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ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA

Crossover Prog • United Kingdom


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Electric Light Orchestra picture
Electric Light Orchestra biography
Founded in Birmingham, UK in 1970 - disbanded in 1986 - Reunited briefly in 2000/2001 - Reformed since 2014 (as "Jeff Lynne's ELO")

An incredible 35 years since their formation, the music of the Electric Light Orchestra is still as popular as ever. All over the world, people are tuning into the sound of ELO via radio, the internet, cinemas and TV. The seemingly ageless songs of ELO leader Jeff Lynne are even being heard again in the singles charts, thanks to the cream of today's young dance acts sampling the band's original music and turning on a whole new generation of fans.

ELO thrived under the guidance of Lynne, recording twelve original studio albums and releasing twenty-eight hit singles in the UK alone. At their peak between 1974 and 1981, ELO amassed a string of nine consecutive gold, platinum and multi-platinum albums. The band were one of the biggest arena and stadium draws during the seventies and early eighties, with spectacular shows including massive flying saucer stage sets and vibrant light and laser displays.

Originally a 1970 experimental offshoot of sixties English hitmakers The Move, ELO's initial concept of a rock band augmented by a string section struggled to find success. Though early singles such as 'Showdown' and 'Ma-Ma-Ma-Belle' were hits, ELO albums failed to make the charts in the UK and the group was virtually ignored as a live act.

It was the USA that first embraced ELO, thanks to lengthy coast-to-coast tours that helped propel singles 'Evil Woman' and 'Strange Magic' and albums 'On The Third Day', 'Eldorado' and 'Face The Music' into the American charts. UK acceptance finally came in 1976 with 'A New World Record' and Top 10 singles 'Livin' Thing', 'Rockaria!' and 'Telephone Line'.

A double album masterpiece, 1977's 'Out Of The Blue' was a worldwide smash on pre-orders alone and featured global hits 'Turn To Stone', 'Wild West Hero', 'Sweet Talkin' Woman' plus the song Lynne considers to be his greatest ELO achievement, 'Mr. Blue Sky'. Recently voted "Anthem Of The Midlands" by the public, the track continues to appear in film soundtracks and ads to this very day. The bands' legendary 1978 tour set audience attendance records wherever it played and established ELO as one of the most popular acts in the world.

'Discovery' in 1979 consolidated that success with the singles 'Shine A Little Love' (sampled back into the charts in 2005 by The LoveFreekz), 'Don't Bring Me Down' 'The Diary...
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ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.63 | 309 ratings
Electric Light Orchestra [Aka: No Answer]
1971
3.63 | 280 ratings
ELO 2 [Aka: Electric Light Orchestra II‎]
1972
3.79 | 301 ratings
On the Third Day
1973
3.86 | 421 ratings
Eldorado
1974
3.38 | 295 ratings
Face the Music
1975
3.40 | 329 ratings
A New World Record
1976
3.65 | 370 ratings
Out Of The Blue
1977
2.89 | 273 ratings
Discovery
1979
2.34 | 158 ratings
ELO & Olivia Newton-John: Xanadu (OST)
1980
3.42 | 296 ratings
Time
1981
2.67 | 188 ratings
Secret Messages
1983
2.16 | 159 ratings
Balance Of Power
1986
2.44 | 64 ratings
ELO Part II: Electric Light Orchestra Part Two
1990
2.53 | 62 ratings
ELO Part II: Moment Of Truth
1994
3.00 | 144 ratings
Zoom
2001
3.06 | 85 ratings
Jeff Lynne's ELO: Alone In The Universe
2015
2.70 | 38 ratings
Jeff Lynne's ELO: From Out Of Nowhere
2019

ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.35 | 41 ratings
The Night the Light Went On in Long Beach
1974
1.75 | 4 ratings
Electric Light Orchestra - Greatest Hits Live [LIVE] (Electric Light Orchestra Part II: post ELO)
1992
1.98 | 7 ratings
One Night, Live in Australia (Electric Light Orchestra Part II: post ELO)
1996
1.85 | 7 ratings
Greatest Hits Live, Part II: The Encore Collection
1998
3.18 | 18 ratings
Live at Winterland '76
1998
1.81 | 12 ratings
Live at Wembley '78
1998
4.10 | 20 ratings
Live at the BBC
1999
3.67 | 3 ratings
The BBC Sessions
1999
2.50 | 7 ratings
greatest Hits Of E.L.O.- Part II
2001
1.25 | 4 ratings
Strange Magic (Electric Light Orchestra II: post ELO)
2003
3.64 | 14 ratings
Electric Light Orchestra Live
2013
4.20 | 18 ratings
Jeff Lynne's ELO - Wembley or Bust
2017

ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

2.08 | 6 ratings
Live (Electric Light Orchestra Part II: post ELO) (VHS)
1991
3.60 | 5 ratings
The Very Best of ELO
1991
3.19 | 13 ratings
"Out Of The Blue" Tour Live At Wembley / Discovery
1998
3.70 | 22 ratings
Zoom Tour Live
2001
2.67 | 6 ratings
Access All Areas (Electric Light Orchestra Part II: post ELO)
2003
3.22 | 8 ratings
Live: The Early Years
2010
4.50 | 6 ratings
Wembley or Bust
2017

ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.34 | 14 ratings
Showdown
1974
3.28 | 16 ratings
Olé ELO
1976
2.65 | 13 ratings
The Light Shines On
1977
2.87 | 35 ratings
Greatest Hits
1979
4.00 | 1 ratings
The Light Shines On Vol. 2
1979
3.08 | 5 ratings
Classics
1990
3.26 | 15 ratings
Afterglow
1990
3.48 | 5 ratings
Burning Bright
1992
4.00 | 8 ratings
The Definitive Collection
1992
3.08 | 8 ratings
Strange Magic: The Best Of Electric Light Orchestra
1995
2.73 | 6 ratings
Roll Over Beethoven
1996
3.00 | 2 ratings
The Best of Electric Light Orchestra
1996
4.00 | 3 ratings
The Gold Collection
1996
3.13 | 10 ratings
Light Years, The Very Best Of
1997
1.50 | 2 ratings
Beyond The Blue
1999
4.33 | 3 ratings
Flashback
2000
2.29 | 5 ratings
The Essential ELO
2003
4.45 | 11 ratings
ELO 2/Lost Planet
2003
3.93 | 19 ratings
All Over The World: The Very Best Of Electric Light Orchestra
2005
4.13 | 6 ratings
The Harvest Years 1970-1973
2006
3.80 | 5 ratings
Ticket to the Moon: The Very Best of Electric Light Orchestra Volume 2
2007
3.23 | 11 ratings
Mr. Blue Sky: The Very Best Of Electric Light Orchestra
2012
3.50 | 4 ratings
Jeff Lynne's ELO: 50th Ballads
2021

ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 2 ratings
10538 Overture
1971
4.06 | 9 ratings
Roll Over Beethoven / Queen of the Hours
1973
2.60 | 7 ratings
Showdown / In Old England Town (Instrumental)
1973
3.50 | 4 ratings
Daytripper / Daybreaker
1974
4.00 | 5 ratings
Can't Get It Out Of My Head
1974
0.00 | 0 ratings
Waterfall / Strange Magic
1975
5.00 | 1 ratings
Livin' Thing
1976
3.67 | 3 ratings
Telephone Line
1976
3.67 | 3 ratings
Rockaria!
1976
3.50 | 4 ratings
Mr. Blue Sky
1977
3.80 | 5 ratings
Turn to Stone
1977
3.50 | 2 ratings
The ELO EP
1978
2.14 | 3 ratings
Xanadu (with Olivia Newton-John)
1980
3.25 | 4 ratings
Hold On Tight
1981
3.50 | 2 ratings
Twilight
1981
2.13 | 4 ratings
Rock 'n' Roll Is King / After All
1983
2.93 | 8 ratings
So Serious
1986
2.42 | 5 ratings
Getting to the Point
1986
2.31 | 12 ratings
Calling America (single)
1986

ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Discovery by ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA album cover Studio Album, 1979
2.89 | 273 ratings

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Discovery
Electric Light Orchestra Crossover Prog

