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Electric Light Orchestra

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Electric Light Orchestra Electric Light Orchestra [Aka: No Answer] album cover
3.63 | 312 ratings | 29 reviews | 21% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1971

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. 10538 Overture (5:30)
2. Look at Me Now (3:16)
3. Nellie Takes Her Bow (5:58)
4. The Battle of Marston Moor (July 2nd, 1644) (6:02)
5. First Movement (Jumpin' Biz) (2:58)
6. Mr.Radio (5:02)
7. Manhattan Rumble (49th Street Massacre) (4:21)
8. Queen of the Hours (3:21)
9. Whisper in the Night (4:48)

Total Time 41:16

Bonus tracks on 2001 & 2003 remaster:
10. The Battle of Marston Moor (take 1) (0:56)
11. 10538 Overture (take 1) (5:48)

Bonus video on 2001 remaster:
A. 10538 Overture - EMI Promotional Film (May 1972) (5:25)

Bonus disc from 2001 remaster:
1. Brian Matthew Introduces ELO (0:37)
2. 10538 Overture (Acetate version) (5:24)
3. Look at Me Now (quad mix) (3:19)
4. Nellie Takes Her Bow (quad mix) (5:59)
5. The Battle of Marston Moor (July 2nd 1644) (quad mix) (5:55)
6. Jeff's Boogie No. 2 (live) (6:58)
7. Whisper in the Night (live) (5:45)
8. Great Balls of Fire (live) (5:40)
9. Queen of the Hours (quad mix) (3:18)
10. Mr. Radio (take 9) (5:18)
11. 10538 Overture (BBC session) (4:38)
12. Whisper in the Night (take 1) (5:00)

Total Time 57:51

Line-up / Musicians

- Jeff Lynne / vocals, piano, guitar, bass, percussion, co-producer
- Roy Wood / vocals, cello, bass, double bass, acoustic & slide guitars, clarinet, bassoon, oboe, recorder, percussion, co-producer
- Bill Hunt / French horn, hunting horn
- Steve Woolam / violin
- Bev Bevan / percussion, drums

Releases information

Artwork: Hipgnosis

LP Harvest ‎- SHVL 797 (1971, UK)

CD CBS/Sony ‎- CSCS 6026 (1990, Japan) Re-entitled "No Answer"
2CD Harvest ‎- 533 3720 (2001, Europe) Remastered by Peter Mew with 2 bonus tracks & a video clip plus extra disc featuring previously unreleased material; New cover art
CD Harvest ‎- 582 9830 (2003, Europe) Remastered by Peter Mew with 2 bonus tracks

Thanks to PROGMAN for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA Electric Light Orchestra [Aka: No Answer] ratings distribution

(312 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(21%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(42%)
Good, but non-essential (28%)
Collectors/fans only (7%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA Electric Light Orchestra [Aka: No Answer] reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
5 stars With its ridiculous title coming from a complete cross-Atlantic misunderstanding (the album got named after the "no answer" response to the US label wondering on the album title), ELO's first album is one of the hardest album to get into due to the poor sound and muddy production, but it is much worth the patience as the music is definitely prog with its heavy classical music instrumentation ala Eleanor Rigby (just listen to Look At Me Now to get a peak into the album's key), but unfortunately too often disregarded due to their later almost disco-like career of the late 70's.

Many of the band's harder edged sounds are coming from Roy Wood's mad musical ideas (Wood was the man behind The Move - one of the craziest psych groups around the late 60's) while Jeff Lynne (who came from Idle Race) was more Beatles- inspired. One of the most endearing musical characteristics of ELO's first two albums are the Renaissance influences, much the same way Gryphon was also greatly under the spell of. Just listen to Battle Of Marston Moor or their surprise hit 10538 Overture, just to get an idea. Marston is an astounding piece of music every proghead must listen, while First Movement is reminiscent of Focus's Sylvia or House Of The King. Mr Radio is the typically Beatles-influenced Lynne track but again with a much proggier twist. Manhattan Rumble starts off as a sombre war march and is another superb and instrumental track while Queen Of The Hours is yet another highlight with again Roy wood doing the bundle of the instrument playing (he handles almost all the classical instrument bar the odd horn and the violin. The album closes on a minor composition, but cannot stop the open-minded progheads to think that this might just be an essential album.

The songwriting is almost divided in half (Lynne 5 to Wood's 4) but clearly on the arrangement's side, Wood was the man behind the album and Lynne's poppier tracks are heavily infested by Wood's instrumentation.

Weirdly enough, Wood who had worked so hard and against all odds to form this group will leave the group after this debut album, to found his RW's Wizzard (a rockier Renaissance music group), leaving Lynne take care of the band and ELO will have a long and varied career with many highlights, but also some disgustingly commercial success. To all progheads dismissing ELO, they'd better listen to this album to swallow back their words in complete shame. Much worth its fourth star and even another half one.

WARNING: even remastered, this debut and its follow-up need an excellent stereo system!! Avoid the car stereo or the computer or even a ghetto blaster or a midi stereo. It needs the real stuff to unfold its brute beauty.

Review by Guillermo
4 stars The most experimental album recorded by this band, and clearly Progressive, IMO. The music is clearly divided in two styles: Rock/Beatles music (Jeff Lyne) and Experimental/Prog (Roy Wood). The two composers influence each other`s styles. Jeff Lynne`s music is maybe more "conventional", but still with some Prog influences. Roy Wood tries to be maybe "more serious", and his songs are maybe a bit "heavy" to the lsitener`s ears, using a lot of cellos on some songs. Bev Bevan even plays some percussion instruments which are more used in symphonic orchestras, like timpani, cymbals, etc. I think that the early 70s produced a lot of very good albums which influenced some other bands to record more experimental albums like this. In particular, 1971 had several albums that were very good. Maybe this ELO`s first album is very different to their following albums, because Roy Wood`s ideas were not used again and Jeff Lynne, still with the Progressive influence, was going to record more accessible records with ELO in the following years.This album really needs repeated listenings to appreciate it better. It also has some funny things in the songs.
Review by ClemofNazareth
4 stars You just have to love an album that kicks off with a blast of off-key cello scraping, and ends with inebriated bassoons and more off-key cello scraping, plus has listed among the player credits no less than ten instruments that are traditionally found in a classical orchestra. Add to that a primer on English civil war ("Battle of Marston Moor"), a dirge-like rendition of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" ("Nellie Takes Her Bow"), and an album cover by Hipgnosis, the same guys who brought us so many Pink Floyd covers (Animals, Ummagumma, Dark Side of the Moon, etc.), and you have what may be one of the most disjointed, haphazard, pretentious, and ultimately delightful albums in the progressive archives.

