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Electric Light Orchestra - The Light Shines On CD (album) cover

THE LIGHT SHINES ON

Electric Light Orchestra

 

Crossover Prog

2.62 | 10 ratings

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ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk Researcher
2 stars This is a little collection of ELO hits from the band's early days. It was released on vinyl, but according to the fine print on the back of the cover it was also available on tape (probably 8-track). This is part of the "Harvest Heritage" collection, kind of an early K-Tel type of release that I suppose was aimed at drumming some revenue by leveraging the growing popularity of the band after the success of A New World Record and Out of the Blue. The back cover is a close-up version of the front cover from their debut album (No Answer), with a superimposed picture of the Bev Bevan, Jeff Lynne, and Roy Wood inside the light bulb. The back cover also features an introduction to the band and to the album by Harry Doherty, who was a staff writer for Melody Maker magazine at the time. In it, Doherty suggests that the reason Wood left the band was because he (Wood) felt this was the only way to focus more attention on the talents and contributions of Jeff Lynne. I think this may have been a bit of revisionist history, but it makes for a nice story.

It's kind of an interesting choice of tracks. There's "Look at Me Now", "Mr. Radio", "The Battle of Marston Moor", "Whisper in the Night", and "10538 Overture" from No Answer; The spacey "Momma" from ELO II; and the international hit "Showdown" from On the Third Day. There's also an extended instrumental version of "In Old England Town" that was previously released as the B-side of "Showdown". Finally, the album opens with a very disappointing version of "Roll Over Beethoven" from ELO II. I say disappointing because this is apparently some sort of radio-edit version that runs about three minutes instead of the full eight-minute plus original album version.

Even though "Evil Woman" and "Livin' Thing" are mentioned in Doherty's cover notes, no tracks from Face the Music or A New World Record are included. This is definitely intended to be a promotional album, and it was released about the same time as Out of the Blue. These later albums are addressed in the Greatest Hits album which Jet Records would release a year or so later.

The most striking thing about this album is the distinct difference in production and arrangement quality between "Showdown" and the earlier songs on the album. Historically, this definitely marks the musical dividing line between the older, more progressive music of the band's first three albums, and the later intergalactic hit machine they were already becoming in 1977.

This isn't the first compilation album from the band - Showdown and OlÚ ELO both preceded it. And it wouldn't be the last either. To-date, there are about fifty compilations, boxed-sets, live recordings, and other collections of Electric Light Orchestra music in the catalogs of various record labels all over the world. This one certainly isn't the best, although with the exception of the "Roll Over Beethoven" mistake, and possibly the exclusion of "In the Hall of the Mountain King" from On the Third Day, it is probably the best representation of the band's very early music that exists today.

I'm pretty sure this has never been released on CD, and the original album is long out of print, but it can probably be had through rarities traders on the web if someone really wanted to get their hands on it. I believe there are Japanese re-issues of the album as well, although for the same amount of money any fan could probably just purchase copies of all the first three album and have the same songs (and more). This is definitely an interesting completion piece to any ELO fan's collection, and the songs (except "Roll Over Beethoven") are all good studio versions, but this doesn't fall into the must-have category. I'd give it three stars if it weren't for "Roll Over", but since the label botched that one, two stars it is.

peace

ClemofNazareth | 2/5 |

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