the Prog Archives a long time before.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#65307)
Posted Wednesday, January 18, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is the album that is truly progressive rock when it comes to ELO. I have always been a fan since I was a kid. I grew up on "A New World Record" and "Out Of The Blue", both are truly great albums but neither are progressive. Fans of progressive rock will enjoy this album though. 5 tracks in all, only one is well known. The opener "In Old England Town (Boogie #2)" is so dark and moody, plodding along. Amazing track. It is followed with the beautiful "Mama", which is more grounded but still progressive. Then we have the well known cover of "Roll Over Beethoven" which marries the classic Chuck Berry tune with passages from Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, that's just clever. Then we have the all out crazy attack of "From the Sun to the World (Boogie #1)". This one is just wild and worth the price of admission alone. The final track is the album's epic, "Kuiama" which clocks in over 11 minutes and as has been said before is also dark and moody.

This is a progressive rock classic from a rather unexpected source. I love the other ELO albums and always will. This one is just...different.

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Send comments to pociluk (BETA) | Report this review (#66522)
Posted Tuesday, January 24, 2006 | Review Permalink
thoughtships@
4 stars A truly outstanding piece of genuinely progressive rock. An atmospheric, exciting, experimental journey. They would never hit these heights again, but then, they would never try, slowly becoming The Jeff Lynne Band (no bad thing) and concentrating instead on three minute pop-rock. Always great, regardless of album, this is the Electric Light Orchestra at their best. It should be in any truly great prog collection.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#68464)
Posted Sunday, February 05, 2006 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
3 stars 3,5 stars really!!!

With Roy Wood's unbelievable departure after their debut, one had to wonder how they might just pull off another album, as stunning as the first one, but Jeff Lynne will pull it off, although he will keep the heavy instrumentation of the debut album to a certain extent, but not always with great success. Only Lynne and drummer Bevan remain from the debut album, Wood being replaced by two cello players and Lynne abandoning the keys to concentrate on guitars and vocals. Tandy on keys and Alburquerque on bass will remain for a few albums to come.

Opener Old England Town is a very muddy sounding track that can repel the unwary listener, but the delightful (but slightly over-long) follower Mama is much easier on the ears and clearly indicative of future ELO directions and Berry's Beethoven (being a rather unashamedly commercial call to stardom) closing off the first side of the vinyl.

But clearly the better tracks lay on the second side with the rather epic (but not fully achieved) From The Sun To The World including a boogie and a tango into a classical theme: impressive even if flawed. The almost 12-min closer is an impressive slow starter but develops into a great instrumental passage on the halfway mark. To call this track an epic might just be overstating it a tad, but it would not be indecent either.

Clearly not as artistically successful as their debut album, 2 is a transition album (there will be more and a cynical proghead might just say that the next five albums will be transitional), but it has some good moments but clearly not reaching the height of their debut, clearly lacking Roy Wood's input. So Lynne had to compensate with what he does best, evident melodies that could've been imagined by McCartney.

Around the time of this album, ELO will also write Showdown that will appear as a non-album single and will clearly define the typical ELO sound even if this second album is also an important step into that direction.

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#70721)
Posted Tuesday, February 28, 2006 | Review Permalink
Guillermo
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I read in ELO`s official website that Roy Wood appears (uncredited) in two songs of this album, playing bass and cello:in "In Old England Town" and in "From the Sun to the World". Apart from this, this new ELO`s line-up now included keyboard player Richard Tandy, who occasionally also played with The Move, not as an official member, playing bass or keyboards. The addition of this very good keyboard player really improved the sound of the band, and he became very inlfuential in the sound of the band as his keyboard arrangements became very identified with ELO`s sound.

I like this album even more than the first. It is still very Progressive Rock in style, less experimental than their first, and with a more unified style in the music, because Jeff Lynne became the only songwriter in the band.

I can hear some of the influence of Roy Wood in "In Old England Town", which has several cellos playing low notes. Tandy plays a good piano in this song.

