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For a lot of people buying a best of collection on CD is to replace the old vinyl collection that is approaching its last few spins. It's not that I'm old enough to have bought ELO albums upon their initial releases it's just that I took a long time to upgrade to CD. If you're in the same position with an aging vinyl collection then this is a very good purchase to show you how a band you like sounds on CD.
The concept of ELO was that they would be less of a rock band and more of an orchestra so there were strings a plenty and they played guitar style riffs. Along with the strings ELO used Jeff Lynne's production methods which falls very much into the category of over produced and very busy. This may not sound a recipe for a great sound but it works really well and that is what made ELO one of the most successful bands of the 1970's.
Here is the track listing, and album they originally came from;
Mr Blue Sky - Out Of The Blue
Evil Woman - Face The Music
Don't Bring Me Down - Discovery
Sweet Talkin' Woman - Out Of The Blue
Shine a Little Love - Discovery
Turn to Stone - Out Of The Blue
The Diary Of Horace Wimp - Discovery
Confusion - Discovery
Hold On Tight - Time
Livin' Thing - A New World Record
Telephone Line - A New World Record
All Over The World - Xanadu
Wild West Hero - Out Of The Blue
Showdown - On The Third Day
Ma-Ma-Ma Belle - On The Third Day
Xanadu - Xanadu
Rockaria - A New World Record
Strange Magic - Face The Music
Alright - Zoom
Rock N Roll Is King - Secret Messages
Even for the casual ELO I'm sure there are a few tracks they would have like to have seen that aren't included here and those unfamiliar with the band that take a listen will probably think they only made a few excellent song because there are some poor selections here.
The songs that are here that I really wish weren't included are Don't Bring Me Down, Ma-Ma-Ma Belle and Rock N Roll is King but most of all I really can't understand Xanadu being included here. I didn't like the original when ELO teamed up with Olivia Newton John and I like the version here only a little more. There are many songs in the back catalogue of ELO that have a stronger claim to be called amongst their best than some of these.
One thing that instantly leaps out at me from the track listing is that the tracks aren't in chronological order. I think the track listing was arrived simply listening to what sounds best side by side which is fair enough.
All but four of the songs here are from the 70's but since most of the band's best material was recorded during this period this isn't a negative at all.
The album gets underway with Mr Blue Sky. I guess the phrase saving the best till last means nothing to these people. This is arguably ELO's best song and it was made a change for me to hear it outside the Concerto For A Rainy Day side of the Out Of the Blue album. It made me realise what a great song it is and how well it stands up on its own. This was surely a hit single upon its release back in the day.
Another stand out track here for me is The Diary Of Horace Wimp. I like odd songs and this is far from the norm. Taking a similar stance on telling a story of romance to The Beatles in Obla Di this is one you'll either love or hate and never be sure if it is clever or ridiculous.
Of the songs that weren't from the 70's one, namely Alright, was plucked from the 2001 album Zoom. It's a pretty good song and exposes that album in a positive light. Its inclusion here is obviously an attempt to promote Zoom after disappointing sales, and it doesn't at all sound out of place here. Jeff Lynne has still got some magic left in his song writing and his voice sounds as good as ever on this guitar driven number.
All the songs here are re-mastered and it shows. Everything is crystal clear and there are parts in these mammoth productions that are now much easier to hear and identify compared with the previous versions I have heard.
I wouldn't say this is a perfect start introduction to the music of ELO as they had many fine albums and could have filled this with all five star tracks, but it still makes for an enjoyable listening experience as it is.
I purchased this album a while back after having a sort out of my old vinyls (or LP's to those of us who remember them), I discovered that I had once upon time bought ELO's greatest hits and it had just got stored away with all my other albums of yesteryear, but I decided I ought to listen to these guys on a piece of modern equipment - namely a CD!
*** A Little Background Information on the Band ***
The Electric Light Orchestra was formed over 35 years ago by lead singer Jeff Lynne. Their popularity soared between 1974 and 1981 in which time they amassed 28 hit singles in the UK. The band split in 1986 and Jeff Lynne went on to join George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty and Roy Orbison to form The Travelling Wilburys.
*** Album Tracks ***
When I originally looked at the tracks on this album, I didn't recognise a lot of them. However, once the album is played in full, it is surprising how many of the songs do sound familiar
"Mr Blue Sky" is one of my favourites on the album. Everyone will recognise the "du du du du du du du du sun is shining in the sky...." No matter how hard I try not to sing along with it when driving, I just can't help it. (Just watch the suspicious expressions on other drivers' faces at the traffic lights when you are nodding to "du du du du du du du du...."), It is one of those tunes that just get stuck in your head.
