Discovery by Electric Light Orchestra

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Discovery by Electric Light Orchestra
Discovery by Electric Light Orchestra

Album Released: 1979

Discovery ::: Artwork

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1.Shine A Little Love4:43
2.Confusion3:42
3.Need Her Love5:11
4.The Diary Of Horace Wimp4:17
5.Last Train To London4:32
6.Midnight Blue4:19
7.On The Run3:55
8.Wishing4:13
9.Don't Bring Me Down4:02

Reviews

An album that could either be construed as experimental, or simply a case of Jeff Lynne losing his way somewhat with his ELO project - it's certainly a departure from previous ELO releases.

Whilst there's some good songs here, their arrangements are often rather messy, being a mixed bag of disco (thus the title Discovery I guess, equating to 'very disco', what with the red / yellow / blue disco floor-lighting of the sleeve art), else Lynne is either fiddling around with superfluous vocoders or twiddling so many knobs on his synths that the final sound just turns to mush.

The disco tracks work the best, they at least have the benefit of a firm stylistic foundation .... "Shine A Little Love" and "Confusion". Plus there's the opener to Side Two "Last Train to London", which is a Bee Gees pastiche that wouldn't sound out of place on the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack (incidentally, ELO subsequently went on to provide half the material for the disco soundtrack of the Olivia Newton-John movie Xanadu).

The rest of the album is made up of synth-based songs, written at a time when synths were still very much an experimental foundation for music, and so the results are inevitably patchy. And because it's sufficiently ambitious to be almost audacious, the mini-epic "The Diary of Horace Wimp" appears to be the best of the bunch.

The album closes with the glam-rock of "Don't Bring Me Down", with no remaining sign of the 'orchestral' component of ELO whatsoever, instead coming across as a hybrid of The Sweet and Gary Glitter.

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by Reviewer: bluemoon


Well, this was obvious. When your stock-in-trade is heavy drums and orchestras, and your last album was mechanically pleasant, and the year is 1979, it would take a pretty dense piece of driftwood not to make a disco record.

And how difficult is it to do? Make Bev Bevan hit that two/four bass drum and that chattery hi-hat in disco fashion, tell the orchestra to play cheap hits instead of actual melody lines, and sing falsetto like you've just slammed Mr. Potato Head in Mr. Studio Door. Which is a bit of a simplification, but then so is playing disco.

I personally have nothing against disco music as long as it's good and memorable. But aagh! ELO's main problem here is dull undifferentiated melodies, and it doesn't matter if you slap on half-a-gallon of production gloss, the melodies still suck.

But whilst the gooey melodic goodness of ELO's '73-'76 period seems to be gone for good, there are still hooks here, and enough fun on this record to maintain my interest nearly throughout. The writing may be gauzy thin, and the record may reward repeat listens about as much as a fire alarm, but for cheap laughs it's pretty able, as long as decent lyrics aren't a requirement. Lynne is still a lot more obsessed with production than songwriting, and his lyrics have dropped to simply silly levels.

Good tracks include the two openers, "Shine a Little Love" and "Confusion", the first being a disco booty-shake freakout like might be expected, the latter being a roboto-voiced midtempo soulful thing which seems to ask, when the world is so darned nice, who has the right to be unhappy and ambivalent? Yeah okay, but I think Ian Curtis might want to have a word with you out in the hall Jeff.

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by Reviewer: Capt Bonanza (blogging at Capn Marvel's Bonanza [Defunct])


Now down to four main members, and with the band’s customary strings gradually giving way to synthesizers, Discovery remains one of Electric Light Orchestra's best albums.

The band embrace disco with the likes of the opening "Shine A Little Love" (indeed, it has been stated that the album title could also be read as 'disco very') and the wonderful, breezy "Last Train to London", a song that I enjoy all the more because I like trains, and I was also born in and like London, while "Confusion" and "On the Run" benefit from refreshing, hook-filled melodies.

Then there's "The Diary of Horace Wimp", which is a bit different, but I especially love the early don't be afraid build-up in the chorus. And of course there's the unforgettable cracker of a finishing track, "Don't Bring Me Down".

Discovery was released a few years before I got into rock music, but I remember being familiar with "Don't Bring Me Down" through visits to ice skating rinks and suchlike, and wondering who this 'Bruce' was about whom they were singing. Wikipedia tells me however that I'm not the only one who's made that mistake - to the point that Jeff Lynne started actually singing 'Bruce' for fun in concerts. But it's actually a made up word ... 'Grooss'.

There are a couple of lesser moments on the album, those mainly being the slower songs - they're not bad, just nothing terribly memorable. But overall, Discovery finds Lynne and those still with him effortlessly playing a selection of engaging and catchy pop ditties that might not have much depth, but so what? They're fun.

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by Reviewer: The Doctor