Review by sgtpepper

2 stars Every Electric Light Orchestra album in the 70's and 80's could stand on its own and face fierce competition in the prog, rock and pop genre. "Discovery" and "Xanadu" may be the most commercial outcome by ELO but it does not diminish their artistic quality and strong songwriting at its core. Lynne was able to come to terms with the latest music development such as disco and produce two decent answers "Last train to London", "Shine a little love" without staying superficial. The bulk of the album is firmly rooted in pop which aged well because of wise production techniques and to my pleasure, also aptly arranged keyboards. Beatles hooks are still on big sale and keep repeating which brings the artistic value a bit down to a typical ELO listener. "The diary of Horace Wimp" is a witty Beatles go 70's BeeGees vocal connection.

This album is not meant to be analysed and reflected upon endlessly, it's supposed to bring you the jovial end of 70's atmosphere with 2 decent ballads ("Need her love"

"Don't bring me down" is an overrated rock'n'roll pastiche that ELO tried to compete with on the next albums ("Hold on tight", "Rock'n'roll is a king")

Recommended to the ELO fans, pop enthusiasts and if you're an old 72'-74' ELO fan, you'd better stay away from it!

 Secret Messages by ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA album cover Studio Album, 1983
2.67 | 188 ratings

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Secret Messages
Electric Light Orchestra Crossover Prog

Review by sgtpepper

2 stars "Secret Messages" continues in the way of strong ELO deliveries. While it is not as adventurous and exploring as "Time", Lynne is still in a fine and inspired mood not only to create memorable music but also in an increasingly masterful fashion. Production-wise, this is a top record, way better than his later average trademark attempts with Tom Petty or Paul McCartney's Flaming pie. Material is strong and you can see the extra mile done in the studio be it for the Tandy's wide array of keyboard sound or Bevan's typical 80's drum sound. Songs are mainly upbeat though we have interesting time signature changes such "Loser gone wild" which took me a long time to appreciate. "Danger ahead" has a fantastic catchy rhythm pattern that stuck in my head for years despite it being an average song. And the mandatory rock'n'roll number is one of the better ELO attempts. Lynne's vocal abilities are breathtaking - Lennon's signature is still there but he can easily switch to Orbison-like vocal in the slower numbers and has created his own style since.

Pity that this music has not made it to the stage due to the studio trickery.

 10538 Overture by ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1971
4.00 | 2 ratings

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10538 Overture
Electric Light Orchestra Crossover Prog

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

4 stars '10538 Overture' marks the very beginning of ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA. I cite Wikipedia on the formation of ELO: "In 1968, Roy Wood -- guitarist, vocalist and songwriter of THE MOVE -- had an idea to form a new band that would use violins, cellos, string basses, horns and woodwinds to give their music a classical sound (...). Jeff Lynne, frontman of fellow Birmingham group The Idle Race, was excited by the concept. (...) In January 1970, when Carl Wayne quit the band, Lynne accepted Wood's second invitation to join [The Move]. On 12 July 1970, when Wood added multiple cellos to a Lynne-penned song intended to be a Move B-side, the new concept became a reality and '10538 Overture' became the first E.L.O. song."

The Move was originally supposed to end at that point, but to help finance the new band, one further Move album was recorded and released during the lengthy ELO recordings in 1970-71. Only the remaining Move trio of Wood, Lynne and drummer Bev Bevan played on all songs of E.LO.'s debut album The Electric Light Orchestra that was released in December 1971.

'10538 Overture' is about an escaped prisoner, hence the number in place of a person's name. Both Wood and Lynne sing on it. I find especially the vocals quite terrible here, they remind me of John Lennon on 'I Am the Walrus'. The sound quality is rather muddy really, but for the playing it is sufficient enough. The cellos, French horn and other wind instruments give the arrangement the unique flavour, and I also like the guitars. The song in itself is pretty repetitive, it's definitely the classical intruments, despite not being played the purest possible way, that make '10538 Overture' worthy.

