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ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA (NO ANSWER)

Electric Light Orchestra

Crossover Prog


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Electric Light Orchestra Electric Light Orchestra (No Answer) album cover
3.60 | 172 ratings | 25 reviews | 25% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
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Studio Album, released in 1971

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. 10538 Overture (5:30)
2. Look at Me Now (3:16)
3. Nellie Takes Her Bow (5:58)
4. The Battle of Marston Moor (July 2nd, 1644) (6:02)
5. First Movement (Jumpin' Biz)(2:58)
6. Mr.Radio (5:02)
7. Manhattan Rumble (49th Street Massacre) (4:21)
8. Queen of the Hours (3:21)
9. Whisper in the Night (4:48)

Total Time: 39:56

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Jeff Lynne / bass, percussion, piano, guitar, vocals
- Roy Wood / guitar, bass, clarinet, percussion, bassoon, cello, oboe, recorder, vocals, slide guitar
- Bev Bevan / percussion, drums
- Bill Hunt / French horn
- Steve Woolam / violin

Releases information

LP EMI Harvest SHVL 797 (1971)

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ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA Electric Light Orchestra (No Answer) ratings distribution


3.60
(172 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(25%)
25%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(38%)
38%
Good, but non-essential (30%)
30%
Collectors/fans only (6%)
6%
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)
2%

ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA Electric Light Orchestra (No Answer) reviews


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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Folk
5 stars With its ridiculous title coming from a complete cross-Atlantic misunderstanding (the album got named after the "no answer" response to the US label wondering on the album title), ELO's first album is one of the hardest album to get into due to the poor sound and muddy production, but it is much worth the patience as the music is definitely prog with its heavy classical music instrumentation ala Eleanor Rigby (just listen to Look At Me Now to get a peak into the album's key), but unfortunately too often disregarded due to their later almost disco-like career of the late 70's.

Many of the band's harder edged sounds are coming from Roy Wood's mad musical ideas (Wood was the man behind The Move - one of the craziest psych groups around the late 60's) while Jeff Lynne (who came from Idle Race) was more Beatles- inspired. One of the most endearing musical characteristics of ELO's first two albums are the Renaissance influences, much the same way Gryphon was also greatly under the spell of. Just listen to Battle Of Marston Moor or their surprise hit 10538 Overture, just to get an idea. Marston is an astounding piece of music every proghead must listen, while First Movement is reminiscent of Focus's Sylvia or House Of The King. Mr Radio is the typically Beatles-influenced Lynne track but again with a much proggier twist. Manhattan Rumble starts off as a sombre war march and is another superb and instrumental track while Queen Of The Hours is yet another highlight with again Roy wood doing the bundle of the instrument playing (he handles almost all the classical instrument bar the odd horn and the violin. The album closes on a minor composition, but cannot stop the open-minded progheads to think that this might just be an essential album.

The songwriting is almost divided in half (Lynne 5 to Wood's 4) but clearly on the arrangement's side, Wood was the man behind the album and Lynne's poppier tracks are heavily infested by Wood's instrumentation.

Weirdly enough, Wood who had worked so hard and against all odds to form this group will leave the group after this debut album, to found his RW's Wizzard (a rockier Renaissance music group), leaving Lynne take care of the band and ELO will have a long and varied career with many highlights, but also some disgustingly commercial success. To all progheads dismissing ELO, they'd better listen to this album to swallow back their words in complete shame. Much worth its fourth star and even another half one.

WARNING: even remastered, this debut and its follow-up need an excellent stereo system!! Avoid the car stereo or the computer or even a ghetto blaster or a midi stereo. It needs the real stuff to unfold its brute beauty.

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#70719) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Review by Guillermo
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars The most experimental album recorded by this band, and clearly Progressive, IMO. The music is clearly divided in two styles: Rock/Beatles music (Jeff Lyne) and Experimental/Prog (Roy Wood). The two composers influence each other`s styles. Jeff Lynne`s music is maybe more "conventional", but still with some Prog influences. Roy Wood tries to be maybe "more serious", and his songs are maybe a bit "heavy" to the lsitener`s ears, using a lot of cellos on some songs. Bev Bevan even plays some percussion instruments which are more used in symphonic orchestras, like timpani, cymbals, etc. I think that the early 70s produced a lot of very good albums which influenced some other bands to record more experimental albums like this. In particular, 1971 had several albums that were very good. Maybe this ELO`s first album is very different to their following albums, because Roy Wood`s ideas were not used again and Jeff Lynne, still with the Progressive influence, was going to record more accessible records with ELO in the following years.This album really needs repeated listenings to appreciate it better. It also has some funny things in the songs.

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Send comments to Guillermo (BETA) | Report this review (#72597) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Review by ClemofNazareth
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Folk Researcher
4 stars You just have to love an album that kicks off with a blast of off-key cello scraping, and ends with inebriated bassoons and more off-key cello scraping, plus has listed among the player credits no less than ten instruments that are traditionally found in a classical orchestra. Add to that a primer on English civil war ("Battle of Marston Moor"), a dirge-like rendition of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" ("Nellie Takes Her Bow"), and an album cover by Hipgnosis, the same guys who brought us so many Pink Floyd covers (Animals, Ummagumma, Dark Side of the Moon, etc.), and you have what may be one of the most disjointed, haphazard, pretentious, and ultimately delightful albums in the progressive archives.

