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ELO remasters (warning: long post no one will care about, I was bored)

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  • biceeichler
    As I ve mentioned on the list a couple times in the past, I m an ELO fan. Yes, I admit it. I got hooked by the albums Time and ELO II in my youth, and
    Message 1 of 4 , May 21, 2008
      As I've mentioned on the list a couple times in the past, I'm
      an ELO fan. Yes, I admit it. I got hooked by the albums "Time"
      and "ELO II" in my youth, and there was no going back. In case
      there are any other ELO fans on the list, or anyone considering
      checking out any of the band's albums - now is a good time.
      They've all been remastered with great sound and bonus tracks
      and are available fairly cheaply. I found them all in various
      stores for $11.99 to $12.99.

      Back in 2001, Sony released the first batch of remastered ELO
      albums: Eldorado, Time, Discovery and Secret Messages. Since
      then they've occasionally issued other remasters, and finally
      finished reissuing the "main sequence" of the band's albums.

      I had bought the original four remasters, but wasn't overly
      impressed with them so I stopped keeping an eye out for others.
      But recently I stumbled on the remaster of "On the Third Day" at
      Circuit City and couldn't resist. That got me started again,
      and I ended up buying the remasters of the rest of the band's
      catalog. A recent trip to Orlando pretty much sealed the deal
      when I found all the CDs that I didn't have yet at the Virgin
      Megastore.

      Overall the remasters have done a good job of improving the sound.
      It generally sounds like a layer of film was removed, making
      everything sound crisper and clearer. The drums, cymbals, violin,
      vocals and keyboards especially shine. Some of the albums sound
      like they were remixed, making it easier to hear every instrument
      in the mix. A couple of the albums, particularly from the first
      batch, had new "glitches" introduced - the worst is "Secret
      Messages", which has frequent little pitch/tempo bends where
      it sounds like the machine playing back the master tape suddenly
      speeds up or slows down for a fraction of a second. Really
      annoying. "Eldorado" also had a couple glitches, but not to
      the same extent. The rest of the albums sound really good. The
      later batches of remasters must have perfected the process. "On
      the Third Day" in particular sounds so much better, it was like
      hearing it for the first time.

      A couple of the albums had their covers reverted back to the
      original British cover - ELO II now shows a light bulb flying
      through space, and On the Third Day shows Lynne looking down
      on the Earth from above. Personally, I liked the old American
      covers better.

      The liner notes are better than the original CD releases,
      (which isn't saying much), but they're still pretty skimpy.
      That first batch of albums (Eldorado, Discovery, Time and Secret
      Messages) just added song-by-song blurbs from Jeff Lynne to the
      lyric sheets that were so short and uninformative, one got the
      impression that Jeff was late for a train while he was writing them.
      Then they'd toss in a couple archival photos and call it a day.

      The later remasters are a little better. They usually include a
      full page reminiscence about the album by Lynne, and a ridiculously
      over-the-top, glowing essay by some guy named Rob Caiger, who is
      apparently the head of some ELO fan club. From reading all his
      notes, it's clear that Caiger just worships the late-70s pop ELO,
      but he doesn't have as much interest in the early, proggy stuff.
      There are usually lots of photos of the band in the studio and in
      concert, and pictures of related 45s, etc.

      Annoyingly, the liner notes usually have little to no information
      about the bonus tracks included on the discs. Those bonus tracks
      are generally unremarkable, but there are a few gems. Here's an
      album by album list of the bonus tracks:


      Electric Light Orchestra (aka No Answer):

      The bonus tracks are just early takes and alternate mixes of
      "Battle of Marston Moor", "Nellie Takes Her Bow", "Mr. Radio"
      and "10538 Overture". Of those, only "Mr. Radio" varies much
      from the released version, featuring a violin solo intro, female
      vocals in the chorus and extra lyrics. Oddly, the quadraphonic
      mixes of several tracks that appeared on the "Early ELO" 2-disc
      set were not included (but should have been).

      The liner notes include a 1-page blurb by Roy Wood in addition
      to the 1-page blurb by Lynne.


      ELO II:

      There are four bonus tracks. The first is an instrumental version
      of "In Old England Town" with keyboards playing the vocal melody.
      The second is an unreleased ditty called "Baby I Apologize" that
      Lynne says he wrote for another artist, but it went unused. Both
      of those bonus tracks were also on the "Early ELO" set.

      We also get an alternate take of "In Old England Town" that sounds
      nearly identical to the album version, and an alternate "Roll Over
      Beethoven" that just adds goofy vocal improvs - for example the
      band "laughs" their way through the opening quote of Beethoven's
      5th: ha ha ha ho, he he he ha. Amusing for one or two listens.

      For reasons only Sony will ever know, they decided to use edited
      versions of "Mama" and "Roll Over Beethoven" on the main album.
      I've read that these versions were used on the original British
      release, buy why would you use shortened versions on a remaster?
      Just plain stupid. "Kuiama" also seems to fade out a little early.


