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Electric Light Orchestra

All Over the World: The Very Best of Electric Light Orchestra

Review by Gary Hill

"Best of" sets are always weird. I mean, "greatest hits" are not subject to differences of opinion. It's a safe bet, though, that each fan of a band would assemble a different set labeled "best of." This release has 20 songs, and presents a good cross section of tunes that probably would make a lot of those lists. Still, I'm sure you'll disagree with some of their inclusions, wishing they'd been substituted for other tunes. It should be noted that I've reviewed a lot of these songs before. For the sake of consistency the track reviews for those are either copied from or modified from the earlier reviews. I should also note that, while not everything here is prog, the very concept of ELO is proggy, and we general land them under that heading.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2019  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Mr. Blue Sky
A bouncy pop rocker, this is a considerably Beatlesesque. It’s fun and quite catchy. The outro on this is more symphonic and includes operatic vocals. This ends with some orchestral music, but it’s also quite a Beatles-like closing segment. 
Evil Woman
A classic hit from the band, this is a good piece of music. It’s catchy and yet still has some meat on its bones. I’ve always liked this a lot and the orchestral instrumentation adds quite a bit to this tune.
Don't Bring Me Down
This is a bit of a rocker, and stronger than some of the tunes here. I have to admit that I’m not overly crazy about the “rooose” thing. Still, it’s trademark ELO. 
Sweet Talkin' Woman
Here’s another energetic number. This is catchy and fun. It’s got more of a “rock and roll” feeling to it, but still plenty of classical elements can be heard, too.
Shine A Little Love
Here we get a more disco based song. The introduction on this is classic ELO, and the chorus has a catchy vocal hook, but all the disco trappings are both an annoyance and really date this piece. It doesn’t hold up nearly as well as some of the other material here. Honestly, ELO’s disco material was a lot stronger than the majority of the genre (and still had quite a bit of rock in it), but this is part of the reason the band had their demise.
Turn to Stone
This comes up with an electronic, space age feeling. As it moves into the song proper it’s got a classical music goes electronic pop. They drop it down to a straightforward central song structure. There are hints of disco on this, but not nearly to the point the group would wander later. This is a catchy track that still holds up quite well. It gets quite symphonic and powerful before it ends.
The Diary of Horace Wimp
A full classical treatment opens this piece. It drops to an electronic mode that's decidedly Beatles-esque from there. The weird little synthesizer bit that sounds like a voice is an odd touch, but there are some seriously classic sounds here in other parts. The driving, hard-edged movement later is so classic of both ELO and Beatles-type music that it's downright scary. The symphonic touches later really work well.
Confusion
For the most part I like this song – it’s a classic mellower ELO number, but there’s an annoying little keyboard interlude that just sounds cheesy.
Hold On Tight
This cut has that old school rock and roll sound like we’ve heard previously from the band on cuts like “Roll Over Beethoven.” It’s a strong cut and still holds up pretty well. It also has a lot of sound that calls to mind another of Jeff Lynne’s bands, The Traveling Wilburys. I like the French that gets thrown into this.
Livin' Thing
This truly is another classic cut from the band. I love the little Spanish sounding vignette at the start and in the middle of the cut. It’s definitely got some Beatles influences, but that’s really just the starting point. This is a wonderful cut with some great changes and alterations.
Telephone Line
Starting with some unusual keyboard elements and the sound of a telephone ringing, this number is a mellow one that’s also got quite a bit of progressive rock built into it. It’s without question one of the band’s most classic pieces of music. It still holds up very well. We get a reprise of the introduction mid-track.
All Over the World
Crowd sounds open this. The band launch out from there with a cool rocking jam that's decidedly ELO in style. While there are some Beatles elements here, I'd consider this to be more tied to older rock and roll than that. Still, it has plenty of more modern sounds in the arrangement. I can make out some hints of Motown on this, too.
Wild West Hero
A playful and fun track, this is a good one, but perhaps not the most powerful number here. There are definitely some more Beatles-like moments on this.
Showdown
This combines a soulful, rather funky texture with some killer classically tinged prog rock. It’s a great piece of music and one that is quite deserving of inclusion here.
Ma-Ma-Ma Belle
More in the mode of a hard rocker, this has some proggy elements, but not that many. It’s also a little Beatles inspired, but not nearly so as some of the other music the band did over the years.
Xanadu (New Version)
With definite ELO trademarks, this lands more in the zone of a pop rock tune. It has plenty of rock and roll trappings built into it. There is some cool melodic guitar built into this thing.
Rockaria
Operatic vocals open this (and return later) but it’s a very Chuck Berry like number and has always reminded me a lot of “Roll Over Beethoven.” This is good, but not really a standout as far as I’m concerned. It certainly has its following, though, so I won’t argue with its inclusion here.
Strange Magic
Here’s one that could be argued to go a bit over the top. Frankly, I’d say this song, despite the sometimes overly lush arrangement (or perhaps because of it) works quite well. It’s a personal favorite from the band.
Alright
This hard rocker is very much an ELO tune, start to finish. I like this one a lot.
Rock 'N' Roll Is King (Single Edit)
As the title suggests, this is ELO tackling another rock and roller, old school style. It’s a good tune and definitely a nod to the older period of the group.
 
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