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Articles Home » 1981 Articles » Electric Light Orchestra - 1981 Time
Electric Light Orchestra - 1981 Time

ARTIST: Electric Light Orchestra
SERIAL: FZ 37371 (USA), JET LP 236 (UK)
YEAR: 1981
CD REISSUE: 2001, Epic, EPC 501906 2 (remastered + bonus tracks)


LINEUP: Jeff Lynne - vocals, guitar, synthesizers, bass, piano, percussion * Bev Bevan - drums, percussion * Richard Tandy - synthesizers, piano, harmonica * Kelly Groucutt - bass, backing vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 Prologue * 02 Twilight * 03 Yours Truly, 2095 * 04 Ticket To The Moon * 05 The Way Life's Meant To Be * 06 Another Heart Breaks * 07 Rain Is Falling * 08 From the End Of The World * 09 The Lights Go Down * 10 Here Is The News * 11 21st Century Man * 12 Hold On Tight * 13 Epilogue


ELO's last several albums had smashed the charts, none more so than 1979's 'Discovery'. Jeff Lynne decided to embark on a futuristic time travel concept album for their next release, fusing the trademark 'Beatles gone AOR' sound with lyrics from 100 years into the future. The results were as startling as they were successful.

The Songs
A brief synth and vocoder intro soon gives way to the blistering AOR of 'Twilight', very little guitar going on but enormous drums and lush synth provide an ideal environment for the multilayered vocal attack to flourish. And I'm not kidding about layers, more than you'll find in a Sandton millionaire's landscaped garden. 'Yours Truly' follows a similar path, the verse vocal effects calling The Buggles to mind.. Fusing symphonic power pop with tons of AOR appeal at chorus time. The album sports several ballads and gentler moments with varying results, the first of these gets an 'A' though. 'Ticket To The Moon' works in ethereal territory, and yes The Beatles are hovering affectionately over the recording studio but there's plenty of Cheap Trick in evidence as well. To be fair, there's plenty of ELO in CT's 'Way Of The World'. Hell, I love both bands so no complaints here! 'The Way Life's Meant To Be' is an ok midtempo acoustic ditty but a little too Roy Orbison for my taste. 'Another Heart Breaks' is next, a moody loping instrumental narrative providing atmosphere but further disrupting the flow of the album. Some decent synth work mind you. Lilting balladry is served up again in the form of 'Rain Is Falling', pleasant enough but something uptempo was required to prevent the album drifting off. The songs serving the concept rather than the album at this point. 'From The End Of The World' provides some uptempo relief from the listlessness, swirling synth encasing a captivating Cheap Trick workout. Power pop and AOR meeting once again, who's gonna complain? 'The Lights Go Down' is a sparse, awkward creature at a lazy midtempo, chorus harmonies redeeming it to an extent. Energy is injected back into proceedings with 'Here Is The News', again synth driven but rocking along like something from the Kansas 'Drastic Measures' era. '21st Century Man' is one of the more successful ballads on display, showering Cheap Trick out of the speakers - you'd swear that was Robin Zander at times. 'Hold On Tight' was a big hit, a hybrid of futuristic power pop and ragged rockabilly, the French verse adding a surreal element. As always, ferociously catchy. So much so that a South African bank used this in a home loans ad campaign in the 90's.. I can still see people's houses flying away every time I hear this! 'Epilogue' is pretty much that, wrapping up the Time concept in a melodic whirlpool of just over 1 minute. This remaster features the 3 b-sides as well, the highlight being the delicious power pop confection 'Julie Don't Live Here'. How this didn't make the album I'll never know.

In Summary
It may have been a concept album that fell away a little in the middle, but the numerous standouts ensured that 'Time' gave the charts a good smack (klap) once again. In the main it really does combine power pop tunefulness with warehouses full of AOR appeal. The underappreciated 'Secret Messages' would be next, possibly worth getting it under the microscope here at GD.

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#1 | Eric on March 13 2012 16:11:50
With The Moody Blues 'Long Distance Voyager', my favorite album of 1981.
#2 | Nick C on March 16 2012 16:57:16
Here is the News is one of my favourite ELO songs.
#3 | englandashes on March 17 2012 10:01:51
The Metal band, 'Pain' do an excellent cover of 'Here Is The News', well worth checking out!
#4 | tonissive on March 21 2012 04:47:16
even the b-sides of the singles ' twilight' ( julie dont live here) and ' hold on thight' (when time stood still) are masterpieces! 'time must be a double album!
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