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Electric Light Orchestra - A New World Record CD (album) cover


Electric Light Orchestra

Crossover Prog

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4 stars ELO is not prog but sort of innovative, mainly due to the arrangements. Often they are such horrible bubblegum pop hits. (I voted NO, but since they're here, I give the first written review of this classic pop album.) Before I had ever put a vinyl on the turntable, I was paying some attention to what my elder sis and brother played, and I remember this was at some moment my favourite album. I was eleven or twelve. Later I've listened more ELO (never getting enthusiastic) and without a doubt I can call this their (only?) masterwork.

'Tightrope' is a marvelous opener with its dramatic cello riff. It becomes clear at once how well the album is produced. 'Telephone Line' is a melancoly ballad mourning about loneliness. The quiet parts with moog and the sound of the phone when "no one's answering" almost makes one shiver. The chorus is less nice, one of many that show ELO's closeness to 50/60's syrupy pop. The official hit rockers of the album are 'Rockaria!' and 'Do Ya Do Ya'. 'Livin Thing' was also a hit and IMO a better one; again it's the stuff in-between the chorus that makes it enjoyable to ears. Jeff Lynne's skill of writing effective pop songs is undeniable.

'Above the Clouds' is a tiny song that somehow is essential to the overall charm. The city at night in the cover reflects that charm - fruit of the mastery production. The closing song 'Shangri-La' is a sweet ballad, the protagonist missing in self-pity something dear now lost. (Shangri-La refers to James Hinton's famous novel about a secret country of happiness.) When the song has faded, the music creeps back to repeat a symphonic phrase with some background choir and distant vocals. That's another magic moment of the album that made me dig it as a kid. An album which deserves a place in lists like '200 Rock/Pop Albums of All Time', not necessarily in the shelf of a prog lover.

Report this review (#65657)
Posted Friday, January 20, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Probably ELO's best album and most cohesive work, this album has 3 big hit singles and some brilliant, interesting album tracks. As ever, the feeling of progression with ELO comes from experiencing each of their albums as one cumulative whole rather than as a simple collection of songs, and in this regard "A New World Record" excels. Consistently melodic, detailed and intricate, this album maintains a high standard of songwriting throughout and flows effortlessly through 36 minutes of warm, lush arrangments and spacey atmosphere. A gem.
Report this review (#68460)
Posted Sunday, February 5, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars A New World Record basically abandoned all of ELO's progressive roots. It is a pop album from beginning to end. There isn't anything on it that closely resembles progressive rock. It's a combination of pop rock (Tightrope, Mission, So Fine, Livin' Thing), ballads (the silly Telephone Line, Above the Clouds, and the Beatlesque Shangri-La) and rock (Rockaria! and Do Ya).

I do have some fond memories of the album as I was introduced to it in the late 1970's as a child. Indeed, I like quite a few of the songs on A New World Record (Mission, for example) and it is one of ELO's most popular releases and one of their best sellers. Lynne's vocals and production have vastly improved, too. However, it isn't progressive rock and never will be. With that in mind, I can only recommend this to collectors and fans only and thus it deserves two stars. All others, please avoid. If you're interested in ELO's progressive works, start with ELO II or On the Third Day.

Report this review (#69194)
Posted Sunday, February 12, 2006 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Prog Specialist
3 stars How I miss 1976 when "A New World Record" was released, I was 12 years old, a prog newbie and thought ELO was the greatest and most artistic musical expression since Johan Sebastian Bach. I must have listened this album one thousand times and heard the most popular songs on the radio another thousand, no need to analyze, almost nothing to compare them with, so I was blind but happy.

After a couple of years I had already 200 Prog' LP's and noticed they were good, but not great and that bands like KING CRIMSON, ELP, early GENESIS or YES were really original in sound and structure, something that I could no longer find in ELO.

I started to understand that a couple of violin and cello arrangements over clearly Rock songs plus a guy that could fake the voice of a Soprano on stage is not Prog, and my blind happiness ended.

A lot of people consider Kansas an AOR band only because they dared to release a very good but commercial song named Dust in the Wind, well "Telephone Line" is even less original, absolutely commercial and made exclusively to ensure the album will have a hit single. I consider this track in the same level as STYX's "Babe" or ASIA's worst tracks. This track takes the entire album down, if you have problems with sugar, please avoid it or you'll need insulin.

Rockaria is a good joke and nothing more, clearly structured as a Rock & Roll with a pseudo soprano addition absolutely artificial, entertaining but nothing more.

If I had to choose a good track I would stay with the melancholic and incredibly beautiful "Livin' Thing" the violins give a gypsy Hungarian atmosphere that IMO is close to perfection, if any track was made for Jeff's voice is this one.

The rest of the songs are almost in the same vein, rock with violins and Cello, and a bunch of guys pretending to be more original than they really are

By no reason this album should be considered Progressive Rock, because it isn't even remotely close, but despite the genre it's a very good release (Except for the horrendous "Telephone Line"), so if you just want good music it's your album.

How to rate "A New World Record" is another problem, 5 or 4 stars are out of the question, because it's not essential for any Prog' collection being that by this point of their musical evolution ELO wasn't even Prog related.

2 Stars would be unfair, beause not only fans of ELO will enjoy it, mainly is very good music for anybody, so I will give 3 stars, because good but not essential describes my opinion about "A New World Record".

