Electric Light Orchestra: Eldorado
Mobile Fidelity UDSACD 2213
Electric Light Orchestra
Electric Light Orchestra leader Jeff Lynne did more than figuratively reach for the sky on Eldorado. Daring to be bold, and creating imaginative worlds that invite the listener to escape the mundane, the visionary composer-musician achieved a multidisciplinary fantasia and, in the process, a prog-rock landmark. Nearly 50 years later, the concept album's brilliance can be experienced like never before in cinematic fashion.
Mastered from the original analog master tapes, Mobile Fidelity's numbered-edition hybrid SACD of Eldorado allows the longtime audiophile staple to resonate with previously unheard dynamics, tones, and colors. Conjuring the feeling of journeying to different horizons, the record's songs teem with layer upon layer of details, which can now be heard as the producers intended.
Presenting the album with breathtaking clarity yet retaining the warmth, texture, and emotion that differentiate live music from reproduced sounds, this collectible reissue features reference-quality levels of in-the-moment presence, grand-scale soundstaging, and instrumental balance. Bursting with a veritable cornucopia of stimuli, MoFi's Eldorado SACD also benefits from superb separation and immersive atmospherics that stem from the meticulous remastering process.
An artistic breakthrough that established Electric Light Orchestra as a pioneering band (and confirmed Lynne as the leading practicing Beatles disciple), the 1974 effort remains notable for its involvement of a full orchestra and choral section, the range of which are captured with exquisite results on this SACD. Eldorado distinguished itself from the band's first two works not only via Lynne's sharpened songwriting but due to the hiring of an orchestra that augmented the group's three string players. Co-arranged by Lynne and conductor Louis Clark, the symphonic movements bolster the contagious fare without ever drowning it. The accents also act as transports into the varied narrative universes.
Finished as a story before Lynne put notes down on paper, Eldorado ironically owes its inspiration to Lynne's father. In response to his dad's criticisms about the band, Lynne conceived a melodic tour de force that, like The Wizard of Oz, which informs the cover art, emphasizes the power of everyday dreams and everyman heroism. It's no coincidence that the sonic journey begins with an overture punctuated by the words of a cynic who condemns "the dreamer, the unwoken fool."
Beautiful yet fun, ambitious yet consistent, Eldorado proceeds to celebrate such romantics and escapists. A Technicolor escapade marked by lush melodies, fluid crescendos, and an intoxicating blend of energetic rock and sweeping orchestral elements, the album weds rich imagery and sweeping sounds in manners that make the two inseparable. In Lynne and company's hands, reality and fantasy collide, and dissolve any dividing lines. The proof is not just in the epic production, but in the timeless (and catchy) nature of songs such as the balladic "Boy Blue," power-pop packed "Illusions in G Major," and, of course, the aptly titled hit, "Can't Get It Out of My Head."
Decades later, Eldorado doubles as the equivalent of an out of body experience, an invitation to break away from monotony whether you're listening to your Mobile Fidelity reissue on a large system or an excellent pair of headphones.
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