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Electric Light Orchestra

Discovery

Review by Gary Hill

Discovery really represented ELO's foray more fully into pop based music, and particularly disco. It wouldn't land under prog were it not for their previous catalog. The thing is, though, there are enough trademarks of traditional Electric Light Orchestra here to make it familiar. There are a lot of really good songs, too. It should be noted that I previously reviewed quite a few of these tracks on various compilation albums. For the sake of consistency, the track reviews here are taken or modified from those.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2019  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Shine a Little Love
The opener is a disco based song. The introduction on this is classic ELO, and the chorus has a catchy vocal hook, but all the disco trappings are both an annoyance and really date this piece. It doesn’t hold up nearly as well as some of the other material in their catalog. Honestly, ELO’s disco material was a lot stronger than the majority of the genre (and still had quite a bit of rock in it), but this is part of the reason the band had their demise.
Confusion
For the most part I like this song – it’s a classic mellower ELO number, but there’s an annoying little keyboard interlude that just sounds cheesy.
Need Her Love
The opening bit here seems very much like classic ELO. A mellow guitar jam that has some hints of blues rock rises up from there. The cut becomes a rather balladic piece that is very much classic ELO. There is some texture here that leans toward bluesy jazz.
The Diary of Horace Wimp

 A full classical treatment opens this piece. It drops to an electronic mode that's decidedly Beatles-esque from there. The weird little synthesizer bit that sounds like a voice is an odd touch, but there are some seriously classic sounds here in other parts. The driving, hard-edged movement later is so classic of both ELO and Beatles-type music that it's downright scary. The symphonic touches later really work well.

Last Train to London
This song is a study in contrasts. Certainly it’s one of the discofied pieces. The thing is the verse, with its funky sort of driving bass line, really works quite well. The chorus, though, is amongst the worst of trite disco sounds. I’d say that the verse makes up for it, but barely.
Midnight Blue
Keyboards bring this in with a bit that sounds like a voice singing the title at a couple points. The tune works toward a balladic rock texture with a piano and voice approach. This has some classy sounds as it drives outward. It's a decidedly pop rock based track that has a lot of trademark ELO sound built into its arrangement. It's a great tune.
On the Run
An energetic pop rocker, this thing is fun. It also has a really classic ELO sound. It's a good time.
Wishing
Pretty keyboard textures bring this one into being. There is a bit of a whistling vibe to them. The cut works out to a cool pop rock groove from there. It has a lot of ELO go Beatles sound to it. This cut has a lot of class.
Don't Bring Me Down
This is more of a rocker and a much stronger tune than “Shine A Little Love.” The disco is washed clean here, but I’m not overly crazy about the “rooose” thing. Still, it’s trademark ELO.
 
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