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Category:    Home > Reviews > Rock > Pop > Progressive Rock > Electric Light Orchestra – No Answer + ELO II (CD Reissues)

Electric Light Orchestra – No Answer + ELO II (Sony Music/CD Reissues)


Sound: B     Music: B



Jeff Lynne once boldly described his band ELO as picking up where The Beatles left off.  Well, that is a great gimmick quote, but The Beatles did so much to advance music that it would be impossible to do what he claimed.  If we go for a search to discover what he meant, we could center on the use of strings and faux Classical orchestrations.  Originally issued on United Artists Records, No Answer and ELO II have been reissued by Sony Music in pleasantly upgraded editions.


No Answer (1972) opens with 10538 Overture, with stabbing violins reminiscent of Eleanor Rigby, with those were strings on The Beatles’ classic supposedly from the great composer Bernard Herrmann, so is it The Beatles or Herrmann they start off imitating?  Needless to say as good as the album is, it cannot move too far away from an obsession with those strings, made most famous by Herrmann in his score for Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960), making it all the more interesting and possibly confused.  Either way, it becomes an ambitious debut effort in the Progressive Rock mode not unlike Tales Of Mystery & Imagination from The Alan Parsons Project, reviewed elsewhere on this site.


This extends to the vocals, which are Beatles-obsessed, while they experiment through the album’s nine tracks with The Beach Boys and Yes among the other influences.  Look At Me Now violins stab even more than 10538 Overture, but the mixing and editing tries to be somewhat surreal and tricky.  Luckily, this is without much gimmicky and strings get outright acoustic at times.  Mr. Radio is the most obvious Beatles track, while this new CD has four bonus tracks that are alternates of four of the original album cuts.


ELO II (1973) witnessed the layers of sound the band would need to develop to survive and includes the fan favorite cover of Chuck Berry’s classic Roll Over Beethoven by beginning with real music by Beethoven.  There are only five tracks for the original album, suggesting the band did the one things Rock acts who loved The Beatles did to try to continue where they left off: cutting very long songs in deference to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and its seamless melding of its songs on two album sides.


Roy Wood continued to be a major creative force in the band but soon left with three other members to become Wizzard.  Lynne and four other members remained and rebuilt to band into what would became a huge commercial success.  With the extra space, three of the four bonus tracks are alternate versions of original album tracks, but Baby I Apologise is included as a “session outtake” showing the more commercial direction they were heading for while retaining critical accolades.  The band was on its way.


The PCM 2.0 16-Bit/44.1kHz Stereo sounds good for its age from the masters that reveal more detail than ever before, but it is a shame this was not available in the SACD format.  These CDs were originally to be issued in early-to-mid 2006, finally arriving by the end of the year.



UPDATE: The rest of the catalog followed since we originally posted this review.  For a DVD of live concerts from The Early Years, try this link:





-   Nicholas Sheffo


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