Album #373 – Out of the Blue
Electric Light Orchestra are one of the biggest pop groups of the 1970’s. They had huge success on the pop charts in the U.S., U.K. and Canada. I first heard of this group through my parents, who have an ELO best-of compilation on cassette. We never listened to ELO when I was a kid but, I ended up hearing about Jeff Lynne, ELO’s frontman, primary songwriter and famed producer, through the Traveling Wilburys and the albums he co-produced with Tom Petty, Roy Orbison and George Harrison. ELO’s music can be described as symphonic pop. It’s pop melodies with symphonic overtones. Strings, brass, woodwinds and a backing choir are all present here along with Jeff Lynne’s distinct harmonies and, at times, quirky keyboards. But, it is pure pop and boy, does it feel good to listen to. The centerpiece of Out of the Blue is the four song Concerto for a Rainy Day that occupies side three. It is a thematic piece about the weather and the moods it brings out; ending with the massive hit Mr. Blue Sky (which recently saw new light when the song was part of the 2012 Summer Olympic Closing Ceremony). The vocoder is also present on this album including it’s two big hits: Mr. Blue Sky and Sweet Talkin’ Woman. Top 40 radio also used this effect in station IDs from the late 60’s until the late 80’s Some reviews upon it’s release were not kind but, this album has stood the test of time and remained ELO’s best album. Other highlights include: Turn To Stone (ELO’s first number one hit…In Canada!!!), It’s Over, Steppin’ Out, The Whale (used for several years as the backing music for CFTO-TV in Toronto’s sign-off) and Birmingham Blues. Overall, I give Out of the Blue, 4 out of 5.
Next: Heavy Weather by Weather Report