If we were in a Rock & Roll forum I would probably rate it with 4 stars, but in Prog Archives, there's not a valid reason to do it.

Report this review (#71391)
Posted Tuesday, March 7, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars I have to agree with the previous reviewers misgivings about ELO'S 'prog' credentials. Having said that, being one who enjoys 'syrupy', commercial, heavily orchestrated pop music, I'm happy to have the chance to comment here. This album is all the foregoing. Other than 'Do Ya', which I find slightly irritating/banal, I dont' think there's a dud on this album.

If I'm feeling a bit depressed and want to hear an album that will lift my mood, this is the first one I think of. However, I don't play it so often because like the other reviewer who misses 1976, for me too it was a golden time, gone forever, so I don't want to live too often in the past. Anyway, I find myself singing along passionately to virtually all of this album.

The opening track 'Tightrope' is a scorcher, with some borrowings from a famous piece of classical music, and some urgent string sounds that cut through the air with the chillingness like the sound effects in 'psycho', but upbeat. The songs 'Telephone Line', 'Rockaria' and 'Living Thing' all made the British Top 10. For singing along to, I like 'Telephone Line' best, and don't know how anyone could not like that song.

All the remaining songs are commercial enough that they sound like they could have been hits too, and that's what this album oozes, top class commerial pop songs.

So, for what it is, and the powers that be have it on this progressive site (so, that makes it 'progerssive'), on that understanding, I think this is an essential album, a top notch representative of it's type.

Report this review (#71859)
Posted Tuesday, March 14, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars I listened to this album for the first time in 1977. My father sent one of my brothers to buy it, thinking that it had a song that he listened in the radio and that he liked, but he couldn`t remember the name of the band or of the song. He played this album, he didn`t find that song on the album (some time later he knew that the song was called "Spring`s Rain" or something like that, composed by an musician called Bebu Silvetti, from Argentina!). My father didn`t like "A New World Record" very much, so he gave the album as a gift to my brother.

In 1976-77, most of the radio stations in my country played Disco Music almost endlessly. I never have been a fan of this style of music. So, "A New World Record", which sounded then (and it still sounds to me) like commercial Rock, was a good option. Recently, I listened to this album again, and my views changed. I think that now, in hindsight, I can write a more "balanced" review for this album.

This album is good, and it seems that ELO spent a lot of time recording it. The songs are not very complicated. Basically, the songs are good Pop Rock songs with very good arrangements. Sometimes the arrangements are excellent. So this album has a lot of quality in arrangements, but some songs are not very good. Something that I don`t like are the Falsetto vocals in some songs, a la Bee Gees of the mid and late seventies. Jeff Lynne, IMO, was now with a clear objective in his mind: to release commercial songs, with very good arrangements, but with radio playing in mind.

The best songs in this album, IMO, are: "Rockaria!", with humour in the lyrics and in the arrangements, a Rock song which includes a real Opera singer!; "Mission (a World Record)", despite a funky arrangement played with clavinet and orchestra; "Do Ya", a very good Rock song, which was first recorded with The Move in 1970-71; and "Shangri-La", the best of all in this album, with great orchestral and choral arrangements, particularly at the end of the song.

The "almost Bee Gees" songs are "So Fine", "Livin`Thing" and particularly, "Above the Clouds", with Falsettos! "Telephone Line" is good, but this song is still played in some oldies FM radio stations a lot, and I`m tired of this song.

In conclusion, this album has a lot of quality, and it deserves the popularity it has. But I still prefer other of ELO`most commercial albums: "Out of the Blue" and "Balance of Power". So, as I gave to "Balance of Power" 3 stars, I give to this album 2.5 stars, mostly for the Disco Music influences.

Report this review (#74289)
Posted Friday, April 7, 2006 | Review Permalink
Prog Folk Researcher
3 stars ELO released eight studio albums in the 70s, and with the exception of El Dorado each of them showed progressive tendencies alright – each was progressively closer to being a full-blown disco-pop album, culminating with the coup de grce Discovery to close out both the decade, and effectively the career of the band. There were a few more albums in the 80s, but they were of no real consequence either in terms of progressive music or of the vitality of the band (although I’ll admit to kind of liking 1981’s Time).

A New World Record was the last release that showed any semblance of an artistic work, as opposed to a purely commercial venture. The album is pretty evenly split into two groups: pop songs with modestly progressive arrangements (“Tightrope”, “Mission”, “Above the Clouds”, “Shangri-la”), and pop songs just meant to be pop songs (“Telephone Line”, “Rockaria!”, “So Fine”, “Livin’ Thing”, and “Do Ya”). “Shangri-la” gets a bonus point for use of pseudo-operatic vocals accompanying some pretty decent string arrangements.

This record is actually a bit more depressing than most casual listeners probably realize. “Tightrope” for example is a sad cry of despair from a guy who seems to be overwhelmed with the pressures and complexities of life, begging to be thrown a lifeline by those who are managing to stay atop the tightrope of life from which he has fallen. “Telephone Line” is the wallowing lament of a lonely person clinging to a telephone and working through a conversation of reconciliation while listening to the ring…. ring….. ring… in the earpiece. This wasn’t an original theme in the 70s by any means. Dr. Hook had “Sylvia’s Mother”; Jim Croce did “Operator”; and of course the king of phone calls gone bad – “Beth” by Kiss.

