Time (1981)


 
1. Proglogue 2. Twilight 3. Yours Truly, 2095 4. Ticket to the Moon 5. The Way Life's Meant To Be 6. Another Heart Breaks 7. Rain is Falling 8. From the End of the World 9. The Lights Go Down 10.Here is the News 11.21st Century Man 12.Hold On Tight 13.Epilogue

 

Trivia Question: When did the Electric Light Orchestra stop being the Electric Light Orchestra? Quite literally, when they released this album - at least for the time being. If you look at the album sleeve, they don't distinguish themselves other than the simple abbreviation of "E.L.O.". In other words the "orchestra" part of the band was now over. Jeff Lynne later admitted that he was "getting tired" of his orchestral project that he began about a decade earlier, so this was maybe one of the things he was doing to combat the ennui he must have been feeling. Sadly, though, the "orchestra" aspect of this band is one of the things that endeared them to so many of the fans and, quite frankly, was a very strong selling point as well.

So in place of the "orchestra" sound, the band now turned to futuristic synthesizerish sounds and sing about the cold, cold "future" that mankind was destined to inhabit for better, or probably, worse. This seemed to be a common theme of many bands during the early 1980's; maybe because the pivotal infamous 1984 was now within reach? So this was not, in any means, a "new" or "original" theme for bands to attack. A pretty radical transformation, at least on paper. Fortunately, Jeff Lynne and company still retain their pop sensibilities and manage to make a very accessible record. In other words, it all worked quite well.

That's not to say that this record is not unintentionally humorous. They get a little silly on some songs with titles like Yours Truly, 2095 and Ticket to the Moon - the latter features the lyrics "Remember the good old 1980s/When everything was so uncomplicated....". But seriousness was never really this band's forte, so it's o.k. to have a good laugh - even if it's not intentionally meant to be funny. Even Casey Kasem (whose job was to like everything top 40) stated that the hit single Hold on Tight sounded like a yogurt commercial.

All of the songs here have a somewhat futuristic theme. If not lyrically, definitely musically with synthesizers galore emulating futuristic noises, sound bites and plenty of robots. For every goofy song such as From the End of the World or The Lights Go Down, there's an equally pleasant tune such as the minor single Rain is Falling (why this song never charted higher is indeed a mystery) or 21st Century Man. They did abandon the "futuristic" theme after only one album, but this style really isn't something that any band could hold onto for any degree of time without sounding stupid. Jeff Lynne could still write great songs.

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