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Electric Light Orchestra - Discovery CD (album) cover

DISCOVERY

Electric Light Orchestra

Crossover Prog


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thoughtships@
3 stars 1979 was the year of disco. Flushed from the huge success of their 1977 "Out Of The Blue" album, ELO returned in 1979 with more-of-the-same except this time with a disco beat. Hence the title: Disco Very. Of all their albums, this one pandered to the pop market the most, but any album that contains the quirky genius of "The Diary Of Horace Wimp", the melodic thrill of "Confusion", and the melancholic beauty of "Midnight Blue" must have something going for it. So, a dated work, but an entertaining one nonetheless.
Report this review (#68454)
Posted Sunday, February 5, 2006 | Review Permalink
progaeopteryx
PROG REVIEWER
1 stars ELO had reached the first of several low points of their career with this release. Jeff Lynne had finally achieved the pop stardom he had always desired with his previous two releases, A New World Record and Out of the Blue. So what does he do next? He jumps up onto the disco bandwagon and a never ending sea of cheese, most notably with the danceable Shine a Little Love and Last Train to London. In between these brain-throbbing bouncefests, is a bunch of uninspiring pop songs that make me want hide in my dresser to re-arrange my socks by color even though they're all white. Although The Diary of Horace Wimp is kind of funny, it's really a bit childish. The only other song worth mentioning is Don't Bring Me Down, one of ELO's biggest pop hits, but after two minutes of listening to this, I'd feel more comfortable trying to squeeze an orange creamsicle up my nose.

Discovery is apparently one of ELO's best sellers. For the life of me, I can't imagine why. When disco died, I'm sure this found its way into many a circular file. A very poor release, only for completionists, thus only one star. Did I mention there isn't an ounce of progressive rock on this?

Report this review (#69196)
Posted Sunday, February 12, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars The band seems misunderstandable in this community. This album was, along with Time, the first I ever heard of ELO. A simple and optimistic one, but like an honest light of a morning sun beaming on you. Something from a distant and better world, or a world that seems like so. As long as anything of the ELO.

Some people think they can mix things with dirt only because they won't fit into the frames of a specific style, or their individual preferences. Their own associations they consider ultimately universal and original. Wish for them to become only a little more open-minded.

Sincerely, Anita. (Moscow, Russia)

Report this review (#74345)
Posted Friday, April 7, 2006 | Review Permalink
ClemofNazareth
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk Researcher
3 stars One of the things I found annoying about the original release of this album was the packaging, which really didn’t make much sense to me at the time (or now). The vinyl release came in a gatefold cover with a poorly-focused picture of three non-descript middle-easterners in a desert on horses with swords raised standing over the kid from the cover holding the ELO jukebox/light emblem thing. This might have been meant as a little bit of a clever play on the album’s title, but if so the significance was lost on me and the extra expense by the label for a gatefold seemed to be unwarranted. Also, the black-and-white pictures of the band on the sleeve were meant to be ‘classic’ looking I suppose, but I didn’t understand why the photographer didn’t bother to clean the filthy window behind Richard Tandy’s head, or why Jeff Lynne felt the need to have eleven microphone stands behind him. Or why the lyrics sheet included a concert photo from three years prior which showed at least three members who were no longer with the band. I did like the font used to print the lyrics though. And in retrospect I realize today that I both had way too much discretionary time back then, and apparently spent a lot of time studying album covers while under the influence.

That aside, I still like to play this album every so often, despite its being almost a completely disco-pop creation. ELO finished their transformation from a creative, orchestral-leaning band to a by-the-numbers hit machine with Discovery, just in time for the end of a decade of brilliant progressive music. Five of the nine songs on the album became hits in Europe, the U.S., or both – “Shine a Little Love”, “Confusion”, “The Diary of Horace Wimp”, “Last Train to London”, and the band’s first and only #1 single “Don’t Bring Me Down”.

While the string and choral arrangements are still here as with previous ELO albums, the overriding musical theme here is a danceable disco beat. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, but one should be aware if picking up this album for the first time (which is hard to imagine unless you’ve lived under a rock for the past couple of decades). Along with the disco beat is an almost overwhelming use of synthesizers to create all manner of interesting sounds, from crowd noises to dream sequences to bells to train whistles to sounds we have no natural instruments for.

“Shine a Little Love” opens the album and leaves no question as to the type of music being put forth (Discovery = disco-very, as we learned quickly back then). Toe-tapping beat, more synthesizer than actually instruments for the most part (although Lynne manages some decent guitar riffs), and Kelly Groucutt with a bass line that would do a funk band proud. A major world-wide hit single, nothing but popular dance music, let’s not even pretend. So be it.