And make no mistake - this first album by the Electric Light Orchestra truly qualifies as a full-blown progressive work, despite their later reputation as a glossy disco- pop hit machine. It's hard to say when they crossed that line, although the beginning was surely shortly after this album released and Roy Wood departed for a critically-acclaimed but largely obscure career with Wizzard. The final straw was probably 'A New World Record' with its four hit singles and surgically-precise arrangements. I'd have to say that the 'progressive' phase of the ELO lifecycle lasted about three years, right up until about when Jeff Lynne figured out that Top- 40 singles directly correlated to bigger houses and larger bank accounts, and around the same time when the rest of the band learned to fully tune their instruments.

In the interim, No Answer delivered a very eclectic blend of sounds that was not only ahead of its time, but also disarmingly funny (although I'm not sure if the funny part was intentional). Roy Wood brought an almost baroque orchestral sensibility to the group from his days in the Move, while Jeff Lynne was clearly heavily influenced by some of the more experimental sounds of the Beatles. For me, the collision of styles was more than I could process as a young kid, and it would be a decade or so later before I really began to appreciate this album.

"10538 Overture" is only an 'overture' in the sense that it is played by a band that has the word 'orchestra' in its name, and in its heavy use of stringed instruments. Otherwise it's an artsy tale of a faceless, nameless person (10538) who I guess is either running from 'The Man', or simply committing suicide. Either way, he falls off a cliff and dies. The heavy cello and violin strings here are dissonant and sometimes off-key, but overall it's a very original work that scored a surprising hit in Britain.

Roy Wood's first contribution "Look at Me Now" is another string-intensive work about a distraught guy who has apparently lost a lover to murder. I'm not sure, but he may have been the same one who did the deed. Anyway, the sound is almost eastern European, definitely nothing like the slew of spacey pop hits the band would be churning out a few short years later.

In "Nellie Takes Her Bow", Lynne brings out his 'Thomas Dolby' microphone to chirp out a minstrel tale of a stage actress named Nellie. Somewhere in the middle the bassoons kick in and the "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" bit takes over. Really weird. Lynne's tenor here is an early example of the trademark sound made famous with songs like "Strange Magic" and "Sweet is the Night" later on.

The "Battle of Marston Moor" is a spoken word work by Wood, backed by what I suppose may have been stylish Anglo orchestral music a few hundred years ago. The protagonist is apparently the Scottish rebel who is forming an army to take on the King. The obligatory battle-sounding percussion and simulated mob shouts complete the picture. This is the longest song on the album, but probably didn't need to be.

Wood kicks off the second side of the vinyl version with "1st Movement", subtitled "Jumpin' Biz", which is off all things a short acoustic instrumental. Anchored by guitar, the Bill Hunt's French horn and Woolam's violin are also prominent. A nice little tune with maybe a bit of a Spanish flair (although to tell the truth, I seem to hear 'a Spanish flair' in just about anything that features acoustic guitar, so feel free to form your own opinion).

"Mr. Radio" is probably the most obvious precursor to the later ELO sound that would become so famous. The lyrics, on the other hand, are rather depressing, about a guy who's wife has left him and who's only remaining companion is apparently his radio. I read a description of this album once as "the Moody Blues in a bad mood", and this song seems to fit that description perfectly.

"Manhattan Rumble (49th Street Massacre)" is Lynne's turn to serve up an instrumental. This one, like "1st Movement", is also heavy on bassoon and cello, but the anchor comes from Lynne's piano instead of Wood's guitar. Based on the title and the picture inside the album fold, I take it this song is a reference to some slaughter that occurred in early 20th century New York, but whatever the beef was that was being fought over then (if indeed this was an actual event), it was apparently not significant enough to have made its way into my high-school American history book.

"Queen of the Hours" is another tune heavy with strident strings, mostly violin and cello (I think - hell, I'm not an expert on orchestral instruments by any means). Anyway, not sure what this is about, but it seems to fall into the "Moody Blues in a bad mood" category as well.

The album closes with "Whisper in the Night". I suppose this is the one critics are referring to when they describe this album as "pretentious". The music is typical of the rest of the album, but the lyrics are frankly a bit over-the-top:

"Snowflake bird she came, taking grey clouds from your door; Face the midnight sun, you have something to live for. Daughter of your dream, shine a guiding light for me."

Alrighty then. This actually kind of reminds me of some of those ancient Protestant hymns my cousins used to sing in their Lutheran church back in the 60s. In any case, it does seem to fit the bill for an album-closer.

So I guess my point here is that, despite what your opinion of the Electric Light Orchestra and their body of work is, I would encourage you not to let that color (er, 'colour') your opinion of this album. While the Lynne sound ĐŪ is certainly detectable here, this is not your older brother's ELO. This is a genuine progressive body of work that is worthy of a place on any serious collector's shelf. And for that I'll give it four stars.


Review by 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.

Review by ZowieZiggy
3 stars My album entry in the ELO repertoire was El Dorado in 1974. Then I did a reverse engeneering exercise and purchased their previous albums (but I stopped with ELO II). At this time in rock history, it was not common to have a band featuring cello and violins (altough the one hit wonder "Wallace Collection" will impress the world with "Daydream" in 1969);

This line-up will only last the time of one album. I guess that the ego of Wood and Lynne could hardly cope together. Although this album is good, it sounds outdated. There is nothing wrong with that since it was released in 1971, but still, I do not have this impression when I listen to "Meddle", "Nursery" or "ITCOTCK" for instance.

The original album features nine songs. "10538 Overture" is a great opener and is, by far, their best number on this album. It will be featured in their live sets for a long time. "Nellie Takes Here Bow" is already reminiscent of the Beatles. This will be an ELO trademark in later releases (from El Dorado onwards). Jeff being an exceptional songwriter (at least untill 1977). This song ends up with a very nice violin solo and can be considered as the second good song here. It will pave the way for their later work.

Next comes "Battle of Marston Moor". The intro sounds very similar to the "El Dorado Overture" : it is really amazing to compare both tracks. This almost all-intrumental piece has nothing special to offer though. Sounds as an symph improvisation. No melody, no structure. In one word : boring. The next song "1st Movement" is a dull instrumental number. Press next.

