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The Epitome of 70's Music
on May 19, 2006
When I think of 70's music, Electric Light Orchestra immediately comes to mind. ELO is the 70's, and the 70's are ELO. This band has a unique, indescribable sound that, in my opinion, defined the music of the early 1970's more than any other rock n' roll band.
"Strange Magic: The Best of Electric Light Orchestra" contains all of ELO's hit songs plus some of their less-well-known works, all in their original formats (except that ELO's work from the "Xanadu" soundtrack and the instrumental Fire on High from "Face the Music" are not present). There's no cutting corners here, as some record labels are prone to do. Each song is presented as it was originally recorded.
Even without the Xanadu hits, the two-disc set is a good retrospective of ELO's musical evolution. Who else but Jeff Lynne could arrange orchestral instruments in this manner? Perhaps he took his cue from The Moody Blues, Peter Knight and the London Festival Orchestra, but the arrangements worked very well with the more traditional electric guitars, keyboards and drums of rock music. The difference here is in the arranging itself. While The Moody Blues' "Days of Future Passed" used an orchestra mainly for musical interludes, Lynne integrated the orchestral parts with the other instruments for a unique sound that is hard to reproduce correctly.
Jeff Lynne was successful in his arrangements of instruments that didn't normally play together, but he might not have known just how much of an innovator he was. His music set the stage for other groups and artists, such as Vangelis, Mike Oldfield, Tangerine Dream, Orchestra X and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, just to name a few, to re-invent the classical rock genre.
This collection is a "mostly" best-of collection, as a few songs are indeed missing, but the two-disk set fits well, like an old glove. If you really like the unique sound of 70's classical rock, you can't go wrong with this collection, and you won't mind a missing song here or there.