“Mission (A New World Record)” paints a rather bleak view by an interstellar mercy mission to the planet Earth:

“On a dirty worn-out sidewalk sits a mother with a baby, in her veil of tears she sees no rainbow. And someone’s singing from a window – in the Mission of the Sacred Heart”.

Even “Livin’ Thing”, with its peppy melody and upbeat falsetto vocals, carries a sad message of unrequited love (or maybe just lust):

“And you, and your sweet desire, you took me, higher and higher. It’s a livin’ thing, it’s a terrible thing to lose… making believe - this is what you conceived on your worst day. Moving in line then you’ll look back in time, to your first day - I’m taking a dive”.

Things don’t get much better toward the end. This is a well-known album and a favorite for many of us who came of age during the mid-70s. It’s full of decent music that reflects the times, but not a progressive classic by any means. Taken on its own merits though, this is a good album, although I suppose not essential. But when scrutinized carefully with the distance of time, this is also a somewhat bitter lament by Jeff Lynne about longing, but more importantly, about change.

“My Shangri-la has gone away, faded like the Beatles on ‘Hey Jude’”.


Report this review (#82383)
Posted Saturday, July 1, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars The first real musical work that I ever purchased was a cassette version of Ole ElO. I was 11 and it blew my mind. The next year, I got this album as a present. After my first listen, I loved it. Of course, that was ~30 years ago and my tastes have certainly changed over the years. However, I still treasure a few of these songs. I guess I'm just a bit more emotional than many of the other reviewers on this site, since I think Telephone Line is a good song. Growing up with the radio playing AC/DC and Terrible Ted, this song was a stand-out. Sure, it's sappy,but the production is good and so is the orchestration.

My favorite tune on this album is Mission. A melacholy piece about the beauty and tragedy of Earth, from an alien point of view.

Report this review (#83589)
Posted Wednesday, July 12, 2006 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Prog Team
4 stars ELO is an odd item around the house of prog. Sometimes praised, and sometimes bashed. They started out squarely in prog's realm, but gradually turned to a more pop sound. That doesn't mean they abandoned it entirely. "A New World Record" combines the best of both worlds. The songs are catchy, but infused with orchestral elements.

Right from the beginning, "Tightrope" gives us strings, and an operatic chorale. It then turns into a bouncy little number, while retaining the string sounds, and some good ol' rock guitar. It ends with the same tone as the opening.

"Telephone Line" is a nice ballad, with some proggy instrumentation, but otherwise straightforward. It also contains a groovy little doo-wop.

"Rockaria" is a '50s style rocker, with vocal interludes by a melancholy diva (yes it is one of the band members, but at least it is not the made-up pop kind).

"So Fine" is a great pop track, that has a cool jungle influenced interlude. Thus retaining some prog cred. It segues nicely into the violin intro for the next song.

"Livin' Thing" is another quality pop track, but there are those interludes again. The gypsy violin gives it a bit of panache. Not just your average Top 40 here.

"Do Ya'" is a staigt ahead rocker, with fuzzy guitar. But wait, maybe not so predictable. The strings again come in with an understated wavy effect. Then a little military drum roll just for good measure.

Those are the highlights. A couple of the slower tracks are not as impressive, but stand up nonetheless.

This was a favorite of mine back in the '70s, and I still love to hear it. It may not be full on prog, but it makes a great intro for the timid, or less knowledgeable initiate. No matter how you want break it down, it's a darn good album. ELO was never so focused. It's also a lot of fun.

H.T. Riekels

Report this review (#87835)
Posted Monday, August 21, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars This album points out to me the clams jumping and of the waxes to eat. I just cannot believe what I hear. I liked the first work of the orchestra of electric light, but formerly of the middle of the Seventies I think that Jeff Lynne must have completely lost its brain. It of the albums far is removed progression.

It start with Tightrope and I admit the keyboard and the orchestra deep in the beginning that I have appreciate, but when the song give a kick at pied in it be a pile of crumb of bread and some sandwich with sausage for me. Telephone line descended him still other in my nose from nonsense. I do not like the vocals on this which makes me want to eat spines and to send soup to my neighbor.

Will Rockaria improve my brain? I should say not really. It is an energetic piece of music and the song of opera is nice, but it dispatches me with the right rock and not the illusion of the melody. The mission (a disc of the world) is rather accessible and the concept is riper than the preceding nonsense. Musicalled I find it more interesting, but it does not escape from my tables and chairs everywhere the brush.

Is not so much very well as well. It has its complications, but it derives too much from the names and the verbs and this eats my knees with passion. I admit that thing of Livin ' to being slightly of traditional and of me of noise will leave that where it is, however it does not help the album too much. Above the clouds seems like an interlude or something to fill spaces. It seems rather nice, but with fine the my fountain reams.

Do Ya is an anthem of rock like the thing and me all the advertising films remember which they play this in however me think it was substance of movement but I do not remember that hearing the movement made this front. The last song is in my opnion a good song, giving me freedom to the lucky find Beatles and the final few minutes give to the album a glorious end.