"Evil Woman" starts with a soft drum roll and Jeff Lynne claiming 'you made a fool of me'. With his 70's hairstyle at the time of recording this track, he managed that all on his own! However, this is a great song all the same.
"Don't Bring Me Down" starts with a good strong drumbeat and then the electric guitars kick in and we're away! This is a good track which really shows off Jeff Lynne's wide vocal range, and there are times when he can give Barry Gibb a run for his money. This song could almost have been recorded by Status Quo - very typical of their style of music.
"Sweet Talkin' Woman" is my favourite on the album. A really good singalongy which everybody knows. For anyone who has never heard this - where you been?
"Shine A Little Love" is definitely one I had never heard of until I played it - and then it call came flooding back! Very 70's disco sound, and again, a great track.
"Turn To Stone" has a bit of a quaint feel to it. Anyone listening to this track for the first time could be forgiven for thinking this is a Sweet song. Well, I suppose it is quite sweet at times, but quite unusually, the verses to the track are fairly loud, and then the chorus is sung fairly quietly. Strange way of doing it but it works.
"The Diary of Horace Wimp" is another one I had never heard of. But my god, what a resemblance to The Beatles. A bit of a cross between I am the Walrus and Strawberry Fields. Once you get used to it, this is quite a catchy tune but not as widely recognisable as some of the other tracks on the album.
"Confusion" - well, it confused me! In my opinion, this is not really typical of ELO music. Very melodic and a little slow. Not the usual upbeat style that the band are renowned for.
"Hold on Tight" (to you dreams....) - remember it now? Not really one of my favourites. It's a little too cheesy for my liking but hey - a little cheese can go a long way when it's hidden amongst some good tunes!
"Livin' Thing" brings us back to atypical ELO music. Some good hard drum beats starts the track off. This is not a very outstanding song in my mind, but if you are already an ELO fan, then you will enjoy this.
"Telephone Line" starts off very oddly! The sound of someone dialling out. Then a ringtone. No one answers (she obviously had her answering machine switched off on that day!) Jeff Lynne talking down an empty phone line "Hello, how are you, have you been alright...." and so on. There is a hint of the doo-wa's on this track but it's still a good song.
"All Over The World" sounds like it was recorded live with lots of crowd noise. A very uptempo song with toe-tapping potential!
"Wild West Hero" is another favourite of mine. A little on the slow side which may not appeal to some, but Jeff Lynne's vocals open the song with, yes you guessed it, 'I wish I was a wild west hero' which make this a classic ELO song.
"Showdown" is one track that I must admit I am still not too familiar with. As to whether I like it or not, the jury is still out. I would just say that it could be anyone singing it as it doesn't really have the upbeat ELO sound that they are renowned for.
"Ma-Ma-Ma Belle" - well I thought I was listening to the Rolling Stones' Brown Sugar when this started up. A little bit too heavy and not to my taste but if you fancy a bit of head shaking and strutting your platforms, this is one for you!
"Xanadu" threw me into a state of panic when I saw it on the album. I instantly got a picture in my head of Oliver Newton-John in leotard and sweatbands jumping, bumping and grinding about all over the place (now guys, calm down!) This was in fact the title track to the film and was actually an ELO/Oliver Newton-John duet.
"Rockaria" treats us to a little rock opera opening - and then it all kicks off with the guitars and heavy drum beats. I am not too keen on this track and I usually just skip it - but then that's just my opinion.
"Strange Magic" has a nice slow opener with Jeff Lynne's dulcet tones. A very calm piece of music after the previous few tracks. A little haunting for ELO, but another one of my favourites.
"Alright" is what I call 'swingy' music - you know the kind of thing, a sort of slow drawl of a beat. It's not really one you would want to sing along to (well I didn't but I suppose some might!).
"Rock-N-Roll is King", the final track on the album, sounds just like it is intended to - a 60's mix of rock'n'roll, jive and bopping. Made me tired just listening to it, but a great song to end on.
*** Any Extra Tracks on the Album? ***
No. What you see is what you get. A Total of 20 tracks but no extras such as hidden tracks, unreleased tracks and so on.
*** Album Cover and Presentation ***
Very bright and colourful is the best way to describe the album cover. The album itself is called "All Over The World" and the cover depicts a brightly lit red, yellow and blue spaceship/Frisbee speeding all over the world. A very typical style associated with ELO albums.
Inside the CD case, there is a pull-out booklet setting out the track list. In addition to the track list, there is an eight page message written by Jeff Lynne, together with accompanying photographs of previous concerts and band line-ups.
