The problem with critics in general is that quite often, a band’s commercial success may adversely impact the critics’ opinions about that band’s artistic credentials. Which is strange in itself, when you consider the immense popularity of The Beatles, for example.
But such was the case for Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) who in their heyday (1970-1986) sold over 50 millions records!
Formed initially as a side-project of 60s psych-rock outfit The Move by Bev Bevan, Roy Wood and Jeff Lynne to ‘continue where the Beatles left off” (as Wood put it) – this lineup released the project’s debut album (No Answer – which contained the hit “10538 Overture”) before Wood defected leaving Lynne to be sole creative force behind ELO.
It would take ELO six albums before becoming a force in pop music and New World Record was the LP that truly broke ELO into the pantheon of pop gods, attaining #5 in the Billboard Album Charts and platinum album sales in the USA and native UK.
Singles like “Telephone Line”, “Livin’ Thing”, “Rockaria” and “Do Ya” (originally recorded by The Move) established ELO’s signature sound – orchestral pop-rock with sophisticated arrangements and infectious melodies. However, New World Record is much more than its singles and it is arguably one of the purest pop masterpieces ever recorded, fulfilling the legacy of The Beatles and The Beach Boys, and even Roy Orbison (in the epic closer “Shangri-la”).
It’s no exaggeration to suggest that Jeff Lynne was the main man behind ELO’s success. Even though at this time, the band had seven members, Lynne was the singer, songwriter, producer, arranger and even lead guitarist! There would be no ELO without Jeff Lynne.
Yet, ELO never quite gets the credit or acclaim for the wondrous pop music they made and critics often deride both ELO and Jeff Lynne for the very thing that made them click – orchestral pop magic!
PoP visitors will no doubt be aware of my love for all things Jeff Lynne/ELO and New World Record is an excellent starting point to find out why.