Does that help me? Not, not really. It is the majority of time music of noise and if you want to hear more complicated things of the orchestra of electric light, should test their two first to you, the third day, and perhaps Eldorado if you did not consume a gallon of soda scales. I am still recalled pepper and the salt and the wax of I to their presence. For ventilators only, thus it should obtain my voice for two holds the first role.--JB

Report this review (#93487)
Posted Thursday, October 5, 2006 | Review Permalink
Chris S
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Of all the inclusions on this site I am amazed at ELO's, but happy nevertheless. I recall when ' A New World Record' was released. It received wide acclaim commercially and hit the top of most charts.Jeff Lynne is a rare talent for sure and his ongoing contributions to Tavelling Wilbury's, George Harrison etc. needs little mention here except to say his creative abilities for making pop songs could be borderline ' Beatlesque' in their success.

This is not an album to extract and review it's musical complexity, but mainly to state that it is pure and simpy loaded with great tunes!Often heard in supermarket aisles, elevator lifts, hotel lobbies, friends stereos. The catchiest of which IMO are the opener ' Tightrope', ' Telephone Line' and ' The Livin thing'. Great era for pop songs!

Report this review (#101186)
Posted Friday, December 1, 2006 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Fades like the Beatles on "Hey Jude"

The progression, if it can be called that, of ELO from their early prog influenced roots through the prog pop of "Eldorado" to becoming a singles focused pop rock band was pretty much completed with this album.

When you bear in mind that "Livin thing" was recently voted number one in Q magazine's "guilty pleasures - uncool songs that are OK to love" you get a pretty good indication of how far they had shifted. That said, this is still a highly enjoyable and undoubtedly accomplished album. Yes, we have the sophisticated 10CC type pop in songs such as "Rockaria" (the inspiration for Genesis "Duchess" perhaps), "so fine" and indeed "Livin' thing". Jeff Lynne does however craft such songs with great attention to detail. The longevity of such numbers is no co-incidence, they sound as fresh and appealing today because they have been put together with a great deal of care and attention. Listen closely to any of these pop songs and you'll find a lot more going on than is at first apparent.

The album also contains some fine, slightly more intricate album tracks. "Mission (A new world record") is a fine space ballad, the precursor to the band's "Time" album. The closing "Shangri-La" has a supreme melody and an effective double ending. The chorus lyric "My Shangri-La has gone away, faded like the Beatles on Hey Jude" may be a little corny, but it reflects the major influence of the Beatles music on Lynne's compositions.

Among the remaining tracks are a routine ballad ("Telephone line") and a reworking of the classic Move track "Do ya". The version here is extra heavy with some wonderful guitar riffs.

There is no question this is a pop orientated album. It is however unfair to simply label it as such without recognising the quality of the compositions, the production, and the performances. This is an album of very high quality.

Report this review (#101527)
Posted Monday, December 4, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars ELO had digested quite well the production of their El Dorado masterpiece and produced a quite decent follow-up album. So, what about this one ?

The first track, "Tightrope" is quite promising at the start (quite similar to "Overture", again) but turns into a convential rock / pop song. Still, it will be one of the best number of this album. "Telephone Line" : is another McCartney oriented wonderful ballad with a fabulous melody. Jeff is really only second to him to write such beauties. Very nice indeed. "Rockaria" like its title indicates is a pure rock'n'roll song like some of the godfathers of the genre could have written (Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry ...) . Of course, the cello / violin makes this one different than just a rock song (but "ROB" had already paved the way).

So far, this album is not too bad, but with "Mission" ELO will produce a middle of the road track, a bit boring I must say. "So Fine" is another example of this downhill in quality : it sounds more like a "Grease" type of song (Travolta and Olivia could have made the chorus : Ouh La, Ouh La La !). Totally out of purpose (but Lynne and Olivia will strike again some years later).

"Livin Thing" could have deserved a place on El Dorado (sorry to come back with this one, but it is my ELO fave you know ...). Completely melodious and symphonic. Quite poppy as well. Another good number. "Above the Clouds" is a short, mellow track that won't be remembered for the centuries to come. "Do Ya" is a 100% poppy song; but grandeur and nice harmonies are left aside.

The album closes with "Shangri-La" : a melancholic ballad, not bad nor great. 100 % supermarket music. Not offending anybody, not interesting anyone. This comment is actually valid for the whole album.

I guess Jeff needed a rest so that he can again recover his creativity. He tries though with this one to reach the levels he was used to. But he did not succeed. This album is probably their weaker so far. My advice is to stick with their previous work. Prog orientation is completely gone (but this is not a news). Two stars.

