Out Of The Blue 40th An­niver­sary

Classic Rock - - The Hard Stuff -

ELO were ev­ery­where, om­nipo­tent in the 1970s. Per­fect driv­ing mu­sic. For a gen­er­a­tion of be­fud­dled do­le­tainted school­child­ren, Jeff Lynne in all his pomp: curly pseudo-Afro perm, denim flares, pilot sun­glasses, im­mac­u­lately-kept beard, space­ships; sig­ni­fied an en­tire era. But at the height of punk, for many of us he was an ob­ject of scorn with his sym­phonic pop pre­ten­sions, con­cept al­bums and over­wrought strings. The fact re­mains how­ever, that Out Of The Blue is the finest con­cept al­bum writ­ten about the weather ever recorded.

And, oh my GOD! Mr Blue Sky!

In 1970, Lynne formed ELO in Birm­ing­ham along­side Roy Wood (The Move) and drum­mer Bev Be­van with the in­ten­tion of cre­at­ing mod­ern pop songs with clas­si­cal over­tones and a dis­tinct Bea­tles in­flu­ence. So dis­tinct that ELO were fa­mously de­scribed as “sons of the Bea­tles” by John Len­non him­self, and the three other Bea­tles all col­lab­o­rated with Lynne (in­clud­ing on ‘new’ Bea­tles tracks). This de­scrip­tion has be­come cod­i­fied over the years – pos­si­bly by Lynne him­self, who has never been shy of a lit­tle self-be­lief – to the band The Bea­tles could have been. If we can ig­nore Wings for a mo­ment.

But, oh my GOD! Sweet Talkin’ Wo­man! Truth or hy­per­bole? It all de­pends on

Four decades and 10 mil­lion sales later, the prog clas­sic dou­ble can still amaze.

how well-pro­duced you like your pop mu­sic. Bom­bast or si­lence? Space or tex­ture? The finest ELO songs (Wild West Hero, Step­pin Out, The Diary Of Ho­race Wimp) had a heart of melan­choly to them that could not be dis­guised, no mat­ter how many lay­ers of synth were added. Or space­ships. In­deed, the jux­ta­po­si­tion of the space­ships only served to hearten the hu­man­ity at the core. The era-de­vour­ing mon­ster, 1977’s con­cept al­bum Out Of The Blue had many such mo­ments, in be­tween the sound of thun­der crash­ing and rain lash­ing, and spook­ily-dis­con­nected vocodered vo­cals 30 years ahead of sched­ule. Have a lis­ten to side three, the sym­phonic Con­certo For A Rainy Day. Not punk at all, and de­rided by those who con­sid­ered them­selves such, but still loved by most. Ex­cept of course by those who hated them. (Rolling Stone held at the time that the al­bum was “per­fectly hol­low and bland”, si­mul­ta­ne­ously grasp­ing the point and com­pletely miss­ing it.)

And, oh my GOD! Turn To Stone!

The 40th an­niver­sary reis­sue will fea­ture the vinyl edi­tion re­leased on pic­ture disc. One up on the orig­i­nal yel­low vinyl for

Wild West Hero.

And, oh my God! Wild West fuck­ing Hero!

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