And make no mistake - this first album by the Electric Light Orchestra truly qualifies as a full-blown progressive work, despite their later reputation as a glossy disco- pop hit machine. It's hard to say when they crossed that line, although the beginning was surely shortly after this album released and Roy Wood departed for a critically-acclaimed but largely obscure career with Wizzard. The final straw was probably 'A New World Record' with its four hit singles and surgically-precise arrangements. I'd have to say that the 'progressive' phase of the ELO lifecycle lasted about three years, right up until about when Jeff Lynne figured out that Top- 40 singles directly correlated to bigger houses and larger bank accounts, and around the same time when the rest of the band learned to fully tune their instruments.

In the interim, No Answer delivered a very eclectic blend of sounds that was not only ahead of its time, but also disarmingly funny (although I'm not sure if the funny part was intentional). Roy Wood brought an almost baroque orchestral sensibility to the group from his days in the Move, while Jeff Lynne was clearly heavily influenced by some of the more experimental sounds of the Beatles. For me, the collision of styles was more than I could process as a young kid, and it would be a decade or so later before I really began to appreciate this album.

"10538 Overture" is only an 'overture' in the sense that it is played by a band that has the word 'orchestra' in its name, and in its heavy use of stringed instruments. Otherwise it's an artsy tale of a faceless, nameless person (10538) who I guess is either running from 'The Man', or simply committing suicide. Either way, he falls off a cliff and dies. The heavy cello and violin strings here are dissonant and sometimes off-key, but overall it's a very original work that scored a surprising hit in Britain.

Roy Wood's first contribution "Look at Me Now" is another string-intensive work about a distraught guy who has apparently lost a lover to murder. I'm not sure, but he may have been the same one who did the deed. Anyway, the sound is almost eastern European, definitely nothing like the slew of spacey pop hits the band would be churning out a few short years later.

In "Nellie Takes Her Bow", Lynne brings out his 'Thomas Dolby' microphone to chirp out a minstrel tale of a stage actress named Nellie. Somewhere in the middle the bassoons kick in and the "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" bit takes over. Really weird. Lynne's tenor here is an early example of the trademark sound made famous with songs like "Strange Magic" and "Sweet is the Night" later on.

The "Battle of Marston Moor" is a spoken word work by Wood, backed by what I suppose may have been stylish Anglo orchestral music a few hundred years ago. The protagonist is apparently the Scottish rebel who is forming an army to take on the King. The obligatory battle-sounding percussion and simulated mob shouts complete the picture. This is the longest song on the album, but probably didn't need to be.

Wood kicks off the second side of the vinyl version with "1st Movement", subtitled "Jumpin' Biz", which is off all things a short acoustic instrumental. Anchored by guitar, the Bill Hunt's French horn and Woolam's violin are also prominent. A nice little tune with maybe a bit of a Spanish flair (although to tell the truth, I seem to hear 'a Spanish flair' in just about anything that features acoustic guitar, so feel free to form your own opinion).

"Mr. Radio" is probably the most obvious precursor to the later ELO sound that would become so famous. The lyrics, on the other hand, are rather depressing, about a guy who's wife has left him and who's only remaining companion is apparently his radio. I read a description of this album once as "the Moody Blues in a bad mood", and this song seems to fit that description perfectly.

"Manhattan Rumble (49th Street Massacre)" is Lynne's turn to serve up an instrumental. This one, like "1st Movement", is also heavy on bassoon and cello, but the anchor comes from Lynne's piano instead of Wood's guitar. Based on the title and the picture inside the album fold, I take it this song is a reference to some slaughter that occurred in early 20th century New York, but whatever the beef was that was being fought over then (if indeed this was an actual event), it was apparently not significant enough to have made its way into my high-school American history book.

"Queen of the Hours" is another tune heavy with strident strings, mostly violin and cello (I think - hell, I'm not an expert on orchestral instruments by any means). Anyway, not sure what this is about, but it seems to fall into the "Moody Blues in a bad mood" category as well.

The album closes with "Whisper in the Night". I suppose this is the one critics are referring to when they describe this album as "pretentious". The music is typical of the rest of the album, but the lyrics are frankly a bit over-the-top:

"Snowflake bird she came, taking grey clouds from your door; Face the midnight sun, you have something to live for. Daughter of your dream, shine a guiding light for me."

Alrighty then. This actually kind of reminds me of some of those ancient Protestant hymns my cousins used to sing in their Lutheran church back in the 60s. In any case, it does seem to fit the bill for an album-closer.

So I guess my point here is that, despite what your opinion of the Electric Light Orchestra and their body of work is, I would encourage you not to let that color (er, 'colour') your opinion of this album. While the Lynne sound ĐŪ is certainly detectable here, this is not your older brother's ELO. This is a genuine progressive body of work that is worthy of a place on any serious collector's shelf. And for that I'll give it four stars.

peace

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Send comments to ClemofNazareth (BETA) | Report this review (#74263) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, April 06, 2006

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Lynne and Wood finally get it together, only for Wood to Move on.

