ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA THE STUDIO ALBUMS 1973-1977.

ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA THE STUDIO ALBUMS 1973-1977.

In 1970, Birmingham based songwriters and multi-instrumentalists Jeff Lynne and Roy Wood decided to form a new band with drummer Bev Bevan. This new group they christened the Electric Light Orchestra. 

At first, the Electric Light Orchestra was regarded as an offshoot of The Move, which Jeff Lynne, Roy Wood and Bev Bevan were all members of. However, over the years The Move’s lineup had been fluent.

By the time The Move recorded Message From The Country during 1970 and 1971, this was the fourth lineup of the band. When Message From The Country was released on 8th October 1971, there had been another change to the lineup. Bassist Rick Price deported and was replaced by Richard Tandy. This was his second spell with The Move. The other new addition Bill Hunt, who played horns and woodwind. His addition was a strategic move.

Message From The Country proved to be The Move’s swan-song. It was their way of saying goodbye to their fans after five years. By 1972, The Move were no more.

Electric Light Orchestra.

Seamlessly, the fifth and final lineup of The Move became the Electric Light Orchestra. They were joined by violinist Steve Woolam. The first lineup of the Electric Light Orchestra recorded an album that had ben written by Roy Wood and Jeff Lynne.

He wrote 10538 Overture, Nellie Takes Her, Mr. Radio, Manhattan Rumble (49th Street Massacre) and Queen Of The Hours. Roy Wood penned Look At Me Now, The Battle Of Marston Moor (July 2nd 1644), First Movement (Jumping Biz) and Whisper In The Night. These tracks would eventually become Electric Light Orchestra.

Recording of Electric Light Orchestra began in July 1970 at Philips Studios, London, and was completed in June 1971. During that eleven month period, Electric Light Orchestra fused pop, rock, progressive rock, and classical music. Woodwind, strings and horns were favoured instead of guitars. This resulted in a very different,and much more experimental symphonic sounding album from what other bands were doing. Critics remarked upon this.

With Electric Light Orchestra, complete the album was scheduled for release in December 1970. Before that, critics had their say on Electric Light Orchestra. With its experimental and symphonic fusion of pop, rock and classical music, Electric Light Orchestra’s innovative Baroque-and-roll sound won the approval of critics.

When Electric Light Orchestra was released on Harvest in December 1971, it reached thirty-two in the UK. 10538 Overture was released as the lead single and reached number nine in the UK. Meanwhile, Electric Light Orchestra reached fifty-four in Australia. However, Electric Light Orchestra wasn’t in America until early 1972.

Three months later, Electric Light Orchestra was released in March 1972 America as No Answer. This supposedly came about after someone from United Artists tried to contact Electric Light Orchestra about the album. When they couldn’t contact the person, they wrote down “no answer.” This was mistaken as the album the title. However, No Answer just reached 196 in the US Billboard 200. While this wasn’t a huge success, it was something to build on. 

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ELO 2.

Just two months after the release of No Answer, work began on Electric Light Orchestra’s sophomore album ELO 2. However, during the early recording sessions, Roy Wood announced he was leaving Electric Light Orchestra to join Wizard.

This meant that Jeff Lynne became Electric Light Orchestra’s leader and songwriter-in-chief. He wrote four of the five tracks. The other track was a cover of Chuck Berry’s Roll Over Beethoven. These songs were recorded at AIR Studios, in London.

For the recording sessions, the original members of Electric Light Orchestra, multi-instrumentalist Jeff Lynne, drummer and percussionist Bev Bevan and keyboardist and guitarist Richard Tandy were joined by some new faces. This included bassist Mike de Albuquerque, violinist Wilfred Gibson and cellists Mike Edwards and Colin Walker. Roy Wood had played bass and cello on In Old England Town (Boogie No. 2) and From the Sun to the World (Boogie No. 1). Taking sold charge of production on ELO 2

was Jeff Lynne. He oversaw the recording of ELO 2 from May 1972 until late 1972.

Once ELO 2 was complete, Harvest decided to release the album in UK in January 1973. The album would be released in February 1973 as Electric Light Orchestra II. This would be the final time an Electric Light Orchestra would be given a different title on both sides of the Atlantic. 

Before the release of ELO 2, critics had their say on the album. Once again, they were won over by the slick, polished progressive and symphonic sound of the Electric Light Orchestra in full flight. They continued to combine elements of rock and pop with progressive rock and classical music. To this, they added the what was being described as symphonic rock. ELO 2 seemed to catch the imagination of critics. Especially, the Electric Light Orchestra’s cover of Chuck Berry’s Roll Over Beethoven. It was totally transformed and become something Chuck Berry could never have envisaged. Critics too marvelled at Roll Over Beethoven, which part of truly ambitious album.

