Monday, 11 January 2010

Shine on, ELO

I can't remember when it was that I first started listening to the Electric Light Orchestra but the first time I did, I went, " Eh? Now that is a sound I like!" Like every teenager, I started off by listening typical pop and rock music on the radio but by the time I reached my twenties, my music preference had gone off on a slight tangent. Middle-of-the-road pop and rock may be fine but there were other musical adventures to explore too.

Jazz rock, psychedelic rock, heavy metal rock, folk rock, orchestral rock...I've listened to them all. Now here comes classical rock. To my mind, one of the greatest proponents of this genre of rock music was the Electric Light Orchestra. ELO supposedly took off where The Beatles had left off. Rock wrapped up with cellos, violins, horns and woodwinds to give the sound a classical feel. A good concept which the ELO pulled off very well.

ELO was Roy Wood's idea but ironically, he left the group after their first album. Jeff Lynne then took up the reins of the group and there was no turning back for their type of music. Between 1971 and 1987, Electric Light Orchestra came up with 12 albums. Fifteen years later, a final album was released.

I spent the weekend listening to a few ELO albums, starting with Face The Music (1975) and finishing with a compilation album, The Light Shines On Vol 2.

Look closely and you'll see an electrocution chair on the cover. This is a reference to the album's title, Face The Music. When you are in the chair, you are really going to face the music. Indeed! The first song on the album, although essentially an instrumental, contained a distorted voice message at the start. It's documented that when the song is played backwards, drummer Bev Bevan is heard saying: "The music is reversible, but time is not. Turn back. Turn back. Turn back. Turn back."

Side One: Fire on High, Waterfall, Evil Woman, Nightrider
Side Two: Poker, Strange Magic, Down Home Town, One Summer Dream

A New World Record. Until today, I don't know whether the emphasis should be on "New World" or on "World Record". Is it a "new world" record or is it a new "world record"? Anyhow, the cover art features the now famous ELO logo which looks like a jukebox speaker. It's used here for the first time on an ELO album.

Side One: Tightrope, Telephone Line, Rockaria!, Mission (A World Record)
Side Two: So Fine, Livin' Thing, Above the Clouds, Do Ya, Shangri-La

Discovery was much influenced by disco music and this was clear from many of the songs on this album. Not all, but some of them. There's a real orchestra backing the ELO this time and their traditional trio of string players were all now missing which was a big pity as far as I was concerned because to me, they were an inseparable part of the group that gave the songs their signature classical feel.

Side One: Shine A Little Love, Confusion, Need Her Love, The Diary of Horace Wimp
Side Two: Last Train To London, Midnight Blue, On the Run, Wishing, Don't Bring Me Down

And finally, this is The Light Shines On Volume 2, a compilation album that contained music from their first two albums. I bought it because of the original full-length versions of 10538 Overture and that classic Chuck Berry hit, Roll Over Beethoven (UK version).

Side One: 10538 Overture, First Movement (Jumping Biz), In Old England Town (Boogie #2), Manhattan Rumble, From The Sun To The World (Boogie #1)
Side Two: Kuiama, Nellie Takes Her Bow, Queen Of The Hours, Roll Over Beethoven

1 comment:

stephen said...

Records 2 and 3 look familiar.I think I borrowed them from a friend for a listen.
I much prefer the album Discovery.last train to london, midnight blue,shine a little love really stands out.The electric violins sound real cool!!
A good test album for your system as some clump all together to become a cacophony of confused sounds.The interconnects and cables are put to the test!!