"Momma" has good lyrics about a young woman who lost her mother and has to learn to live her own life. Here, the cellos and the violin sound like a little "orchestra", reinforced by the Moog sounding like a "brass ensemble". It is a very good song.

I have listened to two versions of "Roll Over Beethoven". The version that I listened in the radio was a bit different, maybe edited for a single. The version included in this album starts with the violin, the cellos and the bass guitar playing the start of Beethoven`s "Fifth Symphony". After this brief introduction, the band starts "rocking" with Jeff Lynne`s guitar. It has a very good arrangement. This song was a hit in the charts.

Side Two of the old L.P. has two long songs, very Progressive, IMO. In both songs Richard Tandy shows his classical music influences in his piano playing. He and Lynne are credited playing Moog in this album, and they used it very well in these two songs. "From the Sun to the World" is more influenced by classical music arrangements, and "Kuiama" is more Prog Rock with a "science fiction story" in style.

The L.P. that I have, originally released by EMI in England, has a different cover design in comparison to the U.S. version. I listened to this album for the first time in 1974, and it was the first album that I listened from ELO, and I still like it.

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Send comments to Guillermo (BETA) | Report this review (#73153)
Posted Sunday, March 26, 2006 | Review Permalink
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)

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Send comments to micky (BETA) | Report this review (#82263)
Posted Thursday, June 29, 2006 | Review Permalink
ClemofNazareth
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk Researcher
3 stars The life of this album is actually more interesting than the original release. This was first released with a pretty cheesy cover in Britain in 1972, then followed up with an American and Australia/New Zealand release that had one song renamed, another remixed, and a better-looking cover. A few years later this was combined with their debut album and released as a sort of boxed-set in Holland, and was remastered and released on CD in 1990. Another CD version came out last year with three different takes of “In Old England Town”, two of “Roll Over Beethoven” (neither of which is the same as the best and original version), and an outtake version of a goofy “Baby I Apologise”. There are probably other versions floating around as well, but you get the idea.

This was the follow-up to ‘No Answer’, and the first following Roy Wood’s departure to form Wizzard. Jeff Lynne wastes no time in remaking the band in his image of a Beatles tribute troupe, although there are plenty of remnants both of the first incarnation of the band, and of the Move’s sound from the sixties. Most are found in the still-present strings (mostly cello), heavy bass, and simple drum beats, but all these tracks are much longer and more developed instrumentally than most of what the Move ever did.

The opening “In Old England Town” has pleasant arrangements but appalling engineering. Rumor has it Wood contributed this track before his departure, and it shows. This is very much in the vein of “Battle of Marston Moor” from the first album, which is to say a pseudo- orchestral and somewhat disjointed number that has Wood’s signature written all over it.

Next up is “Mama”, or “Moma” or “Momma”, depending on which version of the album you’re listening to. This is almost a ballad, very much a Lynne composition, and quite beautiful, although it doesn’t age all that well and sounds rather dated today.

The highlight of the whole album is the energetic and expansive “Roll Over Beethoven”, which sounded old-fashioned even when it was released but showcases Lynne’s distinctive vocals and guitar, great cello from newcomers Mike Edwards and Colin Walker, and plenty of ostentatious instrumentation. This isn’t progressive music by any means, but it sure is fun to listen to. The original eight-minute plus version is by far the best, but later versions of this album featured a slightly trimmed rendition with some of the instrumentals cut out, and there was a later radio edit that is much shorter and frankly sounds unfinished.

The back side of the vinyl version leads off with “From the Sun to the World”, which blends both the early ‘light orchestra’ version of the band with the more pop-oriented vocal sounds and simple tempos that Lynne would favor on his more popular later releases. There is a lot of the sound of ‘Face the Music’ on this tune, and the piano and Wilf Gibson’s violin work are both excellent, and the two of them combine for a long instrumental passage that alone is almost worth the price of admission, and previews some of the same sounds that would reappear on ‘Out of the Blue’.

