When I was a kid my dad bought me the ELO album TIME. This was later ELO, about 1980, but that was the first ELO album I heard. It was a space-concept album and I dreamt that when I grew up I was going to make a feature length animated film based on it, sort of like ROCK AND RULE. I think I listened to it non-stop for years before realizing that ELO also had other albums I could buy and love. Most ELO fans probably diss TIME, but it will always be my favorite, even though its only hit was well known due to use in a coffee commercial. If the Beatles had ever gotten back together in the 80s, I always thought it would be with Jeff Lynne - and actually, as a kid I was convinced this was going to happen. I'm just a big Jeff Lynne fan in general, because I think he's one of the few guys who could take his obvious obsession with the Beatles and craft a completely unique and distinctive sound out of it. I mean, ELO has a "sound" that you can recognize instantly, you don't just think of them as a Beatles rip-off band. And the baroque pop orchestration has a lot to do with that - the strings especially (which became keyboards for TIME). You can hear it in early Jeff Lynne bands like THE IDLE RACE and later THE MOVE but you can really hear the progression of his songwriting and producing skills developing over time. I think because of the cheese associated with ELO's disco years that Jeff Lynne really hasn't been appreciated critically as much as he should be.
I don't know how long K-Tel Hit Machine will be able to ride the ELO thing, but they do it so well that I hope they tackle other concepts like that. I'm going to see them at the Roller rink new year's eve - I mean what more perfect place could there be for an ELO tribute than the Roller Rink??
My Top 5 ELO songs:
1. 10538 Overture
2. The Diary of Horace Wimp
3. Here is The News
4. Mission (A New World Record)