We’ve wined, we’ve dined, we’ve played endless rounds of Exploding Kittens, and now it’s time to enjoy some “quiet unplugged time” with some heady vinyl: ‘Eldorado‘ by the Electric Light Orchestra.
This was another album that HRH surprised me with during our Bop Shop shopping trip to The Bop Shop in Rochester, NY with Uncle Lance. It damn near brought a tear to my eye. Of course, she only sees the amazing ‘Wizard of Oz‘ album cover and goes “oh, shit yeah!” but what she doesn’t know is this…it’s also one fucking amazing album.
Ranked #43 on Rolling Stone‘s ‘50 Greatest Prog Rock Albums of all Time‘ (click HERE).
Like I said, I might have cried like a baby.
This is ELO’s 4th studio album released in 1974; their first ever concept album. The plot follows a Walter Mitty – like character who journeys into fantasy worlds via dreams, to escape the disillusionment of his mundane reality. Lynne began to write the album in response to criticisms from his father, a classical music lover, who said that Electric Light Orchestra’s repertoire “had no tune”. The influence of the Beatles is prevalent, especially in the melody of the verse of ‘Mister Kingdom‘ which to some degree resembles the Beatles’ ‘Across the Universe‘.
This is the album where Jeff Lynne finally found the sound he’d wanted since co-founding Electric Light Orchestra three years earlier. Indeed, ‘Eldorado‘ was strongly reminiscent in some ways of ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band‘. Not that it could ever have the same impact or be as distinctive, but it had its feet planted in so many richly melodic and varied musical traditions, yet made it all work in a rock context, that it did recall the Beatles classic. ‘Eldorado’ is about as near-perfect a fusion of rock and roll with a full orchestra as you’re ever going to get.
Each song is essentially the protagonist playing a different character, with the exception of ‘Illusions In G Minor‘, which has him describing his visions to a psychiatrist mixed with icons of rock and roll. Because Lynne never gets too bogged down in story, he is able to focus on the variety found in the music, bending the genre of each track to reflect whatever fantastical scenarios the listener is in. He’s much more concerned with atmosphere and mood than tedious plot details. ‘Boy Blue‘, an anti-war tune that takes place during the Crusades, opens with a flourish of Medieval trumpets and strings, ‘Illusions In G Minor‘ is a sped up, roadhouse blues cut, the dreamy ‘Mr. Kingdom‘ verges on psychedelia, and so on. ‘Can’t Get It Out of My Head‘, the band’s first Top 10 hit, is as catchy as its title suggests believe me.
Great album choice, kiddo….
Pass the tissues.
P.S.> This album has also now been added to my own Desert Island list because, well, it’s just that fucking awesome.