I hope I don’t belong to the many (mostly) elderly (and rather grumpy) people I know who think that there hasn’t been anything worthwhile musically since ABBA and E.L.O hit the music scene. Believe me, there seem to be quite a few of these odd types out there.
Still, I have always been very fond of some of the Electric Light Orchestra’s early work (especially “Face the Music“, released in 1975) plus, especially, their seventh album, “Out of the Blue” (1977), that spacey double-LP that even came with a cardboard spaceship model I had hanging somewhere in my room … until one of my heavy metal friends knocked it down with a golf club (that’s a contradiction in terms, I guess) a few years later.
I sometimes have a hard time getting back into that album today, simply because I listened to it so many times way back then. But there is one single track I give at least a weekly spin, “Birmingham Blues”. It’s not the lyrics, which are mediocre, but that bombastic drum sound (check around the 21-second mark) and the totally quirky (to my ears) but nevertheless nifty arrangement. To me, that was and is E.L.O. in a nutshell.
I also had the brightly-colored gatefold cover designed by (John) Kosh (with art by Shusei Nagaoka) up on my wall for years, and I still like it today.
When Jeff Lynne (a.k.a. Jeff Lynne’s ELO) released his (their) new album a little while back, “Alone in the Universe” (2015), I first liked what I heard, simply because it often hearkened back to “Out of the Blue“. Then I started frowning. And when the album had finished spinning, I was irritated. I simply couldn’t shake the distinct feeling that Lynne was trying to force me to like it by pulling out many of the arranging and recording tricks he had so amply employed while recording “Out of the Blue” in 1977.
I hate being manipulated, especially because 1977 is long gone.
Someone should let him know.