“Confusion” is more of the same, although a bit slower-paced and with some interesting keyboards and vocoder vocals. By the way, ever notice it’s hard to tell when Lynne slips from his normally sub-alto voice into a falsetto? This was the first album where this became apparent.

“Need Her Love” is one of two ballads (“Midnight Blue” being the other) and it was hugely popular during the slow-dance portion of a good disco evening in that era. The guitar picking around the languid string arrangements are quite seductive. I did a bit of disc-jockeying around this time and these two were regularly requested.

“The Diary of Horace Wimp” is a sort of cheesy “Irene Wilde”, assuming you don’t already classify the latter as cheesy. It’s a story-song, which I personally like, but more importantly confirmed that the band was indeed at least trying to make music that was more than dance tracks.

By far the most just plain likeable song on the album is “Last Train to London”, another story-song. This one’s about a guy who misses his train so he can spend time with a woman. It also has a dance beat, but the string arrangements and Lynne’s guitar are vintage ELO and combined with the upbeat tempo and Lynne’s comfortable voice this has become a song for lovers over the years.

Surprisingly the one decidedly non-disco song, “Midnight Blue”, is also probably the most boring, owing largely to the un-ambitious arrangement and Lynne’s annoying falsetto.

The next two tracks (“On the Run” and “Wishing”) are the forgotten songs since neither ended up as a single, nor as a dance-hall staple. Except for the heavy synthesized percussion and keyboard tracks these sound more like something from El Dorado.

The album closer is “Don’t Bring Me Down”, which needs no description since this was an intergalactic disco-pop hit in 1979 that is still played regularly on both AM and FM radio today.

The only fair way to rate this album is in its context to the rest of the ELO body of work; otherwise, any assessment must consider its relevance as a dance standard, or as a progressive work (it’s obviously not), or as a pop album, which it really isn’t either. So, three stars is I think the right place to put this one, close to Out of the Blue and better than most of what came after, but not in the same league as the first four studio albums.

peace

Report this review (#81891)
Posted Saturday, June 24, 2006 | Review Permalink
Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Yes this album for me was the peak of ELO's creativity. ' Discovery' may well be their most commercial album of all but dare I say it this has in my opinion the best overall delivery out of all their 75-80 era releases. I would probaly give this a true four star rating but it definitely is NOT an excellent addition to the average prog collection. It does though warrant a solid 3.5 stars because of the quality of each and every track on the album, even the disco beat ( sorry folks) that thematically runs through ' Discovery'. ' Shine a Little Love' for me is the best song on the album and the title track, "Lost Train To London' and ' The Diary of Horace Wimp' are also fine tunes. You cannot escape the 10cc similarities in parts either.
Report this review (#101371)
Posted Saturday, December 2, 2006 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Whimsical but compulsive

By the time of "Discovery", Jeff Lynne had indeed discovered the formula for writing highly infectious hit singles. Any prog tendencies ELO previously had, had long since been abandoned, the band producing the sophisticated pop of groups such as 10CC. Indeed, most of the music on this album makes 10CC look like the creators of complex symphonic prog.

It may therefore seem that there is no point in even considering this album, but with the foregoing scene setting in mind, this is a very proficient and highly enjoyable album. We have the straight pop of "Shine a little love", the superb power pop of "Confusion", the melodic ballad "Midnight blue", and the wall of sound "Don't bring me down".

The Beatles influences which Lynne cherishes so dearly and makes no apologies for, are clearest on the whimsical but compulsive "The diary of Horace wimp". Also worthy of mention is "Last train to London", an upbeat song of long distance love.

"Discovery" is very much a continuation of "Out of the blue", indeed any of these tracks would have been equally at home on that album. There is no attempt to move on from the successful formula of that album, this is simply more of the same. Such formulaic writing cannot however be relied upon forever, and after one more fine album ("Time"), the magic would quickly evaporate.

Report this review (#108409)
Posted Monday, January 22, 2007 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars This is not really the best ELO album so far. Disco was at its peak, so Jeff decided to jump into it.

It is a combination of poor to average tracks with little feeling nor soul. I guess that commercially Jeff was happy since a few songs will be aired quite a bit like "Shine A Little Love", "Last Train To London" (probably the "best" number here) and "Don't Bring Me Down". This album will peak at the first spot in the UK.

Apart from these three songs, there is not a single interesting track on this album; the worse being achieved with "Confusion" and "On The Run".

"Need Her Love", "Midnight Blue" and "Wishing" are mellowish ballads which attempt to be catchy but are quite boring. I guess Jeff has forgotten how to write performant pop melodies like he was used to. Hell ! The magnificent double album "Out Of The Blue" is only two years old so what happened to this master only superseded by McCartney ? "The Diary Of Horace Wimp" tries to match "Mr. Blue Sky" but is not at all on par with this good track.

Two stars.

