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ELO, ELO, ELO...

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29 minutes ago, James said:

LC, I the video won´t play ...says not eligible in my country. I mentioned I recently purchased ELO´s full catalog in a box set. I´m going to listen to "Out of the Blue" very shortly. My copy has "Latitude 88 North" and the 2 other bonus tracks.

P.S. I´m kind of a purist (or dumby maybe) as normally I skip bonus tracks as to me they are a compromise to the integrity of the piece of art that is the original album, its songs, the song order etc. I know, I´m weird, but I will break my rule happily with "Out of the Blue". !!.....and let you know my opinion on the album and the bonus track.

 You know what James...I am the sort of the same way. BUT what I usually do is save these bonus tracks (if there are enough of them) and then make my own Extra's CD of my favorites.

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Just like "TIME", which I love, I seem to like "SECRET MESSAGES" more than most. I understand that this was a departure of the strings used in earlier records, but in effort to make an impact commercially at the time, there was a heavier concentration on electronics.

1. Secret Messages (B+)   Good lead off track, and typical ELO of this period
2. Loser Gone Wild (C+)   Quirky song, but I kinda like it
3. Bluebird (B+)   Like the melody, the beat, and how they change things up. Just misses out on A grade.
4. Take Me On And On (C-)
5. Time After Time (C-)
6. Four Little Diamonds (A)   I can't keep still. Rockin' number that I like a lot.
7. Stranger (B)   Very solid track
8. Danger Ahead (A-)   Another upbeat song that I like
9. Letter From Spain (C-)   Doesn't do much for me and I almost gave it a D
10. Train Of Gold (C)   I don't dislike it...totally average
11. Rock & Roll Is King (A)   Hit from album and closes out the Hat Trick of good rockin numbers

 

Would have been nice if these two songs, which were cut from the Double Album original, would have been saved to replace one of the C- cuts. A version of "Endless Lies" appeared on their next album "BALANCE OF POWER".  I think "Buildings Have Eyes" should have made the cut.

 

 

 

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James   

Listening to "OOTB" as I type, I´m on the 4th song..."Across the border"......anybody else hear "Heroes and Villains" in this song?...p.s. I love it and the other non hit "It´s Over".

P.S. the box set I bought has a bunch of text where Jeff Lynne talks about the songs, the music. RE: "One Summer Dream", he says: "I still like 'One Summer Dream'. Even my dad said 'nice chords'. 

 

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James   
On 7/4/2020 at 10:02 PM, LC said:

James, you're right that OOTB marked a more pop direction for Lynne. I think I was a bubbling-under ELO fan when OOTB came out. I believe it was the first of their albums I bought, but I was really intrigued by their sound because of the singles "Can't Get It Out of My Head," "Strange Magic," "Evil Woman," "Telephone Line," and, of course, that crazed reading they gave "Roll Over Beethoven" (the long version). In fact, I may have bought their first greatest-hits package even before OOTB.

After OOTB, I climbed on board fast and furious, backtracking to pick up all of their early albums. 

Lately, I've had tons of fun building ELO playlists on my iPhone... which is how I ended up being moved to write the above on Out of the Blue. Even though that's the album that "secured" me as an ELO fanatic, I love everything leading up to it. Today, here's how I rank ELO's albums; for now, I'll give my "great eight," because I have to reacquaint myself with Time, Secret Messages, Balance of Power, and Zoom (all of which will be in the C area, as I recall). I also want to listen to the two "Jeff Lynne's ELO" from recent years. 

1. A New World Record (A+). Surprise! This one, I felt, was the bridge between their innovative earlier albums and the more mainstream-ready Out of the Blue. And what a bridge it is. "Tightrope," "Rockaria," and "Do Ya" are satisfying rockers. "Telephone Line" is the perfect pop hit. And I'm still very moved by "View Above the Clouds" and "Shangri-La." Not a clunker in sight. 

2. On the 3rd Day (A). Surprise again! On the 3rd Day was so innovative and raw and bizarre, how can you not love it? "On No Not Susan" is one of the great pop songs ever (and like Eric did in "Starting Over," Jeff dropped a subtle F-bomb into the chorus)."Bluebird Is Dead" is an awesomely edgy power ballad. "Ma-Ma Belle" starts off with that killer hook, and "Showdown" is right up there with it. And there's lots of other great racket here. 

