Mission (A World Record)
Above the Clouds
Electric Light Orchestra’s audacious dream of fusing classical orchestration with rock ‘n’ roll approached near-perfection on A New World Record. This 1976 work justified the semi-successful experiments that bandleader Jeff Lynne had conducted earlier, and this time all the elements were held in balance: the pounding piano riffs, heroic guitar flourishes, and aching vocals fully compliment the swirling violins and moaning cellos surrounding them. Lynne applies these arrangements to a brace of songs both carnal and angelic in feel. Tracks like “Shangri-La” and “Tightrope” have an opulence that recalls the great Hollywood soundtracks of the 1930s. “Above The Clouds” conveys dreaminess, while “Rockaria!” ascends operatic heights on slide-guitar energy. ELO manages at times to compress its grandeur down to hit-single size, as “Telephone Line” and “Livin’ Thing” demonstrate, and Lynne even reaches back to his days with the Move for a remake of the surging “Do Ya.” Few other bands could follow ELO into the rarified realms of classical-rock without stumbling; A New World Record is practically a planet unto itself.