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ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA

Crossover Prog • United Kingdom


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Electric Light Orchestra picture
Electric Light Orchestra biography
Founded in Birmingham, UK in 1970 - disbanded in 1986 - Reunited briefly in 2000/2001 - Reformed since 2014 (as "Jeff Lynne's ELO")

An incredible 35 years since their formation, the music of the Electric Light Orchestra is still as popular as ever. All over the world, people are tuning into the sound of ELO via radio, the internet, cinemas and TV. The seemingly ageless songs of ELO leader Jeff Lynne are even being heard again in the singles charts, thanks to the cream of today's young dance acts sampling the band's original music and turning on a whole new generation of fans.

ELO thrived under the guidance of Lynne, recording twelve original studio albums and releasing twenty-eight hit singles in the UK alone. At their peak between 1974 and 1981, ELO amassed a string of nine consecutive gold, platinum and multi-platinum albums. The band were one of the biggest arena and stadium draws during the seventies and early eighties, with spectacular shows including massive flying saucer stage sets and vibrant light and laser displays.

Originally a 1970 experimental offshoot of sixties English hitmakers The Move, ELO's initial concept of a rock band augmented by a string section struggled to find success. Though early singles such as 'Showdown' and 'Ma-Ma-Ma-Belle' were hits, ELO albums failed to make the charts in the UK and the group was virtually ignored as a live act.

It was the USA that first embraced ELO, thanks to lengthy coast-to-coast tours that helped propel singles 'Evil Woman' and 'Strange Magic' and albums 'On The Third Day', 'Eldorado' and 'Face The Music' into the American charts. UK acceptance finally came in 1976 with 'A New World Record' and Top 10 singles 'Livin' Thing', 'Rockaria!' and 'Telephone Line'.

A double album masterpiece, 1977's 'Out Of The Blue' was a worldwide smash on pre-orders alone and featured global hits 'Turn To Stone', 'Wild West Hero', 'Sweet Talkin' Woman' plus the song Lynne considers to be his greatest ELO achievement, 'Mr. Blue Sky'. Recently voted "Anthem Of The Midlands" by the public, the track continues to appear in film soundtracks and ads to this very day. The bands' legendary 1978 tour set audience attendance records wherever it played and established ELO as one of the most popular acts in the world.

'Discovery' in 1979 consolidated that success with the singles 'Shine A Little Love' (sampled back into the charts in 2005 by The LoveFreekz), 'Don't Bring Me Down' 'The Diary...
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ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.63 | 298 ratings
Electric Light Orchestra [Aka: No Answer]
1971
3.62 | 271 ratings
ELO 2 [Aka: Electric Light Orchestra II‎]
1972
3.80 | 294 ratings
On the Third Day
1973
3.86 | 407 ratings
Eldorado
1974
3.38 | 286 ratings
Face the Music
1975
3.38 | 316 ratings
A New World Record
1976
3.66 | 353 ratings
Out Of The Blue
1977
2.83 | 260 ratings
Discovery
1979
2.33 | 155 ratings
ELO & Olivia Newton-John: Xanadu (OST)
1980
3.41 | 288 ratings
Time
1981
2.68 | 181 ratings
Secret Messages
1983
2.15 | 155 ratings
Balance Of Power
1986
2.44 | 64 ratings
ELO Part II: Electric Light Orchestra Part Two
1990
2.53 | 62 ratings
ELO Part II: Moment Of Truth
1994
2.99 | 141 ratings
Zoom
2001
3.06 | 83 ratings
Jeff Lynne's ELO: Alone In The Universe
2015
2.62 | 34 ratings
Jeff Lynne's ELO: From Out Of Nowhere
2019

ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.36 | 40 ratings
The Night the Light Went On in Long Beach
1974
1.75 | 4 ratings
Electric Light Orchestra - Greatest Hits Live [LIVE] (Electric Light Orchestra Part II: post ELO)
1992
1.98 | 7 ratings
One Night, Live in Australia (Electric Light Orchestra Part II: post ELO)
1996
1.84 | 6 ratings
Greatest Hits Live, Part II: The Encore Collection
1998
3.18 | 18 ratings
Live at Winterland '76
1998
1.81 | 12 ratings
Live at Wembley '78
1998
4.10 | 20 ratings
Live at the BBC
1999
3.67 | 3 ratings
The BBC Sessions
1999
2.50 | 7 ratings
greatest Hits Of E.L.O.- Part II
2001
1.25 | 4 ratings
Strange Magic (Electric Light Orchestra II: post ELO)
2003
3.69 | 13 ratings
Electric Light Orchestra Live
2013
4.20 | 17 ratings
Jeff Lynne's ELO - Wembley or Bust
2017

ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

2.08 | 6 ratings
Live (Electric Light Orchestra Part II: post ELO) (VHS)
1991
3.60 | 5 ratings
The Very Best of ELO
1991
3.19 | 13 ratings
"Out Of The Blue" Tour Live At Wembley / Discovery
1998
3.70 | 22 ratings
Zoom Tour Live
2001
2.67 | 6 ratings
Access All Areas (Electric Light Orchestra Part II: post ELO)
2003
3.22 | 8 ratings
Live: The Early Years
2010
4.50 | 6 ratings
Wembley or Bust
2017

ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.34 | 14 ratings
Showdown
1974
3.28 | 16 ratings
Olé ELO
1976
2.65 | 13 ratings
The Light Shines On
1977
2.88 | 34 ratings
Greatest Hits
1979
4.00 | 1 ratings
The Light Shines On Vol. 2
1979
3.08 | 5 ratings
Classics
1990
3.26 | 15 ratings
Afterglow
1990
3.48 | 5 ratings
Burning Bright
1992
3.96 | 7 ratings
The Definitive Collection
1992
3.08 | 8 ratings
Strange Magic: The Best Of Electric Light Orchestra
1995
2.73 | 6 ratings
Roll Over Beethoven
1996
3.00 | 2 ratings
The Best of Electric Light Orchestra
1996
4.00 | 3 ratings
The Gold Collection
1996
3.13 | 10 ratings
Light Years, The Very Best Of
1997
1.50 | 2 ratings
Beyond The Blue
1999
4.33 | 3 ratings
Flashback
2000
2.29 | 5 ratings
The Essential ELO
2003
4.45 | 11 ratings
ELO 2/Lost Planet
2003
3.93 | 19 ratings
All Over The World: The Very Best Of Electric Light Orchestra
2005
4.13 | 6 ratings
The Harvest Years 1970-1973
2006
3.80 | 5 ratings
Ticket to the Moon: The Very Best of Electric Light Orchestra Volume 2
2007
3.23 | 11 ratings
Mr. Blue Sky: The Very Best Of Electric Light Orchestra
2012
3.50 | 4 ratings
Jeff Lynne's ELO: 50th Ballads
2021

ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

4.06 | 9 ratings
Roll Over Beethoven / Queen of the Hours
1973
2.60 | 7 ratings
Showdown / In Old England Town (Instrumental)
1973
3.50 | 4 ratings
Daytripper / Daybreaker
1974
4.25 | 4 ratings
Can't Get It Out Of My Head
1974
3.50 | 2 ratings
Telephone Line
1976
3.67 | 3 ratings
Rockaria!
1976
3.67 | 3 ratings
Mr. Blue Sky
1977
4.00 | 4 ratings
Turn to Stone
1977
3.00 | 1 ratings
The ELO EP
1978
2.14 | 2 ratings
Xanadu (with Olivia Newton-John)
1980
3.00 | 3 ratings
Hold On Tight
1981
3.50 | 2 ratings
Twilight
1981
2.13 | 4 ratings
Rock 'n' Roll Is King / After All
1983
3.00 | 7 ratings
So Serious
1986
2.42 | 5 ratings
Getting to the Point
1986
2.31 | 12 ratings
Calling America (single)
1986

ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Xanadu (with Olivia Newton-John) by ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1980
2.14 | 2 ratings

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Xanadu (with Olivia Newton-John)
Electric Light Orchestra Crossover Prog

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

2 stars "Xanadu was Olivia Newton-John's follow-up to the massive hit Grease and was supposed to establish her as a bankable musical film star. It didn't quite happen that way, thanks to Xanadu's poor box-office showing and dreadful critical reception. There's little to recommend in this film, aside from the fact that it can be entertaining if viewed from a camp perspective." -- The All Movie Guide review

The name 'Xanadu' most likely makes us progheads think of the great Rush song, which was inspired by Samuel Taylor Coleridge's 1816 poem Kubla Khan; Xanadu is the name of the summer capital of Kublai Khan's dynasty. In the American musical fantasy film, Xanadu is a nightclub. I haven't seen the film, but as a 10-yr old kid I couldn't have avoided hearing the No. 1 hit title song multiple times. Coincidentally Electric Light Orchestra was probably the first band whose album [A New World Record, 1976] had made a strong impression on me as a child. I just fancied adding and writing about this single after hearing 'Xanadu' on radio yesterday, played for the memory of the actor and singer Olivia Newton-John who passed away a week ago; personally I don't much care about the song, or Newton-John.

The complete Xanadu soundtrack album -- reviewed by surprisingly many here -- is actually split between her side (songs were written by her long-time producer John Farrar) and ELO's side, the latter including the collaborative title hit. The song is recognizibly early 80's ELO all the way, with the exception of the lead vocals. You could imagine the song being sung by Jeff Lynne in which case it surely would have been a hit nevertheless, if not quite as big as it was with Olivia Newton-John as the star. Extremely catchy and melodic, it has the word HIT stamped all over it. But despite being very accessible to the masses, there is the distinctive orchestral production belonging to ELO and no one else.

The B side song 'Fool Country' (written by Farrars) was not included on the soundtrack album even though it was featured in the film, in the nightclub grand opening segment following the movie title track and before its reprise. It's a short, fast-tempo country rocker.

'Xanadu' was deservedly a big hit, but two stars will do for this single, and I'm addressing both of my stars mainly to Jeff Lynne as a songwriter and producer.

 Showdown by ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1974
3.34 | 14 ratings

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Showdown
Electric Light Orchestra Crossover Prog

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 stars Here is an introduction to ELO that I managed to score on vinyl. The songs are taken from the first 2 albums with the exception of the best track from On the Third Day, that is Showdown. This is an early compilation, the first of a plethora of compilations to follow. As a result its a rather odd curiosity but features perhaps the proggiest selections. 10538 Overture and First Movement are a case in point. The album is a short, sharp prog excursion, and very welcome in my vinyl collection. I definitely recommend a listen for those who are accustomed to the more commercial side of ELO. The selections here are quite the opposite of commercial.
 Jeff Lynne's ELO - Wembley or Bust by ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA album cover Live, 2017
4.20 | 17 ratings

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Jeff Lynne's ELO - Wembley or Bust
Electric Light Orchestra Crossover Prog

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

5 stars I got hold of the amazing picture book replete with a wonderful collection of photos capturing this monumental event and then revisited the CD. It comes with a bonus DVD of the entire concert and beautiful packaging and booklet. It is a love letter to the massive ELO fanbase, every song played to perfection. Jeff Lynne still has a powerhouse vocal technique accompanied by the virtuoso musicians. Of note is Mel on operatic vocals and the 3 gorgeous ladies on string instruments. The whole evening is a captivating experience, all the greatest hits are played and some surprises. This is one of the best concerts of ELO. The sound quality is outstanding and if you can get the deluxe version with DVD, you are in for a very special concert experience.
 ELO 2 [Aka: Electric Light Orchestra II‎] by ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.62 | 271 ratings