"Mr. Radio" starts promising (it clearly announces their later work). The pop orientation of the band is brightly evident. The piano work (almost Wakemanesque) adds a nice symphonic touch to it. A good song. "Manhattan Rumble" is another instrumental without harmony nor feeling (too much classic type music for me).

"Queen of The House" is another good song featured here. Nice violin / cello work for this romantic number. If you like the symph side of ELO (like I do) you will love this track, for sure. The closing number is very emotional (I like it, can't help)! I almost get the shivers when I listen to it (but this feeling will be repeated with an awful lot of ELO tracks). It's a very nice way to close this debut album. As far as I am concerned, it is not a masterpiece but an important step towards much, much better things to come.

Three stars.

Review by progaardvark
COLLABORATOR Crossover/Symphonic/RPI Teams
4 stars If you think the Electric Light Orchestra was just a bunch of guys in tight satin pants singing cheesy love songs and sweet sounding choruses, boy are you in for a surprise when you listen to their debut album, No Answer. Easily their most experimental album and probably the hardest to actually listen to. Off-key cellos, bassoons, oboes, clarinets, and a French horn to boot are featured on this album, just chugging away almost haphazardly with little or no semblance of basic pop music song structures (with a few exceptions of course). This album was just as different and unique in 1971 as it is now. It's just so hard to believe that this group would turn into a big hit-making machine in only a matter of a few years. But I guess Jeff Lynne was a songwriter at heart and had to leave this experimental stuff behind.

As for comparisons, I'm not even sure where to begin. The closest I can come to is some of Univers Zero's material, but a bit more on the rock side of the rock/symphonic spectrum. Roy Wood plays nearly all the classical instruments and from what I understand was quite an adaptable individual in picking up various instruments on the fly. It's too bad he left during the recording for their second album as ELO could have been quite an interesting band if it had continued this exploration.

Even being so experimental, the group even managed to get a hit single out of it with 10538 Overture which was probably one of the most powerful songs ELO ever created. Most listeners should enjoy 10538 Overture, Mr. Radio, and First Movement as they are the most accessible. The rest of the album will take quite a bit of getting used to and is clearly a repeat-listening affair. An excellent addition to a prog rock collection, but not recommended for the casual listener. Four stars.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Well I canīt say that ELO is one of my favorite bands. I always thought they were too commercial for my taste. This their debut album is tolerable though. Itīs even pretty good, and shows why ELO should be in the Prog Archives.

ELO plays pretty basic rock with a longing melancholic touch. The melodies are very much in the vein of The Beatles. There are no wild or technically challenging soloing on the album. This is for the most part purely vocal melody based. What is special about this album is the chamber like strings that play in every song throughout the album. They are not exactly to my liking, but itīs pretty original for the time.

The songs are well composed and and very streamlined. But they are just prog enough to catch my attention. This is light weight prog rock, but there is nothing wrong with the quality or the musicianship which is excellent.

Iīll rate this 3 stars for a surprisingly good album. Not one Iīll listen to very often, but never the less a good album.

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Frankly speaking, I only knew this album couple of months ago when I saw the CD of this album at local store. When I knew ELO for the first time in 1976 was when "Telephone Line" hit the pop industry at that time and since then I occasionally purchased some album of the band. I remember vividly to play on air "Telephone" line in amateur radio program that my friends and I established in Madiun, East Java, Indonesia. But this first album had never available at that time in cassette (a format that was very common in my country during the 70s). When I first listened to this debut, I was really amazed by the music quality that this album offers. Looking back on the early years of the band, it was basically Roy Wood's (The Move) obsession to form a pop music with orchestration using cellos, violin like a real orchestra. The result was an excellent album that impressed the US label. The rest was history.

The opener "10538 Overture" (5:30) starts with a soft guitar work in ambient mood followed nicely with string section and thin vocal line. The band seemed like to make the string section as obvious as possible as the name "orchestra" implies a string section which dominates the song. The second track "Look at Me Now" (3:16) reminds me to The Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby" especially on the structure and style. Melody-wise it's quite different than The Beatles. The orchestration takes a dominating role and the music sounds progressive, especially with many changing styles and tempo. "Nellie Takes Her Bow" (5:58) starts beautifully with piano-based rhythm section, combined with light string section to accompany vocal. The song flows in mellow style until the mid section which represents dynamic break with different style which makes the song richer in textures. The violin solo backed with percussion is truly great.

"The Battle of Marston Moor (July 2nd, 1644)" (6:02) starts with inventive style where all instruments work together in experimental mode. The section that follows is truly a progressive music style where string section takes solo backed by percussion. It then flows wonderfully with acoustic guitar and combined violin and cello in "First Movement (Jumpin' Biz)" (2:58). "Mr.Radio" (5:02) is an ambient song with long-distance vocal singing style. "Manhattan Rumble (49th Street Massacre)" (4:21) is truly a prog music outfit as the song moves nicely using innovative string arrangement. "Queen of the Hours" (3:21) is another excellent composition with vocal line. "Whisper in the Night" (4:48) is another excellent song that moves in ambient mode.

Overall, this is truly a prog album which is an excellent addition to any prog music collection. Highly recommended. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Review by ghost_of_morphy
1 stars I found this unlistenable back in the day. And I'll be the first to tell you that this album has not aged well since then.

It's a shame that 10538 Orchestra was released on this piece of vinyl, because that really is an interesting song. It's not so great that it saves this album, but it is a worthwhile listening experience that stacks up well when compared with the best material on On The Third Day. Of the other songs, The Battle of Marston Moor is a listenable instrumental. The rest of this album sets my teeth on edge, though.

I see that I am going to be in the minority with my opinion of this album, but I have to say that I would not recommend this album to anyone. Not even to the biggest ELO fan. Not even to Jeff Lynne's mom. One star for what in my opinion is an utter flop save for one fairly decent song.

EDIT: I have been invited (challenged?) to provide a bit more in the way of specifics on why I feel that this is an utter flop.

Let's start with production, which may be the least important issue but which covers the whole album. While the inclusion of the various unusual instruments into the mix is on a par with the recording of the whole album, the whole album is rather inferior and muddled from a production standpoint.

Let's consider the single next, Mr. Radio. (And my comments here also are valid for Nellie Takes Her Bow and Look At Me Now, for the most part.) This is a cheezy attempt to copy the originality and innovation that the Beatles brought to rock, without the originality and the innovation, but with plenty of cheese. Mr. Radio (and Nellie to a lesser extent) has the saving grace of those really subtle string parts in the background if you listen closely, but mostly this is a really poor attempt at mixing classical with psych rock.

