Electric Light Orchestra – No Answer – Epic/Legacy

by | Mar 29, 2006 | Pop/Rock/World CD Reviews | 0 comments

Electric Light Orchestra – No Answer – Epic/Legacy 82796 94270 2 ****:

This unusual album was ELO’s debut effort of 1970.  It has been newly remastered from the original analog tapes and four bonus tracks added,  The idea was to create a fusion of classical and rock – a genre that seemed to be more popular in Europe than in North America.  The band went on to record a dozen studio albums and over 25 hit singles, winning nine consecutive gold, platinum and multiplatinum albums in the process. Their music evolved into something harder-driving and more solidly rock than this first session, but still informed by the highly original melodic/harmonic sense of leader Jeff Lynne.

ELO evolved out of a 60s British band called The Move. Singer-composer Roy Wood wanted to put together a band using both rock and classical musicians. He later met Jeff Lynne and they began to put together the new group. Wood had trouble finding classical musicians willing to fit in with their concept and ended up playing many of the instruments himself, multitracking them.  I especially like his overdubbed solos on a cheap Chinese cello he had just acquired as an addition to his collection of instruments. Sometimes 15 tracks of it were overdubbed!

One of the tunes here – First Movement – clearly owes a debt to Mason Williams’ popular Classical Gas. The first song they taped was 10538 Overture, a madcap muddle of classical and rock themes rubbing against one another. Manhattan Rumble sounds like some classical themes added to some of Elmer Bernstein’s jazz soundtrack for the Man With the Golden Arm.  Some of the tunes reminded me of The Bonzo Dog Do-Dah Band and even the cheekiness of Monty Python. The album’s title was changed when it was released in the U.S. because a label executive asked his secretary to call London to find out the title. When she couldn’t get a call thru she left a message for his boss: “No Answer.” That became the album’s title.

Tracks: 10538 Overture, Look at Me Now, Nellie Takes Her Bow, The Battle of Marston Moor, First Movement (Jumping Biz), Mr. Radio, Manhattan Rumble, Queen of the Hours, Whisper in the Night, Battle of Marston (alt. take), Nellie Takes Her Bow (alt. take), Mr. Radio (Take 9), 10538 Overture (Take 1).

– John Henry

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