      On the Third Day:

      The bonus tracks are interesting for the most part. At one point,
      Marc Bolan of T Rex was going to play guitar on the album but those
      plans eventually fell through. Before they did though, they recorded
      a couple raw sounding versions of "Ma Ma Ma Belle" and a take of
      "Dreaming of 4000" (all included here). The real gem though is a
      completely unreleased Lynne/Bolan song called "Everyone's Born to
      Die".
      It wasn't originally included because it doesn't really fit the style
      of the album - in fact, it doesn't sound much like ELO at all.

      The bonus material is rounded out with a track called "Interludes",
      which is a medley of instrumental orchestral bits that sound like
      they
      were recorded in an echo chamber, to be used as bridges between
      songs.
      Some were used (mostly on the suite of songs on side 1), some weren't.


      Eldorado:

      Since this was the first ELO album to use a real orchestra (instead of
      just a couple guys overdubbing multiple cello and violin parts), Lynne
      cobbled together an eight minute instrumental suite made up of all the
      orchestral parts of the album. There's also a short snippet of a
      demo
      for an unfinished song called Dark City.


      Face the Music:

      The first bonus track is an early mix of the beginning of "Fire On
      High", an instrumental that was the last proggy thing the band would
      do for a while. In this version, the four-note piano riff that starts
      the piece off keeps repeating for three minutes with all sorts of
      weird noises and avant-rock going on behind it. It's interesting
      to hear, but it Lynne definitely made the right choice in trimming
      that intro down to a minute or so in the final song.

      The other interesting bonus track is a stripped-down version of
      "Evil Woman", which has a short piano solo in the middle and an
      extra verse at the end. Possibly better than the released version.

      There's also a pointless single edit of "Strange Magic" and an
      instrumental mix of the song "Waterfall" which is OK but nothing to
      write home about.


      A New World Record:

      The bonus tracks start off poorly with a version of "Telephone
      Line" that's even sappier than the released version. But then
      there's an unreleased song called "Surrender" that sounds like it
      was started during the original sessions and finished for this
      remaster (Lynne likes to go back and muck with his old recordings).
      That song isn't bad, but I can see why it didn't make the album.
      The real revelation comes with the early, instrumental mixes of
      "Tightrope", "Above the Clouds", "So Fine" and "Telephone Line".
      Hey, when you take away the unbearably cheesy lyrics, the music
      behind those songs is actually pretty good. Who knew?


      Out of the Blue:

      Since this was ELO's best selling album, they put the remaster out
      in two different versions: a standard jewel case that costs the same
      as the other remasters, and a hardback-book format with a punch-out
      cardboard replica of the space ship on the cover for $4 more. I have
      no idea why, but I sprang for the expensive one. As far as I know,
      the liner notes and bonus tracks are the same.

      The bonus material is kind of skimpy, probably because the album was
      originally a double that was released on one CD, so they didn't have
      a lot of extra room on the CD to work with. There's a brief demo
      version of an alternate bridge to "Wild West Hero" and a very short
      orchestral instrumental called "The Quick and the Daft". Neither is
      anything to get excited about. The only other bonus is a new song
      called "Latitude 88 North". It was started back during the sessions
      for Out of the Blue, but Lynne and his right-hand man Richard Tandy
      didn't like the lyrics, so they scrapped it. For the reissue, Lynne
      decided to tweak the lyrics and basically re-record the song with
      modern equipment (which makes it really stick out from the rest of
      the disc) to finish it. It's OK, but it sounds more like a leftover
      from the Zoom sessions than the Out of the Blue sessions.


      Discovery:

      The bonus tracks here aren't much to get excited over either.
      There's a minute-long demo version of the beginning of "On the Run"
      with alternate lyrics (and this is actually the most interesting
      bonus track). There's an even shorter demo for an unfinished song
      called "Second Time Around" that has really awful sound quality.
      And, for reasons unknown, they threw in a cover of Del Shannon's
      "Little Town Flirt" that Lynne started during the Discovery
      sessions and finished 20 years later. It sounds nothing like
      the rest of the disc and sticks out like a sore thumb.


      Time:

      The bonus tracks are disappointing here too - three "rare" songs
      that had already appeared on the Afterglow boxed set: "Bouncer",
      "When Time Stood Still" and "Julie Don't Live Here". I thought
      those songs were from the aborted second disc of Secret Messages,
      but seeing them on "Time" made me realize that they all fit in
      with the concept of that album, so they probably were originally
      intended for "Time".


      Secret Messages:

      This one is maddening because the overall sound quality was
      improved quite a bit, but it suffers from those nasty "wobbles"
      throughout the album and particularly during "Take Me On And On",
      which is probably my favorite song on the album. Arrrggghh.