Report this review (#117872)
Posted Tuesday, April 10, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Even though the prog-rock aspect of the Electric Light Orchestra was fading, this album showcases Jeff Lynne at his peak. Seven of these nine tracks (So Fine and Above the Clouds excluded) are gorgeously written and performed, including ELO's best track ever with "Livin' Thing." But the other songs are no slouch either! Tightrope reminds us of ELO's prog-rock origins with its beautifully orchestrated introduction, interludes, and finish, and seamlessly segues into Telephone Line, which I think everyone agrees is just a grand song. It functions very well as both a movement in the album and an FM Radio staple single. It's just a great song. Rockaria! picks up where Roll Over Beethoven left off and may leave some people annoyed at the apparent cheapness of it, but I maintain that it really is well written (music-wise). Mission ends side one on a poignant note; very romantic, very starry-eyed, and a very nostalgic hook, flawlessly performed. So Fine and Above the Clouds are the only fillery bits on the album, but I think that even they work well as segues between tracks and help maintain the record's flow (even though this isn't really a concept album). I said before Livin' Thing is the best song Jeff Lynne ever composed or performed (IMHO). The rendition of The Move's Do Ya is not just inoffensive, I find it quite superior to the original track. The style it is performed in I think is much more appropriate given the song's content, even without noting that the performance is just plain stronger. Shangri-La is just a pretty tune, well structured and memorable, but where it really shines is the album's outro where it repeats that haunting melody with Jeff's desperate crying. An excellent ending for a truly outstanding album. This has been my favorite album ever since I first listened to it about a year ago, even higher than any Beatles material (pretty damn good).
Report this review (#117945)
Posted Tuesday, April 10, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars I think the members of Electric Light Orchestra would be the first to tell you that they really never considered themselves or their music to be genuine prog rock. The fact that they so efficiently incorporated symphonic elements into their songs qualifies them as prog related, though, and I'm glad they're included in this prestigious club. This is the album that really vaulted them up the charts and into the rock and roll hierarchy in the midst of the seventies. It's a well-crafted recording that showcases leader Jeff Lynne's obvious admiration for The Beatles and the songwriting craftsmanship of the 50s and early 60s that inspired them. The wonderful cover with the group's logo done up like an old Wurlitzer jukebox says volumes about their approach to making records. One of the things that Jeff carried over from his days with Roy Wood in "The Move" was their delightful sense of humor and willingness to freely incorporate vastly different styles of music into their tunes and that spirit is evident on "A New World Record."

The album starts off with an ominous, dark theme that alternates back and forth with a happy-go-lucky rock and roll motif throughout "Tightrope." This displays (much better than I could ever convey with words) their unique ability to manipulate contrasting moods, creating a sound that no other band had or will probably ever have again. And in the wild and wooly mid-seventies the ability to stand out from the herd was crucial to a group's success. If you take the time to listen to the lyrics, however, you'll discern the desperation and emptiness that epitomized millions of baby boomers who were finally facing the Big 3-0 in lines like "when I looked around/I was heading down/won't somebody throw me down a line?" It's easy to overlook the artistry of the massively overplayed "Telephone Line" but if you stop and listen intently you'll re-discover its magic. The set up with the ringing phone signal is very effective and Lynne's altered voice singing to no one epitomizes a sadness that many of us can relate to. Here he incorporates old school doo wop background vocals to manufacture a catchy pop song that will stick in your head the first time you hear it and remain there for the rest of your life. It's a classic heartbreaker, especially with his end verse of "Okay/so no one's answering/can't you just let it ring a little longer?/I'll just sit tight/through shadows of the night/let it ring forevermore."

You gotta love the "let's not take ourselves too seriously" false start by the female opera singer on "Rockaria!" Most other groups would have edited that out but this fun bunch thought it was perfect, as do I. Here they joyfully blend operatic sensibilities with a Jerry Lee Lewis style of rock & roll and grin-inducing lyrics like "she's sweet on Wagner/I think she'd die for Beethoven/she loves the way Puccini lays down a tune/and Verdi's always creeping from her room." The next song, "Mission (A World Record)," is the closest they venture to being progressive as it begins with a spacey aura that somehow manages to segue into a funky, clavinet-driven beat. Despite drummer Bev Bevan's embarrassing attempts to ruin the mood it's a sobering look at our planet earth with Jeff assuming the role of an alien observer who can't do anything to help us because his "orders are to sit here and watch the world go by/from the mission of the sacred heart."

"So Fine" lifts things back up with what I call Caucasian Motown music as Lynne pays tribute to that soulful genre, complete with recurring, Pips-like "Woo Woo's." I hate to rag on the poor, talent-deficient Mr. Bevan again but the percussion break (that I assume he was in charge of producing) has got to be one of the lamest you'll ever hear. Thank God it doesn't go on for more than a few bars. The highly recognizable Spanish violin intro to "Livin' Thing" follows and what can I say? It's an expertly composed, memorable pop hit that kept ELO on the radio constantly in 1976 and helped to propel this album's sales through the roof into the platinum stratosphere. It's about as far from prog as you can get but it's hard to criticize success on that scale. Next is "Above the Clouds," a nostalgic, 40s-sounding tune that has a cool, sophisticated chord progression. The song sorta sneaks up on you, and then disappears before you know it.

I appreciate that Jeff knew he had a smash tune just sitting in his back pocket with "Do Ya" but I will always prefer the rough, punkish, original version that The Move recorded. I also realize that if not for this cleaned up revision only a miniscule percentage of the population would know classic lyrics like "In this life I've seen everything I can see, woman/I've seen lovers flying through the air hand in hand/I've seen babies dancing in the midnight sun/and I've seen dreams that came from the heavenly skies above/I've seen old men crying at their own grave sides/and I've seen pigs all sitting watching picture slides/but I've never seen nothin' like you." Yep, they don't write 'em like that anymore, by golly. I'm glad that Jeff kept the arrangement intact and only added the tasteful, radio-friendly ending to this monster of a song.

"Shangri-La" provides a somber finale to the album with a terrific melody that is a throwback to the fifties once again. It's another number about a broken-hearted man whose love has gone away and "faded like The Beatles on Hey Jude./she seemed to drift out on the rain/that came in somewhere softly from the blue." They gradually transition back into the album's opening theme and the opera lady reprises her brief role as they tactfully tie up the loose ends and give the listener a satisfying sense of completion.

