Our Top 10 Electric Light Orchestra Albums list looks at one of our favorite classic rock bands born in the 1970s fueled by the genius of Jeff Lynne. The group evolved out of another band called the Move. The group was formed in 1970 by musicians Jeff Lynne, Roy Wood, and Bev Bevan. Roy Wood would leave the band in 1972. Musician Richard Tandy would join the group that same year. Jeff Lynne and Richard Tandy would become the band’s longest-running members, Over time, it would become Jeff Lynne’s band as well as him becoming the face of the group.
Electric Light Orchestra would release their first album in 1971 entitled The Electric Light Orchestra. From that point on there would always be lineup changes with the one consistent always being Jeff Lynne on all ELO album releases. There was a time when Bev Bevan who owned part of the ELO name toured in a band they called ELO Part II without Jeff Lynne. Nonetheless, all vinyl and CD releases under the Electric Light Orchestra or ELO name featured Jeff Lynne.
After the release of their debut album entitled The Electric Light Orchestra in 1971, the band would release the albums ELO 2 in 1973, On the Third Day also in 1973, Eldorado in 1974, Face the Music in 1975, A New World Record in 1976, Out of the Blue in 1977, Discovery in 1979 Time in 1981, Secret Messages in 1983, Balance of Power in 1986, Zoom in 2001. Two recent Jeff Lynne albums entitled Alone in the Universe and From Out of Nowhere were titled also as Jeff Lynne’s ELO.
Our Top 10 Electric Light Orchestra albums list looks at 10 of our favorite ELO Albums.
# 10 – Zoom
We open up our Top 10 Electric Light Orchestra Albums list with the album Zoom. The album was released in 2001. It was the first Electric Light Orchestra album to have been released in 15 years as the previous record Balance of Power album was issued in 1986. Interestingly, as Jeff Lynne had dealt with the Beatles’ influence remarks for years, the album Zoom featured guest appearances from half of the Beatles. Both George Harrison and Ringo Starr appeared on the record. The only other original member of Electric Light Orchestra that appeared on some of the album was Richard Tandy.
Standout tracks on the album included “A Long Time Gone,” “All She Wanted” “Easy Money,” and the album’s two great singles, “Moment in Paradise,” and “Alright.”
# 9 – The Electric Light Orchestra
Continuing with our top 10 Electric Light Orchestra albums list we turn to the band’s debut album. simply entitled Electric Light Orchestra. The album’s opening track was the heavily Beatles influenced number “10538 Overture.” This just wasn’t heavily Beatles influenced it was Sgt. Pepper Beatles heavily influenced. But, in the end, it was indeed great. And one can’t forget it was 1970, everyone was influenced by The Beatles in 1970. The Beatles’ influence continued heavily on the rest of the album. The record’s next track “Look At Me Now,” sung and written by Roy Wood used very similar arraignments that were defined by The Beatles “Eleanor Rigby.” This is an interesting album that more than anything defined Electric Light Orchestra as a band to be watched.
# 8 – Time
Electric Light Orchestra’s album Time was one of their most interesting releases. Gone was the string section from the record making this one sound very different from their previous efforts. The album was recorded by long time members Jeff Lynne, Richard Tandy, Bev Bevan and Kelly Groucutt who had been with the band since 1975’s Face The Music. The entire album was based on the concept of time travel and made heavy use of technology in the form of synthesizers that were developing rapidly in the early 1980s.
# 7 – On The Third Day
Continuing with our top 10 Electric Light Orchestra albums list we turn to the band’s third album aptly titled On The Third Day. The record was released in 1973. On the band’s third record, the group started to show signs that they might be heading away from their progressive rock sound and influences. The U.S. version of the album contained the great single “Showdown,” which had moderate success in the U.S. but became a top ten single in the U.K. when it was released on an ELO compilation album.
# 6 – Eldorado
As we continue to present these great Electric Light Orchestra albums it started to become more difficult to put them in order as these are all such great records. The wonderful album Eldorado is one of them. On the record, Jeff Lynne hired an orchestra to record the tracks while generating some of the most magical ELO music ever laid down on vinyl. The highlight of the album was the great single “Can’t Get It Out Of My Head.” Don’t miss this one.
# 5 – Discovery
After the super success of the albums A New World Record and Out Of The Blue, Jeff Lynne faced the monumental task of having to follow up on two much-loved records by fans and critics. Jeff Lynne and his bandmates proved up to the task as the follow-up album to Out Of The Blue entitled Discovery turned out to be another commercial smash success. The album yielded five hit singles and went straight to number one in the United Kingdom. It also was incredibly successful in the United States as well as various countries worldwide.
# 4 – ELO 2
We continue our top 10 Electric Light Orchestra albums list with the band’s sophomore effort. The album was released in 1973. The album’s opening track is a delightful progressive rock piece that defined the early Electric Light Orchestra sound. Jeff Lynne sings with a much harsher tone on the earlier stuff. The opener is a really fun listen. The album’s second track “Mama,” is a slow ballad warped in tender strings and a delightful chorus. It stands as one of our favorite ELO songs of all time. Side one closes with a spectacular progressive rock and roll masterpiece that blends Beethoven’s 5th Symphony with Chuck Berry’s “Roll Over Beethoven.” This is simply a brilliant 8 minutes that I still never get tired of listening to.
# 3 – Face The Music
As we get closer to the top spot on our top 10 Electric Light Orchestra albums list we turn to the album that started to ignite the tremendous success the band would begin to enjoy in the mid to late 1970s. Fueling the success of the Electric Light Orchestra album Face the Music was the fantastic single “Evil Woman.” Utilizing the same chord progression of am/G/ F as so many songs have used including the long jam ending of Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven,” the song “Evil Woman,” was a completely addicting hit that turned so many heads towards the band.
The album’s opening track was an incredible piece of music that defined the brilliance of Jeff Lynne’s production and writing skills.
# 2 – A New World Record
When Jeff Lynne released the album A New World Record he must have known that he had just released the best album he had ever completed with Electric Light Orchestra. Every song on the album was brilliant. The album’s production, and arrangements were as creative as Jeff Lynne had ever gotten. And of course, the songs themselves were wonderful. Four big hits were released from the album, including “Livin’ Thing,” “Rockaria!” “Do Ya,” and “Telephone Line.”
Electric Light Orchestra’s A New World Record was a top 10 hit on the Billboard Top 200 albums charts in 1976. The band toured heavily to promote. It would become the album that would turn the band into a household name as one of the most exciting and creative rock bands of the 1970s. Even though there were always Beatles comparisons to Jeff Lynne’s melodies and arrangements, Jeff Lynne would indeed find his own voice and sound that years later people would often refer to as that Jeff Lynne sound.
# 1 – Out Of The Blue
We close out our Top 10 Electric Light Orchestra albums list with the great album Out Of The Blue. Jeff Lynne followed up his mega-hit album A New World Record with a dynamic two-record set that matched A New World Record hit for hit and then some. These two albums defined the peak of Jeff Lynne and his band’s career. At the time they were one of the biggest bands in the world. Their music dominated radio on both the FM and AM dials. While the album contained many hits such as “Turn To Stone, “Sweet Talkin’ Woman,” “Wild West Hero,” and “It’s Over,” the album’s second single entitled “Mr. Blue Sky,” would become the band’s most famous song of all time.
Updated May 25, 2023
Top 10 Electric Light Orchestra Albums article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2023
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