Report this review (#118428)
Posted Sunday, April 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
progaardvark
COLLABORATOR
Crossover/Symphonic/RPI Teams
1 stars Discovery was probably ELO's biggest (or maybe quickest) selling album in their history. Unfortunately it didn't age well as a pop rock album (or any other genre you'd like to put it in). Perhaps it's because it is more heavily influenced by disco music, perhaps it was because it relied more on synthesizers than an orchestra, or perhaps it's because the songs were not anywhere near as good as on their two preceding albums. Whatever our thoughts might be on this, it seems irrelevant because most of these have found their way into bargain bins and circular files across the world. It's also mostly irrelevant because there isn't anything closely resembling progressive rock on Discovery (often jokingly referred to as "Disco? Very!").

The only other thing worth noting concerning this album was that it was the first to not feature the string trio of Mik Kaminski, High McDowell, and Melvyn Gale. They did make some appearances on music videos for the album that were created as substitutes for a concert tour. After this they were deemed surplus and dismissed (although Kaminski would make appearances on later albums). The trademark of the ELO name was deemed as surplus. What an insulting end to what many considered a unique creation in the world of music.

A dreadful album oozing with synthesized beeps and squeaks and lyrics screaming of cheese. Unbelievably, there was much worst ahead for ELO. One star. Only for completionists.

Report this review (#146539)
Posted Tuesday, October 23, 2007 | Review Permalink
Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Last Train to London ...

First off, I love the cover artwork of this album - it's so artistically crafted. Musically, this album is more pop, and in fact disco, than the previous albums. The opening track "Shine a little love" (4:42) sounds like a Saturday Night Fever track, in similar style with The Bee Gees "Tragedy". It's quite disco, right? The next one "Confusion" (3:42) was released as single altogether with "Last Train To London". This pop song is quite popular in the 70s and until now as some radios still play this song regularly. "Need her love" (5:09) is completely a mellow pop song with catchy melody. I like this track especially with the opening part using guitar fills augmented with orchestration. The vocal line enters the music beautifully. The strength of this song is in its melody and flow. It's quite enjoyable if this song is being played midnight.

"The diary of Horace Wimp" (4:17) is again another pop song in the vein of "Saturday Night Fever" soundtrack in terms of music style. It's quite entertaining as an upbeat music especially with the vocal and its choirs combined with orchestration. "Last train to London" (4:31) is my favorite track. It combines upbeat disco music with great singing style and inventive clavinet sounds. The song moves wonderfully from one part to another, giving a great combination of notes which forms nice melody and grooves. It's simple in composition but it kicks. "Midnight blue" (4:20) brings the music back into mellow style in pop notations. "On the run" (3:56) is an upbeat track with dynamic keyboard work. "Wishing" (4:14) reminds me to the style of Alan Parsons Project and it sounds fit with the "Turn of a Friendly Card" album. "Don't bring me down" (4:08) is a combination between rock'n'roll riffs and disco. It's a good track.

Overall, this is another good album by Electric Light Orchestra which maintains the band's music direction as pop music band. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW (i-Rock! Music Community)

Report this review (#175562)
Posted Saturday, June 28, 2008 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars The beginning of ELO's decline. Well, after the great pop masterpiece of Out Of The Blue, this was a kind of disappointment. the band lost the three string players that gave much of the band's charm and uniquiness. From now on they used full orchestrars when needed and became just another pop prog band of the day. More pop than ever, I should point out.

Not that the record is bad, no. After all Jeff Lynne was still writing, producing and arranging fine pop tunes, but the band lost much of its appeal and, contrary to their earlier effords, this one dated a lot over the years. It is the typical late 70's record that was fighting obscurity when punk/disco/new wave seemed to be taking over the music scene. And I can't deny that ELO did one of the best mixes of pop and disco in the wonderful form of Last Train To London: definitly a disco rhythm section delivers this great pop tune with fantastic clavinet sounds and orchestral background. Very clever and very inspired, it deserved to be the big hit of the LP (and it was).

Unfortunatly the rest of the CD is not of the same caliber. There are the usual fine tunes that only Lynne can deliver, like Shine A Little Love, Confusion and On The Run. The beatlesque The Diary of Horace Wimpp and the rocking Don't Bring Me down are also of interest. But there is a lack of energy and creativity that was always present in their previous effords. The excessive use of the vocoder is also annoying.

Conclusion: still a good release. But it is not essential in any way. Be sure to have all their classic albums before getting this one. 3 stars.

