Category: Electric Light Orchestra

Electric Light Orchestra – Eldorado

ARTIST: Electric Light Orchestra

TITLE: Eldorado

YEAR RELEASED: 1974

CHART ACTION:  #16

SINGLES: Can’t Get It Out of My Head (#9), Boy Blue

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Only if you’re an ELO lifer

LINEUP: Jeff Lynne, Bev Bevan, Richard Tandy. Mike de Albuquerque left during the recording but was on a few tracks. Mike Edwards, Mik Kaminski, and Hugh McDowell were credited string players, but Lynne hired an orchestra, so good luck picking them out. Peter Forbes-Robinson did a voice over.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A concept album about a dreamer gave ELO its first true US hit.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: After a few years of hits in the UK and being an album-rock artist in the US, ELO got its first US hit (and saw it’s UK chart fortunes disappear) in “Can’t Get It Out of My Head”, a nice slice of baroque pop with an orchestra.

The rest of the album was similar, with a shoulda been hit in “Boy Blue” and melodies and orchestrations on every song. It was a concept album, beginning and ending with an overture and a finale. Lynne’s devotion to Beatle melodies comes right to the front, as many cuts sound right from the back pages of Lennon / McCartney’s book of melodies backed by an orchestra. One track, “Mister Kingdom”, is close to an outright appropriation of “Across the Universe” in places.

The sound, with a full orchestra, is much improved, but the synthesizers of Richard Tandy seem obtrusive at times, with odd settings of buzzes and effects where a nice piano or organ setting would have been better. The overall sound makes this a much better listen for casual ELO fans who want to explore beyond the hits.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: de Albuquerque left during the sessions as he felt life on the road was taking away from his family time. Kelly Groucutt joined during the tour for the album and the classic ELO lineup was solidified. Also, the honest to goodness, the full album title is Eldorado: A Symphony by the Electric Light Orchestra.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, with a long version of the “Eldorado” suite and tiny snippet of a song.

 GRADE: B: On this album, ELO almost puts all of their elements together. Almost.

Electric Light Orchestra – On the Third Day

ARTIST: Electric Light Orchestra 220px-On_the_third_day_uk_cover

TITLE:  On the Third Day

YEAR RELEASED: 1973

CHART ACTION: #52

SINGLES: Showdown (#53 US, #12 UK), Ma-Ma-Ma Belle (#22 UK), Daybreaker (#87 US)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: In the Hall of the Mountain King

LINEUP: Jeff Lynne, Bev Bevan, Richard Tandy, Mike de Albuquerque, Mike Edwards, Wilf Gibson, Colin Walker, Mik Kaminski. Marc Bolan guested on two songs.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Split between two sessions, this album is a definite transition as Lynne and the band moved towards more concise orchestral pop/rock.

 SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Lynne and company dropped the long, long proggy song concept for this album, as this album featured more concise songs. Side one, though, is linked by a suite (except for “Showdown” – added to the US version and now part of the CD and streaming mix) that ties those songs together.

The move to concise songs works – since “Showdown” is a classic, and “Ma-Ma-Ma Belle” reminds everyone why the Move was so great. There are no draggy parts and not much showing off this time around. The production is a little dense, though, thanks to the band still having to overdub the cellos and violins like crazy to get that ‘orchestral’ feel. It muddies it up. 220px-On_The_Third_Day_US_cover

Still, some of the songs on side one don’t make much sense unless you’re someone that connects the dots between ELO songs and Beatles songs (“Bluebird is Dead” and “Oh No Not Susan” seem to line up with Beatles songs). The two instrumentals on side two illustrate that Lynne may not have all of the songs he wanted or needed at the various times, especially since they did that old Grieg chestnut that countless prog bands have done before.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Half of this album (Side 2) came from sessions recorded right after the sessions for their last album, and the other half were sessions recorded after Gibson and Walker left the string section and Kaminski joined.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: A couple of outtakes and unfinished takes, most featuring Bolan as well.

GRADE: B-: If you really really love ELO, you’d love this album. Otherwise, the singles may be it for you.