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ELO 2 [Aka: Electric Light Orchestra II‎]
Electric Light Orchestra Crossover Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

4 stars After joining The Move, Jeff Lynne single-handedly changed the direction of that band into his own vision thus showing his charismatic gravitational pull on others around him and slowly but surely The Move transmogrified completely into the ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA with some tracks on the band's first album actually coming to fruition when writing material for The Move's final two albums as both band briefly existed simultaneously. The Move was Roy Wood's baby and he had done quite well with it having scored several single hits as well as bridging the gap between pop and prog. Somewhere along the line though Wood decided to add cellos intended for a Move B-side titled "10538 Overture" and that's when Jeff Lynne saw an opportunity to create a completely new musical beast. This evolved into what Wood and Lynne unleashed the wacky strange world of ELO that tackled Lynne's obsession of taking the pop sensibilities of The Beatles and marrying them with more sophisticated classical music entanglements.

The first ELO album was one of a kind with modern pop meets prog compositions performed on mostly acoustic classical instruments along with the modern electronic instruments that included electric guitar and Moog synthesizers. The album was too weird for many with its army of brass and woodwinds. The mondo-bizarro rendezvous of cellos, oboes, bassoons, clarinets, recorders and French horns with electric guitars, violins and keyboards that teased classical tones and timbres into a rock context was revolutionary if not universally appreciated and didn't exactly set the world on fire but it did establish the ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA as its own band outside of anything that The Move had done. The album was brilliantly quirky but wasn't exactly the blueprint for a successful future. That's when Roy Wood became discouraged when it proved unfeasible to perform the acoustic instruments with the electric ones in a live setting. He decided to leave the band.

Unfortunately for Lynne, not only did Wood leave the band but so did everybody else! The sole holdout was drummer Bev Bevan who would enjoy a long career with ELO. Having been forced to completely rebuild the band from scratch Lynne suddenly found himself as the leader of the band and pretty much was grasping at straws to see which direction the wind was blowing in terms of the musical market. Given all these tumultuous changes Lynne and his new party of noise makers crafted the rather un-innovative-ly titled ELO 2, well at least in the UK where it was deemed a good move to truncate the cumbersome moniker into a sleek new branding however in North America the album found a release as ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA II. Ironically the album was supposed to be a concept album titled "The Lost Planet" but that all went by the wayside when Wood departed to form the band Wizzard which went down the road to glam rock and progressive pop in the manner of The Move.

ELO II was very much a transition of sort where Lynne was throwing out as many ideas as possible to figure out exactly where his newly acquired baby would lead. The result is a very mixed stylistic approach. The opening "In Old England Town (Boogie #2)" was a leftover from the original sessions with Roy Wood appearing as bassist / cellist and therefore sounding a lot like the debut album however the second track "Momma" ("Mama" on US copeis) drops most of the classical instruments and focused more on a crossover prog sound however what really got this album on the charts was the brilliant classical / rock and roll fusion number "Roll Over Beethoven" which deftly fused the Chuck Berry song with the classical accoutrements courtesy of Ludwig himself. The 8-minute song not only was Lynne's attempt of keeping good old fashioned rock and roll alive but that he was an absolute genius in the fusion of such disparate genres of the larger musical universe. It was a top 10 hit in the UK and became a staple of live performances.

Taking a completely different turn the symphonic prog "From the Sun to the World (Boogie #1)" was also an 8-minute plus excursion into the possibilities of mixing pop, rock and classical music and was also a Lynne original. With a rather hootenanny style of violin playing the track took on even more visionary possibilities by incorporating folk and country aspects. Lynne was clearly a musical genius at this point although the pop sensibilities alienated the prog worshippers during the day and vice versa the music was too complex for the average pop music market consumer. An intricately designed composition this one goes into all kinds of changes but offers a satisfying return when experienced over many listening experiences as it morphs from classical to rock and roll and back again. The closing "Kuiama" provides the lengthiest track at over 11 minutes and therefore the most rooted in progressive rock. It was also the longest track EVER recorded by the ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA. It featured all the attributes of a great prog song. Melody, complexity and a cool tool about a war orphan with a soldier as he tells her tales about a war.

