Thursday, 16 April 2009

It's either real or it's a dream

In recent years, the concept of the musical ‘guilty pleasure’ has gained some currency, although the misanthrope in me feels compelled to point out that it is now generally used by people that have appalling musical taste to refer to slightly offbeat records they like that fall outside of their usual sphere of tone deafness. The original idea, however, is valid, so, in those terms, I’m here to confess to my deep and abiding love of the Electric Light Orchestra. That said, I’m not always sure what I should be guilty about – at their peak, E.L.O were a great pop band, full of invention, and with a unique sound and finely crafted songs – it’s just that they have just never been cool, even in 1978-1980, when they bestrode the pop world like bearded, shaggy-permed Brummy colossi.

Often dismissed as mere Beatles copyists, the pomp pop classical crossover sound of much of their material is an acquired taste, but hits like ‘Living Thing’ & ‘Shine A Light’ appear to be perennial judging by the tinny dance cover versions that blare out of the aerobics class opposite the bingo hall where I sometimes use the cash machine. ‘Telephone Line’ is a classic, even though it seems a close cousin to the Rah Band’s cheesy cosmic fable ‘Clouds Across The Moon’: to me, it sounds as if the call is crossing time and space, although I may be over-egging that particular pudding; ‘Twilight’ conjures up images of unicorns drinking at a crystal lake in an airbrushed Roger Dean rip-off seventies painting. That’s a good thing, by the way, and although the track is constantly under threat of derailing itself with its own silliness, it’s a lot of fun.

1 comment:

Reimer said...

First group I collected LPs of - until then, I just bought singles mainly with no connecting thread. Bowie was the next big thing for me - conventional hipster wisdom would forbid devotion to both acts: ELO were crass, prole-y, lumpen, uncool, everything the knowing Bowie and his harem of verbose, basilisk-staring journo-groupies, was not.

'Secret Messages' was a late hurrah for Lynne and co. Kelly Groucutt died a couple of months back.