Finally, let's discuss Queen Of The Hours. It's probably the best of these poor tracks after the two that I think are actually worth listening to. It has a catchy vocal line. But in this case I think that unusual instrumentation (which is pounded over the head of the unfortunate listener) detracts significantly from whatever quality this song had. Frankly, the instrumentation here is barbaric.

Again, I realize that I am in the minority in my opinion of this album. Again, I think that 10538 is a good track and that Marston Moor is not a bad track. But God help me, I cannot recommend the album as a whole to anybody, and people are just going to have to live with my opinion. After all, I manage to live with their denigration of Genesis's ABACAB. They can surely do the same.

Review by Chicapah
4 stars I am embarrassed (more often than I care to admit) when I come face to face with the realization of what an immature musical brat I was in my younger years. "No Answer" is a case in point. I adored The Move, owned all their LPs and kept them in perpetual heavy rotation on my turntable. But when I got the news that the band was no more and had evolved into something called The Electric Light Orchestra I threw a mental tantrum and steadfastly refused to even give their new venture an arbitrary listen. Now, almost four decades later, I finally found out that I was only cutting off my nose to spite my now-aging mug. If only I'd taken the time to comprehend that ELO was Roy Wood's earnest attempt to establish an equal songwriting partnership with Jeff Lynne (and not a rude act of disrespect on his part to disown my beloved Move) I would have benefited enormously because this recording encapsulates the raw, anti-commercial spirit of early 70s progressive music that I so admire and I'm just sick that it took me this long to discover its treasures. Oh, well. Better late than never.

It's important to note that Wood was a talented multi-instrumentalist. According to Lynne, "If you could blow it, pluck it, strum it or bow it, Roy could play it." So, when the rest of the group retired for the evening after laying down the basic rhythm track for "10538 Overture" (originally intended to be a Move number), Roy and Jeff stayed behind and started overdubbing multiple tracks of string parts like mad scientists gone wild. The result was, in their words, "bloody marvelous." They realized that this was the sound they had been dreaming of for so long and The Electric Light Orchestra was born that very night. Over the next year they would invest the money they made from The Move LPs and concerts to create a new species of music that literally brought an orchestra into a rock & roll band. "No Answer" is the result of their diligent, imaginative labor.

Whereas The Move was prone to be humorously frivolous and downright nutty from time to time, this is a much more serious and sober undertaking as demonstrated in the first song, "10538 Overture." The fat guitar sound, sawing cellos and Lynne's penetrating vocal combine to create a wall of sound that's impossible to ignore. I warn you. This is not light-hearted fare, my friends. The tune's progression is involved and the spirited performance is intense from beginning to end. And, perhaps best of all, Bev Bevan's amateurish drumming is kept low in the mix. (I'm sure BB is a dandy person to know but did Roy make some kind of blood oath to Bev's mom, promising that he'd never fire her son or what? I'm sorry, but the man has always been an imposter posing as a drummer.) Wood's fine "Look at Me Now" is next and it's basically a lively string quartet with horns surrounding Roy's inimitable voice. Again, this is not just some simple little ditty. It contains an unusual yet inventive passage that catches you off-guard and, thank heaven, there are no drums to muddy it up. This is followed by Jeff's fabulous "Nellie Takes Her Bow," a good example of his affection for nostalgic styles of composition. This time he conjures up echoes from theatrical vaudeville and mixes them with somewhat bizarre, jazzy characteristics while retaining a very melodic foundation. Along the way guest violinist Steve Woolam contributes a stirring solo and strains of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" can be discerned. This tune captures the essence of musical experimentation without limitation and it is fascinating.

"The Battle of Marston Moor (July 2nd 1644)" is a peek into the genius insanity of Roy Wood's fertile mind. It involves an ominous spoken-word segment and veers deeply into ever-changing avant-garde and neo-classical territory. Due to Bevan's refusal to participate on the song we're spared his juvenile tub-banging and are treated to the much more tasteful percussion of Mr. Wood. This is a very adventurous work of aural art. Perhaps feeling that they might be getting a bit "out there" for some folks, Roy wrote the short and much more commercially viable "First Movement (Jumping Biz)" which he honestly admitted was a near rip-off of Mason Williams' 1968 hit "Classical Gas." It's rather fun, though, and it shows off his deft finger-picking guitar technique quite well. With Lynne's vocal altered to sound like he's singing through a megaphone, "Mr. Radio" is yet another stroll down memory lane that takes unanticipated detours from what is expected. Jeff's surprising talent on the piano becomes obvious early on as he gives the song a Gershwin-like feel that's delightful. And, not unlike their unorthodox instrumental sections on "Battle," they take the listener through some very intricate progressions that stand in direct contrast to the tune's memorable melodies. It's truly an amazing arrangement.

A strange, eerie atmosphere ushers in "Manhattan Rumble (49th Street Massacre)," another odd number that features the piano once again. It's a very modern composition that brings to mind Mahler and Copland with its incredible musical colorings. Complex and captivating. Lynne's "Queen of the Hours" is another well-written, high-quality tune where his intense singing pierces through like an arrow. (Trust me, it's great. I fear I've run flat out of flattering adjectives!). Not to be outdone in the vocal department, Roy presents his underappreciated warbling throughout the beautiful air of the album-ender, "Whisper in the Night." Here again we are mercifully released from the distraction of Bev's clumsy drum thrashings and the song is a joy to absorb. (Bonus tracks consisting of alternate mixes/takes on four of the nine cuts don't add a lot to the CD but they do have a different tone and flavor. Nothing to write home about, though.)

Unfortunately, Roy Wood jumped ship less than a year after this was released and formed his own "Wizzard" group. For those of you who only know ELO by what they eventually became with Jeff Lynne at the helm (and there's a lot to admire for what he accomplished) I can only tell you that this album doesn't sound anything like the semi-prog band they evolved into and achieved superstardom with. There's not an "Evil Woman" or "Showdown" pop hit to be found here. This is a wonderful exhibition of two extremely creative minds that, for one brief juncture in music history, manufactured a collection of compositions that are some of the most unique and progressive you will ever have the privilege to hear. If it weren't for Bev Bevan's tactfully downplayed but still audible detractions and detriments this would be a masterpiece. A very enthusiastic 4.4 stars.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
3 stars First light

For those only familiar with Electric Light Orchestra's radio hits from the mid 70's to the early 80's may be surprised to find this band in our beloved archives. However, listening to some of their earliest albums it becomes clear that they were an art rock band and thus clearly belong here. This debut album might be their most experimental one ever and also one of their better ones. One flaw is that it is not at all as well produced as later albums by the band. Indeed, Eldorado was the first album they did with high production values but sadly it was also the last one they ever did that can be called progressive.

