A Worthy Revisiting.
Craig W. Higgins | Williston Park, New York United States | 06/05/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I remember back in 1991 when ELO Part 2 debuted live on the radio to promote the upcoming new album. They played "Honest Men", and although we all knew it was not Jeff singing, there was a distinctive appeal to it all. When I bought the CD after it finally came out, (cover art was a plus)I found that the sound harkened back to a more lush landscape than what was displayed on ELO's last studio album, Balance Of Power. Jeff's solo CD, Armchair Theatre came out only a summer before, and was similarly "stripped down" in sound (still a strong effort). Yes, it seemed that all of the trademarks of the classic mid-70's ELO sound were in place on many cuts off ELO Part II. Cascading string runs, layered harmony vocal arrangements...many sung in a falsetto, above average chord changes, Humor, songs that were corny in some respects, but we loved them for it! Even a nod to Jeff's "nod" to the Orbison style ("For the Love Of A Woman"'s quasi Spanish setting in the verse). Some may claim that this is simply an album of imitation, and it is true to a degree. However, those millions of musicians who take elements of Beatles Brilliance, distill it into great songs of their own might be just as guilty. In my opinion, I am glad for groups like 10cc, Ambrosia, Cheap Trick (who also love ELO), Badfinger, Raspberries and countless others who took a certain sonic ball and ran with it. There are some weak songs on here: "Every Night" just makes me cringe with the "slam-bam, alakazam" line, but I wouldn't change it because it is that corny element that makes it succeed. Eric Troyer is particularly good on this album. He seems to know how to push the ELO buttons and summon elements of the band's sound compositionally. Pete Haycock, alumni from Climax Blues Band, will sound familiar to anyone who enjoyed his smooth vocals on their hit, "I Love You". Louis Clark added his "strange magic" to the overall sound with his wonderfully dramatic string arrangements. He is to ELO what David Palmer is to Jethro Tull: A brilliant classical musician working in a pop format. Kelly and Mick (vintage era ELO bandmates) later joined as full-time members, with Kelly's voice being a secret weapon for sure! All in all, I would advise the listener to enjoy this collection of sounds and songs for what it is: a knowing nod to a different era and writing style that was a refreshing change for 1990-1991. Well done indeed!"
Only for the ELO completist.
Adam J. Vogt | Ft. Collins, CO United States | 02/07/2007
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Bev Bevan wanted to continue ELO after Jeff Lynne moved on, but how do you replace someone who was the singer/producer/guitarist/sole-songwriter? Bev's answer was to not replace him with just one guy but instead bring in three, and to bring back Louis Clark from the 70's to layer strings over the songs to have them pass for ELO. The 4 songs sung by Eric Troyer are okay, fairly melodic, and in the case of "Honest Men" almost sound like it was made in 1977 (too bad it came out in 1991, and too bad they chose it for the single. It failed to chart in the US.) The trouble is that half the album is given over to two bland singers who sound like they'd be more at home in a Foreigner tribute-band. "Every Night" is a very average rock song that sounded dated in 1991. Add some bad singing, truly awful lyrics, and a load of strings where they shouldn't be, and you have a song best forgotten. "Kiss Me Red" "Heartbreaker" and "Easy Street" aren't much better. ELO were known for using strings, but they didn't need them to make a put out a great song (see "Don't Bring Me Down" or "Secret Messages"). But laying strings over average-at-best tunes dosen't turn a weak album into a good one. You can approach an album like this in two ways: on its own merits, or based on previous work. On both counts, I can't really see recommending this to anyone other than ELO completists. It was a welcome return when Jeff Lynne came back with ZOOM in 2001, showing everyone how it ought to be done!"
A Pleasant Surprise
Tr | Anniston, Al. USA | 07/02/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When I first heard That Bev Bevan was doing a version of ELO without Jeff Lynne, I was a quite weary about the idea. "Is this going to be like 'The New Monkees?"
But upon listening to the album when it was first released, I was blown away. These guys used many of ELO's trademark sounds from its heyday, but were doing their own thing. They really rocked!
Yeah, now some of the songs sound like 80's hair band rock. So what?
This is just good melodic, hard rocking music with lush strings and full vocal harmonies. The very formula that attracted me to ELO in the first place.
All politics aside (I have the utmost respect for Mr. Lynne and his contributions), I find this to be the strongest album in the ELO family since Out of the Blue.
If you like ELO because of the music and not the names (though there are some great ones here), I highly recommend this one.