Electric Light Orchestra - Balance Of Power

EricEric USA
edited August 2 in year-1986

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

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: image

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

Background

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 to 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.

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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