Back in the hazy-dazy days of 2001, I had put together a feature on one of my favourite bands, the Electric Light Orchestra, which included reviews of then-new album Zoom and the Eldorado re-issue and Flashback boxset.
For most of its first run, Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) operated as a band. However, in effect the success of ELO was really down to one person viz. singer-songwriter-musician-producer Jeff Lynne. Thus, this album of new material — the first since 2001’s Zoom — is credited to “Jeff Lynne’s ELO” and perhaps rightly so. Though personally, ELO would have done it for me — I mean ELO fans know who is the force behind those wonderful songs.
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.
… still there’s more …
Alright. This is a lil embarrassing but late last year Spotify made Power of Pop a ‘Tastemaker’ with a new account and despite my best efforts (?), so far we’ve had only 10 (!) followers. Shameful!!
So I am still pushing this the best way I know how – by working hard at putting together more playlists that I imagine would interest the kind folks who visit us every day. Recently, I have focusing on PoP Legends – artists whom we believe deserve that accolade so here’s what we have so far. Enjoy, spread the word and FOLLOW!
Regular visitors to PoP will be aware that I believe that the 70s was the finest decade for pop and rock music ever. And one excellent resource which allows the avid music fan to access this classic rock music is Spotify (haha you saw that coming!). But seriously folks, I’d like to leave you with introductory playlists I’ve curated of three classic 70s rock bands, which I hope will encourage you to explore more on Spotify.