Tuesday, June 8, 2010

CD Odyssey Disc 134: ELO

Well from a combination of punk, metal and rock to a combination of pop, do-wop and disco. The Odyssey - it gets around

Disc 134 is...Discovery
Artist: E.L.O. (Electric Light Orchestra)

Year of Release: 1979

What’s Up With The Cover?: An arab boy appears to have received an electronic game of "Simon" for his birthday. No, wait - that's just the ELO symbol. Still, I think the last sequence was red - yellow - blue - blue - yellow. Or did it start yellow - blue - red? Let the hilarity ensue!

How I Came To Know It: This is a pretty big record for ELO. I am pretty sure I heard a lot of these songs as a kid. My more recent 'discovery' of it was buying it one day with Sheila. ELO is a guilty pleasure for both of us.

How It Stacks Up: We have three ELO albums. I'd say this is solidly in the middle of the three.

Rating: 3 stars.

While this isn't my favourite ELO album, I think it was very successful in it's time. The first track is "Shine A Little Love" and the last one is "Don't Bring Me Down," both of which got solid radio play in 1979.

Of course, "Don't Bring Me Down" has one of the most misheard lyrics of all time. Just what does he say after "don't bring me down?" Believe it or not, the answer is "gruce" - or as spelled in the liner notes - "grroosss." I have no idea what it means, and I kind of enjoy not knowing.

Coming out in 1979, it is no surprise that "Discovery" has a very strong disco element - in particular "Last Train To London" which sounds like a Bee Gees song. This is not a bad thing. When I was young, and even through my teens and early twenties I had absolutely no time for disco. If you wanted any street cred as a metalhead it wasn't enough to avoid disco - you had to actively hate it. I took on the challenge with gusto.

How wrong I was though. I still love metal of course, but now there is room in my life for all kinds of disco music - Chic, the BeeGees and ELO when they are feeling funky.

Sometimes ELO doesn't feel funky, and instead channels fifties do-wop. Strangely, this is something that Blue Oyster Cult will occasionally do as well. I think it must be a function of the age of folks like Jeff Lynne and Eric Bloom of BOC, who would've had early experience with that kind of music.

As an aside, when I was a very small kid, I would sometimes get Jeff Lynne and Eric Bloom mixed up. They were both lead singers with great afros, and a penchant for wearing aviator sunglasses in their photo shoots. The fact that both their bands would sneak in a little do wop just added to the confusion.

Speaking of "Confusion", that is one of my favourite tracks on the record - with Lynne singing 'confusion' in staccato falsetto. I love the liner notes he adds to this remaster edition at the front of the song:

"I'd just got hold of the very latest synthesizer, the Yamaha CS-80. The song is based entirely on the sound it made."

Nice, and worth noting at this point that the Remastering of "Discovery" isn't limited to just new liner notes - the production is strong as well. The record sounds great, and while the song list is expanded from the original nine to twelve, two of the three added songs are two little demos under a minute. The third is an inspired remake of Del Shannon's "Little Town Flirt." It is a top notch cover of a song I forgot how much I liked.

This album might not move me emotionally, but it is a lot of fun, and who doesn't love the liberal use of the CS-80?

Best tracks: Shine A Little Love, Confusion, Last Train to London, Don't Bring Me Down, Little Town Flirt

No comments: