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Progland was founded by John Gabbard in 2005. It's purpose has been to provide you, the music community with the latest music and dvd reviews. It will continue to be your link to the most popular music reviews in the progressive world.


Electric Light Orchestra - “No Answer”

Label - Sony
Reviewed by: Wayne Klein
Genre: Prog/orchestral rock
Country: England
Language: English
Length: NA
Release Date: 3/28/06
Band Members: Jeff Lynne Bass, Percussion, Piano, Guitar, Vocals Roy Wood Guitar, Bass, Clarinet, Percussion, Bassoon, Cello, Oboe, Recorder, Vocals, Slide Guitar
  Bev Bevan Percussion, Drums Bill Hunt French Horn
  Steve Woolam Violin
Track Listing: 1.)- 10538 Overture (Lynne) 8.)-Queen of the Hours (Lynne)
  2.)- Look At Me Now (Wood) 9.)- Whisper in the Night (Wood)
  3.)- Nellie Takes Her Bow (Lynne) 10.)-The battle of Marston Moor (Wood)
  4.)-The Battle of Marston Moor (Wood) 11.)-Nellie Takes Her Bow (Alternate Mix) (Lynne)
  5.)- First Movement (Jumping Biz) (Wood) 12.)-Mr. Radio (Take 9) (Lynne)
  6.)-Mr. Radio (Lynne) 13.)-10538 Overture (Take 1 Alternate Mix) (Lynne)
  7.)-Manhattan Rumble (49th Street Massacre) (Lynne)
The Review

ELO didn’t garner much respect in the late 70’s onward. Critical thinking had turned towards Punk and New Wave as saving the moribund rock music genre from 1976 through the early 80’s. Frankly ELO leader Jeff Lynne kept the band around past their expiration date producing albums with increasingly diminishing returns after “New World Record” and that tarnished their early reputation somewhat. Bands need to know when to call it quits (R.E.M. are you listening?). Music critics like any other criticism are easily blinded by new “movements” in music getting excited at style (look at the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s) over substance. Usually after a couple of years they’ll revise that opinion and pretend that all the superlatives they heaped on something were never said. ***

All of that said Sony has reissued most of ELO’s catalog on CD. Strangely Sony reissued “El Dorado,”“Discovery”, “Time” and “Secret Messages” first in the U.S. and were surprised when these poor albums didn’t sell all that well (it seems that they had forgotten that with the exception of “Discover” that these were not the band’s best selling (“El Dorado” did chart well but not as well as the two succeeding albums did and did spawn one hit with the infectious Beatlesque “Can’t Get It Out of My Head”) and put the reissues on hold for a number of years. We finally have ELO’s first three albums and their two breakthrough albums (in terms of sales) available in remastered deluxe packaging for fans of the band. I’ll be discussing the first three albums here and deal with “Face the Music” and “New World Record” in a separate review. ---

“No Answer” (legend has it that the title comes from an oversight by a secretary who called EMI in the UK to find out the title of the band’s debut. When they didn’t get an answer the executive at United Artists took her comment literally)continued on with the developments seen in the last two albums by The Move Roy Wood’s band that Jeff Lynne had joined at the end of their UK chart success. Lynne and Wood had always intended to form Electric Light Orchestra but Wood was contractually obligated to provide one more album under the successful moniker of his band. So “No Answer” was actually recorded at roughly the same time as “Message from the Country” the last Move album. Wood and Lynne had wanted to integrate orchestral music into rock much as The Beatles did with their mid-period psyc hedelic songs such as “I Am The Walrus” (Lynne was often quoted that ELO was designed to pick up where that particular song left off). ---

Brimming with creative ideas, songs and playing the album opens with “10538 Overture” a song originally designated as a B-side for a Move single. Once multi-instrumentalist Wood added his scrapping on his cheap Chinese made cello Lynne and Wood realized they had truly found discovered the first song for their next project. Lynne’s songs are certainly the more melodic of the two of them but Wood’s are equally dynamic and more experimental ( the exception is Lynne’s brilliant Leonard Bernstein inspired “Manhattan Rumble”) providing a nice to balance to Lynne’s songs. The albums single the nostalgia t inged “Mr. Radio” which echoes music written and recorded in the 20’s (even down the to filtered vocal by Lynne) received considerable FM airplay at the time and although the album didn’t chart well in the U.S. it did provide the fledgling ELO an audience. ***

Wood’s “First Movement” was clearly inspired by Mason Williams’ 60’s hit “Classical Gas” with its interplay of guitar and sweeping strings. You can actually hear an echo of Williams’ song in the chord progression of the tune. It’s a nice tip of the hat to that unusual hit single. Like all of Wood’s material for the album it demonstrates his sharp wit and ability to pick up just about any instrument and make coherent musical sounds come out of it within a short span of time. While his playing might not match the abilities of the classically trained musicians who would join ELO upon Wood’s departure the playing is nothing else inspired. ***

The album is supplemented by four bonus tracks all of them alternate mixes or takes of album tracks. We get a shortened aborted alternate take of “The Battle of Marston Moor”. It highlights Wood’s string playing. “Nellie Takes Her Bow” is an alternate mix of the final version. “Mr. Radio” is featured with a different take that features an extensive violin introduction by Wood. “10538 Overture” is the first take of the tune with an alternate mix and runs slightly longer with a slightly different vocal take by Lynne. All will be essential for ELO fans. The booklet includes extensive information on the recording sessions with wry and affectionate comments from Wood and Lynne on their first collaboration as ELO. ***

I should warn fans whose first purc hase might have been "On the Third Day", "Face the Music" or "A New World Record" that the first ELO album is a bit different; although all the basic pieces were in place the band's sound changed significantly after Wood's departure (he appeared on the second album as well before leaving to form Wizzard). ***

There has been a bit of a stink created about mastering engineer Peter Mew’s overuse of Sonic Solutions “No Noise” to eliminate the considerable tape hiss due to all the overdubs done by Wood, Lynne and drummer Bev Bevan. While the sound is a bit sterile with some of the high end clipped the trade off of considerable tape hiss from the master recordings (which were used for the first time in this transfer since the original vinyl release) makes sense. T h e question is how much tape hiss fans would have wanted eliminated. That’s going to be up to the individual fan. I wouldn’t suggest trading in or selling your earlier CDs until you hear the album in full and decide if the sound appeals to you. ***

In a perfect world the high end of the sound wouldn't be clipped and the tape hiss eliminated or, at the very least, reduced. We don't live in that world quite yet. This reissue sounds exceptional given the technology of yesterday and today. It certainly improves on the previous CD issue with a lot more detail evident in the recordings and better overall clarity.

Final Words:

"No Answer" sounds unlike anything else in the ELO catalog with its sparse string parts (all played by Wood) but catches Lynne, Wood and Bevan in full creative bloom. It's a pity it took so long for this effort to finally arrive in the United States but the album was worth the wait with the extensive bonus tracks included. Although there aren't any major discoveries (such as unreleased songs from the sessions) the bonus tracks do provide a glimpse into the creative core of the group.


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