Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Talkin', Steppin' & Standin' The Great Sound of ELO

I love pop music and for me there have been few better pop bands with a rock tinge than ELO. Jeff Lynne's great pop hooks, Beatleisms, fantastic production and attention to detail had me convinced from the outset. Of course it's none to cool to like ELO, but I've never been cool so it hardly matters to me. From his days in his pre Move and ELO band, the Idle Race, Jeff Lynne always struck me as a great talent in waiting. His 'Skeleton and the Roundabout' with the Idle Race deserved to be a hit. Jeff Lynne's work with the Move along with Roy Wood was similarly brilliant.

ELO's biggest selling album was 'Out Of The Blue' which was written in Switzerland over an intense three-week period in 1977. Its success was sealed by a world tour that featured a space ship that looked like the one on the album's cover that opened to reveal the band inside. They even used backing tapes, which at the time was ridiculed in the press - where would most of today's live shows be without them? The standout tracks are almost all the hit singles, Turn To Stone, Sweet Talkin’ Woman, Mr Blue Sky, Steppin’ Out, Big Wheels and Standin' In The Rain.

ELO’s first album had come out in the UK in 1971 and featured not just Jeff Lynne, but his fellow band mates from the Move, Roy Wood and Bev Beven. Indeed it’s often been claimed that the whole idea for this Move offshoot was pretty much Woods’. However, what’s fascinating about ELO’s debut, imaginatively titled The Electric Light Orchestra in Britain, is its American release. The head of the US label was trying to get information prior to it being pressed and released in America and got his secretary to call the London office to find out what the album was called. The secretary couldn’t get through so she left a note for her boss, which is how come in America ELO’s album came to be called, No Answer.

ELO's influence continues to this day; just take a listen to Take That's single, Shine.


Ellee said...

I remember this, it's such happy music, it seemed unique at the time.

r morris said...

I have everything these guys did, on the original vinyl, from my high school and college days. They were tremendous. The fusion of hard rock, pop and strings/horns made their sound totally unique. Jeff Lynne has such an original sound that everything he is involved with ends up sounding like him, even Paul McCartney.
What's not cool about a rock band that rocked long and hard and had a string of excellent hits?
Ole' ELO!!!