Day two of ELO Week 2 sticks to the early years, with the first live album the band released. Recorded in 1974, the lineup and most of the tracklist is identical to the Rockpalast show from the same year that we looked at last year. But that doesn’t mean that it has nothing to offer. It’s available in audio form for starters. And a lot of the tracks themselves definitely distinguish themselves from the Rockpalast renditions. But enough about Rockpalast. I reviewed that last year, not in this post.
So, to business. We kick things off with “Daybreaker” (in its proper position as show opener). And while we covered it yesterday, it’s still nice to have a crowd behind these songs now. It really gives it the proper atmosphere. And 1974 means we’ve Mike De Albuquerque on bass and backing vocals. While he’s far from the best man to complement Jeff Lynne’s harmonies, his raspy voice gives the songs a rough and raw feel befitting a live rendition. It is still a bit of an acquired taste, but it’s lower in the mix than other shows from this era.
And I love it anyway. “Showdown” really benefits from it, with a slight tweak to the chorus melody that results in my favorite renditions of the song. And this version goes the extra mile and has an awesome keyboard and guitar solo to end the song that wouldn’t sound out of place on Rainbow’s On Stage. “Daytripper” follows “Showdown”, and we’ve got my favorite cover of the song right here. Just like with “Showdown”, Mike De Albuquerque’s unique vocals allow for a unique take on the song’s chorus melody, and oh does it work so well. The band even sneak in a cheeky little Rolling Stones reference towards the end.
And now here’s the main difference between the Rockpalast show arrives. Here we get “10538 Overture”. The song is great, as usual, and this is my first time hearing it with De Albuquerque. The song even interpolates ever briefly the riff of “Do Ya”, which was at the time still only a The Move song.
Onwards to the violin solo that goes into “In the Hall of the Mountain King”. I think I’ve sung the praises of this song enough by now to not have to devote any more words to bogging this review down. So now we get to “Great Balls of Fire”. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: ELO’s amped-up cover of the song is pure rock and roll, and this might be my favorite rendition of it.
And of course the show ends with “Roll Over Beethoven”. Every version of this song is unique. In this case we get De Albuquerque singing the bridge (which is charmingly rough), all four verses and almost all the soloing excised. Like I said, every version is one of a kind in some way. The only thing the same is the name of the song and how awesome the cover is.
You know, despite the last two albums being a little light on tracks, they were both really good. I’m a bit of a live album connoisseur and I’ve been obsessed with large, full show albums for so long that I’ve sort of forgotten the joy of a simple one LP live album. I think these last two reviews have helped me remember that single CD live albums can still give you the live album experience just as well as the double disc ones. I also never actually realized how many covers were on this album (technically five). But that’s fine to me at least (I know 2Loud2OldMusic may have some sterner words) because ELO are one of the best bands out there when it comes to covers. And the originals are just as good. Just be careful how you buy this. The original vinyl used a rough mix explicitly marked as not for use and this wasn’t corrected until the CD reissue. But CD is better anyway. And so,
The verdict- 4/5
Tomorrow we jump all the way to 2001 and ELO’s first reformation. Why? Tune in tomorrow to find out. Same metal time, same metal channel.