3. Face the Music (A). Actually, maybe this—not A New World Record—is the bridge between early ELO and hit-making ELO. It's got two superb singles in "Evil Woman" and "Strange Magic," along with some of the craziness that marked the early records: the instrumental "Fire on High," the majestic "Nightrider," the bombast of "Poker," and  bizarre country/pop/classical mix of "Down Home Town."  But... "One Summer Dream" is my favorite here. "Waterfall" is pretty close—love those early ELO ballads.

4. Out of the Blue (A). See above. More pop, but hey, after putting out the string of ground-breaking LPs you noted above, Lynne probably wanted some big chart action, and he got it.

5. Eldorado (A-). This album kicks along at a relentless pace, and is probably the most "classical" of ELO's classical-rock mixtures. It's the home of "Can't Get It Out of My Head" as well as "Boy Bue," "Laredo Tornado," the ultra-cool "Illusions in G Major," and my other favorite here, "Mister Kingdom." 

6. ELO II (B). "Roll Over Beethoven"! My favorite version of the song (just edging the Beatles' cover).

7. Discovery (B). Started getting a little too slick, influenced by the disco era. But there's still some great material here, including "Last Train to London," "Midnight Blue," and "Don't Bring Me Down." And—you've gotta love "The Diary of Horace Wimp"; it's always on the verge of being a horribly bad song, but you keep listening, and it ends up being kind of charming. 

8. No Answer (C+). The debut album and an "in-development" sound—a little too rough and raw overall, but it has its moments. I love "10538 Overture" and "Nellie Takes Her Bow" especially.

 

 

   

Really good review LC, reading it as I listen to the album. What comes to mind, is that the transition from vinyl to CD lost something important with respect to album sides, song order, what song opened say side 2 etc. Love how you articulated "Side 3" of this album. Sadly I wouldn´t know that as my CD doesn´t (obviously) have sides. Losing album sides was a bigger cost than most of us realize, I think. The album sides, with their song orders were part of the art that was a compilation of songs we then called an album, now call CD.

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James   

I´d meant to attach LC´s post rating the specific songs on "OOTB". Not the rating of the albums.

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James   

Yeah, "Latitude 88 North" is a melodic gem. I hear an even better version with a strong chorus of harmonies, and a stronger pronouncement of that neat jangling guitar. But agree with you LC, this song (and this version) is as good as you stated it to be, at least.

Today´s listen to OOTB was my first. And while I like the overall sound of the earlier period a tiny bit better, these songs might be inherently the best collection ELO put out, at least up to this album. It will take a few listens to solidify my opinion, but the album is much better than indicated by the 45s released back in the day. The 45s (Turn to Stone, etc) were good, but the album as a whole is even better, IMHO.

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LC   
6 hours ago, James said:

LC, I the video won´t play ...says not eligible in my country. I mentioned I recently purchased ELO´s full catalog in a box set. I´m going to listen to "Out of the Blue" very shortly. My copy has "Latitude 88 North" and the 2 other bonus tracks.

P.S. I´m kind of a purist (or dumby maybe) as normally I skip bonus tracks as to me they are a compromise to the integrity of the piece of art that is the original album, its songs, the song order etc. I know, I´m weird, but I will break my rule happily with "Out of the Blue". !!.....and let you know my opinion on the album and the bonus track.

James, and Craig, too: I'm with you on bonus tracks. Typically, they're throwaways—interesting to diehard fans, maybe, but often they're not tracks you'll keep queuing up. (The one exception for me where those great Beatles boxes sets from the past couple years—Sgt. Pepper, White Album, Abbey Road. I was mesmerized by the alternate takes, and the way you could hear a track develop from demo to completion. But I digress.... In most cases, bonus tracks weren't included on an artist's original record for good reason, right? 

Two of the OOB bonuses were like that. But "Latitude 88 North" was on a par or better than most of the album. More on that in my next response... because I love talking about it! 

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James   

My thing with bonus cuts isn´t reallly with the quality as much, although LC is right, there´s a reason they weren´t originally on an album. But my beef is this...even if the bonus cuts are great, they´re not part of the original album ( a piece of art to me ) so don´t throw them on the original album and compromise it. Or something like that. The Mona Lisa is the Mona Lisa, don´t mess with it, even if one thinks they can improve it.

P.S. I´m listening to "A New World Record" as I type, and listening to the bonus cuts, and like the good hypocrite that I am, loving the heck out of these bonus cut!!  : )

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LC   
4 hours ago, James said:

Listening to "OOTB" as I type, I´m on the 4th song..."Across the border"......anybody else hear "Heroes and Villains" in this song?...p.s. I love it and the other non hit "It´s Over".

