The Electric Light Orchestra

First rate 70's and 80's rock band, fronted by Jeff Lynne (who also wrote the vast majority of the songs... the only one I can think of that he didn't write was Roll Over Beethoven which they covered fairly early on). The band grew out of The Move, and aimed to produce rock music with a classical bent.

Early albums (ELO (or No Answer in the US), ELO2) sound a little grungy: the melodies are certainly not clear and crisp. Bev Bevan (the drummer) stated that one of the group's intentions was 'to pick up where 'I am the Walrus' left off', and the two do sound very similar. '10538 Overture', from ELO, was a top-ten hit.

'Eldorado' in 1974 is a true 'concept-album', each song leading into the next, themes and ideas being revisited and so on. 'Eldorado - Finale' is breathtakingly poignant. 'Face the Music' in 1975 became a gold album, and is, frankly, a damn fine work: 'Fire on High' is a superb instrumental; 'Evil Woman' crops us on numerous 'Greatest Hits' albums; 'Waterfall' is melodic and beautiful (if a little 'floaty'); and 'Strange Magic' just marvellous. 'Nightrider', mind you, is rather loud, and 'Poker' just plain odd.

'Out of the Blue' (1977) remains a lot of people's favourite album, primarily because it contains 'Mr Blue Sky' - the one track that most people know (and it's a good track, certainly, although there are better). It went platinum (and well deserved it was). 'Time' (1981) is, conceptually, far better, though: 'Twilight' is stunning.

'Secret Messages' (1983) is not instantly memorable, which is a pity, as it contains some great pieces ,notably the title track and 'Time after Time'. 'Balance of Power' (1986) has infamously poor recording standards, but still has 'Calling America' on it, which is excellent, and, curiously unhummable.

It's rather corny to like ELO these days (the band still lives on as ELO2 (with Bevan holding it together, Jeff Lynne having departed and doing solo work - 'Armchair Theatre' is rather fine, too)), but in their time they were a huge phenomenon, and their stage shows were stunning.

Jeff Lynne is, apparently, producing a new ELO album, called 'Zoom' due to be released in 2001 (and a major tour is planned during the summer of the year too). Weren't Zooms ice lollies?

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