Artist: Electric Light Orchestra
Title: No Answer (1972), ELO II (1973), On The Third Day (1973), Face The Music (1975), A New World Record (1976)
Clearly, ELO was a progressive band, although most people never looked upon them as that because of their long run on the pop charts. They had it all going for them-a unique brand of rock music with parts of an orchestra mixed in and a singer/songwriter/guitar player on level with the best in the world. And to put the proverbial icing on the cake, they made a universal mixture of music that anyone could relate to and it still stands up very well today. Even though ELO had all of this and more, they were underrated. I feel their contributions to recorded music were peerless. Perhaps looking back now, we can all realize just how far ahead of their time they really were. And with advent of these marvelous reissues, we can hear it all better than ever and reconfirm why ELO was one of the greatest bands to record orchestrated rock music.
In the early years of ELO when Roy Wood teamed with Lynne, the band sounded very different, as No Answer and ELO II clearly illustrate. These are good recordings and a fine testament to the development of the band’s future nucleus. The foundation was there for a great future but Wood split to form Wizard. This was a blessing in disguise for Lynne as he was able to take control of his destiny by working towards the sound he envisioned all along. This classic ELO sound was finally realized on Eldorado then subsequent recordings Face The Music and A New World Record. These three recordings were the apex of the ELO output. Face The Music is my personal favorite and “Fire On High” has one of the most memorable riffs I have ever heard. To this day, you can hear those instantly recognizable hook filled chords on TV commercials and programs.
Every CD comes packed with bonus tracks and booklets that have archival photos and an overview of what was going on with the band at the time. If you listen to the CDs in order and read the booklets, it serves as a good history of the band and helps you to understand how things unfolded over the years. The sound is excellent, as most remastered albums are these days. Epic/Legacy obviously gets it, if you are going to remaster a band’s catalog you have to offer the listeners a little something extra besides a cleaner sound if you expect them to reach for their wallets again. For those that already have the albums on CD, this is worth looking into for the sound quality, and bonus tracks. On New World Record, the bonus tracks are exceptionally intriguing. Out of the five reissues, this album offers the best bonus tracks. “Surrender” is great tune, it sounds good enough to be a hit single today, and the early instrumental mixes of “Tightrope” and “Telephone Line” are very cool as well.
There are plenty of reasons to get these reissues if you are a longtime fan, and if you are looking for an introduction to the band, there is a lot more than the greatest hits packages available. These albums dive deep into the history of ELO and give a wonderful overview of a band that made groundbreaking music that still sounds fresh and distinctive to this day.
© Keith "MuzikMan" Hannaleck
October 5, 2006