Sunday, 26 March 2017

ELOgology: Balance Of Power

It was ELO but not as we knew it!
#1,256: Hello ... Hello ... my old friends ... It's great to see you once again! Spring 1986: It had been the best part of three years since the ELO studio album "Secret Messages" had been released and Yours Truly KJS was more than pleasantly surprised when I heard "Calling America" on Radio 1 and mentions of a new album. I also remember trawling my local HMV record store in Wolverhampton for the single and having to ask an assistant for it because I couldn't initially find it on account of the bright red sleeve and completely new ELO logo.
"Balance Of Power" charted for 12 weeks peaking at #9 in its second week
Perhaps because the album was missing both the ELO logo so familiar with fans since it appeared on the embossed sleeve of "A New World Record" in 1976 and it was released via Epic Records rather than Jet Records. "Balance Of Power" (EPC26467) peaked at #9 with lead single "Calling America" sadly stalling at #28, a modest chart performance that could well have been as a result of a negative perception of the new logo as well as the band now being a trio of Jeff Lynne, Bev Bevan and Richard Tandy (minus, of course, the departed Kelly Groucutt) plus the fact than even with ten tracks, the running time was barely over 34 minutes with three songs under three minutes in length. Indeed, "Balance Of Power" had the feel of a band signing off.
A brief history of ELO logos
Looking back, much as I loved "Balance Of Power" (the expanded 2007 remaster was, in my opinion, the best in the series), I can't help thinking that the change in image may have caught out the casual record (and cassette) buying public if not some ELO fans. If the album artwork had somehow retained the instantly recognisable ELO logo, one does wonder if both the album and singles would have been more commercially successful, even though ELO fans and collectors were treated to to 7" and 12" issues of all three singles - namely "Calling America" (A6844), "So Serious" (A7090) and "Getting To The Point" (A7317) - for the first time. Happily, both "Zoom" and "Alone In The Universe" saw the return of the traditional ELO symbology ... and long may it continue!

Until next "Time" in the ELO (and related) Universe ... KJS ... 26-March-2017


  1. Still love this album,i was working for HMV when it was released but I cant help but agree with you Keith re the artwork

  2. Change is good, my friend. :) (And I liked the addition of the saxophone, too!) The album did not have the feel of a band signing off to me. I thought it was a fresh new beginning. However, I do agree that the album timing was short. Couldn't get enough of this album.

  3. I agree with the Saxophone comment, C.A. Chicoine. It took ELO's style and changed it, which was cool. I still think 'Heaven Only Knows' should've been the lead single.

  4. TIME, Secret Messages and BOP did not have the spaceship on the LP cover. At the time, Jeff said he was tired of the spaceship. You can burn out, then re-discover. Since understanding "branding" and what a cash cow that spaceship is... he had learned to love it again. In addition, he was mostly DONE with STRINGS as a MUST for his sound. something else he burned out of. (there's a new sound in the wires, and ears are to the ground. And everything that once was ours, has slowly turned around) But it's still Jeff Lynne. And there are just fantastic songs on this lp. Getting To The Point might be the best. but just listen to that wall of sound (with head phones on) on Is It Alright?! One very strange phenomenon, for the life of me, I can not listen to Send It and not hear my own added string arrangement.

  5. i too loved this album ever since i first discovered. i'm scared to post this here with other hardcore fans, but i made an attempt to record the entire album since it was so short. still took me around a year. sounds crazy?