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It is sad to think that during the time ELO were in existence (1973-1989), albums like this one were never released, and I guess it's similar to the passing of an idol when massive amounts of previously unreleased material suddenly become available. Well, that's how it seems to me anyway.
It's strange that 2 similar albums were released at the same time - perhaps commenmorating their passing perhaps? The other album in question is ELO Live at Winterland '76 and I've rated it seperately.
This album unlike the other has hits that many will know and love, and was played following the success of multi-award winning album Out of the Blue.
Many tracks are taken from A New World Record and Out of the Blue, with 2 other tracks from the past Showdown and Roll Over Beethoven (both from 1973). It is introduced by Tony Curtis, and was a royal gala performed in the presence of The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester. To say, they were fans is unlikely and they'd probably never heard of them before the concert, but I digress.
This is a fantastic live album, which I have also seen on my tv. The addition of earlier tracks also showed how they had developed musically from their early classically based ones to the music that rocked the world.
1 Introduction - Tony Curtis
2 Standin' in The Rain
3 Night in the City
4 Turn to Stone
6 Telephone Line
8 Wild West Hero
10 1 Minute Talk
11 Sweet Talkin' Wman
12 Mr Blue Sky
13 Do Ya
14 Livin' Thing
15 Roll Over Beethoven
It is not one of my top 3, but it is still worth buying. If you get a chance watch this - their flying saucer stage is brilliant.
ELO are one of those bands that I haven ever really considered to be a concert band. Their music was made in the studio and some would say it should remain there. The difficulty in transferring the sound from the studio into the concert venue is always going to be a difficult task so I bought this album without high expectations but not wanting to walk away without owning it.
In the studio, this band led by Jeff Lynne is renowned for its big productions. Some say the productions are often too much but I generally like most of their music and even love some of it.
The studio offers the ability to do amazing things that just can't be captured in a live performance. The effects and countless vocal overdubs (Just how many Jeff Lynne layered vocals are there in the average ELO track?) are what give ELO their distinctive sound. In the live setting this isn't present and what we are left with is a band that sounds much more like most of the other rock bands around at the time, albeit a band with some extremely talented musicians and one of the best lead vocalists of all time.
The track listing for this album is
Standin in the Rain
Night In The City
Turn to Stone
Wild West hero
Sweet Talkin' Woman
Mr Blue sky
Roll Over Beethoven
That's a great selection of tracks thought I understand that this isn't all that was played on the night and if you were there that night you'll probably wish something had been included that isn't.
Anyone considering purchasing a live CD is likely to be familiar everything on offer here so I will make judgement on these live versions against their studio originals.
The overall sound is fine although the drums do sound a little tinny in places where they boom in the studio.
The songs that come out well here tend to be from the A New World record album. They all sound extremely good here and close to the originals but being a little more guitar heavy.
This album features an excellent version of Turn To Stone too. The vocals sound a little thin when compared with the studio just like on the rest of the album but you'd expect that. Lynne gives a very good vocal performance on lead and it sounds very much like the studio version.
Sweet Talkin' Woman also rocks and is as good a live version as is likely. The strings sound especially good here.
Mr Blue Sky, not unsurprisingly fairs less well but this is a song that was all about the production and this was never likely to replicate the studio version. It's not that bad an effort, but it comes across a little tuneless here.
As mentioned earlier, it is those tracks from A New World record that seem to come off best and for me the highlight here is Tightrope. It's a great song in the studio and on this live album it leaps up a level and works so much better than most of the rest of the album. It's not a note for note copy of the album version, but then that isn't the point of live albums is it? If it was note for note there would be no reason for live albums. Tightrope sounds great just as it is presented here.
I believe there probably was a little studio editing and sweetening of some of the vocals but that is the normal for live albums and it isn't anywhere near as highly processed as a modern live album . What little editing was done doesn't' take away from the live feel at all. What we hear here is very much what was played on stage.
Overall this isn't a bad live album and it is proof that this band could make a very good attempt at presenting this music on stage. It's fair to say though that ELO really were a studio band and this isn't evidence enough to convince anybody otherwise.
If you want to hear the best live recordings of ELO at their peak then try the hard to find The Night The Lights Went On album from 1974.
If you fancy a live DVD I recommend the 2001 Zoom DVD. Recorded with modern technology it is the best and cleanest you'll hear this music sound on a live recording. Don't' worry about it being from 2001 either, Jeff Lynne's voice hasn't aged a day and neither has his hair (if it's real!).
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Intro - Curtis, Tony
2 Standing In The Rain
3 Night In The City
4 Turn To Stone
6 Telephone Line
7 Rock Aria
8 Wild West Hero
9 Show Down
10 Sweet Talkin' Woman
11 Mr Blue Sky
12 Ma Ma Ma Belle
13 Livin' Thing
14 Roll Over Beethoven