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Rock - Released November 1, 2019 | Columbia

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Rock - Released November 17, 2017 | Columbia

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Jeff Lynne revived Electric Light Orchestra in 2015 -- due to legal reasons, they were now called Jeff Lynne's ELO -- releasing a comeback album called Alone in the Universe and steadily mounting a return to the road. Several dates happened in 2016, but the tour reached its apex in June 2017, when the group played in front of 60,000 people at London's Wembley Stadium. Released five months after that June 24 gig, Wembley or Bust -- which was accompanied by a concert film -- features the entirety of the gig, and if it's not heard too closely, it could sometimes be mistaken for an ELO greatest-hits album. Lynne re-creates the arrangements of his studio work throughout the concert; even when the Traveling Wilburys' "Handle with Care" is hauled out, it sounds like it did on record. The vocals are where the seams show, as Lynne is a little rougher and lower than he was at his peak. Although this is a noticeable difference, it's hardly enough to mar what amounts to a thoroughly enjoyable -- and perhaps a tad triumphant -- return to live performance for Jeff Lynne. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Rock - Released November 13, 2015 | Columbia

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Alone in the Universe isn't the first Jeff Lynne album of the 21st century, nor is it the first Electric Light Orchestra of the 21st century. That honor belongs to Zoom, a 2001 comeback that faded quickly into history books, its lack of success blamed in some quarters on Lynne's reluctance to tour. If Jeff didn't want to hit the road, his old bandmate Bev Bevan had no problem constituting a lineup and touring under the name ELO Part II, whose presence somewhat explains why Alone in the Universe is credited to the somewhat convoluted Jeff Lynne's ELO -- a truncation of the band's full name that also assigns credit where it's due, as most listeners associate this majestic post-Abbey Road pop with Lynne alone. Certainly, Alone in the Universe is recognizably the work of Lynne: harmonies so sweet they'd induce cavities, stately midtempo marches that just avoid the appearance of pomp, a devotion to both McCartney-esque melody and Martin-esque production, spiked by an ode to George Harrison's slide guitar. At 32 minutes, Alone in the Universe is remarkably devoid of excess -- notably, it's just five minutes longer than his breezy 2012 covers album Long Wave -- but it doesn't feel shrugged off, nor does it feel especially attached to its time. Lynne abandons some of the clean-cut sharp edges of his early-'90s productions so he can happily live in the late '70s -- there are echoes of disco on "One Step at a Time" and the entire enterprise carries a sci-fi aura, even if it never is fantastical or prog -- and there's an appeal to his long looks back because he's not pandering to nostalgia: he's simply embracing who he is. If he hasn't written a knockout single -- a high bar for a craftsman of 67 to clear -- he's nevertheless sculpted ten strong songs, each one containing a sturdy melodic foundation and dressed in the handsomest threads of 1978. For many longtime followers of Lynne and ELO, that will be all they need from Alone in the Universe. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Rock - Released October 25, 2019 | Columbia

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Rock - Released November 13, 2015 | Columbia

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Rock - Released September 29, 2019 | Columbia

Unlike either its predecessor Alone in the Universe or 2001's Zoom, From out of Nowhere didn't appear after a prolonged period of silence from Jeff Lynne's ELO. It arrived in November of 2019, nearly exactly four years after Alone in the Universe, a rapid turnaround that recalls Lynne's work schedule as a bandleader and producer in the 1970s and '80s. That's not the only way From out of Nowhere conjures memories of the past. From the spaceship hovering on its record cover to the song title "Sci-Fi Woman" stirring up the ghost of "Evil Woman," the album is designed to sound and feel like an Electric Light Orchestra album from the late 1970s. That was true of Alone in the Universe too, but From out of Nowhere makes that album seem fresher in retrospect. Here, there is no clever embrace of digital technology or even nods to disco: it's all immaculate orchestrated pop punctuated with some old-time rock & roll. Listen not too closely and it may be possible to mistake these tunes for outtakes from A New World Record or Out of the Blue, since they have a similar pomp lushness. Listen a bit closer and the seams emerge. As elegant as they are, the melodies don't easily lodge in the subconscious, but the bigger problem is that the production -- by Lynne, who plays virtually every note on the record -- is airless and precise. This dryness is a remnant of the digital age, where every element in a recording is exactly in the right place, and if it's not quite a drawback, it does mean From out of Nowhere can be a bit of an uncanny valley: it's close enough to a genuine item to satisfy, yet different enough to disarm. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Rock - Released September 25, 2015 | Columbia

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Rock - Released November 10, 2017 | Columbia

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Rock - Released October 6, 2017 | Columbia

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Rock - Released October 27, 2017 | Columbia

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Rock - Released October 16, 2015 | Columbia

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Rock - Released November 3, 2017 | Columbia

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Rock - Released October 30, 2015 | Columbia