31 December 2010

The Electric Light Orchestra (ELO)- 1979

The Electric Light Orchestra, often abbreviated ELO, were an extremely successful  Birmingham-based English Rock music group.  Formed by members of UK band The Move in 1970, ELO prospered and evolved through the decade, releasing 12 studio albums and more than four dozen singles in total under the leadership of musical genius Jeff Lynne. 

The band developed a unique modern rock/pop sound utilizing classical instruments, arrangements, and even lyrical themes. By the mid-1970s, they had become one of the biggest selling bands in the world, an international commercial powerhouse.

From 1972 to 1986, ELO accumulated 27 Top 40 hit singles in both the UK and the US. The group also holds the record for having the most Billboard Hot 100 Top 40 hits of any band in US chart history without ever having #1 single. In all, The Electric Light Orchestra have sold over 50 million albums worldwide.

From the 1974 album -Eldorado, A Symphony- came the timeless single "Can't Get It Out of My Head" the first US Top 10 hit as the album went on to gold record status. By now ELO had become a star attraction on the US stadium and arena circuit, as well as regularly appearing on The Midnight Special... more than any other band with four bookings. 

The 1975 album Face the Music brought the singles "Evil Woman" and "Strange Magic". 

Despite the recognition and success they enjoyed in the states they were still largely ignored in the UK until their sixth album, A New World Record, made the top ten there in 1976. It contained the hit singles "Livin' Thing", "Telephone Line", "Rockaria!" and "Do Ya".

After more touring the band released a multi-platinum selling album, the double-LP Out of the Blue, in 1977. The work featured the singles "Turn to Stone", "Sweet Talkin' Woman", "Mr. Blue Sky", and "Wild West Hero", each becoming a hit in the UK as well as US.

The band then set out on a nine-month, 92-date world tour, with an enormous set and a high-tech and high-budget space ship themed stage with fog machines and a pioneering laser display. In the US the concerts were billed as The Big Night and were their largest to date, with 80,000 people seeing them at Cleveland Stadium. The Big Night went on to become the highest-grossing live concert tour in music history up to that point (1978).

In 1979, the multi-platinum album Discovery (or "Disco...? Very!" as some wags saw it) was released. Although the most commercially succesful single from the album (and ELO's biggest ever) was the rock song "Don't Bring Me Down", the album was widely noted for its disco influence. Discovery also produced the hits "Shine a Little Love", "Last Train to London", "Confusion" (below).

Jeff Lynne wrote the soundtrack for the film Xanadu and three more studio efforts as the band disintegrated slowly... but did come up with the hit single, "Rock and Roll is King" in 1983. Jeff Lynne went on later to join the Travelling Wilburys along with fellow greats Bob Dylan, Ray Orbison, George Harrison, and Tom Petty. He did basically a solo album under the ELO name in 2001 (Zoom), then went into the production side of the business.

I myself had the good fortune to catch the final tour of the 2009 incarnation of ELO -The Orchestra: sadly, with the passing of bassist/vocalist Kelly Groucutt the next month, it was perhaps the last chance to see an authentic ELO show.  Impressive that they could produce such a gig without headman Jeff Lynne, with whom they've parted ways... alas with the band members mostly in their 60s, it was all an octave or two lower.  Even Mick Kaminski -and his famous blue violin- played the tour...

Official ELO site   Wikipedia   

Previous Rock n Roll Oldies features -here-