P.S. the box set I bought has a bunch of text where Jeff Lynne talks about the songs, the music. RE: "One Summer Dream", he says: "I still like 'One Summer Dream'. Even my dad said 'nice chords'. 

 

 

Yes! "Across the Border" has some "Heroes and Villains" influence, for sure. It must have been a huge kick for Lynne when Brian Wilson asked him to produce "Let It Shine" in the late 1980s. 

Two things about "Across the Border" I didn't know until this week:

• It was released as a single back in the day—I did not know that! I only found out when I  looked up "It's Over." 

• The lead singing in the song is as much or more Kelly Groucutt than Jeff Lynne. At the very beginning, it's Groucutt, whose voice could lock in with Jeff's almost as well as the Brothers Gibb's voices could mesh. I could never tell them apart! Groucutt's voice was eerily similar to Lynne's—just a little thinner—but he hit high notes that were amazing. During a lot of "Across the Border," they're doing a double-lead-vocal, but there are parts where it's Kelly, and other parts where it's Jeff. I also just discovered—all of this from a great ELO fan site I found, and also from fan posts on YouTube—that Kelly did more lead vocals than I thought. Like, that's him on the great "Sweet Is the Night"—all these years, I thought it was Lynne, or at least a co-lead vocal. But when I cue it up now, I can hear that it's Kelly. 

Some music sites I've accessed seem to give him TOO much credit, calling him ELO's "co-lead vocalist." But Lynne was far and away the band's lead vocalist and leader. It would be like calling Ringo "co-lead vocalist" of the Beatles. That said, Kelly was talented—a great bassist and background vocalist and lead singer when utilized that way. One obit of his I found said: 

"His distinctive voice can also be best heard on later ELO songs such as "Nightrider" (1975), "Poker" (1975), "View Above the Clouds" (1976), "Sweet Is the Night" (1977), and "The Diary of Horace Wimp" (1979). While he did not perform the operatic vocals in the studio, Groucutt often displayed his vocal talents by replicating them during live performances of "Rockaria!" (1976)." 

I always could tell his voice on "Nightrider" and "Poker," but "View Above the Clouds" and "Horace Wimp" surprised me. Kelly died young in 2009 of a heart attack after a concert; he was the main cog in the post-ELO band The Orchestra. I will always remember him as one of the first celebrities I interviewed by phone, not long after getting out of college.  

Now, on to "It's Over"—I love the production on that one, especially that first uptempo bit right after the orchestral opening, where there's an acoustic guitar kicking along amidst the strings and keyboards, and Bev Bevan's drumming.. To me, that first part of the song is "the Jeff Lynne sound" in a microcosm. 

Also, "It's Over" actually was a single, though I'm not sure how high it charted. Where's Matthew when we need him? 

Discogs.com shows five singles from OOB: "Turn to Stone," "It's Over, "Sweet Talkin' Woman," "Across the Border," and "Night in the City." Without looking I'd guess that "Turn to Stone" was a Top 10 hit, "It's Over" and "Sweet Talkin" peaked somewhere between 10 and 40, and the other two maybe didn't quite reach the Top 40? 

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29 minutes ago, James said:

My thing with bonus cuts isn´t reallly with the quality as much, although LC is right, there´s a reason they weren´t originally on an album. But my beef is this...even if the bonus cuts are great, they´re not part of the original album ( a piece of art to me ) so don´t throw them on the original album and compromise it. Or something like that. The Mona Lisa is the Mona Lisa, don´t mess with it, even if one thinks they can improve it.

P.S. I´m listening to "A New World Record" as I type, and listening to the bonus cuts, and like the good hypocrite that I am, loving the heck out of these bonus cut!!  : )

 

I need to reacquaint myself with the bonus tracks on ANWR. I forgot! They don't seem to be on Apple Music.

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LC   

Another note about "Latitude 88 North"—it's so odd and cool-sounding, and has such a memorable melody. Trying to picture Jeff finish OOB and say, "I'll leave Latitude off this one. Not quite up to snuff." Heck, there was room for it!

"Latitude" found him playing to his strengths at a time when he was on an absolute roll. Just think about the quantity and quality of material he created between 1973 and 1977—six albums, one of them a double LP, of course, in five years, from ELO II to Out of the Blue. What a run! And Lynne was  main songwriter, main singer, lead guitarist, producer.... I don't know if any other artist or band can match that output for a five-year period, outside of the Beatles. Most acts trip up at least once over five years and deliver a clunker....

