Epic/Legacy's 2005 release All Over the World: The Very Best of Electric Light Orchestra is the latest installment in the seemingly endless series of ELO comps. Since it follows 2003's handy single-disc The Essential Electric Light Orchestra by merely two years, it's easy to wonder what distinguishes this from the other ELO collections on the market, and whether it was necessary to release another single-disc set so quickly after the last. The biggest differences between All Over the World and Essential is that the 2005 release has some very nice but altogether too brief liner notes from Jeff Lynne along with five more tracks than the 15-track 2003 release. That doesn't necessarily mean that it's a better album, however. While it does contain the terrific "Showdown," which was missing from Essential, All Over the World is inexplicably missing ELO's first American Top Ten single, "Can't Get It out of My Head," along with such other key tracks as "Do Ya," "Calling America," "Roll Over Beethoven," "10538 Overture," and "Boy Blue." Although the presence of "Xanadu" and such album tracks as "The Diary of Horace Wimp" make up for some of these absences, there are too many good songs missing to make this a pick over Essential, which has a higher ratio of hits. That said, All Over the World has most of the big songs -- "Mr. Blue Sky," "Evil Woman," "Don't Bring Me Down," "Sweet Talkin' Woman," "Turn to Stone," "Hold on Tight," "Livin' Thing," "Ma-Ma-Ma Belle," "Strange Magic," and "Rock and Roll Is King" among them -- and it's a good listen, so most casual fans won't be disappointed if this is the only ELO disc they own (although they will sorely miss "Can't Get It out of My Head"). But if you're just about to pick up one ELO disc, get Essential or, better still, 1995's double-disc Strange Magic instead, since they both are tighter, better listens than this and have more of the major hits.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine