Saturday, July 9, 2011

Electric Light Orchestra - Greatest Hits

Electric Light Orchestra – Greatest Hits
Jet, 1979
Acquired: Half Price Books, Used, 2010
Price: $1.50

HOLY SHIT I did not know that ELO had so many certified HITS. Listening to this while making dinner, it’s like “Oh yeah THIS song!” Certainly all of these jams were present on 99.7 KY or 101 the FOX when I was growing up, which were the radio stations that dominated my father’s car stereo. I picked this up at work months and months ago for “Livin’ Thing” and “Mr. Blue Sky” and have basically just reaped a wealth of pop genius courtesy of Jeff Lynne. He’s soulful, but not in that embarrassing I’m-trying-to-sound-like-a-black-person-even-though-I’m-white-as-a-sheet. He knows how to construct these epic sounding numbers with orchestras and all sorts of shit that is ornate yet never gets in the way of the simple, pure-pop majesty of the songs. There’s that crunchy 70s classic rock vibe about but it’s always kind of an undercurrent that never really dates the music too bad (except maybe “Ma-Ma-Ma Belle”). These songs aren’t totally timeless, but that’s what makes them so fascinating. They’re a product of the 70s, a time and a place and that’s what precisely makes them special. They’re nostalgic in the best way. They’re a little cheesy, but back to timelessness. I hear all these songs and they’re all instantly familiar from some time or place in my childhood and I’m listening to them now as a mostly adult and through the lens of 10 years of music snobbery and they’re perfect songs in a different way. This album is everything a greatest hits album should be, which is to say that a greatest hits album should be nothing but hits. This isn’t some career retrospective. It’s eleven unfuckwithable jams that inspire that “Oh THIS song” reaction, usually accompanied with the urge to bop around and say “goddamnit, this is a great track.”

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