In a world where we are bombarded with hip-hop, rap and just about every other piece of fluff that you can think of, it is refreshing to have a group like ELO (short for Electric Light Orchestra) to look back on. Even though their best music is long behind them, it still stands the test of time. Picking ten best songs is an impossible task as Jeff Lynne, the driving force behind the band, has written some of the best music ever to be released. Nevertheless, I am going to attempt this.
Number 10. Midnight Blue. Don’t let the number ten ranking fool you. This is one of the most beautiful songs Jeff Lynne ever wrote. The problem is, he wrote quite a few of them and something has to be at the bottom of this list. Midnight Blue qualifies mostly because it came towards the end of their popular reign, if you can call it that, and didn’t quite have the magic of their earlier recordings. Even so, it is one amazing song. You can find it on their album Discovery.
Number 9. Roll Over Beethoven. This was the first ELO song I ever heard. It was a remake of the old Chuck Berry classic done with their own twist, which identified them forever. ELO was about hard rock combined with orchestral arrangements and real string instruments, which was unusual for the early 70s. This song was a perfect example of that sound and will always be one of their classic tunes. This song can be found on ELO II.
Number 8. Eldorado. This was the title track from their album which was literally designated as a symphony. Eldorado was one of Jeff Lynne’s most ambitious works and this song was truly a masterpiece. It’s another slow, sad and haunting song. Something that ELO was very good at.
Number 7. 10538 Overture. This is one of ELO’s older tunes back in the days when Roy Wood was still with the band. One thing about the sound during that time. It was a lot darker and dirtier. There was a very hard edge to their early sound that they kind of lost over the years. This song displayed that edge perfectly. The song can be found on their album No Answer.
Number 6. Queen Of The Hours. This is another one off of No Answer. Again, the harder edge is very noticeable here. Queen was actually released as a single here in the states but never really got any airplay as did most of their early songs until they finally broke through with their remade Chuck Berry hit.
Number 5. Whisper In The Night. This is the last of our songs from No Answer. This tune was actually sung by Roy Wood himself. Whisper was one of the more melodic songs that the band had done. Perhaps this was Wood’s influence. Another very haunting tune from this incredible band.
Number 4. Do Ya. This song was actually originally done by this same group in an earlier incarnation as The Move. This version, unlike the original which was all guitars, was very melodic and orchestral. Lynne did an amazing job with a song that at first listen to was really not all that much. Sometimes an arrangement makes all the difference in the world. This song can be found on their album A New World Record.
Number 3. Can’t Get It Out Of My Head. Some would argue that this is their best song. It was certainly one of their biggest and was really the tune that put them on the map. I guess after just hearing this thing to death all these years later, it’s lost a little something. But it truly is a great song, also coming off their symphonic Eldorado. One note. This was really the most unusual song on the album as it didn’t really fit in with the other songs.
Number 2. Rockaria. Probably one of the most unusual ELO tunes. This song combined blues, rock and classical in a way that nobody had ever done before. This is a song that can make you just want to get up and dance and yet at the same time marvel at the music itself. This song is the highlight of A New World Record.
Number 1. Wild West Hero. I have heard many a person say that Paul McCartney wishes he had written a chorus hook this good. Certainly this is ELO’s greatest song coming off of an amazing album called Out Of The Blue. The only reason there aren’t more songs on this list from that album is because of all the great songs that they had before and after it. Wild West Hero didn’t get a lot of airplay. But ELO fans will always consider this a true classic in every sense of the word.
There will probably never be another group like ELO again. For the time, they were so unique that people didn’t know what to make of them. Sadly, as the years went along, they tried to become somewhat commercial and as a result their later songs just didn’t have the magic of their earlier efforts. At least we still have these treasures to listen to.