The lengthy incubation period of the Electric Light Orchestra was primarily due to the contractual obligations of The Move, to which Wood, Bevin and Lynne were all committed. As a result, the later works of The Move gave strong indications of what might be expected. Indeed, even earlier Move songs such as the B side of the 1969 single "Blackberry way" entitled "Something" (not the George Harrison song) had strong symphonic overtones, and heavy orchestration.

By the time ELO got off the ground, expectations were high that the project would produce something new and exciting. With Roy Wood being the dominant character in the Move, it was assumed that he was the main creative driving force behind ELO. The fact that this was to be his only album with them is therefore even more enigmatic. While Wood is indeed very much to the fore on this their first album, Jeff Lynne's contributions are significant.

The opening Lynne composition "10538 overture" was an instant chart success as a single, guaranteeing the album the recognition it undoubtedly warranted. In the same way as Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" was at the time of its release new and innovative yet today sounds familiar and conventional, so "10538 overture" was seen as pioneering and different. It may be hard to believe now, but this album, released on EMI's fledgling Harvest, label was Progressive with a capital P.

During Lynne and Wood's time together in the latter days of the Move, Wood had all the while been developing his multi-instrumental talents. In the words of Lynne, "if you could blow it, pluck it or bow it, Roy could play it". Thus the foundations for their exciting new project were put in place and "10538 overture", the first work of ELO, was pretty much finalised while they were still working on the Move's final album, indeed it was originally intended to be released under the Move name.

The Wood and Lynne compositions tend to alternate but sit well together to create an album of great melody and innovation. Likewise, Lynne and Wood share vocal responsibilities, usually singing on their own compositions. Their similar vocal sounds and style though means that there is a continuity to the album.

Three of the tracks here are instrumental, ranging from the muddled barnstorm of Wood's "The battle of Marston Moor" (the brief first take included as a bonus track on the remastered CD is better) to the fine acoustic guitar recital "First movement". Lynne gives a good indication of what was to come when he took on the single handed leadership of the band on "Mr Radio", a pop slanted radio friendly song. For me though it is Wood's "Whisper in the night" which is the highlight. Always a sucker for a good ballad, this haunting piece is delivered with lush orchestration and angelic harmonies. Lyrics such as "Snowflake bird she came taking grey clouds from your door" and "Night turns into gold so the tide may turn today" may have more than a hint of Beatles about them, but they are carried off by the wonderful melody.

This the band's first album (bizarrely titled "No answer" in the US) is not their most progressive album. Indeed it is very much a transitional offering, taking the pop based sounds of the Move in a darker but still highly melodic direction. In retrospect, perhaps Wood and Lynne had too much to offer for either to be stifled within the confines of the same band. Whatever the reasons for Wood's rapid departure, thankfully we have this album to remind us of what the pair were capable of when working together on a project to which they were totally committed. Recommended.

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Send comments to Easy Livin (BETA) | Report this review (#95426) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, October 22, 2006

Review by ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars My album entry in the ELO repertoire was El Dorado in 1974. Then I did a reverse engeneering exercise and purchased their previous albums (but I stopped with ELO II). At this time in rock history, it was not common to have a band featuring cello and violins (altough the one hit wonder "Wallace Collection" will impress the world with "Daydream" in 1969);

This line-up will only last the time of one album. I guess that the ego of Wood and Lynne could hardly cope together. Although this album is good, it sounds outdated. There is nothing wrong with that since it was released in 1971, but still, I do not have this impression when I listen to "Meddle", "Nursery" or "ITCOTCK" for instance.

The original album features nine songs. "10538 Overture" is a great opener and is, by far, their best number on this album. It will be featured in their live sets for a long time. "Nellie Takes Here Bow" is already reminiscent of the Beatles. This will be an ELO trademark in later releases (from El Dorado onwards). Jeff being an exceptional songwriter (at least untill 1977). This song ends up with a very nice violin solo and can be considered as the second good song here. It will pave the way for their later work.

Next comes "Battle of Marston Moor". The intro sounds very similar to the "El Dorado Overture" : it is really amazing to compare both tracks. This almost all-intrumental piece has nothing special to offer though. Sounds as an symph improvisation. No melody, no structure. In one word : boring. The next song "1st Movement" is a dull instrumental number. Press next.

"Mr. Radio" starts promising (it clearly announces their later work). The pop orientation of the band is brightly evident. The piano work (almost Wakemanesque) adds a nice symphonic touch to it. A good song. "Manhattan Rumble" is another instrumental without harmony nor feeling (too much classic type music for me).

"Queen of The House" is another good song featured here. Nice violin / cello work for this romantic number. If you like the symph side of ELO (like I do) you will love this track, for sure. The closing number is very emotional (I like it, can't help)! I almost get the shivers when I listen to it (but this feeling will be repeated with an awful lot of ELO tracks). It's a very nice way to close this debut album. As far as I am concerned, it is not a masterpiece but an important step towards much, much better things to come.