When ELO 2 was released in January 1973, it reached just thirty-five in the UK. A month later, ELO 2 was released in February 1973 and eventually reached number sixty-two. Just like many British bands in the early seventies, it looked as if the Electric Light Orchestra were going to be more popular in the US than UK

That was until Roll Over Beethoven was released as the lead single. It reached number six in the UK, fifty-three in Australia and forty-two in the US Billboard 100. Things were looking up for the Electric Light Orchestra in UK.

So much so, that after the Electric Light Orchestra’s two album deal with Harvest ran out, they signed to Warner Bros. This was the start of a new chapter in the Electric Light Orchestra story. Part of this story is documented on a recently released box set Electric Light Orchestra The Studio Albums 1973-1977 released by Sony Music Group. It features five albums On the Third Day, Eldorado, Face The Music, A New World Record and Out Of The Blue. However, this new chapter in the Electric Light Orchestra story began with On the Third Day.

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On the Third Day.

Having signed to Warner Bros, the Electric Light Orchestra wanted no time getting to work on their third album On The Third Day. This was the first album that Roy Wood would play no part in. He had played a minor part on ELO 2. However, this time, it was Jeff Lynne who took charge of the Electric Light Orchestra.

Jeff Lynne wrote seven of the eight tracks on On The Third Day. The exception was a cover of Edvard Grieg’s In The Hall Of The Mountain King. It was reinvented by Jeff Lynne and became a memorable example of symphonic rock.

Recording of On The Third took place during April and May of 1973 at De Lane Lea Studios, London and AIR Studios, London. Never before had the Electric Light Orchestra recorded an album so quickly. Their first two albums had taken much longer to record.

This time, the Electric Light Orchestra worked quickly. Multi-instrumentalist Jeff Lynne produced On the Third Day. He was joined by a rhythm section drummer and percussionist Bev Bevan, bassist Mike de Albuquerque and guitarist and keyboardist Richard Tandy. They were augmented by cellists Mike Edwards and Colin Walker plus violinists Wilfred Gibson and Mik Kaminski, who was the latest new recruit. Marc Bolan added guitar on Dreaming of 4000 and In The Hall Of The Mountain King. After two months of recording at two separate studios, On The Third Day was complete. 

Warner Bros. scheduled the release for November 1973. This left plenty of time to promote On The Third Day. Later, critics received their copies of On The Third Day. Again, the music was a fusion of rock and pop with progressive rock and symphonic rock. What was different, was who the album was structured.

The four songs on side one of On The Third Day became a continuous suite. However, side two featured shorter songs. They had been recorded not long after the ELO 2 sessions. On The Third Day was the original album of two sides. It found the Electric Light Orchestra’s music evolving On The Third Day.

Alas, On The Third Day didn’t find favour with all the critics. The reviews were mixed. One publication took a real dislike to On The Third Day…the contrarian Rolling Stone magazine. The

Electric Light Orchestra were just the latest group British group that Rolling Stone disliked. Mostly,the reviews were mixed. That was despite tracks of the quality of Bluebird Is Dead, Oh No Not Susan, Ma-Ma-Ma Belle and In The Hall Of The Mountain King. For the Electric Light Orchestra the reviews of On The Third Day were disappointing.

Six months after the completion of On The Third Day, the album was released in the UK in November 1973. Incredibly, the album failed to chart. Eventually though, On The Third Day sold enough copies to be certified silver in the UK. Before that, Ma-Ma-Ma Belle was released as a single, it reached number twenty-two in the UK. However, Daybreaker failed to chart. For the Electric Light Orchestra, the performance of On The Third Day had been disappointing.

Meanwhile, On The Third Day reached number ten in Australia. Across the Atlantic, On The Third Day reached fifty-two in the US Billboard and became the Electric Light Orchestra’s most successful album. Things were looking good for the Electric Light Orchestra stateside.

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Eldorado.

Work began on the Electric Light Orchestra’s fourth album, Eldorado in February 1974. Eldorado was the first complete concept album that Electric Light Orchestra would release.

Eldorado was a project that Jeff Lynne had been working on for some time. He came up with the storyline first. It documents a Walter Mitty character whose disillusioned, so travels into fantasy worlds in his  daydreams. This allows him to escape from his mundane and boring life. Having come up with the storyline, Jeff Lynne penned ten tracks. They would become Eldorado.

Recording of Eldorado took place at De Lane Lea Studios, in London. Unlike On The Third Day which was recorded in two months, the Electric Light Orchestra took their time recording the album. The recording began in February 1974, with multi-instrumentalist Jeff Lynne producing Eldorado. 