The single's B side track 'First Movement (Jumpin' Biz)' also appears on the debut album, starting its second side. It's an instrumental, with acoustic guitar playing the lead melody and Roy Wood's cellos shaping the soundscape, at times giving associations to the string arrangement on 'Eleanor Rigby'. Some horns are also heard, for a moment. I sympathize an album reviewer comparing this piece to early FOCUS instrumentals such as 'House of the King' or 'Sylvia', although I clearly prefer Focus. Again, the composition itself is not very exciting.

The single peaked at no. 9 in the UK singles chart and visited also the Dutch top 40. My more subjective rating would be a lukewarm three stars, but let's make it four for the historical value. Wood, Lynne and co. indeed "picked up where The Beatles left off", as they had planned.

 Face the Music by ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.38 | 295 ratings

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Face the Music
Electric Light Orchestra Crossover Prog

Review by sgtpepper

3 stars This is a transitional album for ELO, along with the three previous ones, they made quite a big development. "Face the music" shows brilliant songwriting skills by Lynne and their prevalent typical 70's sound where strings are pushed to a supporting role to the main rock instruments. Classical references are gone to be replaced by Lynne ideas all over the place. I like the general high music standards, good production. The growing absence of progressive rock was inevitable. "Strange magic" and "Evil woman" are unforgettable not overplayed 70's singles. The progressive mind will, however, be please by the majestic dynamic first instrumental track. Classic ELO.
 Discovery by ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA album cover Studio Album, 1979
2.89 | 273 ratings

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Discovery
Electric Light Orchestra Crossover Prog

Review by alainPP

4 stars ELO is the group that tried to stand out with classical orchestration, so we dive in, finally we take off with it!

1 Shine A Little Love synth that fuzzes, finally of the kind rocket that takes off... at the time; a sound that reminds me from near and far of the EARTH, WIND & FIRE with this slew of violins that go off in all directions and these choirs worthy of the BEE GEES; good we are far from the prog? Ah always trying to find some somewhere, yes Marc, in short, a thunderous title with a quick little guitar solo; good just for the alien ship of their concerts and the presentation by Daniel WILD 2 Confusion ah this heavy, imposing title, at a time when prog was dying a beautiful death and when you had to ogle here and there to get a little new blood, a real... confusion; these pompous keyboards, this false flute which puts the bucolic imprint, these sounds from behind which give relief, in short, only memories ... anyway 3 Need Her Love .. when I was talking about the ship at their concerts, there you have the arrival in music; a mid tempo, a slow tempo to pick up the bride and drag her into a slow, I need your love you know... a melancholy ballad that will remain linear 4 The Diary Of Horace Wimp with Jeff leading the way on this track Charisma, English prog sound in all its grandeur with string instruments featured; a sampled voice and an air that could shock, personally the violins made my hair stand on end, it's the opposite; good the bells are very artificial but it's rhythmic and you don't get bored, what more could you ask for; a little of the madness of 'Love is all' without knowing which title is the oldest... I catch my breath but go snoop on the clip it was really in the model 'Heavy metal' or the 'Savage planet' 5 Last Train To London go to the second side and the piece that makes my hair stand up there, the flight of violins bristles me too much, we're on 'The cruise s'amuse', OK for TV but here deuce; I want to move on, I persist and... boom the progressive, enjoyable break, which I play almost endlessly... yes I had recorded in a loop... at the time of tape recorders at K7; a little siren, the return of incisive violins and that's how we made a title, when disco could have become prog? then we would be damn well off 6 Midnight Blue ... well I'll tell you a secret: Jeff's head reminds me of a TOTO band I can't help it and this sound off the beaten track, no .. beaten makes me say that this n wasn't just rock but hey you know it since you're there reading; an air with always these cursed violins (again this cursed word ..) and the bucolic serenade goes away after having made you visit a clean universe 7 On The Run and hop a game of pinball; title that unrolls, synth notes with spatial effects, wow, simple but well done; watch out for the synth solo that plays it star more than me, you die! It slows down, yes they break the rhythm then it starts up again and the ship leaves forever... so it's over? 8 Wishing .. no the sound of the reactor comes back to hope for another end, mid tempo, violins, here there were the MOODY BLUES who cleared away without knowing it, there it is ELO who rubs it; a piano solo and hop we're happy, another vocoder and the air that traps you in a fake sticky rhythm, like cotton candy 9 Don't Bring Me Down .... here is a chro just for this title or almost ... everything is there: the sound, the rhythm, the madness, the air, the hard side without doing it, the solo winded guitar, the 'Kellog's' yes, I couldn't find anything better than that since I was a child and loved cornflakes; in short all that for a Bruce I still can't believe it! Well let's get back to this title representing the ultimate sound, the clapping of the hands, the funky sound but heavy enough to think of an ersatz of hard music, awesome I tell you; later it will be disco in a club then so strong that the hard will monopolize it and basta the disco; short ELO as UFO it is clear and obvious!