Report this review (#192343)
Posted Monday, December 8, 2008 | Review Permalink
J-Man
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars This is kind of tough to rate. The music is some of the best pop music in the world. However, it's kind of a dissapointment in a way to see a prog band make disco. Jeff Lynn saw opportunity to make disco at its height, and he did. The disco music is superb, but is not prog in any way, shape, or form. Some highlights are DON'T BRING ME DOWN and LAST TRAIN TO LONDON. None of the music is bad at all, but I was a little dissapointed to see them stop making prog, even if the music is still superb, just a different style. I love all the music and listen to it frequently. For pop music it's 5/5, but for prog 4/5.
Report this review (#192356)
Posted Monday, December 8, 2008 | Review Permalink
Sinusoid
PROG REVIEWER
1 stars My first discovery of ELO. Let me make an unoriginal joke and say that the ''disco'' is ''very'' here.

The first track on each side of the album (''Shine a Little Light'' and ''Last Train to London'') remind me of how I stereotypically view disco; bouncy bass lines, high pitched vocals and fluttery pseudo-orchestral type line that plunk out melodies. I've heard a few ELO things before this, but I was never expecting such mediocre disco out of this group. And would you believe if I told you that I feel the two songs I mentioned are the best off the album?

Me neither, but DISCOVERY is not 100% disco. We also get a sea of slow, soft uber pop that possess a certain magic; five of the remaining seven songs magically go into my brain, then leave my brain without me really remembering how any of the songs went. If you didn't understand the bad humour, let me put it like this; my mind wandered throughout most of the album.

I guess that for a pop album, it's nice. But this site deals with more progressive type of musics and DISCOVERY has virtually none to offer here, IMO.

Report this review (#251830)
Posted Thursday, November 19, 2009 | Review Permalink
SouthSideoftheSky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
1 stars Disco Pop

The Prog or Art Rock fan's interest in ELO is pretty much concentrated on the band's first four albums. After that they turned into a Pop group with little or nothing to interest such fans. Still, however, they managed to make another three decent Pop albums in the 70's: Face The Music, A New World Record and Out Of The Blue. It was first with Discovery that they really lost it. Trading in Art Rock for radio-friendly Pop music, just wasn't bad enough for them, they had to mix it up with Disco! Released in 1979, Discovery was thus very much a child of its time. The Beatles-influenced song-writing was still very much there, but the songs became even simpler and even more obviously aimed at radio play.

Discovery is a low-point in the career of ELO and it best avoided. Thankfully, the band's next album, Time, would again be a good one and a kind of return to the conceptual Eldorado.

Report this review (#252207)
Posted Sunday, November 22, 2009 | Review Permalink
1 stars Aside from a really cool cover, this album has little to offer. I have always been a fan of ELO, from their symphonic prog beginnings with Roy Wood to their more poppy days. However, this album was a HUGE blech for me. Pure pop music with disco thrown in is just way too much. Many people did not like Balance Of Power by ELO, but I consider even that to be way above this level. I think the only thing Jeff Lynne has done that is worse would be the next album Soundtrack to Xanadu, which I can't even bring myself to listen to so it can be rated. On DIscovery, not all ELO members are even featured (strings). Highlight? Well, maybe "Last Train to London" if I have to pick something. Lowlight? The rest. From a band that gave us prog classics such as No Answer and ELOII, to great pop rock albums Eldorado and Face The Music, this is pure trash. 1 star as a Prog album (really zero), 2 stars as a pop album.
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Posted Thursday, April 22, 2010 | Review Permalink
Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars As with most ELO music, the contents of this album are largely contagious whether it's liked or not. This 1979 record is largely danceable pop and disco (intriguingly, the word "disco" makes up five of the nine letters of Discovery).

"Shine a Little Love" When I queued this up this morning, my son even ran over, bobbing his head, smiling, and he told me it was "funny music." I agree with the lad. This is eccentric disco pop with only a vestige of progressiveness with comical, eccentric bits.

"Confusion" This moderate pop song with high-pitched vocals (echoed by a vocoder) has only slight traces of a baroque influence. Lynne's singing during the verses is just fine, but the other funny business is harebrained.

"Need Her Love" Slowing things down with a piano, strings, and bluesy lead guitar would seem to be a good move at this point. The lead guitar, like the song overall, goes down smooth.

"The Diary of Horace Wimp" This is one of the most charming, fun, bouncy tunes ELO ever put together, about a timid tardy chap who gets a little nudge in toward gumption from the heavens, going from nearly getting fired to getting married all in the span of a week. It's one of my favorite songs by them.

"Last Train to London" ELO may have gone disco, but this here is the way to do it: A funky bass groove pushing things along with bursts of strings, catchy melodies, and a killer falsetto hook.

"Midnight Blue" Taking the mood back down again, "Midnight Blue" opens with crystalline synthesizer and vocoder, followed by a downy number.

"On the Run" ELO had far more hits than duds when it comes to individual tracks, but this definitely falls into the latter category- ludicrously rendered pop that borders on irritating. Even the electronic tones are abrasively bad.