The vinyl version closes with the eleven-minute plus “Kuiama”, a sometimes unfocused piece of work that nevertheless features some of the best drumming and violin that ELO would ever record. This is one of the more progressive bits of music the band did before turning into an intergalactic hit machine, and unfortunately tends to get overlooked by those later poppish hits.

One last comment on the original vinyl release: I have no idea why Lynne felt the need to release this in a gatefold cover, as the inside jacket is rather bland, adds very little to the overall presentation, and must have set the label on edge for the additional cost it incurred. Weird.

Anyway, I really like this album’s ability to sound both simple and complex at the same time, and Lynne’s uncanny ability to make strings and long, classically-influenced arrangements sound like pop music. That’s a talent. This isn’t a masterpiece, but it sure makes a nice addition to just about anyone’s collection, so three stars doesn’t seem out of line.

peace

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Send comments to ClemofNazareth (BETA) | Report this review (#110977)
Posted Wednesday, February 07, 2007 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars I purchased the vinyl version in 1974 after the discovery of "El Dorado". It was a very nice feeling as well. Great and so different music. One of the things that worried me (and still does) is the weak production (to be really noticed in the vocals specially in "In Old England Town" (terrible) and "Kuiama". This problem is solved in the very nice remastered version which also features some bonus tracks.

"In Old England Town" opens the album brilliantly. It is an elaborate track (but there won't be nice little tune on this one). Riff is rather hypnotic and rocky all the way through. The vocals are somewhat weird but acceptable is the remastered version.

"Mama" is a wonderful ballad like ELO will produce a lot in the years to come. Jeff's ability in writing such beautiful pieces of music is really amazing. Strings are one of the most subtle ELO will produce. What an harmony !

What to say about "Roll Over Beethoven" ?

That it is the best combination ever of rock and classic music ? It would be too easy, since there are not so many of that genre. Simply put, it is an incredible cover version of this Berry classic rock tune. "Yes" will do the same with "America" or Deep Purple with "River Deep, Mountain High". It is rather a re-interpretation than a cover.

The cellos and violin (three musicians !) at their high, a fantastic rythm throughout this song. On the remastered version, we have the pleasure to get two versions : the US release one which lasts for just over seven minutes and an alterante take which starts strangely, with laughs and ... weird sounds (but you'll have to listen to it to understand). It is quite difficult to express (well actually, Lynn will simulate some sounds coming out of the human body when eating too much beans, if you see what I mean)!

The best version for ROB will still be the one of the original European release which will feature a non-edited version of eight minutes.

I guess, everybody should fall in love with this song. IMO, it is one of the very best ELO song. The extended studio version will never be matched in live performances. How great an idea to combine this rock'n'roll classic with this fabulous string section but the piano / guitar break in the last third also belong to the most dramatic ELO moments. I recommend you to listen to it at full volume. You will be overwhelmed by the fantastic rythm and harmony of this extraordinary number. Even thirty-three years later, I still love this song after countless spins.

"From The Sun to The World" opens in a very prog way and leads to a quite rocky song with again an orgy of violin and cellos and at times a very classical piano. An ocean of emotion radiates from this number. The tempo change between classic piano and the rock'n'roll mood is particularly successful. It must be the third highlight so far. What a great track my friends !

"Kuiama" is the longest song of this album and another great moment. It sounds so easy for Lynne to produce Beatlesque wonderful melodies those days...The remastering has also produces wonders here. Long and wonderful intrumental section in the second part. Full of emotion. One only needs to sit, listen and almost cry in front of such beauty.

If one ELO album can be classifed "prog" it is this one. It is extremely inventive, beautiful, innovative, symphonic and harmonious. It is a milestone in the band's history and announces great things to come. I will rate the remastered version with five stars (no doubt that this is the one to get hold of even if the best ROB version is not featured).

On top of a wonderful restoration work (really), we'll get ROB (take one), a short instrumental version (2'43"), as well as an alternate take (the first one) of "In Old England Town" and a number from the studio sessions "Baby, I apologize". A rock ballad, very much piano oriented. Rather childisch. An average song which was too short of inspiration to compete with the other five numbers of this fantastic album.