This album builds on the foundation provided by The Beatles Eleanor Rigby, with the cello having a prominent place in the wall of sound. The Beatles is, and would forever stay, ELO's main musical influence and this is very apparent here too. Maybe the music of ELO is a reasonable approximation of what The Beatles would have sounded like had they continued to record albums in the 70's? The sound is a bit harsher than anything recorded by The Beatles, though.

Surprisingly there are also other influences here raging from classical music to medieval Folk! Some passages even remind me a bit of Gryphon! Other parts are more psychedelic. There is a good balance between shorter Beatles-like pop tunes and longer, more experimental songs.

ELO is not an essential band to have in your Prog collection, but if you want some albums by them this debut album should be one of them. It represents a very interesting start by a band that would go on to do much less interesting things later on in the decade and into the next.

Good, but non-essential

Review by aapatsos
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Light up the Orchestra!

Amongst most people, my understanding of ELO has always been based around widely known hit singles like ''Evil Woman'' or ''Last Train to London'', automatically categorising them in the ''easy listening'' rock genre (if there is one). Listening to their album ''Eldorado'' changed my opinion slightly and decided to give a try with their earliest material.

To my delight, this debut album has turned out to be an intriguing experience. The extensive use of cello, oboe and violins comes as a more than pleasant surprise and drives the entire sound of ELO, clearly seen in 10538 Overture; the strings and the characteristic opening guitar riff create a memorable track. The strong influence of The Beatles is obvious especially in the beginning of the album - Look at me Know sounds too familiar to Eleanor Rigby with its constant classical strings-based tempo. Mr. Radio is another ode to the Liverpool legends but this time it borrows more of their radio-friendly aspect.

But it is not all about The Beatles: the album thrives in melody, carefully worked compositions, excellent musicianship and instrumental passages of classical music. Nellie Takes her Bow is a combination of all the above and includes an unexpected bizarre classical passage in the middle of this relatively smooth and melodic track. The peak melodic moment of the album lies with the Queen of the Hours where the strings create a magical atmosphere filled with the strongest harmonies and vocals.

The real amusement comes with the trinity of instrumentals: The Battle of Marston Moor and Manhattan Rumble are epic pieces of classical music that could have easily been soundtracks of respective movies (if they are not already). Their style is somewhat different to the rest of the album compositions and one might question their inclusion, but they definitely give a touch of extra "progressiveness" and innovation. On the other hand, First Movement is a much more "contemporary" and melodic piece, mainly based on acoustic guitars. Its sound is very dynamic and it reminded me slightly of Fairport Convention's latest works. Whisper in the Night sums up the album nicely as an easy-listening ballad, showing exceptional vocals and great combination of strings and acoustic guitars.

The feeling I get from this debut is that is "ahead from its age" with the amalgamation of pop, rock, pomp, prog and classical music elements. The sound differs from track to track and this variety gives the album the extra constituents to form an excellent release.

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars After being completely blown away by my initial encounter with Electric Light Orchestra, right around 2004, I began specifically seeking out more of their early '70s material only to a realization that it was nowhere to be found. Eventually after losing all hope of finding any new material I suddenly stumbled upon a weird looking 2-CD Limited Edition release called No Answer in a downtown used records store. The packaging reminded me at first of a compilation album but after browsing through the track listing without recognizing a single of the band's popular '80s hits I decided to give it a shot. If I recall correctly, the album was priced at around $5-7 so this would, in worst case, be a very affordable disappointment.

It was only a few years later that I figured out that I owned a complete version of the band's debut album with a bonus CD that was filled with alternative takes and other nice surprises. My first impression of the album was pretty positive, even though it wasn't as instantly recognizable as Eldorado. The first two tracks really set a high bar in terms of musicianship and melodic arrangements that made it difficult for me to get into the rest of the album. Steadily I sank my teeth into the remainder of the songs and found a few more hidden gems like Mr.Radio and the dreamy album-closer Whisper In The Night.

Even to this day I still play this album from time to time and it has so far held up pretty well. I like the raw sound of the string arrangements which would eventually be smoothed out on the band's consecutive albums. This album also clearly sounds like more of a collaboration between Jeff Lynne and Roy Wood, opposed to the rest of the band's discography which functions merely as Jeff Lynne's solo output. Just like many others have mentioned before me, Electric Light Orchestra is not a band for everyone but if you enjoy their style then I can definitely recommend this debut album.

***** star songs: 10538 Overture (5:37) Look At Me Now (3:20)

**** star songs: Nellie Takes Her Bow (6:02) First Movement (Jumpin' Biz) (3:04) Mr.Radio (5:07) Manhattan Rumble (49th Street Massacre) (4:26) Queen Of The Hours (3:26) Whisper In The Night (4:50)

*** star songs: The Battle Of Marston Moor (July 2nd, 1644) (6:05)

Review by Tarcisio Moura
2 stars I remember reading an interview Jeff Lynne gave to american Circus magazine in the late 70īs when he stated that ELOīs first two albums were "useless crap". A few years before I had the opportunity to hear their debut album when I was only 15 and had no clue what this band was all about. It only sounded weird and I dismissed it right away. More than 30 years on I decided to give this CD another shot: I was curious of how that would appeal to me after all that time. The remastered version has a very good sound where my vinyl obviously did not (the production at the time was quite poor, as far as I know). There is also additional tracks included, all of which are different mixes of some of the original tunes.

I canīt say my opinion changed a lot. Ok, this is surely ELOīs most progressive and experimental work, but being progressive and experimental donīt exactly translate itself into good. I canīt hardly listen to much of what it is here. In retrospect one can see this record as a blueprint for things to come. It was also clear that this band would not hold together two such big talented songwriters for too long (Roy Wood would soon leave to form his own Wizzards). But the music was still in its embryonic stage (listen to Mr Radio for instance) and it shows: not real pop, not really prog either. The heavy Beatles psychedelic phase is the main influence here, with lots of real orchestrations used. Echoes of Eleanor Rigby and I Am The Walrus-like string arrangements.

