Monday, September 24, 2012

"Face the Music" by Electric Light Orchestra (1975)

View the Premise & Ground Rules for Revisiting Vinyl

Filed between: Sheena Easton and The Fat Boys

My Overall Rating of the Tracks Separately:
REQUIRED LISTENING (4/4).  Seriously, if you haven't heard every track on this record, you owe it to yourself to check them out.

My Favorite Tracks:
Waterfall, Evil Woman, Poker, Strange Magic, One Summer Dream

"Oh, what a strange magic."

Jeff Lynne is one weird dude.  The cover art for this upbeat pop LP features an electric chair.  His band had two separate cellists.  The liner notes include statements like "The band on this track have since grown a third eyebrow."  He has the gall to slam prog unabashedly and full-throttle into disco.  "Face the Music" includes both the Hallelujah chorus from Handel's "Messiah" and a few rounds of of Dixie.  Like I said, Jeff Lynne is one weird dude.

And he is a freaking genius.

I do not make this next statement lightly.  I honsestly believe that "Face the Music" is probably the best equivalent of "The White Album" that the seventies had to offer.

It's so informedly diverse in its sound that you can't wait to hear what's coming next.  And then you want to listen to it all again to try and figure out how he pulled it off.  It's like some kind of sonic sleight of hand.  You know it just can't exist in the way you experienced it because that would be a logical impossibility.  But at the same time, you have no idea how it was done.  And the great thing is, it's fascinating sensation rather than an infuriating one.

So, is it an album?  Yes.  "Face the Music" captivates you due to (rather than in spite of) the fact that it mashes so much together and careens off in totally unexpected directions because it always feels like it's exactly where that weird, brilliant Jeff Lynne intended to go.  Lucky for us, we get to go there with him.

Up next, we amble back into folk with "Back Home Again" by John Denver.

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