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Electric Light Orchestra - Olé ELO CD (album) cover

OLÉ ELO

Electric Light Orchestra

Crossover Prog


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ClemofNazareth
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
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.

peace

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Send comments to ClemofNazareth (BETA) | Report this review (#77982)
Posted Friday, May 12, 2006 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars After the release of five good albums, ELO will produce their second compilation. The tracklist, as such, is rather good but two numbers were already featured on their first compilation. It was the case for "10538 Overture" from their first album (and the best number of it IMO). Each following album will be equally represented with two songs. ELO II with two highlights : the wonderful "Kuiama" and the fabulous " Roll Over Beethoven" : these are certainly the central pieces of this effort. I am not quite sure though about the selection from their third one : "Showdown" (again should I say, since it was present on ..."Showdown" : their first compilation). IMO, it is one of the weakest track from "On The Third Day". On the other hand, "Ma Ma Belle" is a great rock'n'roll song (quite Stones oriented) but does not really belong to their best songs.

As far as "El Dorado" is concerned ("my" ELO masterpiece) it is represented by "Can't Get It Out Of My Head" which is one of their finest melody ever written and "Boy Blue" (certainly not a highlight). Their hit single "Evil Woman" and "Strange Magic" from "Face The Music" close this second ELO compiliation.

What is really annoying here, is that several numbers have been edited, which drammatically reduces the interest of this album. On top of that, there are two redundancy with their first compilation so, I am not really convinced. It is only the early stages for ELO to produce "Best Of" or "Greatest Hits". In their whole career, too many of these will flourish. Unfortunately.

Three stars.

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#117827)
Posted Tuesday, April 10, 2007 | Review Permalink
Chicapah
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars There are a few good reasons for my liking this particular compilation of songs from ELO's first five studio albums. First, it gives the listener a glimpse of their earliest material. Second, those tunes have a close connection with the band they evolved from, the magnificent "Move." And, since (at the time of this writing, at least) that quirky little British group isn't included on this website, it just might entice some adventurous folks to explore where ELO came from. The Move was a lot like The Beatles in that they started out as a hit single factory and gradually became more progressive as they went along. ELO, on the other hand, began life as a curious but bold experiment before sliding farther and farther towards the mainstream as they aged, as this collection demonstrates.

In fact, "10538 Overture" would have been right at home on The Move's "Message from the Country" LP with its askew angles, rough edges and weird combinations of symphonic instruments. Neither Roy Wood nor Jeff Lynne had exceptional singing voices but that was just another aspect of The Move that made their music so intriguing and you get a true sense of it here. More than any other cut in the package, this song personifies what ELO had originally set out to be in that they wanted to thoroughly integrate an orchestral mentality with a rock & roll platform. On "Kuiama," from their 2nd album, Roy Wood had departed the group yet his off-the-wall presence is still felt on this strange, loose-as-a-goose (but still very entertaining) track. Here Jeff employs varied symphonic sounds within different movements to present a fascinating kaleidoscope of musical influences. The novel idea of mixing major themes from Ludwig Van's 5th Symphony with Chuck Berry's classic "Roll Over Beethoven" was pure genius and did a great job of introducing ELO's uniqueness to the unsuspecting world. Not to mention their endearing, noble ability and willingness to spoof themselves.

"Showdown" marks a real turning point for the group in that Lynne grew weary of the band being a fringe act and wanted to become more radio-accessible. It's commercial as all get out, for sure, but it still retains a tinge of their eccentricity as heard on the chorus of "and it's raining all over DE world." The opening of "Ma-Ma-Ma Belle" featuring a gargantuan heavy guitar riff has The Move written all over it and makes me reminiscent of their bombshells like "Brontosaurus" and "Ella James." It's odd, crazy fun as they rock the house in their own peculiar way. By the time ELO made "Eldorado" they had gravitated to a higher plateau of engineering quality and overall production values and you can hear it clearly on the classic "Can't Get it Out of My Head" that has proudly stood the test of time. It's still one of Jeff's finest melodies.

I'm not sure exactly why but I adore "Boy Blue" from that same album. It has no reason to be memorable at all with its out-of- tune counterpoint lines, clumsy drumming and questionable vocals but there's an undeniable charm about it that draws me in every time. I have to say it's one of their best eclectic tunes and a favorite of mine. But by the time "Face the Music," their fifth LP, hit the stores their unquenchable quest to scale the top of the pop charts had suppressed much of their spirit of adventure as demonstrated by both "Evil Woman" and "Strange Magic." It's not that they're terrible tunes by any means but there's hardly a trace left of Lynne's mad scientist mindset that threw caution to the wind and courageously tried anything that came strolling into his fertile imagination. With few exceptions, from here on out ELO was pretty much a hit machine.

The Move had its faults, no doubt. Their albums are definitely an acquired taste. Lynne and Wood exercised very little restraint in their creations and would often cross the line into self-indulgence but there was always an overriding joy emanating from their art that still makes me grin every time I listen to them. ELO exercised more abstention and forbearance in their arrangements but, at least in the early days, the elusive ingredients of mirth and levity were still prominent in their music and that was when they were at their most progressive. It's still better to invest in the complete albums but if you want a sample of early ELO then this is the ticket. 2.8 stars.

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Send comments to Chicapah (BETA) | Report this review (#135403)
Posted Wednesday, August 29, 2007 | Review Permalink
progaardvark
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Olé ELO was the second compilation ELO released, this time internationally unlike their earlier compilation under the name Showdown. It basically covered ELO's best hits up through the Face the Music album. For progressive rock fans, only the first three tracks (10538 Overture, Kuiama, and Roll Over Beethoven) are of interest, all full versions. The rest of the material is made up of singles released from On the Third Day through Face the Music.

Overall, it's an enjoyable listen, but since the most important work of this band is it's first three albums, and the aforementioned three prog songs can easily be found on those albums, there really isn't a need to seek this out unless you are a completionist. Overall rating for the selection is three stars. It of course would have been higher if the collection was primarily prog rock material instead of those singles. Good, but not essential.

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Send comments to progaardvark (BETA) | Report this review (#145937)
Posted Friday, October 19, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars The first album I ever owned by Jeff Lynne and The Electric Light Orchestra. It made me want to explore more of their music, especially because of the first 3 songs: "10538 Overture", "Kuiama", and "Roll Over Beethoven" from their great first 2 releases. The rest of this album is made up of singles and hits like "Evil Woman", "Showdown", and "Boy Blue". The singles are not bad but ELO has always been so much more then what most people hear on the radio. While this is not an essential album, the first 3 tracks provide a good sample of what early ELO was all about. For those who want more- get NO ANSWER, ELO II, and ON THE THIRD DAY, to see what the proggier part of this band was all about. 3 stars.

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Send comments to mohaveman (BETA) | Report this review (#451526)
Posted Tuesday, May 24, 2011 | Review Permalink

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