"Wishing" Opening with a tranquil passage featuring a whistling synthesizer, the band moves into a bit of easy listening with good vocals and nice strings.

"Don't Bring Me Down" The final song might have been one of those I'd have written off after but a few listens, but I think we've all heard it so many times (it is one of ELO's most famous tracks, even with its hilariously bad video) that it has tricked us into liking it in spite of itself. Since this bit of trivia comes up frequently whenever this song is heard or mentioned, I'll make a note of it here: The lyric is not "Bruce," but a bastardization of Gruß, which is German for "greeting." However, Lynne would sing "Bruce" in live concerts for fun since the misheard lyrics was better known than the original.

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Posted Sunday, April 1, 2012 | Review Permalink
AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars DiscoVery is Very Disco...

ELO became a victim of the disco craze on this album, cashing in on that horrendous style, and the result is it did not sound as cool and spacey as previous releases. In fact this is one of their least popular albums though it does have an enigmatic album cover and 5 terrific songs.

It begins well enough with the poppy violin driven single Shine a little love and then one of the best here follows in Confusion. My favourite ELO song is here The diary of Horace Wimp, that has a beautiful rhythm and ethereal atmospherics. The lyrics are simple but effective and the film clip is unforgettable from my teenage years. The chorus is kind of creepy and the multi harmonies are balanced by chilling whispers and descending string sections. Next is a real disco beat on Last train to London, but I like the echo chorus threads and overall style. The others on side two are wearisome, but it ends nicely on power rhythms and infectious hooks with Don't bring me down. This one haunted radio stations and continues to do so.

The 5 treasures on the album, that radio DJs have a fetish for, save it but there are a lot of fillers and dull songs that mar its overall effectiveness. It is better to grab these songs on a compilation as the other songs leave much to be desired unfortunately.

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Posted Sunday, October 7, 2012 | Review Permalink
Chicapah
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars I recall with unexplainable clarity the first time I slapped this album on the turntable and put needle to groove. In June of 1979, while waiting for my treasure-laden ship to come in (the one that never showed up), I was making ends meet by working at a record store in Redondo Beach, California so in that timeframe (that ended up lasting about a year) I got to hear firsthand what was going on in the music biz just by doing my banal job. When "Discovery" arrived I was still enamored with ELO's wonderfully creative "Out of the Blue" double LP that I had running almost non-stop on the 8-track cassette player in my fire engine red Toyota Celica. I was anticipating another large dose of progressive pop with the quirky, unpredictable edge that I'd come to expect from this eclectic bunch. But by the time I'd listened to the whole disc from start to finish I knew instinctively that Jeff Lynne & Co. had hit the proverbial brick wall and that his band would never again be the industry juggernaut they'd been up to that juncture. ELO's well had run dry. Turned out I was right.

The dreaded disco influence had infiltrated a host of my favorite groups in the preceding years so it wasn't an absolute shock to find that Jeff and the boys had succumbed to its siren-like beckoning. (You had to live in that era to know what a despicable disease it was. It was ugly, relentless and no one seemed immune to its lure.) "Shine a Little Love" opened the record and, after a semi-mysterious intro piqued my interest briefly, I was led like a gullible lamb to slaughter via the infernal thud of the immutable droning dance beat to endure in pain a commercial ditty that lacked any purpose other than to fit into the then-current "Travolta trend." It still has no redeeming character and never will. The aptly-titled "Confusion" followed, a tune that demonstrated fully that the usually inventive Lynne really had no clue as to where to take ELO next. I realized that they couldn't stay where they'd been yet for them to hesitate in boldly venturing into uncharted territory was a fatal blunder. They were caught between not wanting to alienate their throng of fans while needing to be more aggressively courageous in order to grow but only ended up becoming mediocre. It happens to the best of 'em.

"Need Her Love" was an atmospheric, slightly nostalgic ballad that was well-constructed and arranged. The lush string score and the way the orchestration blended with the keyboards was very effective. This track gave me hope that things were going to get better. Speaking of keyboards, the odd effect they used for "The Diary of Horace Wimp" distinguished the number from the get-go. It was very Beatle-ish in nature and at least it belied an attempt on their part to be imaginative (yet let there be no doubt, "Mr. Blue Sky" it ain't). "Last Train to London" squashed all remaining illusions that the album would redeem itself midway through. It was another mind-dulling, disco-themed piece of dryer lint that further proved my adage that those who become musical followers instead of leaders rarely succeed. This tune was every bit as demeaning as the inane opening cut. "Midnight Blue" offered a glimpse of the past ELO magic in that this sad torch song contained all the elements that made the band so instantly identifiable. Jeff was in his wheelhouse here, avoiding the reefs.

