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Electric Light Orchestra - Electric Light Orchestra [Aka: No Answer] CD (album) cover


Electric Light Orchestra


Crossover Prog

3.63 | 312 ratings

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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.

Easy Livin | 4/5 |


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