Electric Light Orchestra - Flashback

Year of Release: 2000
Label: Epic/Legacy
Catalog Number: 5009312000
Format: CD
Total Time: 213:34:00

Boxed sets are a strange invention. I mean, who buys them anyway? The real fan obviously has everything about his or her favourite artist already, so except for the couple of unreleased "gems" included in such a box, it remains an expensive venture. For those who have nothing on that particular artist but wouldn't mind a greatest hits package, it's also a very costly experience for someone who might be happy with a single disc. Take me and Wishbone Ash. For a while I had nothing on this great band so I opted to get hold of Distillation, a lavish four-CD boxed set. After a while I noticed I was only playing disc one and two because they contained the material I thought for me was the "real" Wishbone Ash. In the end I just went out and bought Wishbone Ash, Pilgrimage, Argus and Wishbone Four as no track could be omitted from these audio jewels.

The same thing happened to me regarding Uriah Heep. Again I had no CDs of this band so I bought myself the four CD set A Time Of Revelation only to sell it two weeks later. Again only the first two discs were important to me, and whilst listening to some of those early tracks felt the need to buy the actual albums. If you like prog you simply need to have Salisbury because of the lengthy title track and there was no way they would fit this on the box set. So with the money from the box set and a little extra I went out and bought Very 'Eavy Very 'Umble, Salisbury, Look At Yourself, Demons And Wizards, The Magician's Birthday, Live '73 and Return To Fantasy, the latter mainly for the title track and the inclusion of John Wetton. But what about ELO then?

To be honest I had no album whatsoever in my entire collection (apart from the vinyl box set Three Light Years containing On The Third Day, Eldorado and Face The Music) whilst I knew that a single "greatest hits" package certainly couldn't contain all of the band's best music. Would I be happy with a 3-CD overview of the band's career then, or would I, as I did with Wishbone Ash and Uriah Heep, go on to sell that box, too, and then go for each individual album afterwards? Remastered by Beatles clone Jeff Lynne himself, the band's first three albums are represented here by two songs each. First off the mark is the lengthy "10538 Overture" filled with tasty cello which, if we may believe the liner notes, was the first ever ELO song. Listening to "Showdown" it's as if you sit in during the actual recording, as you're almost able to guess the room's measurements by listening carefully. The beginning of ELO certainly didn't allow the band to go for a BIG sound, as this was impossible to attain in the kind of studio they were recording in at the time. Nevertheless the music is very direct and well mixed, giving room to both the harmonies as well as the string section.

In ELO's history they really hit it big from 1975 onwards when the album Face The Music was released, including such timeless pieces as "Strange Magic" and "Evil Woman". ELO became both a singles band plus an album band. Four songs from Face The Music, six from Eldorado, six from A New World Record and seven from the double vinyl treatment Out Of The Blue are included here. This was certainly the band's most succesful period which had them perform live the world over collecting one platinum album after the other. One of those live highlights is included in this box as well. Pulled from the difficult to obtain album The Night The Lights Went Out In Long Beach, the classic "Great Balls Of Fire" illustrates the basics of the band. With or without the classical influences ELO was most and foremost a rock'n roll band as the inclusion of the studio version of the classic "Roll Over Beethoven" illustrates! Approved by none other than Sir George Martin who was recording "Live And Let Die" with Paul McCartney in the studio next door at the time. The albums Discovery, Time, Secret Messages and Balance Of Power are also represented, but maybe in a way miss the sparkle, the fizz, that the "older" , more "vintage" material had.

Let's concentrate on the outtakes and so far unreleased gems that are also included in this box set. First up is an unedited alternative mix of "Do Ya" which Lynne likes better than the "normal" edited version that has been doing the rounds for all those years. Then there's some studio fun between Jeff Lynne and Richard Tandy. Recorded in 1982 in Holland and only finishing the song in 2000, "Grieg's Piano Concerto In A Minor" has Richard tickling the ivories whilst Jeff plays the drums. Both musicians also add some guitar to this tongue in cheek adaptation of a classic which almost becomes a surf song with a hidden Shadows twang.

Over to disc two which holds yet another alternative mix of "Mission (A World Record)" mainly with a different intro. "Tears In Your Life" is yet another unreleased song which was started in 1982 and finished eighteen years later. Originally sung through a vocoder, Jeff decided to record his vocals in a three part harmony instead. Once again a great string section tops it all, adding that patented trademark to the otherwise fabulous ELO music.

