Eldorado (1974)

1. Eldorado Overture 2. Can't Get it Out of My Head 3. Boy Blue 4. Laredo Tornado 5. Poor Boy (The Greenwood) 6. Mr. Kingdom 7. Nobody's Child 8. Illusions in G Major 9. Eldorado 10.Eldorado Finale


By the time Jeff Lynne and company got around to recording their fourth LP, they finally had all the pieces where they needed to be. The last time around, Lynne proved that he could write decent melodies that could be crafted into passable pop songs. What he hadn't mastered yet, was how to make them sound at their best - especially when the group was calling themselves an orchestra. The main difference here was a simple one, instead of using your 3 string "group" members in the studio and overdubbing ad-nauseum, why not just spend a bit more cash and get a 40 piece string session? A world of difference indeed.

Careful attention is paid from the get-go. The instrumental lead off track, Eldorado Overture, tells us (in its own musically mystic way) that we're about to go on a dreamy-pleasant journey, and to hold on, because although it's gonna be a fun ride, it'll be a bit bumpy - kinda like The Wizard of Oz movie (which is the only reason I can think of that the album cover pays homage to the film) with special synthesizer effects, dramatic voice overs, and (oh yeah) plenty of good solid E.L.O like strings. The overture leads straight into Can't Get It Out of My Head which is one of the prettiest pieces the band ever recorded and also served as the band's first top ten single.

In later years, E.L.O and Jeff Lynne in particular, would be compared to, and associated with The Beatles, past and present (it was he that produced their 2 "new" Anthology songs in 1996). You can argue that this association began on this record, with many of the songs sounding reminiscent, if not outright soundalikes (Mr. Kingdom for example) of the latter day fab four sound. This is probably one of the main reasons why this band had such staying power in the seventies. Yes, The Beatles were gone, but these guys were one of the closest things to a sound-alike out there. Plus they had strings to enhance the sound.

Overall the album isn't quite as poppy as the immediate records that followed. There's a bit too much experimentation for that. There are plenty of times when the band seems to be going a bit crazy with its new found "orchestral" sound with plenty of interludes and song overlaps, but it never sounds unwelcome. They don't forget how to rock out either. Especially fun is Illusions in G Major that sounds really nothing like....um....it's title would suggest being the most "primitive" sounding thing here. It's almost as if they're trying to write their own Roll Over Beethoven.

It's possible that if you grew up with these guys, that this record may have slipped off your radar since it was still "new" in the history of the band. Serious listeners shouldn't ignore it, however. There's plenty to like, and one might argue that it's actually superior to some of the later releases, and you really can't accuse them of trying to sell out to the masses.

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