Jeff Lynne was joined by a rhythm section of drummer and percussionist Bev Bevan, bassist Mike de Albuquerque and guitarist and keyboardist Richard Tandy. He had just been made a permanent member of the Electric Light Orchestra. However, he had additional responsibilities on Eldorado. This included arranging the backing vocals, orchestral and choral arrangements. Meanwhile, the other members of the band were playing an increasingly important role.

The strings were more prominent on Eldorado. Some of the strings were provided by the Electric Light Orchestra’s string players: cellists Mike Edwards and Colin Walker plus violinists Wilfred Gibson and Mik Kaminski. They were augmented by an orchestra. 

This came about after Jeff Lynne’s father remarked that the Electric Light Orchestra’s back-catalogue were tuneless. So rather that over-dubbing strings, Jeff Lynne brought onboard an orchestra to sweeten Eldorado. The strings were arranged by Jeff Lynne and Richard Tandy with Louis Clark. Eventually, after seven months of recording, Eldorado was completed in August 1974.

Just over a month later, Eldorado was released. Before that, critics had their say on Eldorado. It found the Electric Light Orchestra companioning art rock and pop with progressive rock and symphonic rock on what was the band’s most melodic album. What many critics were quick to notice, was The Beatles’ influence on Eldorado. Especially on Mister Kingdom, which seems to owe a debt of gratitude Across The Universe. Critics hailed Eldorado the Electric Light Orchestra’s album. Even the usually contrarian Rolling Stone gave Eldorado a favourable. That was progress.

When Eldorado was released in September 1974, the album failed to chart in the UK. Neither Can’t Get It Out of My Head nor Boy Blue charted when released as a single. However, Eldorado  fared better elsewhere.

Eldorado reached number four in Holland and thirty in New Zealand. In America, Eldorado reached number sixteen in the US Billboard 200, and was certified gold not long after the album’s release. Across the border in Canada Eldorado was certified platinum. However, when Can’t Get It Out of My Head was released as a single, it reached number nine in the US Billboard 100. The rise and rise of the Electric Light Orchestra continued in America.

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Face The Music.

Buoyed by the success of Eldorado in North America, the Electric Light Orchestra headed out to tour the album. It was a lengthy tour, and featured the debut of bassist and cellist Kelly Groucutt. He replaced Mike de Albuquerque who left during the recording of Eldorado. Once the tour was over, the Electric Light Orchestra’s thoughts turned to their fifth album.

This would eventually become Face The Music. Just like previous albums, Jeff Lynne penned the eight tracks. He would also produce Face The Music, which found the Electric Light Orchestra heading to Munich, in Germany.

The Electric Light Orchestra’s destination was Musicland Studios, which was owned by the Italian musician, songwriter and producer Giorgio Moroder. Musicland Studios was where Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones and Marc Bolan and T Rex had recorded albums. Now the Electric Light Orchestra were about to make the journey to Musicland Studios.

When the Electric Light Orchestra arrived at Musicland Studios, in May 1975, there had been a couple of changes in the band’s lineup. Joining multi-instrumentalist and producer Jeff Lynne was a rhythm section of drummer and percussionist Bev Bevan and new bassist and cellist Kelly Groucutt. They were joined by keyboardist Richard Tandy, violinist Mik Kaminski and new cellists Hugh McDowell and Melvyn Gale. The three new additions joined the backing vocals and orchestra which was conducted by Louis Clark. He arranged the orchestral and choral arrangements with Jeff Lynne and Richard Tandy. By June 1975, Face The Music was complete. For the second time in their career, the Electric Light Orchestra had recorded an album in just two months. 

They were hoping that Face The Music would fare better than On The Third Day. It had received mixed reviews from critics. However, Face The Music was a very different album. The Electric Light Orchestra’s classic sound was starting to take shape. It was slick, polished and melodic. Two songs stood out, 

Evil Woman and Strange Magic, as they had a commercial, radio friendly sound. Art rock combined with pop and symphonic rock on Face The Music. Evil Woman even a disco influence. This was a first. However, Face The Music won the approval of critics who regarded it as a worthy successor to Eldorado. It surely would enjoy the same success?

Alas, not in the UK, where Face The Music failed to trouble the charts on its release in September 1975. This was disappointing, as Face The Music was the Electric Light Orchestra’s debut album for Don Arden’s Jet Records. However, the lead single Evil Woman reached number ten in the UK. The followup Nightrider failed to chart, while Strange Magic stalled at a lowly thirty-eight. Elsewhere, Face The Music proved popular.