 Discovery by ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA album cover Studio Album, 1979
2.89 | 273 ratings

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Discovery
Electric Light Orchestra Crossover Prog

Review by Saimon

5 stars Before you are shocked by the rating of this review, let me contextualize a bit... this time, I don't want to focus on the technical or the commercial lowlights that ELO proved to enact with this work, I'm going to talk about how I lived with this album since I was a kid.

It's probably one of the few reviews I'll do in this way, but I think it's the best way to do it.

When I was a kid, all my father made me listen to was 80s songs and hits, Queen, Dire Straits, Men At Work. As well as showing his admiration and always remarkable amazement for the symbols of prog, Yes, TAPP (Alan Parsons & Eric Woolfson), Vox Dei, Pink Floyd, Supertramp, and many more bands. I was always curious about a specific band; ELO was my first pure emotional approach to music. As a consequence of several moves, my father lost many records and vinyls throughout his life, today he probably doesn't have even half of his original number of records bought... But, thank God, he wasn't robbed of the record that I still identify with the most. Discovery was the first listen that made me cry, jump, laugh, worry, and various emotions that are hard to explain. Even though this album can't be considered a prog masterpiece by many people, I consider that it IS, and firmly, a masterpiece and my favourite project of Jeff Lynne's incredible band.

The love-filled lyrics, that make you feel so strongly special things for that person that it keeps going round and round in your head ad nauseam, the melodies so flooded in nostalgia and hope with drops of perseverance and adventurous incitement to want to listen to EVERY SINGLE THING that sounds in every song, because every song has thousands of beautiful and perfect details that, together, make every part of this album sound endearing and instantly recognizable to every person who has heard it and felt the lyrics and rhythms as much as I have.

Over the years I have lived all kinds of sensations, feelings, experiences, phrases, talks, laughs, cries, fears, reliefs, surprises, all kinds of situations that generally impact and change one, sometimes completely or in large part generating a strict and notorious turn of margin in our mind, which makes us rethink many things. And through all that I have just mentioned, I have never stopped listening to Discovery over time, because it is a work that accompanies me day and night with its lyrics and its mystical and essential magic for any music lover or music lover (I can relate, haha). I can say, clearly and proudly, that there is no better medicine, talking about music of course, than a song that touches your soul with the situation you are going through, as if it had been composed thinking about you... And it seems that this album reflects so many feelings, that it makes you think that it was made for you! Because ELO knew how to adapt the music to the human heart and walk to the skin-deep touch that embraces our mind and body day by day.

It is definitely my favourite album of all time, and one of the most pro-love, pro-dream projects I have ever heard and admired. There is no greater thrill for me than that of a start-to-finish listen to Discovery, from the shifting, sensual melody of "Shine a Little Love" to the solid, walking rhythm and salsa that pours out "Don't Bring me Down" to close the album.

A beautiful aural and emotional journey through the intrepid and virtuosic routes of one of my favourite bands. Discovery is a masterpiece, by ELO, a master band. Thanks for reading.

