Electric Light Orchestra - A New World Record

Electric Light Orchestra
A New World Record

(Epic / Legacy)

First Appeared in The Music Box, November 2006, Volume 13, #11

Written by John Metzger


Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) may have begun its life as a progressive rock outfit, but by the mid-’70s, founder Jeff Lynne had made it abundantly clear that he was determined to transform his band into a mega-selling, pop-oriented act. His 1975 endeavor Face the Music had been a tentative and seriously flawed step in this direction, but the subsequently issued A New World Record served as the full-blown realization of this phase of his career. There was little doubt that Lynne had begun to pen material that he knew would translate comfortably into the overblown arenas and stadium shows that ELO was staging, but, unlike most of his past work, none of his tunes felt forced to fit within a predetermined format. Not only did each song on the set — from the crunchy remake of The Move’s Do Ya to Rockaria!’s playful blend of Little Richard, glam, and opera to the beautiful, Beach Boys-influenced Above the Clouds — boast an indelible melody, but also his grand, symphonic explorations were merged more seamlessly into the framework of his compositions.

Granted, throughout his career, Lynne has ruminated upon the same batch of compositional motifs, and he essentially has carried on a mellifluent conversation with himself. The songs contained on A New World Record were, in that regard, no different from their predecessors. Elements of Face the Music’s Waterfall, for example, formed the basis for Telephone Line, while Tightrope served as a precursor to Out of the Blue’s Turned to Stone. Similarly, shades of The Beatles forever had lurked, sometimes quite blatantly, within ELO’s music, and although the tracks featured on A New World Record largely continued in this vein — Shangri-La went so far as to include the lyric, "My Shangri-La has gone away/Faded like The Beatles on Hey Jude" — they also were aligned more closely with the material that Paul McCartney & Wings had produced for Band on the Run. With his confidence bolstered by the success of Evil Woman and Strange Magic, Lynne refined his approach, which yielded a string of commercially minded tunes that, while not connected thematically, played as if they were part of a fully functional orchestral suite. In effect, A New World Record was a back-to-basics affair that rivaled Eldorado as Electric Light Orchestra’s finest outing.

Recently remastered, A New World Record has been augmented with six previously unreleased bonus selections: Telephone Line is presented both as an instrumental and with an alternate, more McCartney-esque vocal track. Tightrope, Above the Clouds, and So Fine are showcased via early instrumental mixes that highlight their cinematic, Paul Buckmaster-circa-Elton John’s Madman Across the Water underpinnings, while Surrender is a perky little pop tune that pales in comparison with the material that found its way onto the final version of the album. Not surprisingly, none of the extras are terribly essential, but then again, A New World Record was such a strong endeavor that inducements geared toward more casual fans are completely unnecessary. starstarstarstar

A New World Record is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!


Copyright © 2006 The Music Box