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#112517)
Posted Saturday, February 17, 2007 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars Roll over.. Roy

After the briefest of stays with his brainchild, Roy Wood left the Electric Light Orchestra. His sole legacy was the band's fine self titled debut album. Jeff Lynne therefore become the de-facto leader of the band and set about continuing the project.

The first indication of what we could expect from the post Wood ELO came in the form of this album. It is fair to say "ELO II" was a brave release. With just five lengthy tracks, it represents the most progressive point in their entire career. The songs are generally among the least commercial in ELO's catalogue, the sole exception being the cover of Chuck Berry's "Roll over Beethoven".

"In old England town" is a plodding, and frankly messy cello driven piece, which falls between the two stools of appealing but simple rock, and complex prog. In the end it is neither. "Momma" is certainly more melodic, the reflective lyrics and melancholy tune being sympathetically accompanied by violin and Moog (synth).

ELO's 8 minute rendition of "Roll over Beethoven" is arguably the best version of this oft covered song. The frantic pace and wall of sound backing render the song absolutely compulsive. It is ironic then that this, the only song on the album not composed by Lynne, should have been selected as the sole (but enormously successful) single release.

The second side of the album consists of just two tracks. After a soft piano intro, "From the sun to the world" features more pioneering Moog synthesiser and a retro sounding echoed vocal. The track weaves its way through a number of different moods, including a sudden deviance into a boogie section, without ever really getting anywhere. The final track, the 11 minute "Kuiama", is an extended big sounding ballad with pleasant but undemanding instrumental passages.

While there is much to admire and enjoy in ELO 2, on the whole I find the album rather unsatisfactory. The band's, and especially Jeff Lynne's, ambitions appear to have outpaced their natural development. As a result, much of the album sounds muddled and unpolished. Had they made the album later in their career, it would probably have sounded a whole lot better, and the tracks would have been nurtured to deliver their full potential.

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Send comments to Easy Livin (BETA) | Report this review (#121769)
Posted Saturday, May 12, 2007 | Review Permalink
Flucktrot
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Having mostly heard ELO in the pop form (Evil Woman, Sweet Talking Woman, etc), hearing ELO II was quite the shock--in a good way! I remember that my parents had a vinyl compilation (Ole ELO, I believe), and the two tracks that always stuck out to me were Roll Over Beethoven and Kuiama, which is further evidence to me that I was born to prog. At any rate, hearing these classics in their original context was very enjoyable, and ELO II still piques my interest today.

In Old England Town. To me, this tune is only related to classical music because of the instrumentation. The crunching cello often operates to plodding, Sabbath-like riffs. Still entertaining, but then Lynn's vocals enter the fray, and boy are they rough. This is a good song, but you can't go in expecting a poppy, well-produced ELO sound.

Mama. This is a dreamy tune that makes excellent use of the strings. When I listen to groups like Anekdoten, I hear them borrowing almost as much from this version of ELO as Wetton's Crimson. Certainly nothing virtuosic, but well-paced and relaxing.

Roll Over Beethoven. Without warning, ELO simultaneously kick up both the rock and the prog with this roundhouse kick to the face. A simplistic yet brilliant adaptation of Beethoven's foreboding classic gets interrupted by a familiar yet raw, attention-grabbing riff by Lynn (I didn't know he had it in him!). ELO keeps up the pace for the rest of the song, with frequent nods to the original tune, nice bits of honky-tonk/rock piano, and decent synth work. Inspired and original, without stepping on Chuck Berry's toes.

From the Sun to the World. Another nice adaptation of classical music, and this time they weren't kidding about the "boogie" in the title. Enjoyable movement between melodies, and the piano and strings sound more integrated (as opposed to the album opener).

Kuiama. One great slice of prog. If you don't like any of the preceding tunes, I'll bet you enjoy this. The general tune and vocals are good, but the best part is the build in the middle, as yawning cello escalates to a simple but effective solo from Lynne. This is one of the few ELO tunes that remind me more than a little of Yes. Be patient and you will be rewarded.

Two excellent songs and no filler. Production and vocals are uneven, but not obtrusive. If you like classically tinged prog, but don't need virtuosic playing (or strong vocals) to go along with it, ELO II is right up your alley.

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Send comments to Flucktrot (BETA) | Report this review (#138503)
Posted Saturday, September 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
progaardvark
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars ELO II saw the departure of Roy Wood (although he makes some small uncredited contributions), leaving Jeff Lynne in charge of the band. Additional personnel that came on board were keyboardist Richard Tandy, bassist Mike De Albuquerque, two cellists, and violinist Wilf Gibson. Lynne made a significant departure from the experimental No Answer where the foundation was chiefly classical music. ELO II's foundation is clearly rock music, with the classical instruments filling more atmospheric roles. In addition, Tandy adds lots of Moog synthesizer flourishes. This is a total and complete transition for the band. The main reason was probably record sales. In those pre-Internet, pre-computer days, you had to sell in order to make records. Another reason was most likely that it wasn't really Lynne's style. The future direction of ELO would clearly make this point.

Nonetheless, ELO II, even though completely different from their debut, still succeeded as a wonderful contribution to progressive rock during this time. Though not as complicated as Genesis, Yes, or Van der Graaf Generator, ELO carved out a special place in the progressive rock genre all their own (yet soon to be abandoned). Their music was more accessible, yet gave a large amount of room for the band to let loose. Lyrically, this period was the peak of Lynne's career (if he's reading this, I'm sure he's groaning), with some of the darkest words penned in ELO's long history. Lynne probably needed to work on that guitar a bit more as he is only marginally acceptable, but the skills of Tandy and the string trio make up for his mediocrity.

ELO II is one of the best ELO albums ever released, second to On the Third Day. Easily a masterpiece to my ears and well deserving of five stars. I highly recommend getting the remastered version as it sounds so much better than the old U.S. version. This review is based on the remastered version.

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Send comments to progaardvark (BETA) | Report this review (#145055)
Posted Tuesday, October 16, 2007 | Review Permalink
UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The second album from ELO is just a tiny bit better than their debut, even though it´s a bit more commercial. The music is still very much based on Beatles like melodies and the chamber like strings that are omnipresent throughout every song on the album.

The music is pretty light weight prog, even though there are lots of keyboards playing and the songs are not simple pop songs. Of course I´ll have to mention the cover of Chuck Berry: Roll Over Beethoven which also holds elements from Beethovens 5th. It´s a blend of classical music and rock´n´roll which was very popular in those days. I know people fall on their tail when they talk about this song, but IMO this is the worst track here. It´s just horrific and doesn´t do any of the two original songs credit. Well the rest of the songs are decent and very well executed. It´s very professional sounding.

This is not my taste, but I´ll have to give this 3 stars, because it is so well composed and played.

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Send comments to UMUR (BETA) | Report this review (#156931)
Posted Friday, December 28, 2007 | Review Permalink
Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This second album by ELO might have been considered as the most prog from the band, especially for those of you who were there when it was released. From the band's perspective, ELO II was a transitional album as Roy Wood departed. He actually played on "Boogies" but not credited. It's truly a brave move for the band as the album is wildly experimental, at times rough and barely digestible for some ears. But for those who adore progressive music might definitely say that this is a brilliant piece of work. This what somewhat supported by the fact that when Rhino compiled a boxed set containing progressive music titled "Supernatural Fairy Tales" which also featured the music of this album. So, it's fair enough to categorize this second album as ELO's most prog act. And I believe this is the true reason this band is featured here at this site.

