Electric Light Orchestra: A New World Record
ELO is an odd item around the house of prog. Sometimes praised, and sometimes bashed. They started out squarely in prog’s realm, but gradually turned to a more pop sound. That doesn’t mean they abandoned it entirely. “A New World Record” combines the best of both worlds. The songs are catchy, but infused with orchestral elements.
Right from the beginning, “Tightrope” gives us strings, and an operatic chorale. It then turns into a bouncy little number, while retaining the string sounds, and some good ol’ rock guitar. It ends with the same tone as the opening.
“Telephone Line” is a nice ballad, with some proggy instrumentation, but otherwise straightforward. It also contains a groovy little doo-wop.
“Rockaria” is a ’50s style rocker, with vocal interludes by a melancholy diva (yes it is one of the band members, but at least it is not the made-up pop kind).
“So Fine” is a great pop track, that has a cool jungle influenced interlude. Thus retaining some prog cred. It segues nicely into the violin intro for the next song.
“Livin’ Thing” is another quality pop track, but there are those interludes again. The gypsy violin gives it a bit of panache. Not just your average Top 40 here.
“Do Ya'” is a staigt ahead rocker, with fuzzy guitar. But wait, maybe not so predictable. The strings again come in with an understated wavy effect. Then a little military drum roll just for good measure.
Those are the highlights. A couple of the slower tracks are not as impressive, but stand up nonetheless.
This was a favorite of mine back in the ’70s, and I still love to hear it. It may not be full on prog, but it makes a great intro for the timid, or less knowledgeable initiate. No matter how you want break it down, it’s a darn good album. ELO was never so focused. It’s also a lot of fun.
Bev Bevan – drums, percussion and backing vocals
Melvyn Gale – cello
Kelly Groucutt – bass and vocals
Mik Kaminski – violin
Jeff Lynne – guitar and vocals
Hugh Mc Dowell – cello
Richard Tandy – piano, moog and guitar
Louis Clark – string arrangements