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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Electric Light Orchestra


Review by Gary Hill

By the time this album had come out, I had pretty much given up on ELO. That's kind of a shame because there is some fine music here. It also has some particularly experimental stuff. While it's not as proggy as a lot of their early music, it is a step back in the prog direction from the previous set. It should be noted that I previously reviewed a few of these songs on compilation sets. For the sake of consistency my reviews of those tunes are modified from the other review. It should also be mentioned that this was released under the name "ELO" rather than "Electric Light Orchestra."

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Track by Track Review
This keyboard based arrangement has a bit of a classical element at play. There is a spoken synthetic voice that brings an alien sort of vibe.
This feels rather like classic ELO, but something’s just a little off. That said, it’s also got some of the most progressive rock music we’ve ever gotten from the band at points along this ride.
Yours Truly, 2095
Synthetic elements bring this into being in a mellow way. Then we get something a bit like video game sounds. The cut starts to rock out from there with some synthetic vocals. There is a weird artificial vibe as the piece continues, but it gets more of a classic ELO vibe in terms of the general song structure. This is experimental in a lot of ways. It's very electronic.
Ticket to the Moon
Starting with piano and vocals, there is a real vintage ELO sound here. This has a sad edge to it, and the stripped back arrangement really serves it well. Strings come in after a bit to deliver some icing on the cake that is this song. After the one-minute-mark a full band treatment enters to create a full ELO sound. The cut drops out after the chorus to mellower, and decidedly progressive rock based stuff. A classic ELO sound rises up from there to accentuate it. The cut works back to the song proper but with a more powered up arrangement. This really feels like something that would have been at home on one of the band's earlier albums. It's a highlight of the set as far as I'm concerned.
The Way Life's Meant to Be
Symphonic strings open this as it comes out of the previous piece. It shifts to more of a Beatles-like jam that is a bit understated from there. It evolves into a more full arrangement that has a classic bouncy, rocking ELO vibe to it. It's not the proggiest thing here, but it is fun. That said, I don't consider this a standout.
Another Heart Breaks
This is percussive and a bit strange. It has a really stripped back and electronic arrangement. It's strange and atypical of ELO. That said, it's also quite experimental.
Rain Is Falling
This is a mellower song. It does feel very much like a classic era ELO song. I’m just not sure it’s exceptionally strong.
From the End of the World
Weird synthesized symphonic elements start this. The cut works out to a bouncy, driving kind of electronic jam. This has a strange sound, but it's also intriguing. It has some leanings toward classic ELO, but tempered with both weird science-fiction sounds and some R&B in the mix. The more rocking jam later is set a bit more in a classic ELO motif, but still twisted a bit to the side.
The Lights Go Down
There is a weird, bouncy, old school rock and roll turned electronic vibe to this piece. It's an intriguing cut, but definitely not one of the better pieces here. It's also mostly not very ELO-like. The exception to that being the vocal arrangement, which does have a lot of classic ELO in its delivery.
Here Is the News
I love the electronic vibe on this. It's an interesting way of updating a classic ELO sound. This has an interesting groove, too. I think this is one of the stronger tunes here. It is also more of a missing link between the classic ELO sound and the more modern one represented on a lot of this album.
21st Century Man
This has a lot more of a classic ELO sound built into it. It actually feels like it would have been at home on Out of the Blue in a lot of ways. There is a definite Beatles vibe here, and this mid-tempo piece works quite well.
Hold On Tight
This cut has that old school rock and roll sound like we’ve heard previously from the band on cuts like “Roll Over Beethoven.” It’s a strong song and still holds up pretty well. It also has a lot of sound that calls to mind another of Jeff Lynne’s bands, The Traveling Wilburys. I like the French that gets thrown into this.
This short piece has a lot of electric guitar fills built into it. It is a dramatic cut that is very much built out of the Beatles side of the ELO catalog. It's a strong, if short, piece. It has a particularly classic sound to it.
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