Electric Light Orchestra

Live at Winterland '76

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    8
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Recorded along ELO's winter 1976 tour, this 10-track concert disc slots in perfectly in between The Night the Lights Went On (In Long Beach) from 1974 and Live at Wembley from 1978, capturing the band at their most exciting if not their most ambitious. Half of the material here comes from the Face the Music album, which was then their newest release, and much of the rest is from the immediately preceding album, Eldorado (presented here in the form of a concert suite). In spite of their reputation as being primarily a studio band, the performances of most of the Face The Music material here is actually superior to the studio originals, capturing an excitement that their studio recordings often lacked. There are flaws, to be sure, such as some overload and sound leakage on "Nightrider," but overall this is the way to hear this repertory -- Bev Bevan's drumming alone is pretty impressive throughout (so much so that one has to wonder if some of this wasn't redubbed in the studio), and Jeff Lynne's vocals show extraordinary passion and depth. Additionally, short of a live album derived from the group's tour for the Eldorado album, this is the fullest account of any of that album's material that we're likely ever to hear -- the suite contains 12 minutes of the highlights of the album, including a rip-roaring rendition of "Illusions in G Minor," complete with a fine Lynne guitar solo. "Evil Woman" also gets a fine accounting, and the only slight disappointment is the encore of "Roll Over Beethoven," which, as a pure audio experience, comes off a bit noisy and disorganized.

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