E.L.O.'s 1986 release Balance of Power turned out to be their last album of the 80's, and would have been their final release period were it not for Jeff Lynne resurrecting the name for 2000's Zoom, with only keyboard player Richard Tandy in tow from the original band. By the time of Balance of Power however, all that was left was the trio of Lynne, Tandy, and drummer Bev Bevan, and the band had had fully transformed into the pop machine that had been well in upswing for a few years. All the experimentation and orchestrations were gone by this point, with Lynne getting tired of managing string sections and choosing to record everything using a variety of keyboards, sequencers, drum machines, and of course guitar, bass, and standard drums. The end result is a very different ELO sound, still containing the wonderful melodies and catchy pop hooks, but minus the violins and cellos of the past.
In place of the strings, Tandy and Lynne's keyboard textures have become more important here and really fill in all the gaps. Tunes like "Heaven Only Knows", "Calling America", "So Serious", and "Secret Lives" just soar with pop splendor, supported by crisp drum rhythms and waves of symphonic keyboards. Reading Lynne's liner notes regarding the song "Getting To the Point" and the record company failing to release it as a single, you begin to understand what a shame that was, as the song is one of the better ballad's the band ever recorded and has hit single written all over it. What would an ELO album be without their hint at The Beatles, which can be heard on "Endless Lies", a catchy little ditty with dreamy keyboards and layers of vocal melodies.
As with all the ELO remasters, SONY Legacy has done a nice job here, with a full booklet jammed with information on the album and an interview with Jeff Lynne, plus plenty of photos and a slew of bonus tracks. The CD sounds great, and while overall Balance of Power is not in the upper echelon of the Electric Light Orchestra discography, it's a fun album that can be enjoyed once again.
1. Heaven Only Knows
2. So Serious
3. Getting To The Point
4. Secret Lives
5. Is It Alright
6. Sorrow About To Fall
7. Without Someone
8. Calling America
9. Endless Lies
10. Send It
11. Opening (Bonus Track)
12. Heaven Only Knows (Alternate Version) (Bonus Track)
13. In For The Kill (Bonus Track)
14. Secret Lives (Alternate Mix) (Bonus Track)
15. Sorrow About To Fall (Alternate Mix) (Bonus Track)
16. Caught In A Trap (Bonus Track)
17. Destination Unknown (Bonus Track)