Remastered, Box Set
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This 3-CD, 53-track set is the first comprehensive ELO collection drawn from the original master tapes (many of which were recently rediscovered). ELO impresario Jeff Lynne oversaw this project, penning commentary for every track including hits ( Don't Bring Me Down; Telephone Line; Shine a Little Love; Xanadu , etc.), classics (including 10538 Overture , their first song!), alternate takes, demos, unissued cuts and a new version of Xanadu with Lynne on vocals. A suitably grand-scale set for the masters of orchestral rock!
Electric Light Orchestra are the quintessential fanboy (or fangirl) band; folks tend to either love or hate Jeff Lynne's far-reaching pop act, while critics tend to wrinkle their nose in disgust and dismiss their entire oeuvre save the obscure first album that Roy Wood plays on. Basically, E.L.O. are derided for writing all the Beatles songs that the Beatles never got around to writing in the first place, and then slapping sappy disco string arrangements on top. But at their best this ambitious ensemble--whose maxim is to try and cram as much sound and scope as possible into the conventional pop song--achieve a certain lumbering grace which is amazingly pleasurable. Sure, their songs are sappy and Lynne's lyrics campy, but Lynne is such a master that he transforms artifice into art; he's not the Beethoven of rock, he's its Jeff Koons. Moreover, Lynne is no mere retro futurist; he is fully capable of taking apart high-, low-, and middle-brow genres and recombining them in unexpected ways--in a manner that foreshadows pop music's direction in the 1990s. It's delightful to see this underrated group get a decent, career-spanning three-CD box set (digitally remastered, natch), with the requisite unreleased/alternate takes and elaborate color booklet with extensive liner notes. This music has aged remarkably well, like a fine can of soda pop. --Mike McGonigal
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This set is the definitive set of the three issued ELO compilations. The liner notes are written by Lynne and they are interesting and contain some new information. He throws in some clunkers, such as the B-take of "Do Ya?" which Lynee erroneously claims is better than the released version. "Xanudu" is still a limping dog of a song, but there are some remastered gems here. ALl of the first 2 discs are pure magic, including ELO's most underrated (and, I think, best) song, "Nightrider." And how about "Four Little Diamonds" on disc three, where you can Lynne counting down the intro and sounding exactly like Ozzy Osbourne, in their mutual Birmingham accents.
The sound quality is excellent and the track order is pleasing. There are no omissions and only a few questionable inclusions, and they all appear on disc three.
I bought my first ELO single when I was 10 years old and I never looked back. If you've read this far, you're a fan like me and you will devour this set. Long live this sappy, trite, banal band... I still love 'em forever!
The industry just doesn't seem to get the fact that dehissing always sucks life out of music! You can't remove broadband white noise without taking some musical harmonics with it. There's just "air" missing in there somehow; the music sounds like it's trapped behind an ever-so-thin veil of Saran wrap. (Disc 2 seems especially hard hit.)
The EQ used to compensate is used very judiciously, but you just can't put it all back in after removing such broad swaths of high-frequency information! Voices and strings all sound just a little "off," and worst hit are the drums--hard and brittle ("crisp" is a term I've seen people using!) at the uppermost frequencies instead of snappy and open the way the snares sound on the original LPs (and in life).
On a scale of 1 to 10 I'd give the sound a 9...it's so close to perfect. And I give the production team credit for not overly compressing these already-compressed pop recordings.
The music, of course, is incredible, the sequencing inspired. I just can't reconcile this thing with the sound. It may not even be de-hissing...maybe it's something else.
Legacy has done oustanding work with Simon & Garfunkel and The Outlaws, bettering the quality of the original LPs in those cases. Maybe Jeff Lynne should have worked with the producer Bob Irwin on this collection. Anyway, buy it and listen for yourself! I'm splitting hairs with greatness here.