I enjoy the music of this album especially on the multi-tracked string parts which cause a distinctive sound of the music. The five tracks on the album range in length from 6:54 to the 11:19 closing track "Kuiama". On track by track basis, I think the track which has most elements of prog are : "In Old England Town (Boogie #2)" (6:54), "From the Sun to the World (Boogie #1)" , and the concluding track "Kuiama". The opening track is quite heavy which beautifully includes excellent textures on Jeff's vocal. "From the Sun to the World" has great piano work that enriches the song especially with moog and good ensemble playing. Composition-wise, "Kuiama" is really an excellent work. "Mama" (7:03) is a mellow track with excellent string arrangements combined with nice vocals by Jeff Lynne. As I don't really favor original rock'n'roll style, the Chuck Berry's 1950s tune Roll over Beethoven does not attract my taste.

Overall, this is a very good addition to any progressive music collection. Recommended.

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW (i-Rock! Music Community)

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Send comments to Gatot (BETA) | Report this review (#176629)
Posted Sunday, July 13, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars The second in the row of three ELO essential albums.

I will start with its strong sides. Again, very good songwriting skills although the absence of Roy Wood is apparent from the beginning and adds to less experimental and renaissance look at the things. It is however the closest ELO contribution to a conventional symphonic progressive rock. Fewer orchestral sounds, more keyboards, especially moogs and rock-oriented instrumentation. Tracks stretch out to more than 6 minutes.

As correctly described by some prog fellows, dark mood is the omnipresent feeling. That can make the music more impressive.

Sound quality is the weak point of the album, first song is quite badly mixed. Instrumental prowess is not in the same league with most other progressive bands, the album had probably arrived too early for those guys from that point of view. Drumming sounded dated already back in 72, it reminds me of British Invasion bands. I adore most violins, cellos and all keyboards.

Although the weakest or least strong track is Mama, I always skip Roll over Beethoven which I listened to only twice and don't feel any need again. Kuiama and From the Sun to the World followed by the first track are the strongest efforts in my view.

Highly recommended effort, although slightly less than 4 stars.

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Send comments to sgtpepper (BETA) | Report this review (#196562)
Posted Wednesday, December 31, 2008 | Review Permalink
SouthSideoftheSky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
2 stars Second light

As far as progressive music, or Art Rock, is concerned the interest in Electric Light Orchestra should largely be restricted to their first four albums. Of these first four albums, this one - their second release - is, in my opinion, the least interesting one. It is not that this is less arty or less progressive, not at all, it is rather that the quality of the material is simply lower here. Don't let the sheer presence of the Moog synthesizer and the greater average song-length fool you into thinking that this is the most progressive albums by Electric Light Orchestra. Rather, in sharp contrast to the debut album, we find here the first traces of the hit-making potential that Electric Light Orchestra was about to develop strongly with albums like A New World Record. But here this hit potential is without any of the high production values that characterised all ELO albums from Eldorado onwards.

Momma is despite its length not much more than a pretty straightforward pop ballad. Roll Over Beethoven is a quite embarrassing, rearranged version of the old Chuck Berry Boogie/Rock 'N' Roll number, not much helped by the new treatment it gets here. This type of classic Boogie Rock is not my cup of tea in any version, I'm afraid. The remaining songs are not awful but often meandering and do not hold much interest for me.

If you want to explore the arty and proggy beginnings of ELO, don't start with this album. Start instead with the better On The Third Day, the self-titled debut (aka No Answer) and Eldorado.

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Send comments to SouthSideoftheSky (BETA) | Report this review (#210997)
Posted Saturday, April 11, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars I find this album very frustrating to listen too. And I have been listening with open ears and mind.

The music here is soaped up The Beatles with cello, violin and keyboards. But ELO is just plodding on and on with four uninspiring pop/rock songs. The instrumentations is very good and there are clear classical influences here. But they are not enough to save the bacon. The one song that saves the bacon is fifth song here, their excellent version of Roll Over Beethoven. That is an excellent track. Unfortunate; is the untypical track here. The rest is plodding. OK, I have to admit that I also like parts of From the Sun to the World when I am now listening to this album for the 11th time. This album is still not a great album by any means and I hope ELO has released better albums than this one.

