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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Electric Light Orchestra

The Essential Electric Light Orchestra

Review by Larry Toering

ELO is actually one of my favorite bands. Jeff Lynne is a master, so why not reach for the remasters when it comes to pound for pound quality? Their symphonic arrangements shine through with a maximum sonic delivery on this. It's not just from being an audiophile in general, I just really like to revisit these with the clearest sound I can get to take me back as best as possible to when they were originally released. It's pretty much all here, but if I had to I’d probably make one song exchange or add one to the mix. Otherwise, this is a perfect selection of their best and most well known tunes to fit the title's description.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2013  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Evil Woman
This is probably the best choice to open such a large set of consistently killer songs. You can tell right away that the recording is brightened up and it's going to be a comfortable ride through the classics. I have always loved this track, but dating back to 1975, I was just getting into music, so it wasn't until two or three years later that I caught up with it. It has continued to mature with the times, a symphonic pop tune in the vein of The Moody Blues, and, of course, The Beatles.
Do Ya

I don't remember this when it was out either, as it didn't reach me at the time, but once it did I always somehow considered it primarily a disco tune, but a very good one, as it was riding on that curve in 1976. But it's just their progressive AOR tendencies, and these days I don't mind listening to it.

Can't Get It Out Of My Head
This dates back to 1974, and it too has gone on with a lasting quality all these years. I'm not sure where it stands with me in their catalog. I just know it's not at the bottom. It's still in my “head.”
Mr. Blue Sky

Now this is around the time I got into them, and I recall having the blue vinyl 45rpm. I've always loved the sort of macabre Beatles factors here, as well as the overall pop sensibility and even electronic leanings. I still consider this way ahead of its time for how basically structured it is. It has an everlasting quality.

Strange Magic

Being another of their earlier tunes, I wasn't into this until years later, but to describe it I recall it always reminding me somehow of Pink Floyd.

Livin' Thing

This is easily one of my all time favorites, and it came out about a year before I started to get into them, so I caught up with it pretty fast. There isn't a track I can think of that it can't compete with in many ways. They encapsulate everything it's all about in one little gem, which is peace, love and great music. It takes you to that place you don't ever want to leave.

Turn To Stone
If they had any tunes that can be considered too typical of them, this would have to be one of them, but it's still a great track. It’s also one I have just as fond memories of as anything else on that album.
Sweet Talkin' Woman
Being from the same album and of the same feeling about this one, I have to say I always did like it a little better. In fact, looking back to when I was a kid, I have to admit it translates to this day as some kind of guilty pleasure, and I mean that in the best way.
Telephone Line
There isn't much more I can say about this one, as the previous one. It just worked so well that it has to be included in such a collection. I really remember liking it as well as the last two, as the album was full of some of their best.
Shine A Little Love
I just love this. It’s easily at the top of my list of ELO classics, indeed. I recommend cranking it up to eleven and putting it on repeat for a few listens. This is awesome!
Hold On Tight
This jumps ahead into the mid 80s, and probably went onto be one of their more popular numbers. I'm reminded of the Traveling Wilburys when listening to it now. It has the perfect blend of bouncy pop and country swagger. I can only imagine them having a ball playing this.
Calling America

This is another fine track, but I never got into it that much, so I can take it or leave it here. But it is liked a lot by the fans.

Rock And Roll Is King

If I had to lose one track on here for another one, this would probably be it. But it is a good rockabilly number nevertheless, with some great guitar and piano work, combined with some symphonic textures thrown in for an overall typical ELO song.

Don't Bring Me Down

This one had to be included, as it's another of their most popular numbers. But of all their best, this isn't at the top for me, as it hasn't worn the best on me.

Roll Over Beethoven

They really outdid themselves when they recorded this, which I would have to consider the best version of the Chuck Berry classic. The cosmic intro is one of its best touches, I mean what is it about those notes that work so well I don't know. They really rocked this up with the best of them and then some, with the awesome string mid-section.

 
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