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Electric Light Orchestra - Face the Music CD (album) cover


Electric Light Orchestra


Crossover Prog

3.38 | 296 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Let's face the music.and dance!

After surprising us with the sublime "Eldorado", Jeff Lynne began to fully appreciate the talent he had for writing commercially successful material. His ear for a strong melody and awareness of how to exploit that melody to the full had until then been largely hidden behind cover versions, rambling but admittedly more progressive epics, and prior to that, the charismatic Roy Wood.

With "Face the music", Lynne quickly moved to develop the commercial side of the band's music further, generally simplifying and shortening the songs while ensuring that the melodies were irresistible and the choruses memorable.

The album opens as it were a continuation of "Eldorado" with the intense orchestrated instrumental "Fire on high". This five minute overture moves quickly through a succession of themes, all the while maintaining a pace which insists upon listener participation of some sort.

"Waterfall" or minor variations thereof was a popular song title around this time, with 10CC and Paul McCartney, among many others, creating strong material of that name. In most cases the songs are similar, the hypnotic effect of these natural wonders clearly being an inspiration to many songwriters. So it is here that we have a reflective ballad along the lines of "Can't get it out of my head" from the previous album.

"Evil woman" is the most significant track here, although by no means the best. The song represents the template which Lynne would use with ELO to create a long succession of massively successful hit singles. Indeed, "Evil woman" shot to the high reaches of the singles chart so quickly, Lynne would have had little time to appreciate the monster he had created. It is hard to dislike such a song, it is tuneful, catchy, and enjoyable, but it is as formulaic as the string of singles which saw Status Quo labelled as the band of three chords.

Side two of the LP has a good diversity of material, including the superb dynamics of the more interestingly structured "Poker", the cod US Southern rock of "Down home town" (complete with land of Dixie references) and the dreamy "Strange magic". It is "One summer dream" though which is the piece-de-resistance. This lilting ballad paints a delightful picture of natural perfection.

Aside from the rather lacklustre sleeve illustrations, this is a fine if overtly commercial album. It indicated clearly the path which the band would follow as their star rose ever higher over the coming years.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |


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