Electric Light Orchestra

Mr. Blue Sky: The Very Best of Electric Light Orchestra

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Tempting as it may be, it's not quite accurate to call Jeff Lynne the rock & roll George Lucas, a technophile who can't resist tweaking his famous older work to bring it up to modern standards. Unlike Lucas, Lynne doesn't paint over his original work, turning it into something vaguely reminiscent of the past: with Mr. Blue Sky: The Very Best of Electric Light Orchestra, he simply re-creates his old arrangements with new technology. There are no reinterpretations of these ten hits -- 12 on the bonus edition, with "10538 Overture" and "Point of No Return" added to the collection -- Lynne has simply set out to re-record the originals so they sound brighter, clearer, and a shade bigger. And he's succeeded. If you're listening casually, it can be pretty easy to mistake these for the originals. Lynne's voice is in good shape, the harmonies are layered precisely, he's replicated old-fashioned analog synths and lifted compression, so Mr. Blue Sky simply feels clean and renewed, the familiar contours buffed so they sparkle. Whether this is enough for fans to trade in their original ELO hits album in favor of this crisp new model is simply a matter of taste -- many may prefer the heavily compressed analog originals, as that's what they grew up with; after a quiet decade, hardcore fans will certainly treasure any new Lynne music, even if it is merely a revival -- but this is by no means an embarrassing stroll down memory lane. It can be quite fun, actually, even if it is somewhat baffling.

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