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Time is a concept album by Electric Light Orchestra released in 1981.


The album tells the story of a man, circa 1981, who is taken away by time travellers to the late 21st Century. Once there, he marvels at the wonders that the future offers, but is also increasingly amazed to find that he longs for his own time (the past) and the woman he left behind because of his journey forward. Although he has been provided a robot woman, who obeys his every command without question, he quickly realizes that this is a poor substitute for his lost love: the robot companion can never love or be loved by him. Although his desire to return to the past grows stronger, he does not take the opportunity to use his captors' time transporter equipment. He subsequently learns — perhaps on his own — that his captors had only been holding him in their future to illustrate to him how it suffers from the choices that had been made by mankind during his time. Once this revelation occurs, the man is finally returned to his year of origin (1981), armed with the understanding necessary for him to make a positive impact on the future.

The theme of Time bears similarities to the group's earlier concept album, Eldorado. Although Eldorado features strings much more prominently, and Time features more three-minute pop songs, both albums tell the story of a man who daydreams of being whisked away to a new and better world, only to become disenchanted, homesick, and even alienated by what he finds.

In 2001, the album was remastered and reissued on CD with three additional bonus tracks, two of which ("Julie Don't Live Here" and "When Time Stood Still") had already been released as B-sides of singles ("Twilight" and "Hold On Tight" respectively) from the original album, while the other ("The Bouncer") was originally released as the UK B-side of the 1983 single "Four Little Diamonds" from the follow-up album Secret Messages.

Musical style

Rainer Pietsch took over conducting the strings, although Louis Clark did appear (for the first time) playing keyboards in the live line-up on the subsequent Time tour.While the two preceding ELO albums (Discovery and Xanadu) were heavily influenced by disco, Time is much closer to ELO's roots of progressive rock music. Songs like "Ticket To The Moon," "The Way Life's Meant To Be," "Rain Is Falling," and "21st Century Man" are reminiscent of material from the A New World Record/Out Of The Blue era of ELO, while other tracks explore new influences such as new wave ("Twilight," "Yours Truly, 2095," "Another Heart Breaks," "From The End Of The World," and "Here Is The News"), reggae ("The Lights Go Down"), and rockabilly ("Hold On Tight") with the core ELO sound. The album reached #1 in the UK Albums Chart (see list of UK #1 albums from the 1980s). The hit single "Hold On Tight" proved to be the band's last top-ten single in both the US and UKmarker, and the album itself achieved Platinum and Gold status in the UK and US respectively.

Lynne has since admitted that Time and the two subsequent ELO albums (Secret Messages and Balance Of Power) were recorded only to satisfy contractual obligations , and while material from every other ELO album was performed during the short-lived Zoom tour in 2001, none of the material from these three albums was included (with the exception of "Rock 'n' Roll Is King" from Secret Messages, although this song was omitted from the DVD release of the kick-off concert).

Subsequent musical influences

The album's sound influenced the band Brave Saint Saturn to create the astro-rock music genre.

The musical style and theme of Time were echoed in later albums such as The Sophtware Slump by Grandaddy, who cited the album as a great influence; and Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots by The Flaming Lips.

In an early 1980s Rolling Stone magazine interview, Steve Winwood said that Time had influenced him.

In 1999, Cher sampled a synth sound from "Prologue" and "Epilogue" at the beginning of her number-one hit single "Believe."

Original Track Listing

Side One
  1. "Prologue" – 1:15
  2. "Twilight" – 3:35
  3. "Yours Truly, 2095" – 3:15
  4. "Ticket to the Moon" – 4:06
  5. "The Way Life's Meant to Be" – 4:36
  6. "Another Heart Breaks" – 3:46
Side Two
  1. "Rain Is Falling" – 3:54
  2. "From the End of the World" – 3:16
  3. "The Lights Go Down" – 3:31
  4. "Here Is the News" – 3:49
  5. "21st Century Man" – 4:00
  6. "Hold on Tight" – 3:05
  7. "Epilogue" – 1:30
Bonus tracks on the 2001 edition:
  1. "The Bouncer" 3:14 (B-side to "Four Little Diamonds")
  2. "When Time Stood Still" 3:33 (B-side to "Hold on Tight")
  3. "Julie Don't Live Here" 3:42 (B-side to "Twilight")


Tour Line-up

Chart Positions, Chart Runs



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