Monday, April 12, 2010

Disco Very

One of the first purveyors of melding live orchestral music with rock n' roll, the Electric Light Orchestra immediately comes to mind.
Big Beatle fan Jeff Lynne got things rockin' and rollin' (pun intended) with "Roll Over Beethoven" in '73. With their trademark interlacing of soaring keyboards and lush orchestrations, ELO electrified the music scene with hits like "Can't Get It Out Of My Head," 1975's "Evil Woman" (a portion of which was sampled for a Pussycat Dolls song), 1976's "Living Thing" (remember the end credits to the flick Boogie Nights?) and a string of 1977 hits with the lively "Turn To Stone,""Sweet Talkin' Woman," and "Mr. Blue Sky," (a song shamelessly swiped by upstart band Panic At The Disco not too long ago).

Which brings us to 1979.
It is the height of Disco dominance.
When in Rome, as they say..
Major players like Rod Stewart (via the dancey "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy), Kiss ("I Was Made For Loving You") and the Rolling Stones ("Miss You") play along and remain visible throughout; as do ELO.

ELO reaches their creative peak with Discovery. With five hit singles culled from within, Lynne, Rich Tandy and Bev Bevan have definitely outdone themselves. From the opener "Shine A Little Love," the mood is apparent. Not only are the hit singles worthy fare, but so are the album cuts.
"Confusion" is clearly difficult to misconstrue, with its snappy synth snatches between lyric lines. Speaking of synths, "On The Run" is heightened to another level with Richard Tandy's "Baba O' Riley"-inspired fingerboard work. Even the ballads ("Wishing" and "Need Her Love") offer promise; as does a long-surviving ELO gem (in "Midnight Blue") that's still heard on local radio to this day.

Sure, the disco-flavored element dominates Discovery (thus the clever wordplay on the title courtesy of keyboardist Tandy), evident in the catchy "Last Train To London," (again, another song sampled by Atomic Kitten) but admittedly, Electric Light Orchestra churned out a definite classic with this release. One that even they would be hard-pressed to match or surpass after the fact.


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