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Electric Light Orchestra - Time CD (album) cover


Electric Light Orchestra


Crossover Prog

3.37 | 245 ratings

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Prog Folk Researcher
3 stars Sure, this isn’t a progressive album in any real sense, but then again what music that came out in the 80’s really was? ELO rebounds well from their borderline disco Xanadu soundtrack and the rather boilerplate Discovery to produce a concept album that is actually quite listenable, and in a few places actually pretty good. I'm going to give it an extra star at the end of this review just for "Hold on Tight" and "Ticket to the Moon" - you watch me!

There’s a few minor annoyances to be sure. The over-use of voice synthesizers gets to be a bit much. It might have been an interesting addition to the album if it were used with some moderation, but right out of the gate “Prologue” kicks out with something that sounds like “Iron Man” on helium. “Yours Truly 2095” is a song about an electronic lover, and the lyrics here are really funny if you don’t take them too seriously (and really – how can you!):

“She is the latest in technology, almost mythology, but she has a heart of stone; She has an IQ of 1,001, she has a jumpsuit on, and she’s also a telephone”. Priceless.

“Twilight” is closer to normal vocals, but Lynne still sounds like he stole Thomas Dolby’s mike and added a few capacitors or something. If took a few listens before it dawned on me that the strings on this album were not the real thing. The use of synthesizers on this album is very extensive.

“Ticket to the Moon” is one of the better songs on the album. Lynne’s voice is pretty much used the way God intended (sans digital manipulation), and the theme is actually quite funny a quarter-century where we are now further away from putting a man back on the moon then we were back in 1981.

The sound on “The Way Life’s Meant to Be” is closer to Out of the Blue than it is to Discovery. This is a sort of ‘lost love’ song, and it actually has a nice beat, but you can’t really dance to it.

“Another Heart Breaks” is an instrumental of the uber-techno variety, nothing wrong with it, but it probably goes on a minute or two longer than necessary. This one doesn’t really help the theme of the record out any, and probably should have been worked into the end of “Twilight”.

“Rain is Falling” very much has the 70’s ELO sound, slightly synthetic but enough of an actual human voice and some guitar to make it at least mildly interesting.

On “From the End of the World” Lynne takes a bit of a step backwards into his recent disco past with a thumping dance beat and McCartney-meets-digital vocals. This is supposed to be some sort of dream sequence, leading into “The Lights Go Down”, which is my favorite. Kelly Groucutt kicks up a funky little bass rhythm, Lynne’s semi-falsetto voice is almost lounge-act smooth, and Bevan‘s drumbeat is well accented by Lynne’s sporadic guitar. This probably could have sold well as a single.

I guess “Here is the News” is supposed to be some kind of Orwellian inspired piece, with rather silly lyrics and more syntho vocals: “Here is the news, somebody has broken out of satellite two, here is the news, look very carefully – it may be you”. This one was released with “Ticket to the Moon” and became a Top-40 hit in the States.

“21st Century Man” is the most memorable song on the album. This is a soft tune with some decent fake piano and lots of echo. This is a bit of a progress protest of sorts, and is most marked by the distinctive soaring accompanying vocals of Groucutt and Lynne’s overdubbed falsetto.

The album closes with the rocking “Hold on Tight”, a screw-the-man anthem for the 80’s decade, apparently about a guy who’s off on an interstellar journey. This one rose to #4 in the U.S. and is still played fairly regularly on FM radio today. The lyrics are sappy, but kind of endearing (again, if you don’t take them too seriously): “It’s a long time to be gone, time just rolls on and on. When you need a shoulder to cry on, when you get so sick of trying – just hold on tight to your dreams”.

Thanks, I will.


ClemofNazareth | 3/5 |


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