Of all the songs I really enjoyed their first hit 10538 Overture and the closer Whisper in the Night (the best, a real fine tune). The remaining tracks are of interest but little more than that. ELO was trying to find its way, for good or for bad. I wouldnīt go as far as mr. Lynne on my opinion about the bandīs debut, but it is not one of their best and I see it more like a curio then anything else. Different from all other records they released, ok. Yet, not really good. This one is for (hardcore) fans, collectors and completionists.

Review by Warthur
2 stars The first Electric Light Orchestra album - and the only to include Roy Wood - is positively dripping with Beatles mimicry. This is hardly surprising - the declared aim of the band was to pick up where the Beatles left off - but it does mean that the group hadn't yet developed its own characteristic sound at this point, and a lot of the time when listening to it I think to myself "this is alright... but I'd rather listen to the Beatles' version".

The album consists of three different types of tracks. The first, and easily the best, are songs in which the entire band pitches in and the classical and rock elements mingle in together, to yield the seeds of what would become the band's classic-era approach. This is apparent on songs like the 10538 Overture, Mr Radio, and a few others. The second are songs which are given over to classical instrumentation almost entirely, such as the Battle of Marston Moor, which manages to be neither an interesting piece of classical music nor a decent attempt at symphonic rock (well, there's barely any rock element to it).

The third are songs which simply mimic the approach of a Beatles song so closely that if you're at all aware of the Beatles' music you will most likely find the attempts here to be tired- out, cliched rip-offs. (And if you're not familiar with the Beatles, then you really ought to be exploring their music before getting around to ELO because overall they exist on a far higher tier.) The worst song in this regard is Look At Me Now, a song so similar to Eleanor Rigby in instrumentation, composition and delivery that you're left wondering why they didn't just do an Eleanor Rigby cover and leave it at that.

Ultimately, the first album has a few good songs, but also a lot of experiments which doubtless seemed like a good idea at the time but simply don't work, at least not this time around. Fortunately, later releases by the band would build on the promise of the clutch of high-quality tracks on offer here, leading to a sound which perhaps is less diverse, but was arguably more competently performed. As for this album, I'd only look into it if you're really keen to see how the band started out.

Review by GruvanDahlman
3 stars When The Move was laid to rest Electric Light Orchestra was born. Jeff Lynne and Roy Wood got on with business but with a slight change in direction. The eclectic but heavy rock of The Move was replaced by a far mor progressive approach which had a strong flavor of The Beatles. I have heard or read that their intention was to take the legacy of The Beatles and revive it, as a sort of covers band but with original material. Did they succeed? Well, there are an abundance of Beatles paraphernalia but that can easily be put aside and instead I hear a highly original band that concentrated on some sort of baroque flavored progressive pop-rock that is both, as a whole, unfocused but very pleasant and listenable. ELO would become megastars, once Wood had left and Lynne shaped things up and brought the ship into waters of his own making. I think that this, the first, album is by far the most interesting and exciting of all ELO albums. That is not to say that it holds their best material, because it doesn't, but the experimentation and oddities found on here is mesmerizing. In many ways the album expresses the early prog movements eclectic side where everything goes and the will, need or urge to explore any and all genres and directions are evident.

The album kicks off with the only track usually included on "Greatest hits" albums of the band, "10538 Overture". The name is grand and pompous, like it ought to be. I hear a lot of the ELO to come in this track. A track that is forceful in a poppy way with a prominent violin. It is a magnificent opener, but really not one of my favorites. "Look at me now is a fine track in it's own right with baroque instrumentation. It's like queen Elizabeth I were to hire some minstrels and demand they play 20th century pop music. The result is not bad at all. A really fine track with som wonderful time changes and stabs of strings.

The first really amazing track is the dancehall-esque "Nellie takes her bow", blending the popular music of the early 20th century with all the ingredients of early prog. A weird, off-beat section with brass and string instruments that goes off the wall. The melody is amazing and I love this track to bits. It is perfect in every way. Dramatic, surprising and pushes the boundaries a bit. There are remnants of The Move on here but to me that is only the great finishing touch to a perfectly constructed prog song, laced with pop and classical music.

Another favorite, though of totally different reasons, is "The battle of Marston Moor". The English Civil War is a period in history that is fascinating, with a king being decapitated and Cromwell on his high horses. The track opens up with a dramatic spoken intro before a forceful and (a bit) strange instrumental section tells the story of, I suppose, the battle itself. It is really not one of prog's finest hour but still it manages to do the job and offer a baroquely progressive moment in time that is quite unique. You could argue that this is as close to the likes of Gentle Giant and Gnidrolog ELO would come and maybe that is a fair point to make.

"First movement" is a great little instrumental of which there is little to say other than it's nice. "Mr. Radio" once again harkens back to times gone by and evokes images of the 30's and 40's popular music, laced with a bit of The Beatles and wrapped up in Lynne's vision of music. "Manhattan rumble" is sort of avant garde, but only slightly. Interesting piece and surely one of the more proggier of the album, along with "Battle of Marston Moor" and "Nellie takes her bow". The track "Queen of the hours" is more in the pop direction but with a slight Kinks-ish touch. Great track. The ending "Whisper in the night" is a beautiful way to end an album of a wonderfully disjointed character.

To conclude I would say that this is not the ELO one is accustomed to, so do not expect to hear the carefully recorded studio albums of years to come. What you get is a moment in time, a photograph of the infancy of ELO. The raw product, the rough sound and heartwarming vision is unique in the discography and offers so much more. I am a fan of ELO through the years but this is my favorite album. I adore everything on it but still I cannot say that it is an essential album in any sense. If you like ELO and want to explore their humble beginnings, do have a listen, but as far as prog goes there are other, better albums. Having said that I'll give it three stars but add that my love of the album holds no limits.

Review by siLLy puPPy
4 stars By the time Jeff Lynne got to recording and releasing the very first ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA album, the idea for the band had been on the drawing board for quite a few years. After all, Lynne's modus operandi from his late 60s days in the band Idle Race was to replicate all those brilliant harmonic laced melodies so perfectly executed by The Beatles only the ones that were accompanied by the lush symphonic orchestration of classical instruments. However at the time The Beatles was still an active band, Idle Race was a great gig so Lynne hadn't didn't exactly have the freedom to bring his musical visions into reality. It was during these same years when Lynne had met Roy Wood who himself had considerable success with his own progressive pop band The Move. The two hung out for many years before they decided that their musical interests were so aligned that they simply must join forces.