ELO II is very much an enigma in the band's existence much like the debut. This was the last album to be released on the Harvest label and by far the most diverse amongst ELO's canon however with the success of the single "Roll Over Beethoven," also was the moment in time when Lynne became aware of his strengths and therefore the stylistic approach of the single was the way to sally forth into the future. The future ELO albums would incorporate classic rock and roll sounds with modern crossover prog and eventually disco which made ELO a household name in the 1970s and one of the biggest musical acts of all time. This was quite the pivotal moment for Jeff Lynne and this album showcases the myriad directions the band could've have taken at this point in 1972 when prog was still popular but in the end Lynne's decision to channel his musical mojo into the more accessible pop aspects proved to be the winning lottery number. Many discount this album as a fluke but i personally find this one to be a deeply moving musical experience. To me the early ELO experiences are the most rewarding.

 A New World Record by ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.38 | 316 ratings

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A New World Record
Electric Light Orchestra Crossover Prog

Review by TCat
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

3 stars This album was released when ELO still had some art to their pop, and that's why it seems to have some substance for me. Also the fact that I loved this album when I was much younger helps it bring back some memories. But, there isn't a lot of prog here. It's mostly a collection of well-orchestrated and thought-out tracks that are quite well written and very melodic. They are songs that stick with you through time.

"Tightrope" is a definite highlight, not only on this album, but also in all of ELO's later repertoire. That lovely, orchestral passage at the beginning just really sets the stage for the album and the feelings of melancholia (warm breezes blowing through a car window in the early evening) are very strong, but the music only evokes those feelings. Even the contrast with a more rock-ish style once the vocals start, the contrast between the orchestral part and the heavier part just flows so smoothly. "Telephone Line" is another nice track with a sort of doo-wop sound of slow early rock from the 50's-60's, plus a lot of more modern twists. I'm not a huge fan of "Rockaria!" as it seemed a bit convoluted with the operatic vocals mixed with the harder rock sound and the somewhat corny lyrics, but I never really skipped past or ignored the song either. Then "Mission" brings back the melancholic style again with an edge of mystery surrounding it and the "alien" theme that goes with it. Again, warm summer nights come to mind.

The 2nd half begins with the two main singles from the album, both of which were still nice sounding artsy pop and always pleased the ear when they were played on the radio. The funk (albeit a bit plastic sounding) of the goofy "So Fine" and the nice, smoother sounds of "Livin' Thing" that even throws in a bit of dissonance to show that Jeff Lynne still used a bit of risky sound, yet pulled off a hit anyway. Between this and the next hit on the record, that hard rocker "Do Ya" with the irresistible guitar riff (reminiscent of "Ma-Ma-Ma Belle" from an earlier album), is a nice little track that tends to get lost because of it's placement on the album, that is "Above the Clouds". I always loved this track because it seemed to be the most ignored, but it always seemed to give me a sense of peace and well-being when I heard it. It was always my own personal favorite from the album. It all ends with the symphonic "Shangri-La" which works as a perfect finale for the album, even though it had that obvious and somewhat corny reference to The Beatles. Still, it all came together quite well and I always had a lot of love for this album back in the day.

Be that as it may, it has lost a bit of that charm that it used to have for me. It hasn't really garnered the long-lasting respect that other albums from back in the day still have. At least, this album still has a degree of artiness to it's pop, but for ELO, that would even soon be given away for safe, more commercial pop that would come after "Discovery" where all of the art would be taken out of the art-pop of ELO. This album will always be important for me on a personal basis, but as far as from a respected and progressive style, this album is only a good album and not really that essential. I always get a little torn about reviewing albums that mean so much to me mainly because they were around while I was younger, but looking at this from a progressive stand point, 3 stars seems fair.

