It is hard to believe this album is already 39 years old. Rising out of the ashes of The Move, Bev Bevan, Roy Wood and Jeff Lynne formed this little outfit. Combining a light orchestra (cello and violin) with electric instruments like keyboards and guitar, it isn´t all too hard to imagine the inspiration for the band’s name…
For people who only know ELO from their hits like Mr. Blue Sky, Shine A Little Love or so, the music on this début might come as a bit of a shock. The album is self titled, but is also known under the No Answer moniker.
Here they are exploring and experimenting. Sometimes resulting in impressive haunting tracks like 10538 Overture (with that instant opening riff on guitar), Mr. Radio or Whisper In The Night. Sometimes creating jumping instrumental music like First Movement (great acoustic guitars and melodies) or the strange almost soundtrack like oddity that is The Battle Of Marston Moor.
Second track Look At Me Now is combing the light orchestra with a voice singing, and some other more classical instruments like oboe and English horn. This bonding of styles is key to this album.
Listening to this album it becomes clear that Lynne was the one with the most keen ear for melodies that get ya. So it was little wonder that Wood left after this giving Jeff the room to take control. To much success as would become evident a few years later.
For me this is an album that, after you sink your teeth into, will never leave you untouched. Yes it is a difficult listen that will take it´s time before you appreciate what is going on. I just fell in love with the combination of classical music and instruments with a fairly normal rock band.
In 2001 a remastered version was released on CD with several bonus tracks to which I am listening while writing this. I still have the original LP with the fold out artwork that is priceless to me. Intriguing music to say the least, but classic in many ways…