In their heyday, Jeff Lynne and Electric Light Orchestra earned plenty of accolades – from fans, industry figures and their peers: John Lennon (we think approvingly) referred to them as the “son of Beatles.” Randy Newman wrote an entire song about them, 1979’s “The Story of a Rock and Roll Band.”
That legacy was built over more than a dozen albums, released together and as solo projects. We’re taking a look back with this list of Jeff Lynne and ELO Albums Ranked Worst to Best.
The group’s beginnings, as Newman once playfully sang, were quite humble: “They were six fine English boys who knew each other in Birmingham.” They began the Electric Light Orchestra as a rather strange offshoot of the Move, before finding their musical footing. ELO would go on to craft a string of era-defining hits in the late ’70s and early ’80s.
Although it’s true that they took the Beatles‘ late-period tendency toward symphonic pomposity and made it their own, ELO was never simply a rank imitator. Their best moments combine a rogue’s gallery of oddball, out-of-fashion musical ticks (including, but not limited to, spacey effects, even more spacey concepts, rockabilly guitar, the Great American Songbook’s ardent emotions and, yeah, those lush strings) into something entirely new.
ELO eventually found an audience on both sides of the Atlantic, scoring a series of platinum albums and more than 20 Top 20 hits including “Evil Woman,” “Telephone Line,” “Strange Magic” and “Turn to Stone,” among others. After that, however, things got tricky.
As the ’80s wore on, the band began to splinter. They became easy targets. Like so many others, ELO’s best songs started to feel era-specific – that is until 1977’s “Mr. Blue Sky” suddenly became ubiquitous decades later. Originally only a No. 35 hit, it’s since gone platinum three times over.
Lynne then re-launched the brand, after putting out two solo albums since ELO’s initial late-’80s split. These latter-period records have been completely or largely solo productions, however, with Lynne handling everything from the songwriting to the music to the production. So, we’ve included both in the following countdown. Time to board that familiar spaceship for a mission deep into their discography, as we rank Jeff Lynne and the Electric Light Orchestra albums from worst to best.
Jeff Lynne and ELO Albums Ranked Worst to Best
Time to board that familiar spaceship for a mission deep into their shared discography.