 A New World Record by ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.38 | 316 ratings

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A New World Record
Electric Light Orchestra Crossover Prog

Review by Gallifrey

3 stars Listening diary 9th June 2021: Electric Light Orchestra - A New World Record (symphonic pop rock, 1976)

I'm not sure if I've ever completely enjoyed an ELO album, which reinforces their reputation as one of the true singles bands, but this one is almost threatening to change that. I didn't think much of it at all at first, but I've found a few of its melodies earworming into my head at inappropriate times, and after a bit I'll concede that "Telephone Line" at least is one of their best songs. This is also a far more digestible length than their other classic albums, so I feel it could grow on me more still.

6.0 (3rd listen)

Part of my listening diary from my facebook music blog - www.facebook.com/TheExoskeletalJunction

 The Night the Light Went On in Long Beach by ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA album cover Live, 1974
3.36 | 40 ratings

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The Night the Light Went On in Long Beach
Electric Light Orchestra Crossover Prog

Review by sgtpepper

3 stars One of rare ELO live albums from their early era is authentic but a bit of missed opportunity due to track selection. Their two best progressive albums - first two albums - are only represented by 3 tracks. The sound quality could have been better. Electric Light Orchestra have never been a virtuoso band with the exception of the violin and cello players and their much better compositionally than instrumentally. Violin and cellos are playing convincingly, lead guitar is actually more prominent than on next albums but quite average, drums are too simple to my taste. Keyboards save the reputation of the classic rock instruments - synths and moog are inspired by Wakeman by no that adventureous. The voice is not great - Lynne was learning how to sing without having to scream. You can hear several influences - from rock'n'roll to classical music, folk rock and Beatles. "Daybreak" is a highlight, the only fully progressive and instrumental track and a great choice for a live concert. "Showdown" is a poppy track but sounds good live and the band still leaves the comfort zone. "Roll over Beethoven" is definitely a very good choice for the live concert but together with "Great Balls of Fire" introduces too much of a generic rock'n'roll. The "Day Tripper" version is OK but I would have preferred more original material. So be it not for the "Daybreaker" and "10538 Overture", I wouldn't have bought the album. Good for ELO fans.
 Jeff Lynne's ELO - Wembley or Bust by ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA album cover Live, 2017
4.20 | 17 ratings

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Jeff Lynne's ELO - Wembley or Bust
Electric Light Orchestra Crossover Prog

Review by Heart of the Matter

3 stars And Jeff's Orchestra didn't bust, at all. In fact, they did a fantastic job bringing those glory days back to life. As for the highlights featured in this full-scale revamp of their classics, we must stop and note, first of all, the long-time awaited reinstating of the classic E.L.O. string array of two chellos and single violin, restoring in that way the rich tonal palette in the mid- & upper range, a welcomed treat to prog ears. Note also a fine rendition of "When I Was A Boy", from Alone In The Universe. But the unexpected showstoppers here are, of course Travelling Wilbury's classic "Handle With Care", and, almost undreamable, "Xanadu" with vocals not by Olivia Newton-John this time, but by Jeff himself.

 Roll Over Beethoven / Queen of the Hours by ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1973
4.06 | 9 ratings

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Roll Over Beethoven / Queen of the Hours
Electric Light Orchestra Crossover Prog

Review by Heart of the Matter

4 stars We are standing here in front of a window open to a couple of key moments in the origin of the lovable combo assembled by Roy Wood and later continued by Jeff Lynne. We're talking about a time before the recruitment of such iconic members as bassist / singer Kelly Groucutt, chelists Hugh McDowell & Melvyn Gale, and, of course, violinist Mik Kaminski. But don't be afraid, bases are well covered anyway, and the compositions are outstanding on both sides:

On face A, taken from their 2nd LP, we have the first E.L.O. truly smashing hit & concert staple, the cover version of Chuck Berry's foundational "Roll over Beethoven", which, even having been often dismissed as simplistic, with its basic alternation between Beethovens' 5th quotes and electric riff, is however a must if you are interested in the development of Symphonic-Rock.

