Electric Light Orchestra Part II - 1990 E.L.O

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ARTIST: Electric Light Orchestra Part II
ALBUM: E.L.O
LABEL: Scotti Bros
SERIAL: 72392 75222-2
YEAR: 1990

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: image

LINEUP: Bev Bevan - drums, percussion * Eric Troyer - keyboards, vocals * Neil Lockwood - guitar, vocals * Pete Haycock - guitar, vocals * Louis Clark - keyboards, conductor * Kelly Groucutt - bass, vocals * Mik Kaminski - violin, keyboards

TRACK LISTING: 01 Hello * 02 Honest Men * 03 Every Time * 04 Once Upon A Time * 05 Heartbreaker * 06 Thousand Eyes * 07 For The Love Of A Woman * 08 Kiss Me Red * 09 Heart Of Hearts * 10 Easy Street

Background

Hailing from the same Birmingham, England back streets as Black Sabbath, Judas Priest and City Boy; Electric Light Orchestra were formed out of the ashes of The Move.

The band's original line up reunited Roy Wood with guitarist-composer Jeff Lynne, bassist Rick Price, and drummer Bev Bevan.

By the mid-1970s ELO had become one of the biggest selling bands in the world, with their Beatlesque pop, classical arrangements, and elaborate futuristic stage shows.

From 1972 to 1986, ELO released a string of international hits (ironically holding the record for being the only band to have the most Billboard Top 40 hits in US chart history without ever having a #1 single!).

After the release of the excellent AORish 'Balance Of Power' in 1986, Jeff Lynne decided to concentrate on solo work. By this time, Lynne had become a sought-after producer, responsible for successful comebacks from George Harrison and Roy Orbison.

Lynne re-teamed with the aforementioned rock legends as well as Bob Dylan and Tom Petty for the Traveling Wilburys.

In 1988, Bev Bevan approached Lynne to make another ELO album but Jeff was not interested and ELO formally got the bop on the head.

After Lynne declined, Bevan trudged on and recruited longtime ELO stringster Louis Clark, Eric Troyer, Climax Blues Band's Pete Haycock and Neil Lockwood for guitar and vocals.

Lynne predictably objected and filed suit which resulted in Bev spending three years resolving legalities before 'ELO Part II' could see the light of day in the spring of 1990. Was it worth it?

The Songs

Yes. Produced by Jeff Glixman, the album is a mixture of old and new ELO sounds, echoing the big string sound of its glory-daze whilst also revealing an AOR feel of the 1981-1986 era.

Just as ELO took elements of Beatles music and made it into a sound of their own, this incarnation might be just as guilty in some ways borrowing some ingredients that worked for the original band.

For purists who may pass this line-up off as nothing more than a cheap copy, the emphasis on the lush sound displayed on ELO's last studio opus (of the 20th Century at least), 'Balance Of Power' makes this a pleasant experience.

Unlike the stale 'stripped down' sound of Lynne's 'Armchair Theatre', which had come out a few months prior, 'ELO Part II' is much more palatable in sound IMO.

It's layered harmonies along with Louis Clark's cascading strings highlight many of the album's standout tracks.

The album's single 'Honest Man', 'Thousand Eyes' and the highlight 'Heart Of Hearts' ranks up with any classic in ELO's halcyon 70's heyday! For that ELO purist wanting to take off my head by now, I do admit there are a couple blunders.

The Orbison-esque 'For the Love Of A Woman', obviously a nod to Jeff's recent musical endeavors, comes off as a blatant unflattering imitation.

'Kiss Me Red' which originally appeared on ELO kiddies Cheap Trick's 'The Doctor', is covered without any real depth or substance.

The album's key highlight for me is Lou's dramatic string arrangements which really shine, adding an incredible dimension to the overall sound.

In Summary

Ok, lets admit it, this ain't 'A New World Record' or 'Time' for that matter.

The sound is different and a key figure is missing. However with Lou's fantastic arranging and an AOR pop-rock style, you get an excellent collection of tunes.

All in all, I would advise you to enjoy this collection of songs for what it is: a nod to a different era and style that was a welcome change for the time.

The follow up release 'Moment Of Truth' is actually considered by some fans as a superior improvement over this. I don't agree but it does include some killer cuts.

By the late 90's, Bevan started to get frustrated with the band's inability to break through in the States (I actually caught a strained performance of the band at a casino nightclub in Laughlin, NV in 1995-where Bevan walked off the stage).

Following further legal action to get the ELO name back from Bevan, Jeff Lynne released a new ELO album in 2001 called 'Zoom'. One could say this was just as pathetic in the fact it was essentially another Jeff Lynne solo release.

Keyboardist Richard Tandy was the only other original ELO member for this supposed 'comeback'. By the early 2000's Jeff, now the full owner of the 'Electric Light Orchestra' name, took legal action once again to them from calling themselves 'ELO Part II'. They eventually complied and changed their name to 'The Orchestra'.

These Bevan releases, including 2001's 'No Rewind' are all far superior to 'Zoom' in my opinion.


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