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Electric Light Orchestra

Crossover Prog

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Electric Light Orchestra Balance Of Power album cover
2.16 | 159 ratings | 7 reviews | 8% 5 stars

Collectors/fans only

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Studio Album, released in 1986

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Heaven Only Knows (2:52)
2. So Serious (2:38)
3. Getting to the Point (4:28)
4. Secret Lives (3:26)
5. It Is Alright (3:25)
6. Sorrow About to Fall (3:59)
7. Without Someone (2:48)
8. Calling America (3:26)
9. Endless Lies (2:55)
10. Send It (3:04)

Total Time: 33:01

Bonus tracks on 2007 remaster:
11. Opening (0:24)
12. Heaven Only Knows (Alternate Version) (2:35)
13. In For The Kill (3:16)
14. Secret Lives (Alternate Take) (3:27)
15. Sorrow About To Fall (3:51)
16. Caught In A Trap (U.K. B-Side) (3:47)
17. Destination Unknown (U.K. B-Side) (4:11)

Line-up / Musicians

- Jeff Lynne / lead & backing vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards, piano, producer
- Richard Tandy / keyboards, piano, sequence programming
- Bev Bevan / drums, percussion

- Christian Schneider / sax

Releases information

Artwork: Clive Piercy and Michael Hodgson

LP Epic - EPC 26467 (1986, Europe)

CD Epic - CDEPC 26467 (1986, Europe)
CD Legacy - 82796 94279 2 (2007, Europe) Remastered by Joseph M. Palmaccio with 7 bonus tracks

Thanks to ClemofNazareth for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA Balance Of Power ratings distribution

(159 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(8%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(13%)
Good, but non-essential (27%)
Collectors/fans only (34%)
Poor. Only for completionists (18%)


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by progaeopteryx
1 stars After the delightfully interesting Secret Messages, the band kind of disappeared from the scene for a few years. But in 1986, they reappeared with a slicker, polished, and highly synthesized sound, kind of reminding me of the Cars' Heartbeat City but without the soul or energy or like Jethro Tull's lousy Under Wraps. Bassist Kelly Groucutt was missing and so was the orchestra (which only played a very limited, small appearance on Secret Messages). This would be the end of the group's long string of successful pop albums and a sad demise to what seemed like such a promising experimental debut in the early 1970's.

The album is full of sappy, cheesy, electronic pop songs just oozing with mind-numbing beeps and stabs from a mountain of digital synths and electronic drums. True, you might be able to dance to some of these vile creations, but you'll be lucky if your few remaining brain cells don't dissolve into a bowl of vichyssoise. And look at that album cover! Oye, oye, oye, oye...

This would be ELO's last album as a band. Jeff Lynne would become successful in the coming years as a producer, most notably of George Harrison, Tom Petty, the Traveling Wilburys (where he was also a member), and many others. Drummer Bev Bevan, after a tour with Black Sabbath, would reform the band and call it "ELO Part 2" with all new members and without Lynne's approval. Lynne didn't bother (to my knowledge) challenge them in court because of the time and costs involved. In any case, Bevan's version of ELO would bring back their classic mid 1970's pop sound, but with better guitar work. But the lyrics again were as cheesy as anything Lynne had created and there was very little interest in this resurrection. ELO Part 2 would disappear and later Lynne would bring ELO back in 2001 for Zoom, which was essentially a Jeff Lynne solo album.

As you can imagine from my description above, you are not going to find any progressive rock here. If you do, I hope your rinse cycle is over soon. This album is truly not worth anyone's time. Start with ELO II or On the Third Day and avoid this at all costs. One star.

Review by Guillermo
3 stars A typical mid-eighties album in sound, with electronic drums, synthesizers and a sax in two songs, but I still like this album. It has mainly "sad lyrics" about a broken relationship, but I like some of them, like "Heaven Only Knows", "Getting to the Point" (the best of all), "Sorrow About to Fall" and "Calling America" (a very good song for a single). The recording and mixing of the album sound very typical "digital" of the 80s, but it`s good, but maybe a bit saturated. Jeff Lynne was maybe tired and sad, but in this album he still produced music with quality.It is mainly a Pop Rock album of the 80s, but it was, IMO, a good way to say "goodbye" from ELO then. Richard Tandy and Bev Bevan did a good job, too.
Review by ZowieZiggy
1 stars The last ELO effort and fifth very poor album on a row (including thei Xanadu participation). You won't find anything interesting here. Synth pop at its lows.