Face The Music reached thirty in Australia, eleven in Holland and forty-one in Sweden. However, it was in Australia where Face The Music was most popular. It reached number eight in the US Billboard 200. This resulted in Electric Light Orchestra’s second gold disc in America and a gold disc in Canada. That however, wasn’t the end of the success in America.

Evil Woman reached number ten in the US Billboard 100. The followup Nightrider failed to chart, while Strange Magic reached fourteen in the US Billboard 100. The Electric Light Orchestra’s new sound looked as if it was a game-changer.

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A New World Record.

After the release of Face The Music, the  Electric Light Orchestra headed out on another lengthy tour. They had now settled into the routine of recording an album, and then touring it. However, the Face The Music tour was one of the Electric Light Orchestra most important tours. 

They had changed direction on Face The Music, and were moving towards what would become known as their classic sound. When Face The Music was released, the new sound had proved popular in three continents. So the Electric Light Orchestra headed out on tour to showcased their new sound. When they returned they were determined to build on the success of Face The Music.

Jeff Lynne, who had settled into the role of songwriter-in-chief and producer wrote the eight tracks that would become A New World Record. Just like Face The Music, A New World Record  was recorded at Musicland Studios in Munich.

The Electric Light Orchestra arrived at Musicland Studios in July 1976 to record A New World Record. It was the same lineup that had recorded Face The Music. Multi-instrumentalist and producer Jeff Lynne was joined by a rhythm section of drummer and percussionist Bev Bevan and bassist and cellist Kelly Groucutt. They were joined by keyboardist Richard Tandy, violinist Mik Kaminski and cellists Hugh McDowell and Melvyn Gale. Backing vocals and an orchestra which was arranged and conducted by Louis Clark augmented the Electric Light Orchestra

By late July 1976, A New World Record was complete. Having recorded A New World Record in the space of a month, the album was scheduled for release in September 1976. This was exactly a year after Face The Music. That was what the Electric Light Orchestra were about to do.

Critics had received their promotional copy of A New World Record, and were about to have their say. On A New World Record, the Electric Light Orchestra continued to combine art rock with pop, progressive rock and symphonic rock.  Again, the album was slick, polished and melodic. Many of the songs were shorter and sweeter, and didn’t lack hooks. Just like Face The Music, they had a much more commercial and radio friendly sound. Especially songs like Telephone Line, Rockaria and Livin’ Thing. They had single written all over them. Jeff Lynne was coming into his own as songwriter. He had also produced what many critics called Electric Light Orchestra’s finest hour.

Even the forever contrarian and hard to please Rolling Stone magazine gave A New World Record a positive review. So did Robert Christgau, the self-styled dean of American rock critics. This was high praise indeed.  Mostly, it was critical acclaim that accompanied the release of A New World Record.

When A New World Record was released in September 1976, it reached number six in the UK and was certified platinum. Belatedly, the Electric Light Orchestra had made a breakthrough in their home country. Elsewhere, A New World Record reached number one in Australia and Sweden. A New World Record reached number nine in Austria and Norway; seven in Germany; two in Holland and four in New Zealand. Across the Atlantic, A New World Record reached number five and was certified platinum. Meanwhile, A New World Record was certified double platinum in Canada and gold in Holland. For the Electric Light Orchestra, A New World Record had transformed their fortunes. However, the success continued.

In October 1976 Livin’ Thing was released as a single, reaching four in the UK and thirteen in the US Billboard 100. Rockaria! was released as the followup in February 1977, and released number nine in the UK. Meanwhile, Do Ya was released as a single in America, and reached number thirteen in the US Billboard 100. The final single from A New World Record was Telephone Line. It reached number eight in the UK and seven in the US Billboard 100. For the Electric Light Orchestra, A New World Record had been a game-changer. Their music found an audience in Britain, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and North America. How were they going to surpass A New World Record, which has sold over five-million copies?

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Out Of The Blue.

The answer to that, was with their seventh studio album Out Of The Blue. This was the most ambitious album of the Electric Light Orchestra’s career. It was a seventeen song double album penned by Jeff Lynne. This Jeff Lynne wrote over a three-and-a-half week period he spent in the Swiss Alps. Recording Out Of The Blue took slightly longer.

To record Out Of The Blue, the Electric Light Orchestra returned to Musicland Studios, in Munich for a third time. Between May and August 1977, Electric Light Orchestra recorded the seventeen songs. By then, the band’s lineup had changed.

Multi-instrumentalist and producer Jeff Lynne was joined by a rhythm section of drummer and percussionist Bev Bevan and bassist and cellist Kelly Groucutt. They were joined by keyboardist and guitar Richard Tandy and violinist Mik Kaminski.

