Electric Light Orchestra

ELO II/The Lost Planet

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British EMI has released the second significant remastering of the second Electric Light Orchestra album, which is also a major expansion of that record, to well over an hour, and comes with a second CD of musically and historically related material. The first disc alone is a delight for serious fans, offering the original album's complete contents in extraordinarily high-resolution sound, so that you can hear every nuance of Bev Bevan's drumming and Wilfred Gibson's violin sawing away up close and personal on the loud and busy "In Old England Town (Boogie No. 2)." All of the familiar material is significantly enhanced by the presence of eight bonus tracks coming out of the same group of sessions, including "Showdown," an instrumental take of "In Old England Town," and a lost song entitled "Baby I Apologize" that's a very pretty, charming, and witty '50s-style retro-ballad that comes from the same place in ELO's mentality that yielded "Zing Went the Strings of My Heart" in the repertory of the Move. Five more unreleased tracks follow, including two early working versions of "Ma-Ma-Ma Belle" (entitled "Auntie"), the second of them even better (if not as polished) as the released version and, with the two subsequent tracks, featuring Jeff Lynne's longtime friend, Marc Bolan, on guitar; a version of "Dreaming of 4000" (entitled "Mambo"); a totally lost song called "Everybody's Born to Die," which is surprisingly Dylan-esque in tone and lyrical content, and also one of the prettiest songs in the ELO library; and the longest of the many complete single studio takes recorded of "Roll Over Beethoven," clocking in at over eight minutes with lots of comic vocal vamping by Lynne and Michael D'Alberquerque and a couple of false starts, including a piano and electric guitar opening. And then there's the entire second disc, entitled "The Lost Planet" and consisting of the fragments of a concept-album project that Lynne and company attempted to record prior to coming up with ELO 2 -- a lot of the material ended up on that album in somewhat altered form, including "From the Sun to the Moon" (Boogie No. 1)" and related tracks, including an early take of "Showdown." There's a significant amount of good music on this disc, including "Get a Hold of Myself" and "Your World," and a solo violin track entitled "Wilf's Solo." The surviving studio tracks, which were believed lost for more than 30 years, are augmented by some surviving BBC sessions of the period, of which the highlight is a freewheeling rendition of "Roll Over Beethoven." The annotation is a match for the quality of the remastering job, giving a good, detailed history for the group from this period and how each of the tracks came about -- each CD comes in a separate jewel box within a slipcase for the two.

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