Electric Light Orchestra – ELO 2

ARTIST: Electric Light Orchestra    ELO_2_UK_album_cover

TITLE:  ELO 2 (or Electric Light Orchestra II)

YEAR RELEASED: 1973

CHART ACTION: #62 US, #35 UK

SINGLES: Roll Over Beethoven (#42 US, #6 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW:  Nope

LINEUP: Jeff Lynne, Bev Bevan, Richard Tandy, Mike de Albuquerque, Mike Edwards, Wilf Gibson, Colin Walker. Roy Wood played cello on two tracks before he quit.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: It’s a real band now, and there was tension and a false start. What emerged were five long suites and the beginning of the ‘classic’ ELO sound.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: During the initial sessions for this album, Wood and Lynne and the band (Tandy and de Albuquerque had joined full time) did some sessions with former Move singer Carl Wayne that didn’t work out, and then after a few weeks Wood up and left to form Wizzard. That left Lynne alone to really envision what ELO was going to become.

Edwards, Gibson and Walker were classically trained string players, and fleshed out the group. They combined classic Beatle-esque rock and roll with a mega-overdubbed string section and created five long suites that were more melodic progressive rock than anything. 220px-ELO_ELO2_album_cover

The highlight was an eight-minute long take on “Roll Over Beethoven”, using the string section as well as Lynne’s rock-and-roll chops to create probably the second-best version (besides the Berry original). The other four tracks are OK, but do meander a bit (especially the 11-plus minute long “Kuiama”).

Lynne took the lessons from this album and forged ahead with ELO. This is a work-in-progress that has some nice bits but still isn’t quite there yet.

 NOTES & MINUTIAE: In the UK, it was ELO 2. In the US, it was Electric Light Orchestra II. “Roll Over Beethoven” was also a minute shorter in the UK than in the US, for some reason.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, some BBC sessions, outtakes, and cuts with Mark Bolan (!) on guitar and the Wayne sessions.

GRADE: B:  It’s not bad, and has some nice bits. But some of the songs do test your patience.

Electric Light Orchestra – No Answer

ARTIST: Electric Light Orchestra ElectricLightOrchestranoanswer
TITLE: No Answer / (Electric Light Orchestra in the UK)
YEAR RELEASED: 1971
CHART ACTION: #196 US, #32 UK
SINGLES: 10538 Overture (#9 UK)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Nah
LINEUP: Jeff Lynne, Roy Wood, Bev Bevan, Bill Hunt, Steve Woolam, Richard Tandy, Wilf Gibson, Hugh McDowell, Mike Edwards, Andy Craig
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The Move (long live the Move) transitioned to ELO on this album as the orchestral concept Wood and Lynne were working on came to fruition. The results are mixed, but Lynne’s songs foreshadowed what ELO would become.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Wood and Lynne had been thinking of the concept of the Electric Light Orchestra for a year or so, but they first had to free themselves of obligations around The Move. While doing that, Lynne came up with “10538 Overture”, Wood added a shit-ton of cellos, and there you go – ELO was born.

This was short lived. While Wood was the driver behind The Move, Lynne had a stint as a leader of The Idle Race and joined the Move specifically to work on this eventual project. Wood left after a tour of Italy to form another band (Wizzard – who never made an impression in the US).

The album resulting from the collaboration between Lynne and Wood is kind of messy. There’s definitely a difference between Lynne and Wood – Wood’s songs are more unfocused and usually flights of fancy while Lynne wrote the two key songs – the single and “Queen of the Hours”. This is really for die-hards except for those two tracks. The ‘orchestra’ is just the cello and violin players overdubbing repeatedly, giving it kind of a weird cello-heavy tone.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Bev Bevan refused to play drums on “The Battloe of Marston Moor” because he thought it was terrible. He was mostly right – it’s one of those flights of fancy that ultimately do not satisfy.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, a few anniversary editions with extra tracks and live tracks.

GRADE: B-: Two great cuts, and a couple of OK Lynne Cuts make it palatable. There’s one or two Wood songs that aren’t bad. An album for completists only.