Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Electric Light Orchestra

  • No Answer [United Artists, 1972] B-
  • The Electric Light Orchestra [United Artists, 1972] C+
  • Electric Light Orchestra II [United Artists, 1973] C+
  • A New World Record [United Artists, 1976] B+
  • ELO's Greatest Hits [Jet, 1979] B+

Consumer Guide Reviews:

No Answer [United Artists, 1972]
In which Roy Wood and Jeff Lynne work out their obsession with celli, French horns, and such like. The result is crude chamber music in rock time--pretty tuneful, and sometimes pretty funny as it lumbers along. Might even get interesting if Wood and Lynne weren't also working out their obsession with suffering ladies. Though they do OK by suffering men. B-

The Electric Light Orchestra [United Artists, 1972]
This is really Roy Wood's ever-restless Move exploring its obsession with celli, French horns, and such, so if deliberately ugly chamber music in rock time is your thing, go to it. I pass. C+

Electric Light Orchestra II [United Artists, 1973]
Roy Wood's departure leaves Jeff Lynne to re-create this band in his own image: a conventional art-rocker less ponderous and more long-winded than previously indicated, with an uncommonly lyrical side and his own sense of humor. The symphonic "Roll Over Beethoven" has been out there waiting for a long time. C+

A New World Record [United Artists, 1976]
Eat your diploma, Eric Carmen--after years of floundering, they've gone all the way and made a Moody Blues album with brains, hooks, and laffs galore. My fave is "Rockaria!," about a lass who "loves the way Puccini lays down a tune." Granted, I initially thought it was strictly for those who got off on music appreciation in high school, like the lass. But now I think it's also for those who hated it, like me. B+

ELO's Greatest Hits [Jet, 1979]
A New World Record aside, this is a singles band, which makes their compilation the European Tradition's answer to Bubble Gum Music Is the Naked Truth. I love that "Mr. Blue Sky," almost my favorite is "Turn to Stone," and how 'bout "Telephone Line"? B+