From the three discs the last one holds most of the "rare" stuff crammed together towards the end of the disc. Made immortal by the wonderful Olivia Newton-John, Jeff nevertheless has a go himself at singing "Xanadu" which here is more guitar oriented and more direct than the radio hit we have loved for so many years [but darent play in public. - ed.]. Recorded way back in 1973, on what has to be very dodgy recording equipment, the demo for "Indian Queen" reveals a mix between The Beatles' "Mother Nature's Son" and The Eagles. Twenty years in the making "Love Changes All" is more Traveling Wilburys than pure ELO, except maybe for the harmonies and the omni-present violins. So far the B-side of the vinyl single "Rock And Roll Is King" has never been released on CD which is why it is included here. "After All" is the kind of music you'd relate to films like Bilitis, the kind of laidback atmosphere which has the word "pina colada" written all over it. The intro for "Helpless" kind of reminds me of the heydays of Dutch band Kayak, but then the rhythm takes over, filtering this song into a mediocre ELO song. The box set ends with a Bonzo Dog Doo Band kind of vaudeville. Recorded way back in 1982 and augmented with "audio farts" in 2000, "Who's That" is Lynne's very own Monty Python crammed into 1'26" of typical British lunacy.

I thoroughly enoyed listening to this boxed set and I don't think I'll ever part with it as it really contains all of the band's highlights. Maybe, in years to come, the Japanese might once again decide it's time to release every single ELO album in those miniature card sleeves. I might be tempted to get hold of most of the band's back catalogue then. For the time being however I feel comfortable enough with this Flashback which, with eyes closed, has all of my youth flashing before my eyes as if it happened yesterday. Flashback indeed! [All of which reminds this editor that my Out Of The Blue is languishing in 8-Track format. -ed.]

Disc One: 10538 Overture (5:30) / Showdown (4:11) / Ma-Ma-Ma Belle (3:54) / Mr. Radio (5:04) / Roll Over Beethoven (7:49) / Mama (New Edit) (4:05) / One Summer Dream (5:21) / Illusions In G Major (2:42) / Strange Magic (4:28) / Eldorado Overture (2:13) / Can't Get It Out Of My Head (4:24) / Eldorado (5:18) / Eldorado ? Finale (1:30) / Do Ya (Unedited Alternative Mix) (4:09) / Mister Kingdom (5:07) / Grieg's Piano Concerto In A Minor* (2:59)

Disc Two: Tightrope (5:23) / Evil Woman (4:20) / Livin' Thing (3:33) / Mr. Blue Sky (5:06) / Mission (A World Record) (Alternative Mix) (4:28) / Turn To Stone (3:48) / Telephone Line (4:46) / Rockaria! (3:14) / Starlight (4:45) / It's Over (3:55) / The Whale (5:05) / Sweet Talkin' Woman (3:48) / Big Wheels (5:31) / Shangri-La (5:36) / Nightrider (4:23) / Tears In Your Life* (3:06)

Disc Three: Don't Bring Me Down (4:02) / The Diary Of Horace Wimp (4:16) / Twilight (3:43) / Secret Messages (4:36) / Take Me On And On (4:58) / Shine A Little Love (4:10) / Rock And Roll Is King (3:09) / Last Train To London (4:31) / Confusion (3:39) / Getting To The Point (4:51) / Hold On Tight (3:07) / So Serious (2:43) / Calling America (3:27) / Four Little Diamonds (4:05) / Great Balls Of Fire (Live) (3:05) / Xanadu* (new version) (3:21) / Indian Queen* (demo) (0:57) / Love Changes All* (3:26) / After All (2:23) / Helpless* (3:18) / Who's That?* (1:26)

*previously unreleased

First line up : Jeff Lynne, Roy Wood, Bev Bevan, Steve Woolam, Bill Hunt

Second line up : Jeff Lynne, Richard Tandy, Bev Bevan, Michael De Albuquerque, Wilf Gibson, Colin Walker, Mike Edwards

Third line up : Jeff Lynne, Richard Tandy, Bev Bevan, Kelly Groucutt, Mik Kaminski, Hugh McDowell, Melvyn Gale

Fourth line up : Jeff Lynne, Richard Tandy, Bev Bevan, Kelly Groucutt, Mik Kaminski, Louis Clark, Dave Morgan

Fifth line up : Jeff Lynne, Richard Tandy, Bev Bevan

No Answer (1972)
On The Third Day (1973)
Electric Light Orchestra 2 (1973)
Eldorado (1975)
Face The Music (1975)
Ol? ELO (1976)
A New World Record (1976)
Out Of The Blue (1977)
ELO's Greatest Hits (1979)
Discovery (1979)
Time (1981)
Secret Messages (1983)
Balance Of Power (1986)
Afterglow (3CD Box) (1990)
ELO's Greatest Hits Vol. 2 (1995)
Strange Music: The Best Of Electric Light Orchestra (1995)
Flashback (3CD box) (2000)
Zoom (2001)
ELO 2: Lost Planet (2003)
The Essential Electric Light Orchestra (2003)
ELO Classics (2003)
Early Years (2004)
ELO, Part II: Greatest Hits (2004)
Collection: Face The Music /A New World Records/Discovery Critical Review 1970-1973 (2005)
All Over The World: The Very Best Of Electric Light Orchestra (2005)

Genre: Rock

Origin UK

Added: May 15th 2001
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Artist website: www.elomusic.com
Hits: 1732
Language: english


[ Back to Reviews Index | Post Comment ]