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Electric Light Orchestra - Olé ELO CD (album) cover


Electric Light Orchestra


Crossover Prog

3.28 | 16 ratings

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Prog Folk Researcher
4 stars Right off the bat this album gets five stars for including the full-blown 8:02 version of “Roll over Beethoven”. Any adjustments should be made from that starting point. A warning though – this version is only available on the first vinyl pressing. Apparently there were complaints that the song caused turntable’s to eject the needle before it ended since the grooves were so close to the end of the album. On later versions this was replaced with the much shorter (and less interesting) radio edit version. For some reason when this record was re-released on CD this travesty was carried forward, so unless you have that first vinyl cut you’ll have to purchase ELO II to get the real thing.

This was the second of four collections ELO released in just the first five years of their career. Of all of them this one has the most interesting song selection, with “10538 Overture” from their debut album, and two each from the next four albums. The vinyl album includes original versions of all nine songs, except that there is about half a minute cut out of “Strange Magic” for some reason. The re-releases, including the CD versions, contain the emasculated radio versions of “Roll over Beethoven”, “Kuiama”, and “Boy Blue”.

And speaking of which, “Kuiama” is probably the only surprising choice on the album, as it consumes nearly a third of the album and is the only song that was not previously released as a single. It seems like “Daybreaker” off their On the Third Day album might have been a better choice if the intent was to showcase their more popular music. That being said, “Kuiama” is a better choice for a progressive album since it is a much more interesting listen. Richard Tandy’s harmonium reminds me of those old boxy organs you used to see being sold in shopping malls back in the 70’s, and Wilf Gibson is on fire with his violin.

As I said, the rest of these songs were all hit singles to varying degrees, making this something of a ‘greatest hits’ collection of their pre-pop days. The songs are arranged in chronological order as well, so listening to the album one can actually hear the progression of the band’s sound from modern symphonic to pure pop, with the radio hits “Evil Woman” and “Strange Magic” toward the end sounding worlds away from the lumbering orchestral gems “10538 Overture” and “Kuiama”.

The remaining songs are all well-known to ELO fans and anyone else who ever tuned a radio between 1973 and – well, today. “Showdown”, “Ma-Ma-Ma Belle”, “Can’t Get it Out of My Head”, and “Boy Blue” were all Top-20 singles either in Britain, the U.S., or both, and most of them are still played regularly on oldies and easy-listening stations today.

So if you’re looking for an inexpensive way to gather up all the key ELO songs from their early years before they exploded into a mega-pop machine, this is the album you want. The label earns the band a star deduction for messing with “Roll over Beethoven” and “Kuiama” on the re-release and CD versions, but other than that this is a gem for curious ELO fans as well as those who are interested in hearing a band ‘grow up’ in just 45 short minutes.


ClemofNazareth | 4/5 |


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