by: Electric Light Orchestra

The very fact that Electric Light Orchestra released a second three-disc box set is a tacit admission that, yes, 1987's Afterglow wasn't everything it should be. Happily, 2000's Flashback is. Assembled with the cooperation of Jeff Lynne, Flashback covers all the bases, featuring all the hits, a good selection of album tracks, and seven previously unreleased tracks, two alternate mixes and "After All," previously unavailable on CD. The sequencing is roughly chronological, with each of the three discs spotlighting a different era, then sequenced for maximum listenability within that -- so "10538 Overture" segues to "Showdown" and "Ma-Ma-Ma Belle" then doubles back to the first album. It's a gambit that works, since Flashback winds up flowing as gracefully as ELO's best albums. And, make no mistake, this is one of their best albums, a rare box set that satisfies the needs of both casual and mildly dedicated fans, while offering the hardcore not just a bunch of rarities but an enjoyable album with its own character. So, it trumps Afterglow in every possible way, then, and thereby eliminates the need for yet another three-disc ELO box. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

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