Fortunately, this is the last album from the band as such. At this stage of their carreer, I guess the best thing was to call it quit.

There is nothing to remember here. Insipid disco/synth songs. No highlight, not a track that could raise the level of this album. Maybe "Getting To The Point" that is jsut above average...The chorus of "Secret Lives" is also nice (but only the chorus). "Endless Lies" will also be a bit different : mellow at times and rocking superbly during others.

ELO produced several great albums (between 1973 and 1977) and the most unbearable crap as well (from 79 to 85). There will be some attempts later on with "ELO Part Two" and "Zoom" from Jeff Lynne, but that's another story. This album will still peak at the ninth spot in the UK charts.

Only one star in my charts.

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
1 stars Three piece orchestra

And so with "Balance of power", ELO went to the well one final time. What they found however was that this time it was all but dry. With the line up effectively reduced to a trio (Lynne, Bevan and Tandy) the "Orchestra" connotation was starting have the implication of an unfunny parody.

The songs are entirely predictable, with upbeat toe-tappers one after the other, each with its simple verse/chorus structure. Any of the songs here could have been a successful single release, had it not been for the fact that even the most committed of listeners could not help but feel that they had heard it all before.

The only notable exception is the wonderful ballad, "Getting to the point". If ever a song served as a fitting coda to a once magnificent band, this is it. The song is a supremely crafted ballad with sensitive lyrics, a great melody, and one of Lynne's finest vocal performances.

Straight after "Getting to the point" though, we are reminded why ELO had to call it a day, with possibly the worst song they have recorded. "Secret lives" has banal lyrics, and an electro-pop tune which sounds like a thousand others.

As a pop album in its own right, this is not entirely bad. Lynne's penchant for writing catchy songs with enjoyable melodies is largely undiminished. As an offering by a once innovative and distinguished band though, "Balance of power" is an inauspicious swan song. Very poor sleeve too.

Review by progaardvark
COLLABORATOR Crossover/Symphonic/RPI Teams
1 stars Balance of Power was the last ELO album (until Jeff Lynne resurrected it again in 2001), finally fulfilling Lynne's contractual obligations to the record company. At this point, ELO was a trio featuring Lynne, Richard Tandy on keys, and Bev Bevan on drums. Even so, it would seem Lynne did mostly everything on this album including lots of programmed percussion. Balance of Power is just terrible, sounding like a mix of the Cars, Thomas Dolby, and Jethro Tull's Under Wraps album. The orchestra had long been abandoned. The lyrics were inane, childish, and stupid. Musically it was just a mass of digital synths and electronic and programmed drums chugging out bouncy electro-pop garbage. The result was the worst ever ELO album, even worst than the awful Discovery and Xanadu creations.

Lynne would go on to be a big-name producer for the likes of George Harrison, Tom Petty and numerous others. He would even release a solo album using analogue instruments (I guess even he couldn't stand the crap he made on Balance of Power). Bevan would start up a spin-off called ELO Part 2, with Groucutt joining him later, hearkening back to the classic 1970s pop sound the band made.

Balance of Power is for completionists only. ELO fans will have a hard time listening to this. There is no prog rock at all on this, even if you listened to it backwards. One star.

Latest members reviews

2 stars Is it ELO? Maybe. But without the strings it doesn't quite hit it for me. I own this CD, along with all ELO except Xanadu (puke), and Discovery (belch). I think it to be somewhat better than most of the low ratings I have seen. Lots of synths and electronic bleeps and blips and maybe some real ... (read more)

Report this review (#271217) | Posted by mohaveman | Thursday, March 11, 2010 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Here we have a band that deserves considerable attention from prog-heads. Their albums up-to and including 1983's "Secret Messages" bristle with intricate arrangements, detailed production, and tuneful songwriting. Their earlier albums are genuinely progressive pieces, and even their late-70's ... (read more)

Report this review (#68446) | Posted by | Sunday, February 5, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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