It really surprised me when I read that ELO drummer Bev Bevan was trying to pull the band back together again, and trying to do so without Jeff Lynne, who had made the original ELO a success. I remember thinking that this was a daft idea, and how bad it was going to be. Then the album came out.
I hated to admit it when I heard it, but there are parts of ELO Part II’s debut album that aren’t bad at all. And on two songs in particular, ELO Part II actually managed to sound not entirely unlike the original ELO. “Thousand Eyes”, composed by the versatile Eric Troyer (who is ELO Part II’s saving grace), and “Honest Men” really do come across as authentically ELO-esque, complete with Louis Clark string arrangements, wonderful harmonies and ever-shifting rhythms. If the rest of the album falls prey to any particular problem, it is a tendency to strive less for an ELO sound than for a sort of string-embellished glam-rock style. That aside, to my amazement, I can honestly say I do recommend this album to you. ELO Part II has yet to surpass this feat on record, which is a bit of a shame, since their self-titled debut proves that the potential is there! If you don’t believe me, listen to “Thousand Eyes” toward the end of the song, right after the bridge, as the strings begin their rapid-fire arpeggios during a reprise of the chorus, and it’s almost like it’s 1979 all over again. If only for the length of that one song, they did it.