ELO has always been a source of simple, uncomplicated enjoyment for me with their tongue-in-cheek, quasi-pretentiousness and sometimes frivolous attitude but, when all is said and done, they did produce excellent pop music with an eccentric flair that kept things from getting too stale on the Top 40 list. If you were to only own one album by this band this one might be the most representative to have in your collection. 3.4 stars.

Report this review (#124802)
Posted Tuesday, June 5, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars With A New World Record, ELO entered pop stardom and by this time had completely abandoned progressive rock. By shifting their music this way, Lynne was able to gain the success he had always desired and made a ton of money doing it. There isn't anything wrong with that, nor is there anything wrong with this style of music. I really enjoyed this album a lot when I was growing up and still enjoy it from time to time today. But this is PROG Archives (emphasis on the PROG, if you noticed), and although ELO's earlier albums are well deserving of a place in the Archives' hallowed halls, from this point forward we're dealing with what is an endless string of pop rock albums. And rightly so, I can only assign two stars to this album as it really is for collectors and not prog enthusiasts. But if you enjoy some really nice toe-tapping, intelligently constructed pop rock (though lyrically cheesy), you'll probably love this (as I do). Otherwise, prog rock fans are best to avoid. However, their first three albums are highly recommended and I would suggest starting there.
Report this review (#145939)
Posted Friday, October 19, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars A memorable album from a legendary band

As music, especially rock, has been in my life since I was a six-year old child, it's hard not to memorize how Electric Light Orchestra shone a bright light in music industry during the glory days of rock music in seventies. "A New World Record" was one of the band's albums where the cassette was available and quite popular in local record stores at small city, Madiun, where I grew up since birth until I went to university. Oh yes, "Telephone Line" was a major hit at that time through local radio stations using AM and SW frequencies because at that time FM was not invented yet. I sometime tuned Radio Australia through the SW channel to broaden my knowledge about rock music industry. On top of that, "Telephone Line" was really popular song for the teenagers like me at that time. Hey, I was 16 by the time this album was released. And you know what? This album was one of favorites as airplay for my amateur radio station: Thunderstorm Broadcasting. Wow man .! I was so proud airing tunes from ELO because it's quite unique: pop song but with intense orchestration.

The album starts with "Tightrope" (5:04) which to me it sounds like The Beatles (style and melody) with the flavor of orchestra. I like the way the string arrangements that are nicely combined in this composition. It flows nicely to the major hit "Telephone Line" (4:37) which starts with its memorable narration: "Hello, how are you ..?". It's so simple but it represents a down to earth example in standard day-to-day conversation using a telephone line. I like the title of the next track "Rockaria!" (3:13) and the beats the song produced, it's like the Beatles "Rock n Roll" music in softer mode.

"Mission (A World Record)" (4:25) is to me like a light orhestra with nice melody while the music flows in ballad style. "So Fine" (3:55) brings the music back into upbeat mode in pop style. I can sense the bass playing is dynamic right here. "Livin' Thing" (3:31) starts nicely with violin work followed by upbeat pop music that, again, reminds me to The Beatles. "Above The Clouds" (2:17) is a nice song in mellow style using string arrangements as main rhythm section. "Do Ya'" (3:44) is a rocker in happy mood. It's a nice song. The album concludes with a ballad song using nice howling guitar at opening : "Shangri-la" (5:33).

Overall, this album has been part of my life as well as yours (those of you who lived during the glory days of rock music in 70s). Even at that time, this album was not considered as really "rock" music but most of them who loved rock, they loved this band and this album. The compositions in this album are solid and the album represents a cohesive whole as the style of music is similar from one song to another. It's a memorable album. Keep on proggin' ..!

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

Report this review (#174506)
Posted Friday, June 20, 2008 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
2 stars A new world record in well-written, well-produced, but ultimately boring Pop music?

That is about the only thing in which this album could be said to set any record whatsoever. The previous album Face The Music had been the first album in their commercial era and only a few signs were left there from the Art Rock days of their early albums. With A New World Record they continue in the direction of Face The Music. ELO would follow slavishly the formula set up by this album on subsequent albums and all these three albums, Face The Music, the present one and Out Of The Blue, sound exactly the same. Out of these three, A New World Record is probably the strongest one. But still not very interesting.

As with Face The Music, the opening number is the best song on the album. Nice male choir in the background. After two or three songs the album starts sounding like more of the same. The melodies are extremely Beatles-inspired, almost on the verge of being a rip-off.

This album is full of well-written and well-recorded Pop music, but there is almost no diversity and variation anywhere and there is almost no sign whatever of "progression" here.

Like almost all post-Eldorado ELO albums, this is only for fans and collectors of the band.

Report this review (#188234)
Posted Friday, November 7, 2008 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
4 stars Oohhh, what a great pop prog album! Probably ELOs best in that field. this LP was full of potential hits (and many did became hits). Jeff Lynne had perfected his songwriting craft to the limit! Ok, the is not much prog music as we know it, but still the arrangements are bold, inventive, cheerful and very very nice. they mix pop, prog, opera, classical, 50s rock & roll for a new form of sound. It was the best combination of pop and prog. But I guess its phenomenal commercial success angered many critics.