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James   

He also arranged strings, and I believe he wrote virtually every song between ELO II and OOTB.

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U.S. Singles released from Out Of The Blue:

 

elo1.jpg.8a0d90015a3b349930b3e4f69733d537.jpg

Reached #13 (Flipside: Mister Kingdom)

 

ELO2.jpg.280cf0a8f1a9f36b54f00c8c9d57a5fd.jpg

Reached #17 (Flipside: Fire On High)

 

ELO3.jpg.7f0444319c1e0a5d5de44d1163e78aa7.jpg

Reached #35 (Flipside: One Summer Dream)

 

ELO4.jpg.c22bc13e83c47dbe74577721546579db.jpg

Reached #75 (Flipside: The Whale)

 

Wild West Hero was released in the UK, but I can't find any information that Across The Border was ever released as a single.

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LC   

Wow! Thanks Craig. I must have encountered a strange page, because it didn't even list "Mr. Blue Sky"! How could I miss that? My favorite song! I've done further research and found that "Across the Border" was issued as a single in France. So maybe the list I found was ELO's French-only releases. Don't know—I can't find the page I originally accessed. But ELO did release different singles in the U.S. than in other countries. Confusion! 

I'm shocked to see that "Mr. Blue Sky" peaked at such a low spot. It's one of those songs that's become iconic over time.

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James   

The only 2 songs played a bunch were "Sweet Talkin Woman"...and "Turned to Stone".......I´d never heard any of the others till I played the album yesterday, with the exception of Mr. Blue Sky......I¨d probably heard that 2 or 3 times. 

You guys are better than Wikipedia!! Thanks for the info and you guys´ cool posts.

I´m on a project to listen to ELO´s entire catalog. I´m sure my ratings will change after. I´ll post updated ratings down the road.

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LC   
On 7/10/2020 at 4:43 PM, Craig Benfer said:

Just like "TIME", which I love, I seem to like "SECRET MESSAGES" more than most. I understand that this was a departure of the strings used in earlier records, but in effort to make an impact commercially at the time, there was a heavier concentration on electronics.

1. Secret Messages (B+)   Good lead off track, and typical ELO of this period
2. Loser Gone Wild (C+)   Quirky song, but I kinda like it
3. Bluebird (B+)   Like the melody, the beat, and how they change things up. Just misses out on A grade.
4. Take Me On And On (C-)
5. Time After Time (C-)
6. Four Little Diamonds (A)   I can't keep still. Rockin' number that I like a lot.
7. Stranger (B)   Very solid track
8. Danger Ahead (A-)   Another upbeat song that I like
9. Letter From Spain (C-)   Doesn't do much for me and I almost gave it a D
10. Train Of Gold (C)   I don't dislike it...totally average
11. Rock & Roll Is King (A)   Hit from album and closes out the Hat Trick of good rockin numbers

Would have been nice if these two songs, which were cut from the Double Album original, would have been saved to replace one of the C- cuts. A version of "Endless Lies" appeared on their next album "BALANCE OF POWER".  I think "Buildings Have Eyes" should have made the cut.

 

 

Great synopsis, Craig. Much appreciated—really helps me get my arms around Secret Messages.  

I remember "Endless Lies" from Balance of Power—I got a kick out of Lynne's "stretching" in that vocal. A cool track, for sure. This version has his voice so nicely isolated—in the verses, you get a much better "picture" of his tone than in his normal (full) production. I like "Buildings Have Eyes" even more—it has sort of a '60s aura. It also reminds me of another mid- to late-1970s ELO song and I can't put my finger on it (I wanna says "On the Run," from Discovery). There's something familiar about it, soI wonder if Jeff felt it was too close to something else he'd recently done....

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LC   
7 minutes ago, James said:

The only 2 songs played a bunch were "Sweet Talkin Woman"...and "Turned to Stone".......I´d never heard any of the others till I played the album yesterday, with the exception of Mr. Blue Sky......I¨d probably heard that 2 or 3 times. 

You guys are better than Wikipedia!! Thanks for the info and you guys´ cool posts.

I´m on a project to listen to ELO´s entire catalog. I´m sure my ratings will change after. I´ll post updated ratings down the road.

Please do! I'm retooling my own Top 15 rankings as we sleep. I already moved "Mr. Blue Sky" ahead of "One Summer Dream" the other day. I consider them 1A and 1B... depending on whether I'm needing a downer or the ultimate upper.

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James   

Am exploring, listening to "Balance of Power" now......there´s one song, "Getting to the point"....wow!

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