Electric Light Orchestra - 1986 Balance Of Power

ARTIST: Electric Light Orchestra
ALBUM: Balance Of Power
SERIAL: 26467
YEAR: 1986
CD REISSUE: 2007, Sony Legacy, 82796942792 (with bonus tracks)


LINEUP: Jeff Lynne - vocals, electric & acoustic guitars, bass, keyboards * Bev Bevan - drums, percussion * Richard Tandy - keyboards, sequence programming

Additional Musician: Christian Schneider - saxophone

TRACK LISTING: 01 Heaven Only Knows * 02 So Serious * 03 Getting To The Point * 04 Secret Lives * 05 Is It Alright * 06 Sorrow About To Fall * 07 Without Someone * 08 Calling America * 09 Endless Lies * 10 Send It


Jeff Lynne was tiring of the Electric Light Orchestra. By 1986, the orchestral sounds that made the band one of the biggest in the world were now passe and it would be a few years down the road before critics and music fans alike would give the ELO their due as the worthy successor to The Beatles. Ready to move on to what would become lucrative production work and eventually his own solo album, Lynne was ready to put the name rest, but first there was one final album to fulfill obligations - 'Balance Of Power'. Mention this album in a group of hardcore ELO fans and just sit back and watch the arrows fly. A 'sell-out' and 'their worst album -ever' are common and in some cases - kinder statements, but digging a little deeper and putting aside adoration for the group's glory days, 'Balance Of Power' can at times be an enjoyable album.

The Songs

With the string section and Kelly Groucutt long gone, ELO were now down to three piece. Experimenting with new technologies, Lynne drowns the album in waves of synthpop and over the top '80s excess, but the songwriting that made ELO what it was can still found on at least the first three tracks with pride of place going to the wonderful 'Getting to the Point'. It's just too bad 'Secret Lives' was included which is a just a little too 'Miami Vice' and straight period pop for this reviewer. 'Is It Alright' tries to resurrect the ELO sound of old with a modicum of success while 'Without Someone' is classic Lynne balladry and received airplay in the States, yet was never released as a single although the incredibly catchy 'Calling America' was and peaked at #28 on the charts, giving ELO their last hit in the group's biggest market. I never cared much for Lynne's aping of Roy Orbison on 'Endless Lies' even if the song was originally recorded for the butchered 'Secret Messages' album while 'Send It' is nothing to write home about ending the album on an average but overall a far from disappointing note.

In Summary

A smattering of concerts in Europe supporting Rod Stewart showed just how far ELO had fallen from grace and would prove to be the band's final tour, much to the disappointment of fans. Jeff Lynne would go on to produce George Harrison's brilliant 'Cloud Nine' album as well as CD's for Paul McCartney, Tom Petty and superstar project The Traveling Wilburys not to mention The Beatles for their acclaimed 'Anthology' series, including the remarkable 'Free As A Bird' which has the trademark ELO sound all over it. A new studio album 'Zoom' appeared in 2001 which despite critical praise was really just a Lynne solo project. A proposed tour was cancelled due to poor ticket sales while a decade later everyone is still waiting for a follow-up to Lynne's first solo album 1990's 'Armchair Theater'.
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Eric August 16 2010 3561 reads 11 comments Print


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  • Recordjnky
    I perhaps hate to say it, but this is my favorite ELO album -- great AOR!
    Reply · · - August 16 2010 09:07:08
  • jefflynnefan
    Jeff was ready to be out from under Don Arden. This was the last album he had to make under the ELO name that fullfilled his contract. I was actually surprised to see a new ELO album when this came out. Jeff going through some bad times when this came out divorce and such. I disagree with ya somewhat Eric on a few songs. I like "Secret Lives" and I feel that "Calling America" is the the least interesting song on the album.
    Reply · · - August 19 2010 01:35:59
  • tonissive
    this was really the last ELO album! in my opinion 'zoom' is a jeff lynne solo album under the name of ELO!even the ELO part two sound more a ELO than 'zoom'!!
    jeff is now working in new songs for maybe a late 2010 or early 2011 release!
    Reply · · - August 19 2010 20:41:13
  • Eric
    Yeah, the Wilbury's sound wormed it's way into 'Zoom'. I still like the album, but would much rather have the early stuff up to 'Out Of The Blue' if I had to bring a batch spur of the moment on my way to that deserted island.Smile
    Reply · · - August 19 2010 22:51:27
  • gdazegod
    Funny that, I've just been watching the ELO 'Zoom' DVD this very week. Interesting to see the backing musicians from that 2001 tour including Richard Tandy, plus the Bissonette brothers (Matt on bass, Gregg on drums), plus the very lovely Rosie Vela on backing vocals. Woah!
    Reply · · - August 20 2010 00:41:47
  • Eric
    Vela was Lynne's girlfriend at that time. She put out a pretty good LP on Windham Hill in the late 80's, when the label was going pop. I think it was Windham Hill?? I remember liking it...

    Lynne is now the significant other of Oliva Harrison (George's former wife) and is Godfather to Dhani Harrison. Not sure what Vela is doing now...
    Reply · · - August 20 2010 01:09:14
  • jefflynnefan
    Hey George, You probably know this but Rosie has a solo album called "Zazu". I have it on vinyl. It came out in 1986 on AandM records. She is/was Jeff's girlfriend.
    Reply · · - August 20 2010 01:14:20
  • jefflynnefan
    Gosh Eric I didn't know that about OH and JL.
    Reply · · - August 20 2010 01:16:29
  • Eric
    That was the album 'Zazu'! Kind of a soft jazz/ pop thing and very nice. Why do I keep thinking Windham Hill here? L and O- hey for her age (Olivia) she's still a very attractive woman..

    I love McCartney and his music style but George moved me as well, much more than Lennon. Lynne and Dhani finished Harrison's last work 'Brainwashed' after he passed.
    Reply · · - August 20 2010 01:27:19
  • retroaddict
    Rosie's Zazu was an extremely classy and well-produced affair that featured Steely Dan involvement. It did come out on CD for the U.S. market(disc pressed in Japan) and about 5-6 years ago was high in demand on the Fee-Bay circuit. I had the disc twice and never thought about ripping it!
    Reply · · - August 22 2010 06:27:36
  • trillion1999
    I liked everything labeled/labelled ELO up till Zoom.Heard it once hopefully never more.Live I believe is a different matter and I would not mind seeing that.
    Reply · · - October 19 2011 18:54:27


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