On The Third Day (1973)


 
1. Ocean Breakup/King of the Universe 2. Bluebird is Dead 3. Oh No Not Susan 4. New World Rising/Ocean Breakup (Reprise) 5. Showdown 6. Daybreaker 7. Ma-Ma-Ma Belle 8. Dreaming of 4000 9. In the Hall of the Mountain King

 

On the third E.L.O. album (aptly titled On the Third Day), the band is definitely taking strides towards progress. Jeff Lynne and his orchestra (which still contained only 2 cello players and a violinist) seemed to have learned that its o.k. to try to craft some light, pop songs instead of the monstrous art epics that bogged down the last album.

Most of the songs are pleasant enough, if not sounding a bit labored. Lynne hadnt quite learned (or maybe he couldnt afford it?) that in the recording studio, its o.k. to use a 40 piece orchestra (or so) instead of using only your 3 string players. The strings are overdubbed to the point of excess and in some cases (such as Bluebird is Dead), the songs would have sounded better without them at all. This record does contain, however, nice little orchestral snippets that sometimes connect the tunes to one and other. Its all a bit pretentious, but so was everything else this band had done at this time.

Still relatively unknown in the U.S., they still toured endlessly and, as things were back then, began to build up a bit of a cult following by its live shows. Radio basically ignored anything on this album. The lead single, Showdown, is really nothing that special, the riffs sound too rough with reasons mentioned already. Strings saw and saw throughout, and they take away, rather than enhance the listening pleasure. Ma-ma-ma Belle is a nice Move-like rocker, complete with a guitar intro by guest musician Marc Bolan. It doesnt sound very E.L.O., but its a good, hard song. The best song featured here is the quirky, catchy, and very reminiscent of latter day E.L.O., Daybreaker. Although it flopped as a single, it didnt fare any worse than anything else here, and it always surprises me that this tune is never included in any of the Best Of packages that would be later released (ad nauseum). Being that it’s an instrumental may have something to do with it, but it does give the guys a chance to show off their playing skills.

Speaking of showing off their chops, they really do Edvard Griegs In the Hall of the Mountain King justice at the end of the album. So much better than the overrated Roll Over Beethoven (the cover that is, not the song itself) since it demonstrates that, yes, these guys can pull off sounding like an orchestra. The listener is actually glad that this song lasts six and-a-half minutes.

This isnt the most digestible release the band would put out, but give Lynne and company credit for learning, growing and improving.


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