I know many of you ELO fans are probably saying "wait a second, that's not how the album cover of On the Third Day looks!". In actuality, the new remaster of the Electric Light Orchestra's third album sports the UK album cover, as opposed to the white cover with the full band showing off their navels, which was the US version. No matter, the music is the same, or in this instance, sounding better than ever thanks to a splendid remaster job from SONY BMG.
After the dense mix of classical, rock, pop, and prog on their first two albums (charter member Roy Wood left during the recording of ELO II), Jeff Lynne took full control of the band, and his developing songwriting talents start to really shine here, but get fully realized on the follow-up Eldorado. Orchestral themes mix with progressive rock on songs like "Ocean Breakup/King of the Universe" and "Oh No Not Susan" (which also has some Beatles influence), and the band's uncanny knack for crafting clever pop hooks and securing them in a framework of classical flavored rock can easily be heard on "Bluebird is Dead". Keyboard player Richard Tandy really comes into his own here, as he lays down plenty of piano and especially Moog synthesizer throughout this album (give a listen to the wild, proggy "New World Rising/Ocean Breakup Reprise"). In addition, the strings are very prevalent on the album, played on the album by Mik Kaminski (violin), Mike Edwards (cello), Colin Walker (cello), and Wilf Gibson (violin). Listen to their soaring lines on the hit single "Showdown", a mix of rock, funk, and soul, with some great keyboard sounds from Tandy and a bitchin' guitar solo from Lynne. "Daybreaker" again returns ELO to the world of orchestral progressive rock, an instrumental with fanstastic strings, Moog, and guitar, not to mention the solid drumming from Bev Bevan and deep grooves from bassist Michael De Alburquerque.
Many will remember the hard rock tune "Ma-Ma-Ma Belle", a revved up guitar piece with thunderous power chords from Lynne (and the cello's help out the cause as well) and Beven's crashing drum fills. The two highlights of the album though have to be the final two pieces, "Dreaming of 4000" and "In the Hall of the Mountain King". The former is a dreamy prog rocker which kicks off with some blistering guitar licks from Lynne and then turns into an atmospheric rocker with wispy strings, layers of vocals, and plenty of keyboards. The band's take on "In the Hall of the Mountain King" lets the string section get all ominous on the listener, as the beefed up cello and violin attack sound heavy as hell coupled with Lynne's guitar and Tandy keys.
The bonus tracks feature a few alternate takes of "Ma-Ma-Ma Belle" and "Dreaming of 4000 (Mambo)" featuring none other than Marc Bolan of T-Rex on guitar. The previously unreleased "Everyone's Born to Die", again with Bolan, is a Bob Dylan-ish rocker with some great dual guitar work from Lynne and the glam rocker, while "Interludes" is just some instrumental sound effects filler.
Overall, this is a great reissue of a really solid album in the ELO discography. The booklet features all sorts of neat live photos , images of promotional posters, singles, as well as commentary from Jeff Lynne and writer Rob Caiger. So, time to junk your early 90's CD edition of On the Third Day and replace it with something bigger and better.
1. Ocean Breakup/King Of The Universe
2. Bluebird Is Dead
3. Oh No Not Susan
4. New World Rising/Ocean Breakup Reprise
7. Ma-ma-ma Belle
8. Dreaming Of 4000
9. In The Hall Of The Mountain King
10. Auntie (Ma-Ma-Ma Belle Take 1)
11. Autin (Ma-Ma-Ma Belle Take 2)
12. Mambo (Dreaming Of 4000 Alt. Mix)
13. Everyone's Born To Die
14. Interludes (Previously Unreleased)