Still I can say I respect Lynne a lot for his genius. The guy is definitly one fo the great songwriters of his generation, but not only. The guy sings well, plays well and is a very good producer. And lets not forget taht the band is absolutely great! All are skillful musicians and Richard Tandy is probably one of the finest underrated keyboards players of the 70s.

If youre looking for goo porg pop music, very inventive and joyful, withsome great arrangemnts, try this album. Its all deceptively simple at first. But it is a music that stood well the test of time. And it is as relevant today as it was at the time. Four stars.

Report this review (#192338)
Posted Monday, December 8, 2008 | Review Permalink
2 stars So, what exactly is the world record the album is gunning for?

I really can't make much out of this album other than dubbing the term ''orchestra pop''. The tunes cover a basic gamut of a standard pop sound, but with some string players adding a bit of depth to the material. However, there's nary a moment that I really enjoy.

To be honest, the first four tracks are kind of a blur in my mind. It seems as if all of the songs come and go without making any lasting impact, a sign that I really don't understand what's going on music-wise. ''Rockaria!'' has this throwback 50's rock thing that annoys me coming from an album of the 70's, and the pseudo-title track attempts to scale great prog heights, but sounds only marginal to my ears.

Some of the catchier material here has had more lasting impact with me. ''So Fine'', ''Do Ya'' and ''Livin' Thing'' carry the best potential of ELO, showing that they can write above average pop material. Unfortunately, pop music in general has this hit-or-miss deal with me, and if it misses, it misses hard. The slow, ploddingness of ''Shangri-La'' is difficult to endure in one go, and ''Above the Clouds'' almost sounds like an off-day Beatles tune.

I'm sure there are plenty of ELO fans who will want to have a few words with me, but I'm not backing down on the rating. Much of the material has zilch in terms of true lasting power. As a pop album, I'd say it's decent, but if we're dealing with prog rock, then A NEW WORLD RECORD is pretty thin in that department.

Report this review (#251831)
Posted Thursday, November 19, 2009 | Review Permalink
2 stars Much like Face the Music, A New World Record is highly enjoyable. Also like Face the Music, it just isn't that progressive. I would highly recommend it for anyone looking for some innovative string laden pop music. I am a fan of Jeff Lynne. By this point in his career however he moved into making glossy pop productions and moved on from many the things that made Eldorado such a treasure. Yes, that pun is intended.

The best two tracks come immediately one after another, Tightrope and then the infamous Telephone Line. Both utilize the strings very well. The former is more of a straightforward rocker where the latter is a spacey ballad. I can listen both of these over and over again much Eldorado. They aren't the most progressive works, especially Tightrope, but I think it would have made for a superior album if it had maintained that level of quality.

Next follows the intriguing Rockaria!, a quite literal rock opera. It does tend to overstay its welcome in a hurry. It has a bit of Rock-A-Billy hidden in there along with the classical music and generic rock influences. It is good if you don't listen to it too often, because it is repetitive.

After Rockaria!, the album does take a bit of a drop off. Mission is kind of a mixed bag. It is peculiar and a little more complex than some of the other stuff on the album. What it suffers from is the lack of lightweight joy that is Jeff Lynne at his best. Some of the instrumental stretches are actually really good, but there just aren't enough of them.

It really is hard for me to say that I hate just about any songs on this album; they're just a different kind of music. So Fine is a perfect example of that. It is freewheeling joy, but it's pop. I would still kill to have this on the radio rather than what we get these days. There is a caveat to that "Just about Any" statement for hating songs. I don't really enjoy Livin' Thing. It has its moments but I just can't get into it. Like Rockaria it too is repetitive and I find the backing vocals to be grating at times, which is definitely a turn off when you are sitting on the fence to begin with. Above the Clouds has some nice vocal work, but is a bit of a throw away. I do love that "Cau-aught in the heat of the ni-ight" right at the intro.

Do Ya! Short, fun, sweet, not progressive and totally rockin'! Roll down the windows, get in the fast lane and crank the stereo. Best song after the first two for sure.

After Do Ya, A New World record comes crashing to a halt for a finale. Shangri-La is mostly a melancholic ballad, which plays like a pale imitation of Telephone Line. Auto-plagiarism is bad enough when it happens over the course of a career, its much worse when it happens on the same album. The coda of Shangri-La is surprisingly one of the strongest portions on the album however. There, for one brief minute, are shades of Eldorado, much like Fire on High from Face the Music.

Well there you have it. A New World Record is no progressive masterpiece, but for the most of its short course is a much more than competent pop album. Go grab it, if like me you love ELO. If you are a looking for killer crossover prog, you are gonna have to look elsewhere. Like say? Phideaux. My PA rating is two stars.

Report this review (#265679)
Posted Friday, February 12, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars This album I would consider to be the last of ELO's "semi-prog" ones. By far, the first 2 albums, No Answer and II, were much more in the vein of what constitutes progressive. However, that does not mean they made bad music after that. In fact, I consider this album and Face the Music to be some of the best rock/art rock/pop releases ever put out. Having said this, I will rate this on a fair basis of what it really offers, prog or not. On simple pop this is a definite 5-star album. I have always loved this album since those late-night make-out sessions by the stereo when you stacked up about 5 albums so you didn't have to move very often! There is some very innovative music on here, some great lyrics and musicianship, some great hooks ala typical Jeff Lynne, and of course the regular ELO orchestra music to go along. Highlights are "Tightrope", "Mission", "Living Thing", and "Shangri-La". So...4 stars for ELO on this one.( Docked one for not being true prog music.)
Report this review (#277919)
Posted Wednesday, April 14, 2010 | Review Permalink
Eclectic Prog Team
4 stars The Electric Light Orchestra consistently demonstrates a challenging level of musical eclecticism, yet has fashioned their own unique sound. A New World Record exemplifies this well- an enjoyable mix of rock, classical, disco, R&B, and the popular vocal music of yesteryear.