And finally, on face B, taken from their 1st, shines the lesser known gem "Queen of the Hours", a gorgeus slow pace, minor key, fragile melody intertwined in an almost chamber music arrangement.

 Face the Music by ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.38 | 286 ratings

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Face the Music
Electric Light Orchestra Crossover Prog

Review by TCat
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

3 stars ELO slips easily into the pop world leaving behind serious progressive music almost completely in this album. Yes, it has been hinting towards that end ever since their 2nd album. "El Dorado" had a nice thread running through it, almost making it a suite of songs in disguise as the tracks are tied together with somewhat campy, yet believable orchestral threads. The orchestra returns for the band's fifth album, but there is no cohesive thread holding it all together, and unfortunately, the album suffers from this. There really isn't a pleasing balance here, this album leans toward less creative tracks and more radio-friendly sound, and this is evident in their singles "Evil Woman" and "Strange Magic", which really use the orchestra more for atmosphere than any kind of structural backing.

So, everyone knows these two tracks, but surely the deeper tracks are better right? Well, not in my opinion. To me it sounds forced. "Fire on High" tries to generate some excitement to start off the album, but the orchestral additions seem very formulaic and even the backwards talking and the dark effects have become somewhat cliché by now. Nothing new is ventured here, but it is decent enough to open the album with. "Waterfall" goes for the "romantic" side with a slower track that tries to be the "Can't Get It Outta My Head" of this album. Yes, it's nice enough, but nothing really new here either. In fact, this track sounds better in the instrumental version that closes the 2006 expanded reissue. A bit schmaltzy, but it's okay. It is nice how it follows into the hit "Evil Woman" however, but that track has been overplayed and for me, quickly lost it's charm, almost touching on the disco/dance sound that was becoming more prevalent in the day. The use of strings that opens "Nightrider" brings back the cliché sound that ELO was using to the point of overuse, and when the song picks up tempo, it continues to hold no surprises or interesting turns, just rock mixed with orchestral swashes of usualness. And side one is over without any real standouts.

"Poker" opens the 2nd side with a heavier rock and roll sound and a swirling synth riff that might grab your attention before it descends into the same old territory. Verse, chorus, riff, repeat. It does manage to add in some extra between-chorus bridges that really don't add any emotion to it all. "Strange Magic", the 2nd hit for the album, is actually the best track in my opinion, even if it has also been overplayed. It is a nice, lush and soft track that feels like a cool breeze on a hot summer night, and the orchestral sections are reminiscent of El Dorado, but not really connected to anything else on the album, so it sounds like they were added as an afterthought, and the high falsetto background singing might remind you of The Bee Gees in their disco era. "Down Home Town" tries to add a little hoedown, country sound to it all, but comes across a bit cheesy. Then, before you know it, the album closer "One Summer Dream" shoots for the nostalgic ballad style, again trying to emulate "Can't Get It Outta ...." again. Then it's all over, and I am always left thinking, "is that it"?

Overall, the album comes across as not being very cohesive which was the one saving grace for the previous album "El Dorado", and now it all just sounds like the clichés are just glued together, or recycled into an average sounding album. However, the album ended up doing better than any of their previous releases, so Jeff Lynne accomplished what he had set out to do and turned an exciting concept into pop music and did it over the course of 5 albums. While it's true that the next full length album "A New World's Record" would feel more authentic with songs that seemed to be more thought out, this one was a definite misstep for me. I did like it the first 2 times I heard it many years ago, but it quickly wore out its welcome in my early years. I can manage to give it 3 stars, at least it's not as bad as what would come along eventually, but it's still not an album I return to hardly ever.

Thanks to yanns for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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