While the whole ELO thing had been the plan from the start, how could a hugely successful band like The Move be broken up in its prime? The answer was for Lynne to join The Move and become one of the principle songwriters which gave the two albums "Looking On" and "Message From The Country" a completely different style than the band's first two albums. It was during these days that the ideas for the future ELO started pouring in. Despite tracks like "10538 Overture," the very first track on the very first ELO album having been written and recorded al the way back in 1970 for inclusion on one of The Move's albums, it instead was shelved until the ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA was formed due to the fact that it perfectly encapsulated the prospects of a future ELO (the band name had been planned from the start.)

This was all laid out meticulously by Wood and Lynne and after the release of "Message From The Country," the fourth and final album from The Move, Wood decided to switch gears. Despite The Move still cranking out singles and existing officially, ELO was born and became the focus of Lynne and Wood. As they juggled the interests of both bands for a short time, ELO obviously won out and The Move was retired. Going along for the ride was drummer / percussionist Bev Bevan who as a founding member would also stick around for the majority of ELO's existence unlike Wood who would immediately depart after this debut that was released twice with two different titles. First time out was on the 1st of December 1971 as a self-titled album but due to a hilarious error with United Artists Records, an executive mistook some notes that had NO ANSWER written on it and presumed it was the title, therefore the album was released in March 1972 under that title in the USA.

Any fans of ELO will surely get to this debut eventually which stands out like a sore thumb in the band's canon. Noticeably less slick and polished than what even was created on the following "ELO 2," NO ANSWER was primarily crafted by the trio of Roy Wood, Jeff Lynne and Bev Bevan, all from The Move. Wood became quite the multi-instrumentalist as his personal collection of exotic instruments continued to grow. He mastered the cello, classical guitar, bass, double bass, oboe, bassoon, clarinet, recorder and slide guitar, all rather strange instruments to be included on a rock album but are showcased on NO ANSWER with superb performances. Lynne contributed the more traditional rock instruments such as piano, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, percussion, bass and Moog synthesizer. Bevan provided the lion's share of the drums, percussion as well as timpani. Two other members were recruited for even more unconventional sounds for a rock album. Bill Hunt was featured on French horn, hunting horn and piccolo trumpet and Steve Woolam provided the unconventional role of the violin.

All of the instruments stood out amongst the rock world even in the wildly experimental times of the early 70s. What would have usually been played on guitars in a typical rock band were replaced by a "sawing" cello and the myriad wind instruments conspired to create what many have called "Baroque-and-roll," which ironically were inspired by Tony Visconti's orchestral arrangements in The Move. Given that the members were for the most part unfamiliar with the the proper techniques of playing classical instruments, they pretty much made it up as they went along and although the sessions were riddled with headaches, the members were determined to bring the vision to life despite some of ELO's most grueling session workouts. The results of all this novice intro to classical music composition ensured that NO ANSWER existed in its own world with only Beatles' references in the melodic hooks and harmonic interplay keeping it grounded in the zeitgeist of the early 70s.

Overall the tracks are quite bold and daring and quite different from one another. NO ANSWER ranges from a more familiar ELO sounds of their future as a hybridized rock band with the electric guitar domination of the opening "10538 Overature" however right away the chugging cello riffs that usurp what would usually be performed on an electric bass give the album an instant exotic flair all the while sucking you in with suave seductive melodic hooks with all the Beatle-isms they could muster up. The second track "Look At Me Now' takes on a much more authentic Baroque feel being mostly composed of wind instruments and the cello whereas "Battle Of Marston Moor" exists almost exclusively in the classical world with Wood strutting his multi-instrumental skills to the max. "Manhattan Rumble" stands out as adopting some sort of tango beat while the dramatic piano and screeching violin sound like some sort of soundtrack to one of the Godfather films.

Personally i think this debut is woefully under appreciated. True that the future sounds of ELO fit the band's persona but this one stands out as one of the coolest experimental pop rock album's i've ever heard and a substantial improvement in writing skills compared to the final installation of The Move's canon. The album was roughly divided into Lynne and Wood sharing songwriting duties. Lynne's are the catchier more accessible tracks like "Nellie Takes Her Bow," "Mr Radio" and "Queen of the Hours" whilst Wood's are the choppier forays into yester-century with tight cello chugs and wind rich tunes such as "Look At Me Now," "The Battle of Marston Moor" and "Whisper In The Night." This one has long been one of my favorite exotic sounding albums and ranks high if i were to make a list for my favorite ELO albums. Unlike anything they did afterwards due to Wood leaving the band so soon as Lynne wrested complete domination, NO ANSWER was not only the perfect album to connect what The Move released prior with the future sounds of ELO but also demonstrated that the sounds of The Beatles lived on beyond the solo albums of its respective members. Not a bad track on this one.

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars In 1968, a band called 'The Move' consisted of 3 individuals, Roy Wood, Jeff Lynne and Bev Bevan. That band was basically ending, but the 3 musicians wanted to have a smooth transition from that band to a new band that focused on strings and woodwinds rather than guitars to give their new music a more classical sound, and at the same time, continue where they thought The Beatles had left off. So, while finishing The Move's last album 'Message from the Country', they were also focusing on the new band to be known as 'The Electric Light Orchestra'. In December of 1971, the debut album was released, originally misnamed 'No Answer' due to a funny mistake, it eventually became known by the same name as the band.

So, this new album and band sounded nothing like the previous band. Little did they know that this album would also not sound much like subsequent albums either. This one definitely focused on the idea that Ron Wood had for the band, something unique and distinctive. Even today, listening to this album gives the listener a unique experience as far as music goes. It sounds nothing like the pop and disco sounds that the band would eventually morph to. So it is quite interesting to hear how it all started, and just for that alone, it is worth it for everyone to hear how it was originally intended.

The music is heavy and dark, but not at all in a guitar heavy way. The music is far from the slick sound that the band would eventually adopt in the 80's. It sounds much more raw and unique, just as it was supposed to sound. Lynne was just figuring out how to use his voice, and at times sounds his vocals are garbled and hard to understand. Yet, there was something exceedingly charming and wonderful about it all, it gave the music character, especially in a lot of the earlier albums to follow. In fact, the more Lynne's voice became slicker, the less interesting it would get. Same thing with the music. Even the earlier, more accessible albums like 'Eldorado' were still attractive in the way they were more raw and heartfelt. But nothing in their discography would ever match the sound of this first album. While it's true they still had some perfecting to do, which they come much closer to achieving on their 2nd album than on this one, it is still a very fascinating and entertaining album, and unsuspecting 'fans' of the groups later music will probably be shocked at how different this album is.

