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Electric Light Orchestra - Afterglow CD (album) cover


Electric Light Orchestra


Crossover Prog

3.26 | 15 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars With the explosion of retrospective boxset compilations appearing on the market in the late 1980's and early 1990's, ELO added a 3-CD set to that market called Afterglow which featured a thin 15-page booklet detailing the history of the band and included many color and back-and-white photos of the band (even in the early days when they used to wear odd costumes and even one with a cellist wearing an ape mask). Also included was a complete discography of the band. This was meant to be a historical document of the band from their humble beginnings as a side project of the Move to their disastrous demise in 1986.

The collection includes all of their major hits, plus a lot of unreleased material that didn't make it onto their Time, Secret Messages, and Balance of Power albums. Of the three discs, the first is the most important in terms of progressive rock as it features music from No Answer, ELO II, On the Third Day, Eldorado, and Face the Music, their first five albums and the most important releases by the band artistically speaking. Included is their classic 10538 Overture, the epic Kuiama (probably the best song the band ever made), the powerful and raw In Old England Town, and one of their most popular live performances in Roll Over Beethoven (the full 8+ minute version). Also included are their hits from the time period, such as Showdown, Can't Get It Out of My Head, Ma-Ma-Ma Belle, and Boy Blue. The selection is very representative of the time period and the only downer for me is missing the inclusion of In the Hall of the Mountain King, their wonderful cover of Grieg's famous work. This disc alone is worth rating as four stars.

The second disc is made up of 17 pop songs from 1975-1979. They are nearly all representative pop hits from this time period, except for Nightrider, Waterfall, Sweet is the Night, Steppin' Out, and Midnight Blue. It isn't clear why Lynne included those other than maybe they were favorites of his. Anyhow, disc two is not progressive rock in the slightest, so by itself I would rate it as two stars.

The third disc contains material from 1979-1986. It includes most of their hits from this time period, except for Last Train to London, The Diary of Horace Wimp, Calling America, and most important of all, no material from that dreadful soundtrack Xanadu can be found here. Although that is promising, this disc is a mixed bag because it contains a lot of unreleased material from ELO's last three albums. A lot is this unreleased stuff is just as mind-numbing as the rest of their pop music efforts, however there are a few surprises. Bouncer is an interesting old-style rock and roll song that seems quite out of place on this collection due to its lack of synthesizers. A refreshing change of pace even though it means nothing in the prog rock world. However, the almost eight-minute Hello My Old Friend is probably the most interesting song Lynne had made since Fire on High. It is mostly about the deteriorating environment around us. It's very electronic and synthesized, fully orchestrated, filled with Lynne's classic harmonies, has a nice middle section of lush digital synths filled with sound effects, and a modern day I Am the Walrus-style ending. It sounds like a mix of the Beatles and neo prog. Although the song isn't close to being complex, it's lush synths are beautiful and at the same time quite haunting. But the fact that Lynne didn't include it on Secret Messages, says a lot about where the band was at that time. Overall, the third disc is interesting, but with just one song of interest to the prog rock world, it deserves only two stars as well.

A nice historical document of the group's history that includes not only their key progressive rock songs of their early period, but nearly all of their pop hits and a whole load of unreleased material from their final years. It's a very representative compilation of the group's discography. I would highly recommend this to people who are interested in the whole ELO experience. However, if you're only interested in their progressive rock period, start with ELO II and On the Third Day, then get No Answer, Eldorado, and Face the Music. Anything else by this band will not be of any interest to the prog rock community. With that in mind, three stars for this compilation. Good, but not essential.

progaeopteryx | 3/5 |


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