Balance of Power (1986)


 
1. Heaven Only Knows 2. So Serious 3. Getting to the Point 4. Secret Lives 5. Is is Alright 6. Sorrow About to Fall 7. Without Someone 8. Calling America 9. Endless Lies 10.Send It

 

If there was ever a classic example of a "contractual obligation" album, this fits the bill pretty well. E.L.O., now down to a threesome (Kelly Groucutt left the band after suing Jeff Lynne - he claimed he was never made a "full member" and thus was owed royalties) churns out a 30 or so minute album that sounds like it only took about twice that long to write and record.

This album reeks of the 1980's. That's not to say that eighties music is necessarily bad, it's just that the new wave sound never blended with these guys who were so rooted in late sixties to mid seventies. The ironic thing here is that there are plenty of songs here that sounded like they may have turned out interesting had a little bit more time and care went into making the record. Songs such as Endless Lies and Heaven Only Knows do have those distinctive E.L.O. hooks that are so catchy and memorable, but the problem is that things sound so forced and rushed, that the songs aren't given a fair chance to develop.

To prove it, there's actually one or two really good songs. Calling America was probably the best song they had come up with in at least two or three albums (the 80's sound really works - a bit of the new with a bit of the old) and Getting to the Point is a classic Jeff Lynne ballad (though the lyrics are kind of depressing - probably what he was going through during the writing process of the album).

Oh yeah, and long time drummer Bev Bevan, who is here, actually spent the last few years drumming with (gulp!) Black Sabbath! Now THERE'S a stretch for you. So Jeff Lynne retired the band after 15 years and focused mainly on producing other people's music during the late eighties and throughout the next century. This was where his new passion was. To his credit, he racked up some immeasurable success. So while it was sad to see E.L.O. die (especially in the form of an album like this), it was at least nice to see that its founder had redemption elsewhere.

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