The album starts off with Lynne's track, the most famous song on the album '10538 Overture' which was originally supposed to be a song for 'The Move', but Wood and Lynne traded the guitar riffs for cello riffs, and this was the result. To me, it is a fascinating track that has become a favorite in their discography with the cools cello sawing sounds which are double tracked to make it sound more orchestral. It starts based off of the famous Beethoven motif, but soon becomes heavy and thick. I remember playing this track when I was quite young, and my father said it sounded like an unbalanced washing machine. Even to this day, I hear that and think that he wasn't too far off, but I still love the track. It was released at the 1st single for the album and it has shown up on several of the band's greatest hits albums.

Most listeners will notice that the album moves further away from the 'rock' feeling at this point and becomes more 'classical' sounding. 'Look at Me Now' is written by Wood, and it begins accappela, with a more of a folk sounding and baroque centered track, more minimal as most of it is performed with his vocals and a viola and some sparse wind instruments. 'Nellie Takes Her Bow' is mostly performed without drums as a rhythmic instrument, but more as an orchestral instrument along with the strings and wind instruments. The song veers from rhapsodic to progressive classical with Lynne's obvious writing, and even uses a motif from 'God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen' at one point. The track is also quite dramatic and showy. At this point, more dissonance comes into play along with dynamic and mood changes. 'Battle Of Marston Moor' once again takes a sparser approach and once again is penned by Wood. There is the sound of the mini-orchestra, made dark with emphasis on the cello and a rather dramatic reading instead of sung lyrics. It is obvious that Wood's songs are more baroque-classical based where Lynne's are more romantic-classical sounding. Though this one is more baroque oriented, it still has a bit more variation in thematic elements than the typical baroque style song would have, the more linear sounds often shifting to various melodic themes. This one is also more instrumentally driven.

Rod Wood opens up the 2nd side with a guitar led instrumental called 'First Movement (Jumping Biz)', which sounds very much like 'Classical Gas' by Mason Williams. In fact, the artists now admit it was based on that song. The music is upbeat and more rock oriented making it a great opening track for the 2nd side, even though it almost steals the Classical Gas melody. Lynne writes the next 3 tracks starting with 'Mr. Radio', which actually sounds more like subsequent ELO tracks than anything else on the album. This also blatantly demonstrates Lynne's love of The Beatles songs as would many of his future songs. This track was slated to be the 2nd single from the album, and would have probably done quite well as it is somewhat accessible, more so than 10538 Oveture, but it was shelved. The song still uses the trademark (for this album anyway) heavy use of strings and the orchestrated feel, plus the Lynne penchant for rhapsodic, romantic inspired tracks, plus he adds a vaudeville atmosphere to it, and uses some effects like backward tracking to give it more character. It's a great track that foreshadows some of the amazing songwriting Lynne would do for the 2nd album.

'Manhattan Rumble (49th Street Massacre)' continues the dramatic and cinematic style developed from the previous track as the two flow into each other. Again, a lot of the same elements of classical verses vaudeville work against each other in some fascinating ways. This track is entirely instrumental, though it works as an extension to the previous track and could have easily been morphed into one track. 'Queen of the Hours' finishes off the Lynne written tracks. More sawing strings open this one up and soon Lynne's vocals return, the happy vocals sounding almost contradictory to the heavy sound of the thick strings here. This is probably the least interesting track on the album. The album ends with 'Whisper in the Night' by Wood. Again, the contrast between Lynne's complicated sound and Wood's simpler sound is quite apparent along with the more structured, almost folk-tinged sound, it sounds like a stage song from the baroque era.

As most people, on my first listen to this album, I was not that attracted to it, but as the music opened itself up to me more, I was able to appreciate it more. There was a time when I would have said it was there worst album, but now I consider it one of their best. Though it is not as great as their second album, I still consider it a strong 4 star album. It is quite original, and, though it has a few weak moments, it demonstrated the beginnings of what could have been an amazing group had they continued in this path. Alas, all we have is this one album with both Ron and Jeff together, as Ron would leave the band shortly after the first single was released. I suppose it all had to do with their differences musically as Lynne wanted to center of the rhapsodic and romantic connection of classical and rock music while Wood was more interested in the classical and olden sound. Wood would continue on to be part of the band 'Wizard', but Lynne, of course, would become famous for leading ELO, but unfortunately, eventually going down a completely commercial path. But, at least we were able to get some unforgettable and unique music from the early years of the band.

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Report this review (#200933) | Posted by Steven in Atlanta | Wednesday, January 28, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars No Answer is an example of underrated and therefore not influential record. As surely one of the most progressive efforts ever produced in rock, it merges sound of orchestra with then modern rock approach. It is orchestra instruments that dominate over traditional sounds. Two masterminds behi ... (read more)

Report this review (#196557) | Posted by sgtpepper | Wednesday, December 31, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Classic symphonic prog. When I was a young one, I spent a lot of time listening to ELO. In fact, my first album ever bought was "Out of the Blue". That album featured the pop-rock sound that made ELO a monster seller. Thiis album, No Answer, bears little resemblance to what many people think ... (read more)

Report this review (#108394) | Posted by mohaveman | Monday, January 22, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars 'No Answer' is ELO's only real prog-rock album. '10538 Overture'-A great start for the album. With guitar, french horns, strings, and trumpets. 'Look at me now'-Very melancholic with oboes sounding like Egyptian shawms. 'Nellie takes her bow'-A very good song about a Broadway girl. The strings ... (read more)

Report this review (#81677) | Posted by | Wednesday, June 21, 2006 | Review Permanlink

3 stars An interesting debut, with some great tracks and some pretentious nonsense. It's mostly inventive, progressive stuff and has much to recommend it... but the next nine albums would be better. Cellos scrape through almost every track; the songwriting credits make it clear that Lynne's ego was kep ... (read more)

Report this review (#68466) | Posted by | Sunday, February 5, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This is my favorite album of ELO. The great violin work of Steve Woolam is very important in the album, it collaborates to make a classic music atmosphere. Jeff Lynne in all albuns of ELO fused a pop/rock sound with orchestrations of classic music, the result of it are most part of the time go ... (read more)

Report this review (#63321) | Posted by Marcelo Xanadu | Thursday, January 5, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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