CD Review: Electric Light Orchestra

Electric Light Orchestra
Balance of Power
By David Chiu

ELO’s final album before 2001’s Zoom, Balance of Power (1986) doesn’t rank up there with previous triumphs such as A New World Record and Out of the Blue. It relies mainly on synthesizers rather then the strings that have been Jeff Lynne and company’s calling card. But Lynne’s penchant for sunny melodies and hooks breathes some life into the original album’s ten songs . from the exuberant “Heaven Only Knows” to the finale “Send It.” Underneath the music’s poppy veneer is a sense of melancholy and loss reflected in numbers like the charming “So Serious,” “Getting to the Point” and “Sorrow About To Fall.” The strongest track on the album is the prophetic “Calling America,” a commentary about communication. It’s apparent from the lyrics that Lynne was ready to pack ELO up, at least temporarily—he would eventually do so to become a much in-demand producer. Balance of Power is not classic ELO as we know it, but it is also definitely not an embarrassment in the group’s catalog. (The album has been reissued with bonus tracks).


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