Roy Wood, the guitarist of Mike Sheridan and the Nightriders, started the Move
in 1966 in Birmingham (England). As Wood became more of a multi-instrumentalist
and arranger, the Move had hits
(usually sung by vocalist Carl Wayne)
in the pop vein of the Beatles:
Night Of Fear (1966), a variation on Tchaikovsky's 1812 Ouverture,
I Can Hear The Grass Grow (1966),
Flowers In The Rain (1967), Fire Brigade (1968),
Curly (1969), and Blackberry Way (1969).
Move (Regal Zonophone, 1968) contained more Merseybeat ditties
(Kilroy Was Here, Useless Information, The Lemon Tree,
Walk Upon The Water, Flowers In The Rain), but
Shazam (A&M, 1970) included six varied songs that showed more
(Beautiful Daughter and Cherry Blossom Clinic Revisited,
their masterpieces) than regular pop (Hello Susie).
As far as pop music goes, Shazam (A&M, 1970) was more innovative
than anything the Beatles had ever done (but a lot less innovative than what
prog-rock bands had been doing for two years).
Guitarist and vocalist Jeff Lynne, who had replaced Wood in the Nightriders
and had then changed the band's name to Idle Race (and recorded
two albums in 1968 and 1969, Birthday Party and Idle Race
for Liberty), replace Wayne in Move for
Looking On (Capitol, 1971), a weird collection of pop ditties (Brontosaurs) and lengthy hard-rock jams.
After Message From The Country (1972 - Capitol, 2005), the Move changed name in
Electric Light Orchestra, maintaining the co-leadership of
Roy Wood and Jeff Lynne on guitars and vocals.
The last two Move albums would be summarized by The Great Move (EMI, 1994),
which also contains the later singles:
Chinatown (1971), Tonight (1971),
Do Ya (1972), California Man (1972).
The Complete Singles Collection (Crimson, 2000) is the best Move anthology.
The lush orchestral arrangements of No Answer (UA, 1972), ELO's debut
the similarities with latter-day Beatles, although the best tracks,
10538 Overture and First Movement, display a stronger
neo-classical flavor and sci-fi pomp.
Wood quit and left Lynne in charge. Lynne redefined the sound of ELO and
enhanced the line-up with cello and violin players. The resulting album,
The Electric Light Orchestra II (1973) contains
In Old England Town and four lengthy orchestral suites
(Mama, Kuiama, From the Sun to the World and a Chuck
Berry cover). It is art-rock at its most sublime, but also at its most
pretentious. Nevertheless, Lynne already displays his uncanny sense of velvety
melody and atmospheric arrangement.
Lynne's melodic talent came to the forefront on
On the Third Day (1974), particularly with
Dreaming of 4000 and Showdown, but the album still represents
a transitional period, as it tries too many things at the same time
(the boogie MaMaMa Belle, the instrumental Daybreaker , an
Edvard Grieg piece).
Eldorado (1975), conceived as a symphony, focused on the melody,
and yielded a bonanza of catchy tunes:
Can't Get It Out Of My Head,
Illusions in G Major.
Face the Music (1975) dropped any artistic pretension
(other than perhaps the instrumental Fire on High) and delivered the
hits: Evil Woman and Strange Magic .
Almost every song on A New World Record (Jet, 1976) relies on an
impeccable melody: Telephone Line, Livin' Thing,
Above The Clouds, Rockaria, Mission,
Shangri-La and even a remake of Do-Ya (the old Move number).
Even the super-slick production of these albums pales in comparison with the
double-album tour de force of Out of the Blue (1977)
Considered by ELO's fans as a masterpiece the way Beatles' fans consider
the White Album a masterpiece, it is actually as derivative
and mediocre as the White Album. It does include two of their best
refrains, Turn to Stone and Wild West Hero, that Paul McCartney
would kill for, and countless hummable tunes
(Sweet Talkin' Woman, Across the Border, Night in the City,
The Whale) but the very long album is too much for most people to bear.
The truth was that the ELO had begun its commercial decline (the artistic
decline had begun after the third album).
The boogie-like singalong Don't Bring Me Down and Shine A Little Love are the hits taken
from Discovery (1979), that also features
Last Train To London, Midnight Blue, Confusion.
But, again, this is generic pop muzak.
Lynne wrote the best songs off the Xanadu soundtrack:
Don't Walk Away, I'm Alive , All Over the World ,
The ELO was trapped in its own "perfect" sound and "perfect" melodies.
Time (1981), which features Hold on Tight,
Ticket to the Moon, Another Heart Breaks,
Rain is Falling, was still excellent by the standards of pop muzak,
but hardly innovative at all.
Secret Messages (1983) sounded senile at best, leaving the upbeat tune
(Rock 'n' Roll is King ) for the end and indulging in dejection and
(Stranger , Letter From Spain , Secret Messages ,
Four Little Diamonds).
Ditto for Balance of Power (1986), whose
Calling America, Getting To The Point and Without Someone
sound like mediocre imitations of the ELO.
Despite the artistic decline, ELO remain one of the few bands that wrote
all their material, from start to finish (only one cover in twelve albums).
Lynne was faring a lot better as a producer and as a member of
the Traveling Wilburys with Bob Dylan,
George Harrison and
Afterglow (Epic, 1990) is a three-CD box-set anthology.
The ELO reformed without Lynne and changed name to ELO II.
Lynne launched his solo career with Armchair Theatre (Reprise, 1990),
that contains the sprightly Merseybeat refrain of Every Little Thing
and Now You've Gone.
(Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx) |
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