Three stars.

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#112382) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, February 16, 2007

Review by progaardvark
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars If you think the Electric Light Orchestra was just a bunch of guys in tight satin pants singing cheesy love songs and sweet sounding choruses, boy are you in for a surprise when you listen to their debut album, No Answer. Easily their most experimental album and probably the hardest to actually listen to. Off-key cellos, bassoons, oboes, clarinets, and a French horn to boot are featured on this album, just chugging away almost haphazardly with little or no semblance of basic pop music song structures (with a few exceptions of course). This album was just as different and unique in 1971 as it is now. It's just so hard to believe that this group would turn into a big hit-making machine in only a matter of a few years. But I guess Jeff Lynne was a songwriter at heart and had to leave this experimental stuff behind.

As for comparisons, I'm not even sure where to begin. The closest I can come to is some of Univers Zero's material, but a bit more on the rock side of the rock/symphonic spectrum. Roy Wood plays nearly all the classical instruments and from what I understand was quite an adaptable individual in picking up various instruments on the fly. It's too bad he left during the recording for their second album as ELO could have been quite an interesting band if it had continued this exploration.

Even being so experimental, the group even managed to get a hit single out of it with 10538 Overture which was probably one of the most powerful songs ELO ever created. Most listeners should enjoy 10538 Overture, Mr. Radio, and First Movement as they are the most accessible. The rest of the album will take quite a bit of getting used to and is clearly a repeat-listening affair. An excellent addition to a prog rock collection, but not recommended for the casual listener. Four stars.

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Send comments to progaardvark (BETA) | Report this review (#145044) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Well I canīt say that ELO is one of my favorite bands. I always thought they were too commercial for my taste. This their debut album is tolerable though. Itīs even pretty good, and shows why ELO should be in the Prog Archives.

ELO plays pretty basic rock with a longing melancholic touch. The melodies are very much in the vein of The Beatles. There are no wild or technically challenging soloing on the album. This is for the most part purely vocal melody based. What is special about this album is the chamber like strings that play in every song throughout the album. They are not exactly to my liking, but itīs pretty original for the time.

The songs are well composed and and very streamlined. But they are just prog enough to catch my attention. This is light weight prog rock, but there is nothing wrong with the quality or the musicianship which is excellent.

Iīll rate this 3 stars for a surprisingly good album. Not one Iīll listen to very often, but never the less a good album.

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Send comments to UMUR (BETA) | Report this review (#156930) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, December 28, 2007

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Frankly speaking, I only knew this album couple of months ago when I saw the CD of this album at local store. When I knew ELO for the first time in 1976 was when "Telephone Line" hit the pop industry at that time and since then I occasionally purchased some album of the band. I remember vividly to play on air "Telephone" line in amateur radio program that my friends and I established in Madiun, East Java, Indonesia. But this first album had never available at that time in cassette (a format that was very common in my country during the 70s). When I first listened to this debut, I was really amazed by the music quality that this album offers. Looking back on the early years of the band, it was basically Roy Wood's (The Move) obsession to form a pop music with orchestration using cellos, violin like a real orchestra. The result was an excellent album that impressed the US label. The rest was history.

The opener "10538 Overture" (5:30) starts with a soft guitar work in ambient mood followed nicely with string section and thin vocal line. The band seemed like to make the string section as obvious as possible as the name "orchestra" implies a string section which dominates the song. The second track "Look at Me Now" (3:16) reminds me to The Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby" especially on the structure and style. Melody-wise it's quite different than The Beatles. The orchestration takes a dominating role and the music sounds progressive, especially with many changing styles and tempo. "Nellie Takes Her Bow" (5:58) starts beautifully with piano-based rhythm section, combined with light string section to accompany vocal. The song flows in mellow style until the mid section which represents dynamic break with different style which makes the song richer in textures. The violin solo backed with percussion is truly great.

"The Battle of Marston Moor (July 2nd, 1644)" (6:02) starts with inventive style where all instruments work together in experimental mode. The section that follows is truly a progressive music style where string section takes solo backed by percussion. It then flows wonderfully with acoustic guitar and combined violin and cello in "First Movement (Jumpin' Biz)" (2:58). "Mr.Radio" (5:02) is an ambient song with long-distance vocal singing style. "Manhattan Rumble (49th Street Massacre)" (4:21) is truly a prog music outfit as the song moves nicely using innovative string arrangement. "Queen of the Hours" (3:21) is another excellent composition with vocal line. "Whisper in the Night" (4:48) is another excellent song that moves in ambient mode.

Overall, this is truly a prog album which is an excellent addition to any prog music collection. Highly recommended. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

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Send comments to Gatot (BETA) | Report this review (#168115) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, April 19, 2008

Review by ghost_of_morphy
PROG REVIEWER
1 stars I found this unlistenable back in the day. And I'll be the first to tell you that this album has not aged well since then.

