Wednesday, June 29, 2011
"Time" - An Album for Geeks
Since I was a young child, I have been a huge fan of the Electric Light Orchestra, more commonly known as ELO. I have also been a huge geek since a very young age. Star Wars, Monty Python and other British comedies, Nintendo, astronomy, Doctor Who, you name it. It was only recently, however, that I came to realize that one of my favorite ELO albums spoke directly to my inner geek. That album is 1981's Time.
I listen to this album on a regular basis. On this particular occasion, I was sitting in the back of the bus on my way home from work, headphones in my ears to escape the noise around me. The bus was going about 20 miles over the speed limit through a very narrow passage that I've always likened to the trench run in "A New Hope". So, a typical afternoon then.
The album begins with a brief description of another time "where darkness and light are one". Soon after, we're whisked away from 1981 to the year 2095. In a message sent back to his love, the "hero" of the story introduces us to a sexy subservient android ("I met someone who looks a lot like you/She does the things you do/But she is an IBM"). Throughout the album, our "hero" finds himself in a back and forth struggle between wanting to stay in this new world he has found, and wanting to go back to the world he knew ("Remember the good old 1980s/When things were so uncomplicated"). Soon though, our "hero" finds out through the news that this new world isn't as amazing as it seems, and decides that it is time to go back. He finds his way back to 1981 with a new found appreciation of everything he left behind ("You stepped out of a dream believing everything was gone/Return with what you've learned, now kiss the ground you walk upon").
Musically, Time is a departure from the ELO that produced albums like A New World Record and Out of the Blue, but the change isn't radical. This album is still very much ELO, even if some of the guitars were replaced with keyboards. Personally, I feel it is the last great ELO album, as Jeff Lynne would fall victim to shoddy 80s production tricks on both Secret Messages and Balance of Power. My realization that this album is perfect for sci-fi geeks has led me to see it in a whole new light.
For those of you wanting to hear it for yourself, I highly recommend the remastered version released just a few years back. It sounds incredible, and has three great bonus tracks that didn't find their way on to the album, including the great "Julie Don't Live Here".
Purchase Time at Amazon