CD Review: Electric Light Orchestra

Electric Light Orchestra
On the Third Day
Face the Music
A New World Record
By David Chiu

This is where ELO’s peak really hit (or starting to) with these albums finally reissued. On the Third Day (1973) doesn’t entirely break ELO free from the classical-inspired and experimental art rock of the previous first two albums (“Dreaming of 4000”) but the melodic pop instincts are present in the funky “Showdown,” the manic raunchy rocker “Ma-Ma-Ma Belle,” and the bluesy “Bluebird is Dead.” Grieg’s “In the Hall of the Mountain King” is given the rock and roll treatment but it’s no “Roll Over Beethoven.”

Face the Music (1975), and its predecessor Eldorado, marks the arrival of ELO as the mega-selling pop band and Jeff Lynne as the ultimate musical genius. With an emphasis on shorter songs and more hooks, Face the Music is filler-free, starting off with a breathless instrumental “Fire on High” (features Bev Bevan’s explosive drumming) through another disco-inspired tune Evil Woman and the slinky romantic “Strange Magic” up until the gorgeous finale “One Summer Dream.”

A New World Record (1976) is ELO at its creative and commercial peak. There is absolutely not one bad song in the bunch—nearly all of them have appeared on future ELO compilations— the hopeful “Tightrope,” the aching “Telephone Line” and the catchy “Living Thing” are the high points. A New World Record is the perfect pop album that would precede another ELO classic Out of the Blue. (This reissue, like the other two albums, feature bonus tracks of previously alternate takes and mixes; A New World Record features a new song from those sessions, the bouncy and hook-laden “Surrender”).


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