It's a shame that 10538 Orchestra was released on this piece of vinyl, because that really is an interesting song. It's not so great that it saves this album, but it is a worthwhile listening experience that stacks up well when compared with the best material on On The Third Day. Of the other songs, The Battle of Marston Moor is a listenable instrumental. The rest of this album sets my teeth on edge, though.

I see that I am going to be in the minority with my opinion of this album, but I have to say that I would not recommend this album to anyone. Not even to the biggest ELO fan. Not even to Jeff Lynne's mom. One star for what in my opinion is an utter flop save for one fairly decent song.

EDIT: I have been invited (challenged?) to provide a bit more in the way of specifics on why I feel that this is an utter flop.

Let's start with production, which may be the least important issue but which covers the whole album. While the inclusion of the various unusual instruments into the mix is on a par with the recording of the whole album, the whole album is rather inferior and muddled from a production standpoint.

Let's consider the single next, Mr. Radio. (And my comments here also are valid for Nellie Takes Her Bow and Look At Me Now, for the most part.) This is a cheezy attempt to copy the originality and innovation that the Beatles brought to rock, without the originality and the innovation, but with plenty of cheese. Mr. Radio (and Nellie to a lesser extent) has the saving grace of those really subtle string parts in the background if you listen closely, but mostly this is a really poor attempt at mixing classical with psych rock.

Finally, let's discuss Queen Of The Hours. It's probably the best of these poor tracks after the two that I think are actually worth listening to. It has a catchy vocal line. But in this case I think that unusual instrumentation (which is pounded over the head of the unfortunate listener) detracts significantly from whatever quality this song had. Frankly, the instrumentation here is barbaric.

Again, I realize that I am in the minority in my opinion of this album. Again, I think that 10538 is a good track and that Marston Moor is not a bad track. But God help me, I cannot recommend the album as a whole to anybody, and people are just going to have to live with my opinion. After all, I manage to live with their denigration of Genesis's ABACAB. They can surely do the same.

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Send comments to ghost_of_morphy (BETA) | Report this review (#169822) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, May 04, 2008

Review by Chicapah
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I am embarrassed (more often than I care to admit) when I come face to face with the realization of what an immature musical brat I was in my younger years. "No Answer" is a case in point. I adored The Move, owned all their LPs and kept them in perpetual heavy rotation on my turntable. But when I got the news that the band was no more and had evolved into something called The Electric Light Orchestra I threw a mental tantrum and steadfastly refused to even give their new venture an arbitrary listen. Now, almost four decades later, I finally found out that I was only cutting off my nose to spite my now-aging mug. If only I'd taken the time to comprehend that ELO was Roy Wood's earnest attempt to establish an equal songwriting partnership with Jeff Lynne (and not a rude act of disrespect on his part to disown my beloved Move) I would have benefited enormously because this recording encapsulates the raw, anti-commercial spirit of early 70s progressive music that I so admire and I'm just sick that it took me this long to discover its treasures. Oh, well. Better late than never.

It's important to note that Wood was a talented multi-instrumentalist. According to Lynne, "If you could blow it, pluck it, strum it or bow it, Roy could play it." So, when the rest of the group retired for the evening after laying down the basic rhythm track for "10538 Overture" (originally intended to be a Move number), Roy and Jeff stayed behind and started overdubbing multiple tracks of string parts like mad scientists gone wild. The result was, in their words, "bloody marvelous." They realized that this was the sound they had been dreaming of for so long and The Electric Light Orchestra was born that very night. Over the next year they would invest the money they made from The Move LPs and concerts to create a new species of music that literally brought an orchestra into a rock & roll band. "No Answer" is the result of their diligent, imaginative labor.

Whereas The Move was prone to be humorously frivolous and downright nutty from time to time, this is a much more serious and sober undertaking as demonstrated in the first song, "10538 Overture." The fat guitar sound, sawing cellos and Lynne's penetrating vocal combine to create a wall of sound that's impossible to ignore. I warn you. This is not light-hearted fare, my friends. The tune's progression is involved and the spirited performance is intense from beginning to end. And, perhaps best of all, Bev Bevan's amateurish drumming is kept low in the mix. (I'm sure BB is a dandy person to know but did Roy make some kind of blood oath to Bev's mom, promising that he'd never fire her son or what? I'm sorry, but the man has always been an imposter posing as a drummer.) Wood's fine "Look at Me Now" is next and it's basically a lively string quartet with horns surrounding Roy's inimitable voice. Again, this is not just some simple little ditty. It contains an unusual yet inventive passage that catches you off-guard and, thank heaven, there are no drums to muddy it up. This is followed by Jeff's fabulous "Nellie Takes Her Bow," a good example of his affection for nostalgic styles of composition. This time he conjures up echoes from theatrical vaudeville and mixes them with somewhat bizarre, jazzy characteristics while retaining a very melodic foundation. Along the way guest violinist Steve Woolam contributes a stirring solo and strains of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" can be discerned. This tune captures the essence of musical experimentation without limitation and it is fascinating.