The peppy, upbeat vibe of "On the Run" provided a nice contrast from the melancholy mood that the previous song established. State-of-the-art synthesizers and clever studio tricks were employed to add spice and the change in tempo for the second movement was a wise move. The sweet lead-in to "Wishing" was wasted when the number turned into a clunky, plodding dirge that went nowhere fast, further proving that drummer Bev Bevan lacked the ability to inject life into average material when he needed to. The original vinyl closed with the infamous "Don't Bring Me Down." Despite its becoming a top five single in the USA I've never liked this song very much due to a severe lack of substance and hate to think that later generations might judge ELO by this overplayed, anemic song. Lynne has stated that he wrote it in a hurry to finish the record and it has always sounded that way to me. Haste made waste.

The reissued version of the album that came out in 2001 included three bonus cuts but they are far too weak to make up for this disc's inherent deficiencies. The previously unreleased version of "On the Run" is brighter than the earlier rendition but, at one minute in length, it seems superfluous at best. Jeff's home demo of "Second Time Around" displays an obvious Beach Boys flavor but it's even shorter than the previous snippet so it is worthless. The short-lived cover of Del Shannon's "Little Town Flirt" is very retro in a Frankie Avalon kind of way and appropriately corny but, in an indictment of "Discovery" as a whole, it's more enjoyable to sit through than the majority of the album. That should tell you volumes.

My disappointment in this disc was shared by millions. The group that could fill stadiums before started having trouble selling tickets as the 80s decade commenced. ELO had wrung out every drop of uniqueness they collectively possessed throughout the 70s and by the time they made "Discovery" there was nothing left to do but to try to jump on the disco gravy train and make a few quick bucks. The band as such made a few more records but the charming spell they'd weaved for so many years with their progressive style of pop rock had been broken with this release and they were never the same. Lynne would go on to become one of the world's most sought-after producers (with good reason) but his personal vehicle known as the Electric Light Orchestra would slowly dim and fade into oblivion after "Discovery" turned out to be the beginning of the end. 1.8 stars.

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Posted Monday, January 14, 2013 | Review Permalink
3 stars Electric Light Orchestra had been flirting with disco since "Evil Woman", and on two songs from Discovery they just drop any pretence and go for it. Though critically lambasted, this album is far superior than the tedious Out of the Blue and those two songs, "Shine a Little Love" and "Last Train to London", are not only two of the best on the record but two of the best disco songs period.

As for critics hating this, it is something I have never understood. I typically like ELO from song to song, but album wise they often fail. However, I find Discovery to not only be a fun album, but second in their catalogue only to their true prog classic, Eldorado.

For the rest of the album, you have their highest charting U.S. single "Don't Bring Me Down", another one of those rare '70s songs that never get old, and "Confusion", which should have been a hit. And, though others seem to hate it, I love the '60s psychedelic sounding Beatles ripoff "The Diary of Horace Wimp". It's almost like some of the lighter stuff the Move would sometimes do.

During the late '70s it was obvious that ELO were moving away from prog and trying to find the right balance with pop music, and it is here that they succeed. Your enjoyment of it may hinge on your tolerance for disco, but if they had popularized rather than the Bee Gees it may not have been as maligned.

Report this review (#988756)
Posted Saturday, June 29, 2013 | Review Permalink
jamesbaldwin
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars "Discovery" is the first record I've listened by "Electric Light Orchestra": I was a teen ager so I'm fond of it. It's a symphonic melodic pop album, where orchestral arrangements are entrusted to Richard Tandy (who plays piano and electric piano) and Louis Clark. All tracks are composed by Jeff Lynne, who sings and plays guitars, piano, synths (and he is the producer). He does everything. With this Lp ELO reached a big commercial success on pop charts.

"Shine A Little Love" has an excellent melody, and shows the clean and smooth, but also layered sound of the ELO. Excellent rhythm section, drums and bass, on which develops an engaging melody sung in falsetto with strings and synths in the background. All with a lightness that touches parody. A blinding music for young people who want to relax with the melody and dance with the rhythm. Vote 8.

The second song ("Confusion", vote 6,5/7) is a weak mid-tempo ballad, built on drums and keyboards. The third ("Need Her Love") is a romantic song, forbidden to diabetics, but very well arranged. From the point of view of the composition it's very well taken care of and if you enter with the heart in the artifact sound (voice treated, synth, choirs in falsetto, emphatic atmosphere) of the track (or of the entire album?), it sounds nice. Vote 7,5/8.

"The Diary Of Horace Wimp" is a piece in perfect English style, that could have written McCartney, with an extremely ruffian text, with an electronic sound due to the synth, and which however has a beautiful progression. I remember that when I was young I was ecstatic listening to this song. The story of the loser Horace who meets a girl and get married is really naughty and goliardic. Prohibited to those over 25 years. Vote 7,5/8. End of side A.

