Electric Light Orchestra – All Over the World: The Very Best of Electric Light Orchestra

What I Think of When I Think of This Artist

If you think of Electric Light Orchestra, you think of Jeff Lynne, as you should. But ELO was Roy Wood’s baby and brainchild, conceived while he was leading the Move. Due to contractual obligations, the Move coexisted with ELO from 1970-72, with Wood, Lynne, and drummer Bev Bevan forming the core of both groups. Wood left ELO by 1972, during the recording of their second album, to form Wizzard. Lynne stepped up and the rest is history. The band dissolved in 1986, as Lynne moved to production work and other projects (like the Traveling Wilburys). Bevan formed ELO II (with the blessing of Lynne), and Lynne himself eventually reformed ELO (without Bevan). Bevan has also drummed for Black Sabbath and Paul Weller (the Jam).

What I Think of This Album

I am fairly certain there are about 59 different ELO Best of comps, and I have no ability or desire to convince you that this is the one you should own. From what I have read, it is not in fact the best such collection, as it apparently skips over some hits in favor of album cuts. But it is the one *I* happen to own, and for now, it suffices for my purposes. It is not sequenced chronologically and omits songs from multiple albums, focusing on tracks from 1973 to 1983. And if you care about such things, it does not feature any contributions from Roy Wood. Again, to the extent this album does not paint the most accurate picture of ELO, I am 100% okay with that. Well, 95% okay, as I can see myself replacing it with a better comp someday.

I am fully here for the absolute ridiculousness that is ELO. Every possible criticism of Electric Light Orchestra’s songs and sound is, to my ear, a positive. Shameless Beatles theft? Cool. Gloopy layer upon gloopy layer of keyboards and strings? Fuck, yes.  Pretentious meldings of genres like classical, disco, opera, and rock? Bring it on. Candy-coated and carnival-colored melodies? Perfect.

Almost every track here is pretty fucking irresistible. If you hate this and wish Jeff Lynne had died in his crib as an infant, fine (though there are better targets for your anger). I can actually understand that. But I suggest you give yourself over to the joys of Lynne’s undeniable enthusiasm and studio wizardry. This album contains twenty tracks of unbeatable and unabashed fucking FUN. The highlights are too many to mention because they are all highlights:  “Mr. Blue Sky;” “Rock and Roll Is King;” “Rockaria!;” “Don’t Bring Me Down;” “Hold On Tight.”

Marc Bolan of T. Rex plays guitar on “Ma-Ma-Ma Belle.”

The Best Thing About This Album

I am giving credit to the string players and keyboardists (especially Richard Tandy).

Release Date

June, 2005

The Cover Art

It looks like a giant Simon toy, but what I appreciate is that it is a mix of the grandiose and the silly in the same way ELO’s songs are. So, yeah, it works.

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