"The Battle of Marston Moor (July 2nd 1644)" is a peek into the genius insanity of Roy Wood's fertile mind. It involves an ominous spoken-word segment and veers deeply into ever-changing avant-garde and neo-classical territory. Due to Bevan's refusal to participate on the song we're spared his juvenile tub-banging and are treated to the much more tasteful percussion of Mr. Wood. This is a very adventurous work of aural art. Perhaps feeling that they might be getting a bit "out there" for some folks, Roy wrote the short and much more commercially viable "First Movement (Jumping Biz)" which he honestly admitted was a near rip-off of Mason Williams' 1968 hit "Classical Gas." It's rather fun, though, and it shows off his deft finger-picking guitar technique quite well. With Lynne's vocal altered to sound like he's singing through a megaphone, "Mr. Radio" is yet another stroll down memory lane that takes unanticipated detours from what is expected. Jeff's surprising talent on the piano becomes obvious early on as he gives the song a Gershwin-like feel that's delightful. And, not unlike their unorthodox instrumental sections on "Battle," they take the listener through some very intricate progressions that stand in direct contrast to the tune's memorable melodies. It's truly an amazing arrangement.

A strange, eerie atmosphere ushers in "Manhattan Rumble (49th Street Massacre)," another odd number that features the piano once again. It's a very modern composition that brings to mind Mahler and Copland with its incredible musical colorings. Complex and captivating. Lynne's "Queen of the Hours" is another well-written, high-quality tune where his intense singing pierces through like an arrow. (Trust me, it's great. I fear I've run flat out of flattering adjectives!). Not to be outdone in the vocal department, Roy presents his underappreciated warbling throughout the beautiful air of the album-ender, "Whisper in the Night." Here again we are mercifully released from the distraction of Bev's clumsy drum thrashings and the song is a joy to absorb. (Bonus tracks consisting of alternate mixes/takes on four of the nine cuts don't add a lot to the CD but they do have a different tone and flavor. Nothing to write home about, though.)

Unfortunately, Roy Wood jumped ship less than a year after this was released and formed his own "Wizzard" group. For those of you who only know ELO by what they eventually became with Jeff Lynne at the helm (and there's a lot to admire for what he accomplished) I can only tell you that this album doesn't sound anything like the semi-prog band they evolved into and achieved superstardom with. There's not an "Evil Woman" or "Showdown" pop hit to be found here. This is a wonderful exhibition of two extremely creative minds that, for one brief juncture in music history, manufactured a collection of compositions that are some of the most unique and progressive you will ever have the privilege to hear. If it weren't for Bev Bevan's tactfully downplayed but still audible detractions and detriments this would be a masterpiece. A very enthusiastic 4.4 stars.

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Send comments to Chicapah (BETA) | Report this review (#172155) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, May 25, 2008

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Symphonic Team
3 stars First light

For those only familiar with Electric Light Orchestra's radio hits from the mid 70's to the early 80's may be surprised to find this band in our beloved archives. However, listening to some of their earliest albums it becomes clear that they were an art rock band and thus clearly belong here. This debut album might be their most experimental one ever and also one of their better ones. One flaw is that it is not at all as well produced as later albums by the band. Indeed, Eldorado was the first album they did with high production values but sadly it was also the last one they ever did that can be called progressive.

This album builds on the foundation provided by The Beatles Eleanor Rigby, with the cello having a prominent place in the wall of sound. The Beatles is, and would forever stay, ELO's main musical influence and this is very apparent here too. Maybe the music of ELO is a reasonable approximation of what The Beatles would have sounded like had they continued to record albums in the 70's? The sound is a bit harsher than anything recorded by The Beatles, though.

Surprisingly there are also other influences here raging from classical music to medieval Folk! Some passages even remind me a bit of Gryphon! Other parts are more psychedelic. There is a good balance between shorter Beatles-like pop tunes and longer, more experimental songs.

ELO is not an essential band to have in your Prog collection, but if you want some albums by them this debut album should be one of them. It represents a very interesting start by a band that would go on to do much less interesting things later on in the decade and into the next.

Good, but non-essential

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Send comments to SouthSideoftheSky (BETA) | Report this review (#210989) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, April 11, 2009

Review by aapatsos
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Metal and Heavy Prog Teams
4 stars Light up the Orchestra!

Amongst most people, my understanding of ELO has always been based around widely known hit singles like ''Evil Woman'' or ''Last Train to London'', automatically categorising them in the ''easy listening'' rock genre (if there is one). Listening to their album ''Eldorado'' changed my opinion slightly and decided to give a try with their earliest material.

To my delight, this debut album has turned out to be an intriguing experience. The extensive use of cello, oboe and violins comes as a more than pleasant surprise and drives the entire sound of ELO, clearly seen in 10538 Overture; the strings and the characteristic opening guitar riff create a memorable track. The strong influence of The Beatles is obvious especially in the beginning of the album - Look at me Know sounds too familiar to Eleanor Rigby with its constant classical strings-based tempo. Mr. Radio is another ode to the Liverpool legends but this time it borrows more of their radio-friendly aspect.

