Thursday, September 14, 2006


I don't know if this is true worldwide, but iTunes was just given a pretty big overhaul.  The biggest improvement, the silence gap between songs is gone, so now you can hear any albums that are continuous or have segues (ELO has a few of them) all the way through without a pause.

They ways you can view your library aren't bad either.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


So, three albums from ELO's classic years have finally gotten their due.  It was a long ride to get to this point.  These were almost released in 2001, and then again in May of this year.  It felt like forever.  But here we are... and we still have a ways to go before Out Of The Blue, Balance Of Power and hopefully more beyond that.
What I'm most excited about here is that these songs are finally back in the context of which they truly belong: their original albums.  Best-of's have become so tiresome and no Best-of will satisfy everyone no matter how much research you put into it.
On The Third Day was probably the album in most dire need of remastering and right from the opening notes of the disc, you'll hear why.  Complete night and day difference from the one and only previous CD version.  We already have all but one bonus track on here, but that whole sequence (from the EMI First Light Series edition of ELO 2) is quite solid as is.
One big improvement over the 2001 remasters is Jeff Lynne commentary.  One page with a few thoughts from the band's leader is fine.  Track by Track commentary with a one sentence comment under the title just didn't work.  Some of them were just outright strange.
On that note, I hope Mainartery is designing the rest of the catalog booklets.  Of course, I think it'd be great to have the whole catalog done this way, but... we'll see.
Welcome to my CD collection, On The Third Day.  You're a valuable edition.


Face The Music on CD went through some interesting formations through the years, the first US pressing was made using the Singles/banded for airplay version, thereby cutting an already short album shorter.  Then in 1995 came the rather impressive Gold Disc Mastersound edition which had a 30 second hidden track before track 1.

But now, we have the 2006 remastered edition, 16 page booklet, improved sound, the whole nine yards.  When we talk about restored album artwork for this CD, it basically means they removed the Compact Disc/Digitally mastered/Analog Recording seal from the front and replaced it with a much more obnoxious FBI warning on the back.  Go figure.

Again, not much to argue on how well the CD sounds.  One Summer Dream really shines on this, as does Fire On High and Nightrider.  As for Bonus tracks:

Fire On High Intro (Early Alternative mix)- this will not get an everday listen, but it is rather fun to hear what they had in mind when they created this.  Bev Bevan's "fantastic" as it fades out puts the exclamation point on this cool outtake.

Evil Woman (Stripped Down Mix)- Jeff Lynne says in the liner notes that this mix is better than the original.  I'm on board with that sentiment.  Outside of Telephone Line (Instrumental), this is the best new track on this batch of remasters.  Extra verse?  Awesome.

Strange Magic (US Single Edit)- complete waste of valuable space.  Strange Magic is fine the way it is.  Unless it's a singles collection, I find edits to be completely pointless.  There's a unique mix of One Summer Dream on a UK single which would have suited this spot better than an edit of Strange Magic.

Waterfall (Instrumental Mix)- Very pleasant selection.


Funny.  It took a friend of mine who's a biology professor to explain to me whay I enjoy the bonus tracks on this CD so much.  Take So Fine (Instrumental Early Rough Mix) for instance.  There's a part of your brain that's left unsatisifed when you can't really hear what's going on in the background of a song. After all these years, your brain finally clearly catches what you suspected was going on underneath the layers of vocals.  The orchestrated part of So Fine (Instrumental Early Rough Mix) reveals the spine tingling arrangement the guys came up with and in the end, almost leaves you wanting a cigarette.  Same goes for the three other backing tracks on this album.

The main album sound quality is as superior as Third Day and Face The Music, revealing these little parts I never knew (or forgotten) were there.  I thought Mission (A World Record) was the starkest improvement for me.  It could be because I never paid that close attention to it before.  Many people will argue whether Surrender is indeed from these sessions, but either way it works here.  Many people will also argue whether Kelly Groucutt's voice is on it.  I'll go out on a limb here: considering Jeff's current relationship with the former bass player and the advent of ProTools, I think Kelly's backing vocal was the first to go... if it was there in the first place.

Anyway, the disc is perfect ELO listening.  Starting with a perfect and powerful sounding Tightrope to the compelling instrumental version of Telephone Line to finish, this version of A New World Record lives up to what we always hope an ELO release will be: well-done, well-thought out, and well presented for a band who deserves such treatment.