3 stars (barely)

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Send comments to toroddfuglesteg (BETA) | Report this review (#248404)
Posted Friday, November 06, 2009 | Review Permalink
snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Well-known ELO-II album has his historical value, I believe. First of all, they invented this easy accessible form of symphonic boogie, that attracted millions of listeners to more serious progressive music. Then, even if not very complex or different inside , songs of this album are all easy recognizeable, and you will hardly say the same about hundreds of other albums or artists.

Melodic, nicely arranged, catchy and listener-friendly songs - it is not so small reason to be respected! And it still not ELO pop-rock of later years. Not the best ELO album, but serious start for Lynne-influenced style for years. It's interesting, that the best album songs are not boogie-based. "Mama" became popular for years, and "Roll Over Beethoven" became their visit card for decades ahead.

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Send comments to snobb (BETA) | Report this review (#263772)
Posted Monday, February 01, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Much debated album on this site, the reviews go from bad to good to great. There are only 5 songs here on Electric Light Orchestra's second, and best (IMHO) album. This album shows them at their most classical/proggiest. Jeff Lynne goes it alone without Roy Wood, and suceeds with an effort I find better than NO ANSWER, which got boring in parts. Here, I am never bored. This is NOT a perfect album, though- I wish the sound quality was sharper, especially on the opening number "In Old England Town". And, of course, we have here the masterpiece of classical music fusing with rock in "Roll Over Beethoven", which is a seminal song in rock music. Because of the poor sound at times, I can only give 4 stars for ELO II, and wish I could give 4 1/2 or 5. Excellent addition to any prog collection.

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Send comments to mohaveman (BETA) | Report this review (#296373)
Posted Friday, August 27, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars It was a long and cherished dream of Birmingham to have an electric string band. Denny Laine doesn't really get enough credit for his early String band, the forerunner of ELO. The problem Denny had was that amplification for strings live just didn't cut it, but it was interesting and innovative just the same.

Jeff's rise to fame contains puzzles too. He was always a good lead guitarist in Idle Race, he wrote songs that were, like most of Birmingham, enslaved in homage to Roy Wood, and pretty as some of the melodies were, they lacked focus and shape, and were often consumed by ascending/descending minors. Suddenly in ELO, the songs came into light, and made sense. The same chord sequences were there, but it was the difference between normal font and bold, and it came as a bit of a shock to those used to Jeff's previous work.

He was lucky too, having a great drummer like Bev Bevan to propel the beat, and in fact the whole group of musicians Jeff and Bev put together had a chemistry and life that couldn't be denied. Ironically, it was the departure of the great Roy Wood that seemed to be the catalyst. Freed of Roy's shadow, Roll Over Beethoven is a great track in anyone's book, a clever arrangement that leaps with joy and tongue in the cheek exuberance.

I note that Jeff considered Mr Blue Sky his best piece of work, and it really is a tour de force, that beautiful ending (apart from the jarring harmonica) bringing back memories of And in the End by the wonderful Beatles.

Adventurous ELO were not, but it was a welcome sunlit addition, bringing a clever aspect and an intelligent kind of popular music that wasn't clever enough to be prog but wasn't simple enough to be dismissed.

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Send comments to giselle (BETA) | Report this review (#437677)
Posted Friday, April 22, 2011 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars The second ELO album is a bit of an improvement over the first; the departure of Roy Wood also sees the band moving away from slavish devotion to the Beatles, and working on integrating the different parts of its sound more thoroughly. This is achieved best on the first and last songs, which between them attain a dark and foreboding sound miles away from the sunnier material ELO would eventually become known for. The worst song on here is probably the rendition of Roll Over Beethoven, mainly because the "rock and roll bit, proggy bit, rock and roll bit, proggy bit" song structure gets on my nerve - either play straight ahead rock and roll, or play your prog opus, but don't chop the two songs up and mix them together like that! Still, an album which shows the band on the way to better things.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#500699)
Posted Tuesday, August 09, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Certainly one step ahead from their original, but amateurish and pretty awful sounding debut (even Bev Bevan had difficulties keeping his timing right!), ELO2 is still an uneven record.