Cellist Hugh McDowell is credited but didn’t appear. Melvyn Gale is also credited, but his only role was a playing the jangling, tack piano on Wild West Hero. Augmenting the Electric Light Orchestra, were an orchestra conducted by Louis Clark. He joined with Jeff Lynne and Richard Tandy to arranged the orchestral and choral arrangements. After two months, Out Of The Blue was completed in August 1977. 

When critics heard Out Of The Blue, they hailed the album the Electric Light Orchestra’s Magnus Opus. It was a glorious fusion of art rock, pop, progressive rock and symphonic rock. Just like the Electric Light Orchestra two previous albums, the music was slick, polished, melodic and hook-laden. The Electric Light Orchestra seemed to have been inspired by The Beatles and Beach Boys on this critically acclaimed and almost flawless album. Somehow, the Electric Light Orchestra had managed to fill four sides with a major musical faux pas. Songs like Turn Ti Stone, It’s Over, Sweet Talkin’ Woman, Steppin’ Out and Sweet Is The Night were among Out Of The Blue’s finest moments. So was side three.

For many critics, side three was captivating. It was subtitled Concerto For A Rainy Day, and was a four track musical suite based on the weather and how it affects people’s mood. Jeff Lynne deployed recordings of rain and thunder as the suite moved melodically along from Standin’ In The Rain to Big Wheel and Summer and Lightning. However, Electric Light Orchestra’s had saved the best to last, the joyous and hook-laden Mr. Blue Sky, which was a single-in-waiting.

Out Of The Blue was released on October 3rd 1977. By then, four million copies had been ordered before the release. When Out Of The Blue was released, it reached number four in the UK and was certified platinum. Elsewhere, Out Of The Blue reached number three in Australia, six in Germany and New Zealand; three in Holland and Norway and two in Sweden. Across the Atlantic, Out Of The Blue reached number five in the US Billboard 200 and was certified gold. Meanwhile, Out Of The Blue was certified platinum in Canada and gold in Germany and Holland. This wasn’t the end of the success.

Five singles were released from Out Of The Blue. Turn To Stone was released in October 1977, reaching eighteen in the UK and thirteen in the US Billboard 100. Mr. Blue Sky followed in January 1978, reaching number six in the UK and thirty-five in the US Billboard 100. Sweet Talkin’ Woman was then released in February 1978. It reached number six in the UK and seventeen in the US Billboard 100. Wild West Hero followed in May 1978, and also, reached number six. The final single fittingly, was It’s Over in October 1978. Alas, it only reached thirty-four in the UK. However, Out Of The Blue had been a the most successful album of Electric Light Orchestra’s career.

Eventually, when all the sales were counted, Out Of The Blue had sold over ten million albums worldwide. Forty years later, and Out Of The Blue is regarded as a classic album. It was the third album that the Electric Light Orchestra had recorded at Musicland Studios in Munich. That had coincided with a change in fortune for Electric Light Orchestra.

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From Face The Music through A New World Record to Out Of The Blue, Electric Light Orchestra’s classic sound emerged. It was slick, polished, melodic and hook-laden. This was quite different to their early albums. Especially, the first two albums that Electric Light Orchestra released. Electric Light Orchestra and ELO 2 are very different from their next five albums. They feature in the Electric Light Orchestra Studio Albums 1973-1977 box set. It released by Legacy and documents the Electric Light Orchestra continued to evolve musically between 1973 and 1977. 

During this period, It was certified platinum in Canada gold in America, the Electric Light Orchestra sold the best part of twenty million albums. This includes some of the best music of Electric Light Orchestra’s career. There’s the concept album Eldorado and the five million selling A New World Record. It features a slick, polished, melodic and hook-laden sound. This continues on the Electric Light Orchestra’s Magnus Opus, Out Of The Blue. Nothing else came close to the Electric Light Orchestra’s classic album.

Not even the followup to Out Of The Blue, Discovery. It may have outsold Out Of The Blue, but it doesn’t reach the same dizzy heights. Indeed, the Electric Light Orchestra never matched Out Of The Blue. That is despite releasing five further albums. 

For many people, the Electric Light Orchestra released their finest music between 1973 and 1977. That’s the period that the Electric Light Orchestra The Studio Albums 1973-1977 covers. It was relaxed by Sony Music Group and includes five albums that are spread across six CDs. This is the perfection introduction, or reminder to, one of the greatest British bands of the seventies, Electric Light Orchestra at their creative zenith. 

ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA THE STUDIO ALBUMS 1973-1977.

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