A New World Record
Electric Light Orchestra
United Artists 679
Released: October 1976
Chart Peak: #5
Weeks Charted: 69
Certified Platinum: 12/6/76
Containing as it does a curiously redundant version of the Move gem "Do Ya" (which Jeff Lynne wrote four years ago) along with a package of songs that rather re-echoes ELO's material from the last couple of years, the cynic might regard A New World Record as the work of a creative person (Lynne) in the process of stealing from himself. A more generous observer (myself for instance) might view this gentle treading of the creative waters as merely temporary -- the workings of a band, now peaking in popularity, that is attempting to supply audiences with exactly the sound they want to hear. Whatever your personal disposition, if you liked Face the Music and Eldorado, you'll like this one just as much. Lynne has always been rather deft with the melodic hook, and both "Livin' Thing" and "So Fine" are irresistable additions to his list of catchiest tunes. Numbers like "Mission (A World Record)" and "Shangri-la" continue the history of classy orchestral stylings that really rock, and Lynne's dominant vocals are as effectively foggy as ever. As expected, the production is lavish and the musicianship more than adequate to fulfull Lynne's Procol Harum-ish visions. By Christmas, A New World Record should be a staple in a million homes.
- Alan Niester, Rolling Stone, 12/16/76.
Rock wouldn't be in much trouble if a few more bands did their jobs as well as the Electric Light Orchestra does its job, a description of which is most likely on file in the great personnel office in the sky under the heading of Sound Enrichment. The ELO has quite a sense of history where sound is concerned, and in its work you hear echoes of the Beatles, the Moody Blues, the doo-wop groups, and Beethoven. Also Dylan, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, and so on.
The United Artists album A New World Record has these elements cross-indexed in a glorious sound one can still with a straight face call rock. Among other things, it makes sophisticated stereo equipment worth having -- which most rock records don't do -- as it sends out knee-bending (fake classical) orchestral bass and a swirl of stuff that's actually warm and musical though it comes from electronic instruments. Jeff Lynne's taste in arranging is warmer (hell, it's schlockier) than, but on a plane even with, Steelye Span's. He looks for other ways to do things, and he has found a fair number. The lyrics here do their job, too, which is to turn up a little something now and then but generally to avoid kicking up too much fuss about it. The emphasis is on the sound of music and not on the fury of it. It isn't a complete "record" of how the "new world" really is, but a welcome affirmation of the suspicion that there's still some good stuff left in it.
- Noel Coppage, Stereo Review, 2/77.
Eat your diploma, Eric Carmen -- after years of floundering, they've gone all the way and made a Moody Blues album with brains, hooks, and laffs galore. My fave is "Rockaria!," about a lass who "loves the way Puccini lays down a tune." Granted, I initially thought it was strictly for those who got off on music appreciation in high school, like the lass. But now I think it's also for those who hated it, like me. B+
- Robert Christgau, Christgau's Record Guide, 1981.
A superbly crafted and dark-hued body of songs, all melodic and delectable. * * *
- Bruce Eder, The All-Music Guide to Rock, 1995.
The precision of ELO's 1975 set Face The Music was quickly surpassed by A New World Record, which ranges from the operatic rock of "Rockaria" to the mournful "Telephone Line" and a remake of an early Move hit, "Do Ya." * * * *
- Eric Deggans, Musichound Rock: The Essential Album Guide, 1996.
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