Let's begin with the flaws: "In Old England Town" fits very well with the worst of their first record, it's really painful for the ears. Lynne's singing is really not ok on this track. He is one of my favourite singers, being very versatile and warm, but here he is forcing his voice to do things he was unable to do at that time. The strings are also out of key and the composition isn't very interesting(although with better recording and playing/singing it could actually be a decent prog anthem). "From the Sun to the World" has got some interesting ideas(mainly the classical inspired intro), and the sound quality is much better, but the rock n' roll parts are very uninteresting and the song is -also one of ELO's characteristics(see the two instrumentals on their next record)- very repetitive which narrows the replayability of the track a lot. With some better decisions this could have been a less boring tune.

So Boogie no#1 and 2(as these songs are called alternatively) bring the level of the album down severily. But the other songs( all clocking over 7 minutes) are all highlights of the band... The reason why a lot of youngsters bought this record back in 1973 was ofcourse the incredible rendition of Chuck Berry's "Roll over Beethoven". And they are absolutely right. What a thrilling ride Lynne makes of a harmless rock n' roll song, with what an energetic punk attitude they play the song and with what great biting prog hooks they stuff this candy-bag full. Probably the definitive highlight of ELO's early career. "Momma" is equally impressive as a ballad, although one can question the length of the track. Lyrics are very warm on this little gem, and Tandy's keys blend very well with the string section. I can see this being used at a funeral, making loads of people cry. And, last but not least, "Kuiama": the only truly successful epic prog song ELO has made(so if you wanna convince someone ELO was definitively prog, put on this song!). All ideas on this track are strong and the arrangement is incredibly tasteful for such a young band. They really sound must more adult on this one then on the "boogie" tracks and the anti-war lyrics actually work really well. Those three songs are must haves for anyone interested in both artrock or ELO, and make the record really worthwhile.

*****: "Kuiama", "Momma", "Roll over Beethoven"

**:"From the Sun to the World"

*:"In Old England Town"

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Send comments to JeffELOLynne (BETA) | Report this review (#525124)
Posted Saturday, September 17, 2011 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Although I heard ELO´s first album at the time it was released in Brazil (1974), it took me some 35 years to hear their sophmore release. And it´s a really interesting experience. This is clearly a transtional album. Although Roy Wood was gone by the time this album was recorded, his influence is still lurking around in some tracks, most notably on the opener In Old EnglandTown (Boogie No 2). Not surprisingly I latter found out that Wood played bass and cello on this track (uncredited, as he was on a second one, From The Sun To The World). But the record was notably for including a ´real´ band sound (strings included!!), that would eventually play live. It was the first CD to feature the excellent keyboards player Richard Tandy, and he would be crucial in giving the band its trademark sound.

Another aspect that ELO II reminds of the first one is the muddy production and the rather disjoined sound of some tracks, specially the opener that I really don´t like. However, this album is definitly a great improvement over the the first, being much more melodic, focused and interesting. While still a bit experimental, it´s easy to see the way Jeff Lynne and co would heading to. The symphonic ballad Mama is a good example of that. Another one is the terrific rendition of Berry´s Roll Over Beethoven. Like other reviewers already said, this is a totally remake, not only a cover, and it´s a fantastic combination of classical music and rock´n roll. Inventive, bold, fun and very, very good! While the two remaining tracks From The Sun To The World and Kuaima are not exactly my favorites, they are again better than the chaotic and confused píeces of the first LP. More interesting than good, but still valid and appropriate for the time. Vocals are a bit subdue most of the time, although the new remastered version that I own did wonders to improve this aspect and the very bad original production.

Conclusion: Good moments in general, some experiments here and there, not a totally successful album, for sure. Still, not a bad record either. Hard to rate it. Much better than the debut, but not as good as the ones that followed. I´d give it 2.5 stars, but I´ll round up to three since I enjoyed most of it. If you´re following the development of ELO`s sound you´ll be surprised how much they grew from one record to the other.

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Send comments to Tarcisio Moura (BETA) | Report this review (#609631)
Posted Saturday, January 14, 2012 | Review Permalink

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