Side B opens with (maybe) the best song of the album: "Last Train To London". It is a track with a fast and pounding rhythm, perfect background with bass and synth, refrain in the upbeat with highlighted by the strings. Keyboards solo. In 1979 you could dance in disco listening to a song with orchestral arrangement like this. And be happy. Vote 8+.

"Midnight Blue" is another romantic ballad, this time more serious than "Need Your Love" (despite the synth that speaks). The melodies certainly do not lack on this record. The Beatles come to mind again. And even the choirs in falsetto, Bee Gees style. Vote 8.

"On The Run" is a sort of "Confusion" with twice as fast rhythm. It's maybe the less significant song on the record. Electronic carpet. Vote 6+. "Wishing" has an atmosphere that confirms its title: it is dreamy, dreamlike, thanks to the sound of the keyoboards. It has a piano solo, a languid melody, supported by the strings. Vote 7+.

"Don't Bring Me Down" (vote 7) is a different track from the others: much more rowdy, as it is based on percussion (Bev Bevan) and not on the melody. It is very pounding: at his time it must have made epoch in discos where they played disco music. I remember it in the soundtrack of the movie "Donnie Brasco", with Al Pacino and Johnny Depp, while (if I'm not mistaken) the two protagonists are driving a car after one of their hits.

The Lp ends in decline. The first side was better. Anyway, the music is catchy, melodic, pop, captivating, with baroque arrangements at the edge of the parody... in practice reminiscent of the Beatles (in particular McCartney), but with the late seventies style: falsetto choirs in "Saturday Night Fever" style. Discovery is Beatles + Bee Gees. Plus orchestral (strings) arrangements. In fact, success assured.

Medium quality of the songs: 7,44. Vote: 7+. Three Stars.

Report this review (#2116996)
Posted Thursday, January 10, 2019 | Review Permalink
5 stars Before you are shocked by the rating of this review, let me contextualize a bit... this time, I don't want to focus on the technical or the commercial lowlights that ELO proved to enact with this work, I'm going to talk about how I lived with this album since I was a kid.

It's probably one of the few reviews I'll do in this way, but I think it's the best way to do it.

When I was a kid, all my father made me listen to was 80s songs and hits, Queen, Dire Straits, Men At Work. As well as showing his admiration and always remarkable amazement for the symbols of prog, Yes, TAPP (Alan Parsons & Eric Woolfson), Vox Dei, Pink Floyd, Supertramp, and many more bands. I was always curious about a specific band; ELO was my first pure emotional approach to music. As a consequence of several moves, my father lost many records and vinyls throughout his life, today he probably doesn't have even half of his original number of records bought... But, thank God, he wasn't robbed of the record that I still identify with the most. Discovery was the first listen that made me cry, jump, laugh, worry, and various emotions that are hard to explain. Even though this album can't be considered a prog masterpiece by many people, I consider that it IS, and firmly, a masterpiece and my favourite project of Jeff Lynne's incredible band.

The love-filled lyrics, that make you feel so strongly special things for that person that it keeps going round and round in your head ad nauseam, the melodies so flooded in nostalgia and hope with drops of perseverance and adventurous incitement to want to listen to EVERY SINGLE THING that sounds in every song, because every song has thousands of beautiful and perfect details that, together, make every part of this album sound endearing and instantly recognizable to every person who has heard it and felt the lyrics and rhythms as much as I have.

Over the years I have lived all kinds of sensations, feelings, experiences, phrases, talks, laughs, cries, fears, reliefs, surprises, all kinds of situations that generally impact and change one, sometimes completely or in large part generating a strict and notorious turn of margin in our mind, which makes us rethink many things. And through all that I have just mentioned, I have never stopped listening to Discovery over time, because it is a work that accompanies me day and night with its lyrics and its mystical and essential magic for any music lover or music lover (I can relate, haha). I can say, clearly and proudly, that there is no better medicine, talking about music of course, than a song that touches your soul with the situation you are going through, as if it had been composed thinking about you... And it seems that this album reflects so many feelings, that it makes you think that it was made for you! Because ELO knew how to adapt the music to the human heart and walk to the skin-deep touch that embraces our mind and body day by day.

It is definitely my favourite album of all time, and one of the most pro-love, pro-dream projects I have ever heard and admired. There is no greater thrill for me than that of a start-to-finish listen to Discovery, from the shifting, sensual melody of "Shine a Little Love" to the solid, walking rhythm and salsa that pours out "Don't Bring me Down" to close the album.

A beautiful aural and emotional journey through the intrepid and virtuosic routes of one of my favourite bands. Discovery is a masterpiece, by ELO, a master band. Thanks for reading.