*** So would I recommend this album? ***
Yes, most definitely. My personal favourites on this album have to be Mr Blue Sky, Evil Woman, Don't Bring me Down, Sweet Talkin' Woman, Telephone Line, Wild West Hero and Livin' Thing. This is probably because these were some of ELO's biggest hits, had the most airplay, and therefore are the most familiar. But as I mentioned earlier, there will be a lot of tracks on the album that are not instantly recognisable, and I would recommend you have a listen before writing the album off because so many of them will sound familiar once you hear them.
Thanks for reading and hope you enjoy!
(also on Ciao: matthewsmum)
If we have all had our fair share of yet another Supertramp Greatest Hits then its about time ELO stepped in to take the limelight.
If you are certain age, (and to enjoy the likes of ELO, you would have to be) then I think this album is a must. If its only Mr Blue Sky that gets you going, then surely this album is a good buy just for that one track. If you're like me and only own Jeff Lynne on vinyl then please find it in yourself to purchase this, then that poor scratched record can rest in peace.......
A good buy for Fathers Day 2006....
We all have secret guilty pleasures, we know deep down we shouldnt really enjoy these things but we cant help ourselves, for some its pot noodles, for others its watching reality TV shows. Well Ill admit here and now to one of my musical guilty pleasures is a liking for 70s popsters ELO (Electric Light Orchestra). Its not that musically ELO were crap, quite the opposite, its just that they were so pop chart orientated that they were dismissed as simple musical fluff and quickly lost their cool over the last few years. Despite this Ill own up, I still find myself humming along to their hits whenever a radio station is brave enough to play them. I think (if I can remember that far back) that an ELO album was the first album I ever bought and as such despite changing musical tastes the band will always be a little special to me. So its not surprising that when a friend of mine bought this album I (permanently) borrowed a copy of it.
Jeff Lynne is a bit of a musical genius, in the mid 70s he was the master of the pop song it came so easily for him that he reputedly was able to write and record a whole album in just a few weeks!
Before he and Roy Wood formed ELO they along with Drummer Bev Bevan were also members of 60s group The Move. TO begin with ELO were an offshoot of The Move the original idea for the band coming from Wood after hearing some orchestral arrangement of some early Move songs. The first ELO record was a moderate success but just as things were taking off Wood left to Wizzard leaving Lynne as the main creative force in the band. Lynne created new look ELO (including up to twenty different members at various times) and never looked back notching up a string of gold and platinum album in the 70s and 80s.
All Over The World is a straightforward compilation featuring a fairly extensive collection of all the ELO hits. As a starting off point for anyone who is interested in getting to know their music it is a fairly good collection. However there are some glaring omissions, the first ever ELO hit 10538 Overture, which best illustrated their early elaborate mix of orchestral style with pop is strangely absent from the track list. In fact none of the tracks off the first album make it on to this compilation. None of the songs off the second album including Roll Over Beethoven make it either and I feel this the early period of ELO is where the compilation feels to deliver. The catalogue of omissions continues to the third album On the Third Day although one track Ma-Ma-Ma Belle is included. In fact up until 1976 and the release of A New Word Record the early ELO is sadly underrepresented.
The first thing you notice about any ELO record is its superb production values; the sound is full and perfectly crafted. Orchestral arrangements including French Horns, Violins and Cellos are seamlessly woven in to the more traditional rock fabric (electric Guitar, base drums and keyboards) of the composition and finally the vocals often altered by vocoder are used as one more piece of the audio jigsaw to produce a truly epic but quirky pop sound. This is all emphasised on the record by the re-mastering of the tracks. Of course it should be no surprise that ELO set such high standards in the production of their records since frontman Lynne is also one of the most sought after music producers in the business having collaborated on projects with such rock and pop luminaries as Tom Petty, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Bob Dylan. Lynne apart from the overall sound of the compositions also likes to play with the structure and often the songs take on a mini operatic form similar to Queens Bohemian Rhapsody in that they contain distinct tempo changes or mini arias. From the songs on the album Mr Blue Sky, Rockaria! and The Diary Of Horace Wimp are good examples.
1. Mr Blue Sky
2. Evil Woman
3. Don't Bring Me Down
4. Sweet Talkin' Woman
6. Turn To Stone
7. The Diary Of Horace Wimp
9. Hold On Tight
10. Livin' Thing
11. Telephone Line
12. All Over The World
13. Wild West Hero
15. Ma-Ma-Ma Belle
18. Strange Magic
20. Rock and Roll Is King
The tracks are not included in chronological order but instead the producers have opted to start things off with probably their biggest hit Mr Blue Sky from their fantastic 70s double album Out Of The Blue and also a track that is currently featured on a TV advert. Out of all the tracks Mr Blue Sky and possibly Livin Thing are the two songs that have proved to have durability and you can still hear them on the radio or TV from time to time.