But it is not all about The Beatles: the album thrives in melody, carefully worked compositions, excellent musicianship and instrumental passages of classical music. Nellie Takes her Bow is a combination of all the above and includes an unexpected bizarre classical passage in the middle of this relatively smooth and melodic track. The peak melodic moment of the album lies with the Queen of the Hours where the strings create a magical atmosphere filled with the strongest harmonies and vocals.

The real amusement comes with the trinity of instrumentals: The Battle of Marston Moor and Manhattan Rumble are epic pieces of classical music that could have easily been soundtracks of respective movies (if they are not already). Their style is somewhat different to the rest of the album compositions and one might question their inclusion, but they definitely give a touch of extra "progressiveness" and innovation. On the other hand, First Movement is a much more "contemporary" and melodic piece, mainly based on acoustic guitars. Its sound is very dynamic and it reminded me slightly of Fairport Convention's latest works. Whisper in the Night sums up the album nicely as an easy-listening ballad, showing exceptional vocals and great combination of strings and acoustic guitars.

The feeling I get from this debut is that is "ahead from its age" with the amalgamation of pop, rock, pomp, prog and classical music elements. The sound differs from track to track and this variety gives the album the extra constituents to form an excellent release.

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Send comments to aapatsos (BETA) | Report this review (#288400) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, June 26, 2010

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Metal Team
4 stars After being completely blown away by my initial encounter with Electric Light Orchestra, right around 2004, I began specifically seeking out more of their early '70s material only to a realization that it was nowhere to be found. Eventually after losing all hope of finding any new material I suddenly stumbled upon a weird looking 2-CD Limited Edition release called No Answer in a downtown used records store. The packaging reminded me at first of a compilation album but after browsing through the track listing without recognizing a single of the band's popular '80s hits I decided to give it a shot. If I recall correctly, the album was priced at around $5-7 so this would, in worst case, be a very affordable disappointment.

It was only a few years later that I figured out that I owned a complete version of the band's debut album with a bonus CD that was filled with alternative takes and other nice surprises. My first impression of the album was pretty positive, even though it wasn't as instantly recognizable as Eldorado. The first two tracks really set a high bar in terms of musicianship and melodic arrangements that made it difficult for me to get into the rest of the album. Steadily I sank my teeth into the remainder of the songs and found a few more hidden gems like Mr.Radio and the dreamy album-closer Whisper In The Night.

Even to this day I still play this album from time to time and it has so far held up pretty well. I like the raw sound of the string arrangements which would eventually be smoothed out on the band's consecutive albums. This album also clearly sounds like more of a collaboration between Jeff Lynne and Roy Wood, opposed to the rest of the band's discography which functions merely as Jeff Lynne's solo output. Just like many others have mentioned before me, Electric Light Orchestra is not a band for everyone but if you enjoy their style then I can definitely recommend this debut album.

***** star songs: 10538 Overture (5:37) Look At Me Now (3:20)

**** star songs: Nellie Takes Her Bow (6:02) First Movement (Jumpin' Biz) (3:04) Mr.Radio (5:07) Manhattan Rumble (49th Street Massacre) (4:26) Queen Of The Hours (3:26) Whisper In The Night (4:50)

*** star songs: The Battle Of Marston Moor (July 2nd, 1644) (6:05)

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Send comments to Rune2000 (BETA) | Report this review (#303432) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, October 11, 2010

Review by Tarcisio Moura
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars I remember reading an interview Jeff Lynne gave to american Circus magazine in the late 70īs when he stated that ELOīs first two albums were "useless crap". A few years before I had the opportunity to hear their debut album when I was only 15 and had no clue what this band was all about. It only sounded weird and I desmissed it right away. More than 30 years on I decided to give this CD another shot: I was curious of how that would appeal to me after all that time. The remastered version has a very good sound where my vinyl obviously did not (the production at the time was quite poor, as far as I know). There is also additional tracks included, all of which are different mixes of some of the original tunes.

I canīt say my opinion changed a lot. Ok, this is surely ELOīs most progressive and experimental work, but being progressive and experimental doesnīt exactly translate itself into good. I canīt hardly listen to much of what it is here. In retrospect one can see this record as a blueprint for things to come. It was also clear that this band would not hold together two such big talented songwriters for too long (Roy Wood would soon leave to form his own Wizzards). But the music was still in its embryonic stage (listen to Mr Radio for instance) and it shows: not real pop, not really prog either. The heavy Beatles psychedelic phase is the main influence here, with lots of real orchestrations used. Echoes of Eleanor Rigby and I Am The Walrus-like string arrangements.

Of all the songs I really enjoyed their first hit 10538 Overture and the closer Whisper in the Night (the best, a real fine tune). The remaining tracks are of interest but little more than that. ELO was trying to find its way, for good or for bad. I wouldnīt go as far as mr. Lynne on my opinion about the bandīs debut, but it is not one of their best and I see it more like a curio then anything else. Different from all other records they released, ok. Yet, not realy good. This one is for (hardcore) fans, collectors and completionists.

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Send comments to Tarcisio Moura (BETA) | Report this review (#303583) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Review by Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars The first Electric Light Orchestra album - and the only to include Roy Wood - is positively dripping with Beatles mimicry. This is hardly surprising - the declared aim of the band was to pick up where the Beatles left off - but it does mean that the group hadn't yet developed its own characteristic sound at this point, and a lot of the time when listening to it I think to myself "this is alright... but I'd rather listen to the Beatles' version".

