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Rock - Released August 3, 2018 | Epic - Legacy

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35 years later, this new re-edition finally corrects a terrible injustice. Despite its colossal success at the end of the 1970s, the powerful major distributing ELO in the United States vetoed the double-album project, forcing Jeff Lynne – who had become the band’s uncontested leader −, to change his strategy and tame his ambitions, settling for a reasonably long simple album. Professionals in the business had strong doubts over whether or not this veteran of the 70s could survive the 80s, a decade in which pop music lost all dignity. In other words, he who was one of the few to come close to the Beatles’ excellence and knew how to adapt, with more or less finesse, to the zeitgeist, particularly the disco wave, was in danger of becoming old fashioned… Still, his two previous albums, Discovery (1979) and the ambitious Time (1981) both topped the charts in many countries, as well as his original soundtrack for the disappointing film Xanadu. Listening to the twenty-five tracks of this revised and corrected version of Secret Messages, it becomes clear that Lynne’s updating work should have earned him more respect. Retaining its idiosyncratic components that allowed for rock’n’roll influences to harmoniously coexist with pronounced classical influences, ELO broadened their skill set while mastering the latest progress in technology. Tracks that had been scattered over singles, compilations, or the following album (Balance Of Power) have finally been re-integrated, with, as a bonus, a handful of previously unreleased songs that are well worth a listen. Only Beatles Forever is missing, the tribute Lynne still doesn’t deign to officially release, despite achieving his dream by producing the Liverpool band during their Anthology period, after collaborating with two of its members (George Harrison and Ringo Starr). © Jean-Pierre Sabouret/Qobuz
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Rock - Released November 13, 2015 | Epic - Legacy

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Progressive Rock - Released October 7, 2011 | Epic

There have been many ELO collections over the years -- some exhaustive, some not -- so it might initially seem that the 2003 collection The Essential Electric Light Orchestra is a little unnecessary, especially since the definitive 1995 double-disc set Strange Magic was still in print at the time of this release. This line of reasoning conveniently ignores the simple fact that not everybody needs two discs of ELO; some may prefer one career-spanning collection with all the big hits on one disc, which is precisely what this is. Given its hits-oriented nature, it's inevitable that some great songs are missing and there are, including such early masterworks as "10538 Overture" and "Showdown," as well as fan favorites like "Boy Blue" and "Four Little Diamonds." But, if you care enough to care that these songs are missing, you won't hesitate to buy Strange Magic. If you just want "Can't Get It Out of My Head," "Livin' Thing," "Mr. Blue Sky," and "Don't Bring Me Down" along with other big hits, this suits the bill almost perfectly (the one quibble being that it would be nicer to have chronological order instead of this jumble, but this is enjoyable all the same). ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Rock - Released November 13, 2015 | Epic - Legacy

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Rock - Released September 10, 2012 | Columbia - Legacy

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Rock - Released November 13, 2015 | Epic - Legacy

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Rock - Released November 13, 2015 | Epic - Legacy

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Rock - Released November 13, 2015 | Epic - Legacy

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Rock - Released November 13, 2015 | Epic - Legacy

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Rock - Released November 13, 2015 | Epic - Legacy

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Rock - Released November 13, 2015 | Epic - Legacy

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Rock - Released June 12, 2001 | Columbia - Legacy

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Pop - Released September 1, 2014 | Parlophone UK

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Rock - Released November 13, 2015 | Epic - Legacy

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Rock - Released June 27, 2014 | Epic - Legacy

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Pop - Released March 18, 2016 | Rhino

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Rock - Released April 22, 2013 | Columbia

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Rock - Released July 31, 2006 | Parlophone UK

EMI's 2006 triple-CD set The Harvest Years 1970-1973 is a more limited -- yet also somewhat expanded -- vault exploration covering some of the same territory as the U.K.-issued double-CD editions of the Electric Light Orchestra and ELO 2 albums. There are no project "leftovers" such as fragments from "Lost Planet," or any BBC tracks -- everything is confined to surviving studio outtakes from the two completed albums that they did for Harvest, so in that sense this is a more restricted survey of that history, the virtues being the sensational sounding remastering of the two albums (the same remasterings heard on those double-CD editions), relevant session outtakes, and the single mixes and edits of the 45s generated by the group during this period. But the makers have also included the complete alternate quadraphonic mix of the self-titled debut album (of which only four tracks, "Look at Me Now," "Nellie Takes Her Bow," "The Battle of Marston Moor" and "Queen of the Hours," had ever previously shown up on CD). To make it clear, it's not in quad here -- its been remastered to stereo while keeping the mix intact; the alternate mix places considerably different emphasis on various instruments, suppressing some in favor of others that were pushed into the background on the original stereo mix, and moving the vocals around as well. It isn't better -- and someday it might be interesting to use that quad mix intact, in quadraphonic, on an SACD -- but it is very different and it does tie up one loose-end among official ELO releases from this period. Hardcore fans who already own the double-disc reissues of the two albums may resent the idea of having to buy the same upgraded remasterings (and the same outtakes) for a second time, in order to get that alternate mix of Electric Light Orchestra (known in the U.S. as No Answer); but others, who are just discovering the joys of this band's early history, may well welcome the chance to probe deeper into that history, and will use this as a jumping-off point for plunging into the two double-CD reissues, with their wider-ranging explorations of the band's work. ~ Bruce Eder
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Rock - Released September 1, 2004 | Rhino

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