Although Lynne might have worked with Dylan (not only as producer but also as a member of the supergroup The Travelling Wilburys) he wasnt influenced by Dylans skills in writing meaningful multilayered lyrics. Lynne has a much more pop orientated approach to songwriting and often the lyrics sound great, match the rhythm and feel of the backing music but always appear to be more meaningful that they actually are.
Sun is shinin' in the sky,
There ain't a cloud in sight
It's stopped rainin'
Everybody's in a play
And don't you know
It's a beautiful new day.
Runnin' down the avenue,
See how the sun shines brightly
In the city on the streets
Where once was pity,
Mr. blue sky is living here today.
I dont mean this is a criticism, there is considerable skill in writing pop lyrics, I just mean to emphasise that the songs are pure pop songs, with catchy tunes, great instrumentation and a great sing-a-long factor. Some might call them cheesy but if thats true this is not your cheap processed cheese but rather the high class fine matured Stilton of the cheesy music spectrum.
Looking down the tracks we see that unlike the earlier music ELOs golden period between Face The Music (1975) and Discovery (1979) is well represented although their first top ten hit Cant Get It Out Of My Head from 1974 is again strangely missing. Evil Woman another top ten hit is an upbeat number that includes the trademark swirling string section and vocoder effects welded on to the rock baseline, although not their first hit not even their first top ten this record is really the benchmark for the ELO sound that was to feature on all their best albums. Another huge hit Telephone Line from the 1976 album A New World Record is included. This is a slower love ballad but is still recognisably an ELO song. This uniqueness of sound is a feature of their music that was constant throughout the bands musical output, when one of their songs came on the radio there was no mistaking who it was by, which is just another reason why they became so successful in the singles and album charts. Livin Thing another massive hit from their 1976 album is also rightly included.
Despite the success of Face The Music and A New World Record the peak of ELOs musical output is surely their epic 1977 double album Out Of The Blue. This is possibly one of the best pop records of the 70s a perfect mixture of quirky ballads, semi disco dance tracks and complex sing-a-long tunes all accompanied by an excess of orchestral strings. Thankfully on this compilation four songs from this pop masterpiece are included their most well known hit Mr Blue Sky rightly opens up the album the thumping beat of the intro perfectly setting the tone for the up beat songs that follow. Sweet Talking Woman also from Out Of The Blue is the closest ELO get to a proper dance track and is influenced by the disco boom that was around at the time in included at no 4 on the track listing making the start of this compilation very upbeat and just about faultless. In fact the track selection and running order is excellent (taking into account that some important tracks are missing from the early albums) unfortunately things start to go wrong around two thirds of the way (apart from a blip at track 12) in to the record with the inclusion of Xanadu. This aptly parallel the decline of the band fortunes in the release of their Albums. Xanadu is an awful track; it is part of a soundtrack that Lynne produced for a film of the same name released in 1980 featuring Olivia Newton John and Gene Kelly with Cliff Richard making an appearance in one of the songs. To be fair ELOs contribution to the film/album is the best thing about this misconceived project but even Lynnes Midas touch cant rescue it. I suppose for completeness sake Xanadu, which was a hit had to be included but having left out better song from previous albums maybe this one could have been ditched instead. Despite following Xanadu with the infinitely better early hit Rockaria! (a strange order selection) the rest of the album never truly recovers and rather stumbles to an unsatisfying end with the mediocre Rock and Roll is King. I admit that I find myself playing this compilation all the way through to track 17 Rockaria! (skipping Xanadu!) and then losing interest.
All Over The World is subtitled as the very best of ELO, well you could take issue with this seeing the great tracks that have been left out and the few dud tracks that have been included. As a compilation is isnt bad although for serious ELO fans one of the previous compilations Strange Music and The Essential ELO might be better choices. For new fans this would be a good option as a reasonably comprehensive introduction to the band but the 1979 compilation The Best Of ELO includes hits from their best period without some of the later duds. The one single advantage that this compilation has over the others is the perfect crystal clear sound of the re-mastered versions for the songs, the quality of the production is really brought to light and with a such complex music as that that ELO produce this is a real plus.
So are secret ELO fans ready to come out of the closet? Is the band going to have a revival? I think they might, watch this space!
All Over The World can be bought from Play.com for £8.99 delivered.
Thanks for reading and rating this review.
© Mauri 2005
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Mr Blue Sky
2 Evil Woman
3 Don't Bring Me Down
4 Sweet Talkin' Woman
6 Turn To Stone
7 The Diary Of Horace Wimp
9 Hold On Tight
10 Livin' Thing
11 Telephone Line
12 All Over The World
13 Wild West Hero
15 Ma-Ma-Ma Belle
18 Strange Magic
20 Rock and Roll Is King