      There are three bonus tracks, two of which were intended for
      the album when it was originally going to be a double vinyl.
      When it got cut back to a single, they were dropped. "No Way
      Out" was already released on the Afterglow boxed set. "Endless
      Lies" is a very different version of the song that ended up on
      the Balance of Power album. The third bonus track is a
      melancholy little orchestral instrumental called "After All"
      that was used as the b-side of the "Rock and Roll is King"
      single. Frustratingly, even "After All" has those wobbles.


      Balance of Power:

      The band's swan song (unless you count the Lynne-less "ELO
      Part 2" albums, or the ELO-less Lynne "Zoom" album) probably
      has the best bonus tracks. Which is good, because the clearer
      sound just makes those digital 80s synths and drum machines
      sound even harsher.

      There's an alternate version of "Heaven Only Knows" with
      different lyrics and a whole "Our father, who art in heaven"
      introduction section that was dropped from the original album.
      This disc also finally includes the first appearance on CD of the
      song "Caught in a Trap", which the liner notes identify as a
      "U.K. b-side", but it was also the flip side of the American
      "Calling America" single. There's even an alternate version of
      "Caught" called "In For the Kill" with completely different lyrics
      about the dog-eat-dog and "anything for a profit" nature of the 80s.
      How's that for rare - an alternate version of an obscure b-side.
      There are also alternate versions of "Secret Lives" and "Sorrow
      About to Fall" that sound like they were probably the demos that
      Lynne put together to teach the songs to the rest of the band.
      And finally, the b-side "Destination Unknown" which had already
      appeared on the Afterglow boxed set.



      The fact that they found all these rarities to include on the
      remastered album kind of irritates me, because Lynne had claimed
      in the past that no unreleased material existed. Why weren't
      some of these tracks included on either of the band's boxed
      sets? What other obscurities are they holding back to milk the
      fanbase in the future? I know there's the songs that Lynne
      contributed to the Electric Dreams soundtrack, plus a b-side
      from the Xanadu era and a bonus track on "Zoom" that was only
      released in Japan. I'm guessing we'll probably see remastered
      versions of those albums before long. Plus the live albums...
    • Robert Marone
      loved their 1st four albums (especially the 1st with roy wood). finally got to see them live when they toured in support of eldorado . (had a great eldorado
      Message 2 of 4 , May 21, 2008
        loved their 1st four albums (especially the 1st with roy wood).
        finally got to see them live when they toured in support of "eldorado".
        (had a great eldorado t-shirt with the album cover on it....now long gone).
        started to lose interest with the next couple albums when they got to be a big commercial success.
         
        bony
        np:von frickle - the 40 fingers of doctor v
         
         
        ----- Original Message -----
        Sent: Wednesday, May 21, 2008 5:40 PM
        Subject: [ProgAndOther] ELO remasters (warning: long post no one will care about, I was bored)


        As I've mentioned on the list a couple times in the past, I'm
        an ELO fan. Yes, I admit it. I got hooked by the albums "Time"
        and "ELO II" in my youth, and there was no going back.

        .

      • biceeichler
        ... Yep, the first four albums are definitely the ones that are most likely to appeal to prog fans. If you ve never heard the Time album, it might be worth
        Message 3 of 4 , May 22, 2008
          --- In ProgAndOther@yahoogroups.com, "Robert Marone" <bony618@...>
          wrote:
          >
          > loved their 1st four albums (especially the 1st with roy wood).
          > finally got to see them live when they toured in support
          > of "eldorado".
          > (had a great eldorado t-shirt with the album cover on it....now
          > long gone).
          > started to lose interest with the next couple albums when they
          > got to be a big commercial success.


          Yep, the first four albums are definitely the ones that are
          most likely to appeal to prog fans. If you've never heard
          the "Time" album, it might be worth checking out. Very 80s,
          lots of synths and not much of the "orchestra", but probably
          the proggiest ELO album outside the first four.

          There's a live album from the Eldorado tour called "The Night
          the Light Went On in Long Beach" that's pretty good, but it's
          really hard to find, especially in the US. Maybe they'll
          eventually remaster that one too.

          -- Bob
        • Robert Marone
          yup. had that one on vinyl back in the daze. (it s probably in the same place as that t-shirt now) ;-) ... From: biceeichler To: ProgAndOther@yahoogroups.com
          Message 4 of 4 , May 23, 2008
            yup.
            had that one on vinyl back in the daze.
            (it's probably in the same place as that t-shirt now)
             
            ;-)
             
             
            ----- Original Message -----
            Sent: Thursday, May 22, 2008 10:25 PM
            Subject: [ProgAndOther] Re: ELO remasters (warning: long post no one will care about, I was bored)

            There's a live album from the Eldorado tour called "The Night
            the Light Went On in Long Beach" that's pretty good, but it's
            really hard to find, especially in the US. Maybe they'll
            eventually remaster that one too.

            -- Bob

            .

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