Report this review (#2895786)
Posted Thursday, March 2, 2023 | Review Permalink
4 stars ELO is the group that tried to stand out with classical orchestration, so we dive in, finally we take off with it!

1 Shine A Little Love synth that fuzzes, finally of the kind rocket that takes off... at the time; a sound that reminds me from near and far of the EARTH, WIND & FIRE with this slew of violins that go off in all directions and these choirs worthy of the BEE GEES; good we are far from the prog? Ah always trying to find some somewhere, yes Marc, in short, a thunderous title with a quick little guitar solo; good just for the alien ship of their concerts and the presentation by Daniel WILD 2 Confusion ah this heavy, imposing title, at a time when prog was dying a beautiful death and when you had to ogle here and there to get a little new blood, a real... confusion; these pompous keyboards, this false flute which puts the bucolic imprint, these sounds from behind which give relief, in short, only memories ... anyway 3 Need Her Love .. when I was talking about the ship at their concerts, there you have the arrival in music; a mid tempo, a slow tempo to pick up the bride and drag her into a slow, I need your love you know... a melancholy ballad that will remain linear 4 The Diary Of Horace Wimp with Jeff leading the way on this track Charisma, English prog sound in all its grandeur with string instruments featured; a sampled voice and an air that could shock, personally the violins made my hair stand on end, it's the opposite; good the bells are very artificial but it's rhythmic and you don't get bored, what more could you ask for; a little of the madness of 'Love is all' without knowing which title is the oldest... I catch my breath but go snoop on the clip it was really in the model 'Heavy metal' or the 'Savage planet' 5 Last Train To London go to the second side and the piece that makes my hair stand up there, the flight of violins bristles me too much, we're on 'The cruise s'amuse', OK for TV but here deuce; I want to move on, I persist and... boom the progressive, enjoyable break, which I play almost endlessly... yes I had recorded in a loop... at the time of tape recorders at K7; a little siren, the return of incisive violins and that's how we made a title, when disco could have become prog? then we would be damn well off 6 Midnight Blue ... well I'll tell you a secret: Jeff's head reminds me of a TOTO band I can't help it and this sound off the beaten track, no .. beaten makes me say that this n wasn't just rock but hey you know it since you're there reading; an air with always these cursed violins (again this cursed word ..) and the bucolic serenade goes away after having made you visit a clean universe 7 On The Run and hop a game of pinball; title that unrolls, synth notes with spatial effects, wow, simple but well done; watch out for the synth solo that plays it star more than me, you die! It slows down, yes they break the rhythm then it starts up again and the ship leaves forever... so it's over? 8 Wishing .. no the sound of the reactor comes back to hope for another end, mid tempo, violins, here there were the MOODY BLUES who cleared away without knowing it, there it is ELO who rubs it; a piano solo and hop we're happy, another vocoder and the air that traps you in a fake sticky rhythm, like cotton candy 9 Don't Bring Me Down .... here is a chro just for this title or almost ... everything is there: the sound, the rhythm, the madness, the air, the hard side without doing it, the solo winded guitar, the 'Kellog's' yes, I couldn't find anything better than that since I was a child and loved cornflakes; in short all that for a Bruce I still can't believe it! Well let's get back to this title representing the ultimate sound, the clapping of the hands, the funky sound but heavy enough to think of an ersatz of hard music, awesome I tell you; later it will be disco in a club then so strong that the hard will monopolize it and basta the disco; short ELO as UFO it is clear and obvious!

Report this review (#2895926)
Posted Friday, March 3, 2023 | Review Permalink
2 stars Every Electric Light Orchestra album in the 70's and 80's could stand on its own and face fierce competition in the prog, rock and pop genre. "Discovery" and "Xanadu" may be the most commercial outcome by ELO but it does not diminish their artistic quality and strong songwriting at its core. Lynne was able to come to terms with the latest music development such as disco and produce two decent answers "Last train to London", "Shine a little love" without staying superficial. The bulk of the album is firmly rooted in pop which aged well because of wise production techniques and to my pleasure, also aptly arranged keyboards. Beatles hooks are still on big sale and keep repeating which brings the artistic value a bit down to a typical ELO listener. "The diary of Horace Wimp" is a witty Beatles go 70's BeeGees vocal connection.

This album is not meant to be analysed and reflected upon endlessly, it's supposed to bring you the jovial end of 70's atmosphere with 2 decent ballads ("Need her love"

"Don't bring me down" is an overrated rock'n'roll pastiche that ELO tried to compete with on the next albums ("Hold on tight", "Rock'n'roll is a king")

Recommended to the ELO fans, pop enthusiasts and if you're an old 72'-74' ELO fan, you'd better stay away from it!

Report this review (#2951346)
Posted Friday, September 15, 2023 | Review Permalink

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