Electric Light Orchestra's third album showed a marked advancement, with a fuller, more cohesive sound from the band as a whole and major improvements in Jeff Lynne's singing and songwriting. This is where the band took on its familiar sound, Lynne's voice suddenly showing an attractive expressiveness reminiscent of John Lennon in his early solo years, and also sporting a convincing white British soulful quality that was utterly lacking earlier. The group also plugged the holes that made its work seem so close to being ragged on those earlier records. "Showdown" and "Ma-Ma-Ma Belle" (the latter featuring Marc Bolan on double lead guitar with Lynne) became AM radio fixtures while "Daybreaker" became a concert opener for the group and, along with "In the Hall of the Mountain King," kept the group's FM/art rock credentials in order.
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music
In my opinion, On the Third Day is the best album by ELO during their early progressive rock period. Even though this album started showing signs of Lynne's movement towards more radio-friendly material and simpler song structures, it still has masterpiece written all over it. The most major improvement was clearly the quality of production, Lynne's improved vocal delivery and even better guitar playing from a performer who would never be known for his prowess on this instrument. Richard Tandy is cut loose here and there providing some well-fitting keyboard work on New World Rising, Daybreaker, Dreaming of 4000 and the Grieg tribute In the Hall of the Mountain King.
The Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) are an English rock band formed in Birmingham in 1970, by songwriters/multi-instrumentalists Jeff Lynne and Roy Wood with drummer Bev Bevan. Their music is characterised by a fusion of Beatlesque pop, classical arrangements, and futuristic iconography. After Wood's departure in 1972, Lynne became the band's leader, arranging and producing every album while writing virtually all of their original material…