JZ 35524 No Answer (a.k.a. The Electric Light Orchestra)
Produced by Roy Wood and Jeff Lynne
Released on December 1971
UK CHART POSITION #32 . . . US CHART POSITION #196
Find it at GEMM
JZ 35524 cover
[high resolution photo]
 

T he Electric Light Orchestra originally took the marriage of classical and rock music at face value, making the strings and horns not just equal partners in the final arrangements but in the initial songwriting process as well. Jeff Lynne and Roy Wood are clearly influenced by The Beatles’ studio experimentation of the late ‘60s, at times directly suggesting songs like “Eleanor Rigby,” “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “Sexy Sadie.” However, The Beatles used orchestral touches to support their instruments, ELO to supplant them. Violins and cellos and horns drive works like “The Battle of Marston Moor,” “10538 Overture” (which Cheap Trick fans may recognize as the inspiration for “Downed”), and “Manhattan Rumble.” You can hear Bev Bevan’s drums adding commentary on these tracks, but the band hadn’t yet found a suitable way to fit the bass/guitar/keyboards into the final mix. There’s no doubt that No Answer is an intelligent record and an ambitious debut, but ultimately it’s a failed experiment. Part of the problem rests with heavily masked vocals, while the classical arrangements seem heavy-handed and unnatural, as if they were stripped down to a single, linear line of action. Although aural architect Roy would leave after this album, ELO would continue to pursue ambitious classical constructs on ELO II and, later, return to a balance of strings and Beatlesque pop with On The Third Day. No Answer certainly has some good songs -- “10538 Overture,” “Mr. Radio,” “Queen of the Hours,” “First Movement” -- but even they smell of a forced genius, a desire to artificially replicate what came naturally to The Beatles and Frank Zappa. Should ELO fans own this album? No. They should buy the CD instead, since clarity is a valuable commodity on any early ELO effort.

JZ 35524 back cover
JZ 35524 back cover

TRACK LISTING

  1. 10538 OVERTURE    (Jeff Lynne)    5:30
  2. LOOK AT ME NOW    (Roy Wood)    3:16
  3. NELLIE TAKES HER BOW    (Jeff Lynne)    5:58
  4. THE BATTLE OF MARSTON MOOR (JULY 2nd, 1644)    (Roy Wood)    6:02
  5. FIRST MOVEMENT (JUMPIN' BIZ)    (Roy Wood)    2:58
  6. MR. RADIO    (Jeff Lynne)    5:02
  7. MANHATTAN RUMBLE (49th STREET MASSACRE)    (Jeff Lynne)    4:21
  8. QUEEN OF THE HOURS    (Jeff Lynne)    3:21
  9. WHISPER IN THE NIGHT    (Roy Wood)    4:48

CREDITS

BEV BEVAN --
JEFF LYNNE --
ROY WOOD --

return to ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA discography

REGION RELEASE DATE LABEL MEDIA ID NUMBER FEATURES
UK December 1971 Harvest LP SHVL 797 untitled
US December 1971 United Artists LP UAS-5573 gatefold cover w. insert
UK   EMI Fame LP FA-41-30841  
US   Jet LP/CD/CS JZ/ZK/JZT-35524 reissue wo. gatefold/insert
RUS   CD Maximum CDX CDM898-163 repackaged w. FACE THE MUSIC

 

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