 Xanadu (with Olivia Newton-John) by ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1980
2.14 | 3 ratings

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Xanadu (with Olivia Newton-John)
Electric Light Orchestra Crossover Prog

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

2 stars "Xanadu was Olivia Newton-John's follow-up to the massive hit Grease and was supposed to establish her as a bankable musical film star. It didn't quite happen that way, thanks to Xanadu's poor box-office showing and dreadful critical reception. There's little to recommend in this film, aside from the fact that it can be entertaining if viewed from a camp perspective." -- The All Movie Guide review

The name 'Xanadu' most likely makes us progheads think of the great Rush song, which was inspired by Samuel Taylor Coleridge's 1816 poem Kubla Khan; Xanadu is the name of the summer capital of Kublai Khan's dynasty. In the American musical fantasy film, Xanadu is a nightclub. I haven't seen the film, but as a 10-yr old kid I couldn't have avoided hearing the No. 1 hit title song multiple times. Coincidentally Electric Light Orchestra was probably the first band whose album [A New World Record, 1976] had made a strong impression on me as a child. I just fancied adding and writing about this single after hearing 'Xanadu' on radio yesterday, played for the memory of the actor and singer Olivia Newton-John who passed away a week ago; personally I don't much care about the song, or Newton-John.

The complete Xanadu soundtrack album -- reviewed by surprisingly many here -- is actually split between her side (songs were written by her long-time producer John Farrar) and ELO's side, the latter including the collaborative title hit. The song is recognizibly early 80's ELO all the way, with the exception of the lead vocals. You could imagine the song being sung by Jeff Lynne in which case it surely would have been a hit nevertheless, if not quite as big as it was with Olivia Newton-John as the star. Extremely catchy and melodic, it has the word HIT stamped all over it. But despite being very accessible to the masses, there is the distinctive orchestral production belonging to ELO and no one else.

The B side song 'Fool Country' (written by Farrars) was not included on the soundtrack album even though it was featured in the film, in the nightclub grand opening segment following the movie title track and before its reprise. It's a short, fast-tempo country rocker.

'Xanadu' was deservedly a big hit, but two stars will do for this single, and I'm addressing both of my stars mainly to Jeff Lynne as a songwriter and producer.

 Showdown by ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1974
3.34 | 14 ratings

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Showdown
Electric Light Orchestra Crossover Prog

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Here is an introduction to ELO that I managed to score on vinyl. The songs are taken from the first 2 albums with the exception of the best track from On the Third Day, that is Showdown. This is an early compilation, the first of a plethora of compilations to follow. As a result its a rather odd curiosity but features perhaps the proggiest selections. 10538 Overture and First Movement are a case in point. The album is a short, sharp prog excursion, and very welcome in my vinyl collection. I definitely recommend a listen for those who are accustomed to the more commercial side of ELO. The selections here are quite the opposite of commercial.
 Jeff Lynne's ELO - Wembley or Bust by ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA album cover Live, 2017
4.20 | 18 ratings

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Jeff Lynne's ELO - Wembley or Bust
Electric Light Orchestra Crossover Prog

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars I got hold of the amazing picture book replete with a wonderful collection of photos capturing this monumental event and then revisited the CD. It comes with a bonus DVD of the entire concert and beautiful packaging and booklet. It is a love letter to the massive ELO fanbase, every song played to perfection. Jeff Lynne still has a powerhouse vocal technique accompanied by the virtuoso musicians. Of note is Mel on operatic vocals and the 3 gorgeous ladies on string instruments. The whole evening is a captivating experience, all the greatest hits are played and some surprises. This is one of the best concerts of ELO. The sound quality is outstanding and if you can get the deluxe version with DVD, you are in for a very special concert experience.
 ELO 2 [Aka: Electric Light Orchestra II‎] by ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.63 | 280 ratings

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ELO 2 [Aka: Electric Light Orchestra II‎]
Electric Light Orchestra Crossover Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Special Collaborator PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic

4 stars After joining The Move, Jeff Lynne single-handedly changed the direction of that band into his own vision thus showing his charismatic gravitational pull on others around him and slowly but surely The Move transmogrified completely into the ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA with some tracks on the band's first album actually coming to fruition when writing material for The Move's final two albums as both band briefly existed simultaneously. The Move was Roy Wood's baby and he had done quite well with it having scored several single hits as well as bridging the gap between pop and prog. Somewhere along the line though Wood decided to add cellos intended for a Move B-side titled "10538 Overture" and that's when Jeff Lynne saw an opportunity to create a completely new musical beast. This evolved into what Wood and Lynne unleashed the wacky strange world of ELO that tackled Lynne's obsession of taking the pop sensibilities of The Beatles and marrying them with more sophisticated classical music entanglements.