"Tightrope" Following an eerie and misleading pseudo-classical introduction, the typical ELO rock sound breaks through, interspersed with strings and whiny guitar bends.

"Telephone Line" One of my first experiences with ELO was this pretty number. In many ways it hearkens back to the golden oldies, especially with the doo-wop business. This one is a true beauty- always a pleasure.

"Rockaria!" The first few times I heard this song, I didn't like it. However, it has entered the long list of ELO songs I couldn't do without. I love the contrasting styles, from foot-stomping barrelhouse boogie to a smoother style, and the climax- a rapid-fire enthusiastic verse- is the perfect ending. Even Mary Thomas's flub on the operatic vocals in the very beginning of the track adds to the experience.

"Mission (A World Record)" This is a more easygoing piece, full of vocal effects and string glissandi. It is a muddy semi-psychedelic song that launches into a fusion of classical and R&B.

"So Fine" A peppy light rock song that is also an obvious nod to disco, this tune is unassuming but fun- precisely what most ELO pop music is. The interruption in the middle featuring percussion and electronic sounds is unsatisfying.

"Livin' Thing" Yet another ELO gem, the listener is treated to melodic acoustic rock sprinkled with gypsy violin. Again, the harmonies and chord progressions are reminiscent of the oldies of American music.

"Above The Clouds" The band moves further back in musical chronology, producing a song that is more in the style of early 1920s or 1930s string-based popular music.

"Do Ya" The catchy, simple guitar riff here would have made a good opening tune. I love the slide guitar on the second verse- a very characteristic sound of ELO's but sparingly used. The bridge of this otherwise hard rocker is delicate and contains lovely, evocative lyrics. Layered vocals build into the chorus.

"Shangri-la" The final piece is an enchanting, sleepy song, with bittersweet lead guitar. In both structure and sound, I am reminded of the well-known Santo & Johnny instrumental, "Sleep Walk." As usual, ELO offers captivating vocal melodies, harmonies, and charming string arrangements.

Report this review (#487989)
Posted Thursday, July 21, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars 4.5, but my calculator says 3.78. Those calculators are so pessimistic. The average arithmetic won't tell you why I gave the album 4.5 stars.

Personal experience had shown that this album is awesome. About six-seven tracks on here are very listenable and tastefully done. The amazing thing about those tracks is that they didn't need to grow on me. "OK, so, if the other two-three tracks don't work for you, why did you rate the album with four-and-a-half stars? Isn't that a bit of a stretch?" Actually, no, and that's because much of the material presented on the record is just downright strong. There is an exception or two, but other than that, it's a very pleasant listen. It's not exactly a record of a new world; it's actually a pretty familiar territory I would call pop-prog (or prog-pop, whatever is best for you.)

1. 'Tightrope' - ****

2. 'Telephone Line' - *****

3. 'Rockaria!' - **

4. 'Mission (A New World)' - ****

5. 'So Fine' - ****

6. 'Livin' Thing' - *****

7. 'Above the Clouds' - *

8. 'Do Ya' - ****

9. 'Shangri-La' - *****

You know, I would gladly and proudly give this puppy the "Highly recommended" stamp, but, as the stats and the average rating (as of the time of this writing) show, it is not a popular album with a whole lot of people on this website. So:

Stamp: "I like it."

Report this review (#614033)
Posted Friday, January 20, 2012 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
3 stars This one appeared in my collection after befriending a second hand dealer who in fact wanted to get rid of some ELO a he had multiples of all their albums. Of course I obliged although I was no mega fan of the band. I was quite surprised that outside of the usual singles the band are able to produce some solid melodic gems.

This album begins so well with the glorious Tightrope, followed by classic Telephone Line. My favourite on this is the brilliant operatic Rockaria! beginning with opera singer and really blazing away with a full blown rock rhythm.

Other treasures include Livin' Thing, Do Ya' and Shangri-la. The album cover is classic ELO and in fact the spaceship became part of the band's image and the two are inseparable. This is not the best ELO but it is a very good album worth seeing out.

Report this review (#834121)
Posted Sunday, October 7, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars I didn't think I would be a big ELO fan but this album has helped me get into them. One of the best collections of songs by ELO is presented on this album. Every track has nice melodies and catchy hooks. A few personal favourites are "Telephone Line", "So Fine", "Livin' Thing", and "Shangri-La".

By the time of this album's release, 1976, they had almost abandoned prog rock. The songs are much more poppy here and they have more immediacy. There is no bad song to be found on this album really, it all works.

I'm still wondering why Electric Light Orchestra would be on ProgArchives. Maybe it's because of their album Eldorado being a sort of semi-symphony. Anyway, this is a fine album with lots of hit songs that any ELO fan shouldn't be without.

Report this review (#1117606)
Posted Wednesday, January 22, 2014 | Review Permalink

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