Time Songs Ranked

Time is the ninth studio album by English rock band Electric Light Orchestra (credited as ELO), released in July 1981 on Jet Records. It is a concept album about a man from the 1980s who is taken to the year 2095, where he is confronted by the dichotomy between technological advancement and a longing for past romance. The record topped the UK Albums Chart for two weeks, though it attracted mixed reviews for its heavy use of synthesizers and stylistic shift away from the orchestral rock of previous ELO albums. It has since gained a cult following, particularly among retrofuturist enthusiasts. The record is considered the first major concept album devoted to time travel as well as ELO’s most influential album. “Twilight” became popularly known for its use in the 1983 anime short Daicon IV. In 2001, a CD reissue of Time included three additional tracks that were originally left off the LP. Here are all of Time songs ranked.

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10. The Lights Go Down

” The reggae-tinged flavour to The Lights Go Down could be a nod to fellow Birmingham band UB40, then just emerging on the music scene. In the context of the album, our hero, wishing to return to where he came from, feels alone as the night comes and the lights go down.”

9. Rain Is Falling

“Rain is Falling sounds initially like an unused song from Concerto for a Rainy Day. Once again, keyboards dominate the song, providing the pitter-patter effect, whilst the strings symbolise the storm overhead.”

ELO – Time (1981, Vinyl) - Discogs

8. 21st Century Man

“n the aftermath of John Lennon’s assassination in December 1980, many artists had taken to either respectably covering one of his songs (Roxy Music with Jealous Guy for example) or dedicating a specially written piece to him (Queen with Life is Real, Elton John with Empty Garden). Jeff Lynne’s response to this dreadful event was to not only write a song in the style of Lennon, his self-confessed hero, (he had done that before) but also to allude to the man himself in the lyrics, thus making the concept of TIME possibly a fantasy on John Lennon’s life.”

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7. Twilight

“A heavy orientated song that gets down to business without any nonsense and lets us know that ELO were indeed back with a renewed punch. Indeed, keyboards dominate the song, whilst Bev’s drumming is indeed blistering and for one of the last times, Jeff and Kelly’s vocals harmonise together well. Lyrically, the protagonist describes his journey to the other world and time.”

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6. The Way Life’s Meant to Be

“The Spanish feel of Livin’ Thing and Across the Border echo through The Way Life’s Meant to Be. Another Heart Breaks, the first true ELO instrumental since The Whale nearly 4 years earlier is a pleasant synth / drum leaden piece which elegantly draws Side One to a close, making it probably the best since that of Out of the Blue.”

5. Epilogue

“The Epilogue reprises the Wheels of Tomorrow line from 21st Century Man, goes into a mantra of the album’s title, retreats into a reversing of the bubbling effects heard in the Prologue before a crescendo and suddenly ends. We had – quite literally – run out of time.”

Electric Light Orchestra Ready Early U.K. Singles, B Sides Collection -  Rolling Stone

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4. Ticket to the Moon

“One of Jeff Lynne’s finest ballads: Ticket to the Moon. The piano intro is worth it’s weight in gold, whilst Bev’s drumming provide a power lacking on previous ballads..”

3. From the End of the World

“From the End of the World contains the concept of sending messages via dreams and musically sounds not dissimilar to Ultravox’s All Stood Still.”

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2. Yours Truly, 2095

“Yours Truly, 2095 is a quirky number that reminds me of The Buggles hit Video Killed the Radio Star. The protagonist describes his new love to his old love back at home. Having indirectly dedicated a song to her on Discovery, Jeff’s then wife Sandi provides the vocals of “someone who looks a lot like you”, is “programmed only to be very nice” yet “knows nothing of our world”.

1. Hold On Tight

“With it’s traditional rock ‘n’ roll beat, falling in well with a then brief revival thanks to The Stray Cats, Shakin’ Stevens and Matchbox, the message is quite clear: the protagonist will return home if he holds on tight to his dream.”