Electric Light Orchestra – No Answer + ELO II

January 01, 1970





(Ed. note: we hereby
present a review unearthed from deep in the archives, previously published
“somewhere” circa 2006 but never before offered at BLURT. Enjoy.)


Electric Light Orchestra fans tend to fall into two camps.
There’s the Jeff Lynne “hits” (“Evil Woman,” “Don’t Bring Me Down,” etc.)
contingent, of course. Then you have long suffering Roy Wood devotees, enamored
of the multi-instrumentalist’s twisted symphonies for bassoon/oboe/cello,
desperately clinging to 1971’s No Answer (the lone Wood-helmed ELO
release) along with Message From The Country, the album that Wood, Lynne
and drummer Bev Bevan, as The Move, recorded concurrently with ELO’s debut.
Thanks to Epic/Legacy’s long-overdue remastering of the first two ELO albums,
both camps get their cakes and eat ‘em too. (Granted, Lynne fans are receiving
seconds and thirds-the reissue program continues apace with all the subsequent
ELO titles-although it has to be said that diminishing returns rapidly became
the order of the day as the group succumbed to radio pabulum syndrome.)


No Answer opened with an orchestral shot across
rock’s bow, Lynne’s “10538 Overture,” a vaguely futuristic mélange of cellos,
French horns and guitars (nodding, incidentally, at the chord progression from
“While My Guitar Gently Weeps”). Wood’s standouts included “The Battle Of
Marston Moor” (a dissonant hoe-down – Sonic Youth on strings) and “First
Movement” (a lively rip-off of Mason Williams’ “Classical Gas”). 1973’s ELO
was no less jovially weird, and Wood was present on two tracks, notably
the churning, wall-of-sound “In Old England Town.” The album also featured ELO
warhorse “Roll Over Beethoven,” brilliant both in concept and in execution —
the see-sawing between Ludwig Von B. strings and Chuck B. guitar made for a
memorable marriage of the traditional and the modern.


Intriguing bonus tracks grace both reissues (an alternate
version of “Roll Over Beethoven” unfolds as a hilarious piss-take), and Wood
and Lynne both contribute to the booklets. Curiously, unlike the original
vinyl, No Answer doesn’t include lyrics. But the remastering jobs are
exemplary, No Answer in particular benefiting: Upon its initial U.S.
release LPs were plagued by a persistent stylus distortion, presumably due to
the pressing plant being flummoxed by the album’s non-standard (for a rock
record) frequencies and equalization, and as a result defective copies got
returned to stores in droves.


DOWNLOAD: “10538
Overture,” “First Movement” (No Answer);
“In An Old England Town,”
“Roll Over Beethoven” (ELO II) FRED

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