The first ELO album was one of a kind with modern pop meets prog compositions performed on mostly acoustic classical instruments along with the modern electronic instruments that included electric guitar and Moog synthesizers. The album was too weird for many with its army of brass and woodwinds. The mondo-bizarro rendezvous of cellos, oboes, bassoons, clarinets, recorders and French horns with electric guitars, violins and keyboards that teased classical tones and timbres into a rock context was revolutionary if not universally appreciated and didn't exactly set the world on fire but it did establish the ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA as its own band outside of anything that The Move had done. The album was brilliantly quirky but wasn't exactly the blueprint for a successful future. That's when Roy Wood became discouraged when it proved unfeasible to perform the acoustic instruments with the electric ones in a live setting. He decided to leave the band.

Unfortunately for Lynne, not only did Wood leave the band but so did everybody else! The sole holdout was drummer Bev Bevan who would enjoy a long career with ELO. Having been forced to completely rebuild the band from scratch Lynne suddenly found himself as the leader of the band and pretty much was grasping at straws to see which direction the wind was blowing in terms of the musical market. Given all these tumultuous changes Lynne and his new party of noise makers crafted the rather un-innovative-ly titled ELO 2, well at least in the UK where it was deemed a good move to truncate the cumbersome moniker into a sleek new branding however in North America the album found a release as ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA II. Ironically the album was supposed to be a concept album titled "The Lost Planet" but that all went by the wayside when Wood departed to form the band Wizzard which went down the road to glam rock and progressive pop in the manner of The Move.

ELO II was very much a transition of sort where Lynne was throwing out as many ideas as possible to figure out exactly where his newly acquired baby would lead. The result is a very mixed stylistic approach. The opening "In Old England Town (Boogie #2)" was a leftover from the original sessions with Roy Wood appearing as bassist / cellist and therefore sounding a lot like the debut album however the second track "Momma" ("Mama" on US copeis) drops most of the classical instruments and focused more on a crossover prog sound however what really got this album on the charts was the brilliant classical / rock and roll fusion number "Roll Over Beethoven" which deftly fused the Chuck Berry song with the classical accoutrements courtesy of Ludwig himself. The 8-minute song not only was Lynne's attempt of keeping good old fashioned rock and roll alive but that he was an absolute genius in the fusion of such disparate genres of the larger musical universe. It was a top 10 hit in the UK and became a staple of live performances.

Taking a completely different turn the symphonic prog "From the Sun to the World (Boogie #1)" was also an 8-minute plus excursion into the possibilities of mixing pop, rock and classical music and was also a Lynne original. With a rather hootenanny style of violin playing the track took on even more visionary possibilities by incorporating folk and country aspects. Lynne was clearly a musical genius at this point although the pop sensibilities alienated the prog worshippers during the day and vice versa the music was too complex for the average pop music market consumer. An intricately designed composition this one goes into all kinds of changes but offers a satisfying return when experienced over many listening experiences as it morphs from classical to rock and roll and back again. The closing "Kuiama" provides the lengthiest track at over 11 minutes and therefore the most rooted in progressive rock. It was also the longest track EVER recorded by the ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA. It featured all the attributes of a great prog song. Melody, complexity and a cool tool about a war orphan with a soldier as he tells her tales about a war.

ELO II is very much an enigma in the band's existence much like the debut. This was the last album to be released on the Harvest label and by far the most diverse amongst ELO's canon however with the success of the single "Roll Over Beethoven," also was the moment in time when Lynne became aware of his strengths and therefore the stylistic approach of the single was the way to sally forth into the future. The future ELO albums would incorporate classic rock and roll sounds with modern crossover prog and eventually disco which made ELO a household name in the 1970s and one of the biggest musical acts of all time. This was quite the pivotal moment for Jeff Lynne and this album showcases the myriad directions the band could've have taken at this point in 1972 when prog was still popular but in the end Lynne's decision to channel his musical mojo into the more accessible pop aspects proved to be the winning lottery number. Many discount this album as a fluke but i personally find this one to be a deeply moving musical experience. To me the early ELO experiences are the most rewarding.

Thanks to yanns for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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