The album consists of three different types of tracks. The first, and easily the best, are songs in which the entire band pitches in and the classical and rock elements mingle in together, to yield the seeds of what would become the band's classic-era approach. This is apparent on songs like the 10538 Overture, Mr Radio, and a few others. The second are songs which are given over to classical instrumentation almost entirely, such as the Battle of Marston Moor, which manages to be neither an interesting piece of classical music nor a decent attempt at symphonic rock (well, there's barely any rock element to it).

The third are songs which simply mimic the approach of a Beatles song so closely that if you're at all aware of the Beatles' music you will most likely find the attempts here to be tired- out, cliched rip-offs. (And if you're not familiar with the Beatles, then you really ought to be exploring their music before getting around to ELO because overall they exist on a far higher tier.) The worst song in this regard is Look At Me Now, a song so similar to Eleanor Rigby in instrumentation, composition and delivery that you're left wondering why they didn't just do an Eleanor Rigby cover and leave it at that.

Ultimately, the first album has a few good songs, but also a lot of experiments which doubtless seemed like a good idea at the time but simply don't work, at least not this time around. Fortunately, later releases by the band would build on the promise of the clutch of high-quality tracks on offer here, leading to a sound which perhaps is less diverse, but was arguably more competently performed. As for this album, I'd only look into it if you're really keen to see how the band started out.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#481997) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, July 14, 2011

Latest members reviews

5 stars "A soothing yet frightening mix of psychedelic and progressive music that smoothly bridges the gap between Wolfgang Mozart and Elton John." This is an incredible musical experience. It is hard to believe a symphony orchestra was not used to create the unique, calming yet terrifying sound. I c ... (read more)

Report this review (#563560) | Posted by progistoomainstream | Sunday, November 06, 2011 | Review Permanlink

2 stars For me, the first two albums of ELO aren't much better then their mid 80's material. And that's mainly because of the very ragged sound of the records, which is very dissimilar to their classic albums which sound greatly polished(in a good way). The other reason is because I really dislike Roy Woo ... (read more)

Report this review (#524693) | Posted by JeffELOLynne | Friday, September 16, 2011 | Review Permanlink

3 stars The recently formed ELO comprised of Roy Wood, Jeff Lynne and Bev Bevan from the band The Move. The sound is very unique on this recording in comparison to the ELO music that came later. I was quite a fan of the group's early work many years ago and was glad I dug this great one out again rece ... (read more)

Report this review (#387947) | Posted by Frankie Flowers | Friday, January 28, 2011 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I have always regarded ELO as an overbloated disco/pop band. But this album, ELO's debut album has gone a long way to change my views about this band. This album and ELO's career starts with the rather good 10538 Overture. The Byrds is a good comparison here. After some minutes and on the res ... (read more)

Report this review (#245772) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Friday, October 23, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars One of the most challenging releases by a name group on a major label ever. Not even the two previous Move albums, both fairly daring albums in their own right, could have prepared you for the wild and bold new sonic world that is the first Electric Light Orchestra album. And have cellos - i. ... (read more)

Report this review (#200933) | Posted by Steven in Atlanta | Wednesday, January 28, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars No Answer is an example of underrated and therefore not influential record. As surely one of the most progressive efforts ever produced in rock, it merges sound of orchestra with then modern rock approach. It is orchestra instruments that dominate over traditional sounds. Two masterminds behi ... (read more)

Report this review (#196557) | Posted by sgtpepper | Wednesday, December 31, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Classic symphonic prog. When I was a young one, I spent a lot of time listening to ELO. In fact, my first album ever bought was "Out of the Blue". That album featured the pop-rock sound that made ELO a monster seller. Thiis album, No Answer, bears little resemblance to what many people think ... (read more)

Report this review (#108394) | Posted by mohaveman | Monday, January 22, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars 'No Answer' is ELO's only real prog-rock album. '10538 Overture'-A great start for the album. With guitar, french horns, strings, and trumpets. 'Look at me now'-Very melancholic with oboes sounding like Egyptian shawms. 'Nellie takes her bow'-A very good song about a Broadway girl. The strings ... (read more)

Report this review (#81677) | Posted by | Wednesday, June 21, 2006 | Review Permanlink

3 stars An interesting debut, with some great tracks and some pretentious nonsense. It's mostly inventive, progressive stuff and has much to recommend it... but the next nine albums would be better. Cellos scrape through almost every track; the songwriting credits make it clear that Lynne's ego was kep ... (read more)

Report this review (#68466) | Posted by | Sunday, February 05, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This is my favorite album of ELO. The great violin work of Steve Woolam is very important in the album, it collaborates to make a classic music atmosphere. Jeff Lynne in all albuns of ELO fused a pop/rock sound with orchestrations of classic music, the result of it are most part of the time go ... (read more)

Report this review (#63321) | Posted by Marcelo Xanadu | Thursday, January 05, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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