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Author Topic: TIME - concept masterpiece?  (Read 19120 times)
« Reply #30 on: Jun 07, 2006, 05:15 »

If rock music had a Holst, it's definitely Jeff Lynne.  I think Time is both ELO's finest album, and a masterful conceptual piece. As a science fiction fan, I love the fact that the ever-spacey sounds of ELO were put to such a logical extension of their sound.
As a musician and composer myself, I respect the genius of the musicianship, the song-cycle nature of the album, and the scope.  This was no small-scale album.  It was meant to be a mythic story about being stranded in the far future, in a cold, dystopian culture, just wanting to go home.  Like Holst did with The Planets, Jeff Lynne sets himself out on a journey to build a soundscape for the future - the future as we saw it in 1981, anyway.

It's melancholy, humorous, and ambitious.  A lot of people don't like heavily-synthesized music.  Here it's fully appropriate, when talking about a science fiction album about a man lost in a mechanized future (2095).  For that matter...2006...most of the popular music is already made by computers and samplers...not by musicians.

If one gets beyond the synthesizers (the usage of which I found inventive, ingenious), there is a lot to appreciate here.  The musical and lyrical ideas put forward in Time are worth every moment.  Thoughts on the cycle:

Prologue - First we hear the rumblings that created our world, and time.  I believe the speaker is actually our hero...the person lost in the future.  He says, "I have a message from another time".  I think he's trying to warn us, not to fall into the same trap he did.

Twilight - Some form of sentience tricks our hero into going into the future.  He can't tell if it's real or a dream, and is tricked into going into the future, without a return plan.

Yours Truly, 2095 - Stuck in the future, missing his home and girl...going a bit crazy

Ticket To The Moon - A search for a way out begins, or maybe just a new beginning in this world..."fly through a troubled sky, to a new world shining bright"

The Way Life's Meant To Be - Like Monty Python's Meaning Of Life, we all end up where we started.  He goes home.  He stands on the street where he met his girlfriend...but nothing is the same.  He pines away for 1981.

Another Heart Breaks - self-explanatory, given the previous song.

Rain Is Falling - A new day, a little more optimism...but he still thinks of her.  The rain falls, hiding his tears.  He mentions that "they" are after him with their new time transporter...but they haven't found him outside, standing in the rain.

From The End Of The World - Paranoia sets in as our hero has visions of the apocalypse.  He keeps wishing this whole experience was a dream.

The Lights Go Down - Our hero gets locked up for being "insane".  The first thing he says is, "I gotta get outta here.  I gotta make everything clear.  I gotta see you."

Here Is The News - He breaks out and is on the run now..."they" think he's gone crazy and they're after him.  In the bridge he reiterates the two things he wants, in a desperate voice:  "I wanna go home, I want my baby back."

21st Century Man - The center of this album, the point.  At this point, the narration shifts from the character on the album back to Jeff Lynne.  Jeff's lyrics try to counsel this guy:

Though you ride on the wheels of tomorrow,
You still wander the fields of your sorrow.
What will it bring?

You stepped out of the dream believing everything was wrong
Return with what you've learned, they'll kiss the ground you walk upon

Things ain't how you thought they were
Nothing have you planned
So pick up your penny and your suitcase
You're not a 21st Century Man

Beautiful, sad lyrics.  In essence...you're stuck here...you must learn to fit in...become a "21st century man" as best you can.  But you should also know...you may never fit...because you're not a 21st century man.

Hold On Tight - We can't go on without hope - Jeff gives that back to this character.  Jeff is telling him, in essence, "Don't give up on getting home".

Epilogue - The snake eats its tail - we hear time end....or begin?

Individually, some of these songs aren't A+ .  But like movements in a symphony, they each fulfill a function, reinforcing the overall story and musical direction.

When Time Stood Still
Julie Don't Live Here

I wish these two were put on the original album.  In particular, Julie Don't Live here fits perfectly after The Way Life's Meant To Be; Julie is obviously the girl he wants to get back to - it would have reinforced that storyline a lot better.  And it's such a strong, melodic pop song, too.  Its bouncy tempo would have helped balance an album that had a lot of melancholy and slower tunes.

In summary, as a whole piece Time is my favorite "concept" album of all time.  It's what Abbey Road could have been, if they would have agreed to make Side A a song cycle in line with Side B, which was a cycle.
« Reply #31 on: Aug 12, 2006, 05:57 »

get it while you can
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« Reply #32 on: Sep 01, 2006, 07:37 »

My take on TIME...

There are some really really good songs on TIME, specifically "Hold On Tight" (ELO's last Top 10 in the US), "Twilight", "Rain Is Falling".  The b-sides were quite good as well, and like others have mentioned, I also add the b-sides to my iPod version of TIME as regular album tracks.

The album cover was okay.  IMO a cool artistic idea that was not quite pulled off (could have been a more dynamic painting....and I never liked that the 'sand' of the beach was actually pink-flesh colored).

The production was so-so, I think.  Jeff Lynne stated in an interview once that he wanted to make the album sound futuristic so he included lots of whirling and chirping and such, but he felt later on that perhaps that distracted from hearing the songs somewhat.  I tend to agree with this.

The production may have something to do with TIME's lower sales (compared to the previous four albums <--includes Xanadu soundtrack), but I think part of it was also that the public's taste in music was moving on and bands that were big in the 1970s were being perceived as "over".
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« Reply #33 on: Sep 29, 2006, 11:31 »

Time is one of the ELO albums I never purchased. Until now. (Yours Truly) blew me away. This is one great concept album. Music that changes direction or tempo in the middle seems to catch my fancy. Jeff must have been on a run when he wrote this one because it all seems to fit and I don?t really find any weak or filler pieces on the whole play list. Of course beauty is in the eye of the beholder. To tell you the truth, I?m kicking myself for not picking this one up when it was originally released. Sorry Jeff. Owe you big time pal. Where you get these idea?s for when to add synth additions or acoustic  influences I?ll never know. You just seem to know where to add them without overpowering the music. Incredible.
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« Reply #34 on: Nov 16, 2006, 11:26 »

An excellent album, well put together, but missing when time stood still and Julie....
if these had been on the original album, it would have been perfect. As it is, i only give it 99.9% LOL

Having just listened to the remastered cd with the bonus tracks on, i have to agree with you. With the extra tracks, its perfect.
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