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Electric Light Orchestra – Out of the Blue (1977)

April 3, 2020

[Album 749/1001]

This album title, Out of the Blue, might be the most misleading title of the 1001 list.

As when I hear the phrase, Out of the Blue, I would infer that something has happened either:

a) spontaneously
or
b) in an unprecedented manner

Given that each member of the group is credited with playing seemingly dozens of instruments on the album, it’s hard to believe this was a spur-of-the-moment, live-off-the-floor jam!

And although the album art has a space theme, there have been similar styles & sounds previously performed by other artists in our galaxy,

.

Untitled presentation (30)

.

That being said, I give full credit to Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) for their exemplary employment of the The Uptown Funk 70/30 principle.

I’ve argued that if you want to write a catchy & durable hit, it has to be comprised of 70% familiar material (to hook listeners) & 30% completely unfamiliar (to keep listeners intrigued).

ELO probably does it better here than anyone else has / does / or will, likely because they have the ability to simultaneously sound like both themselves & like such a variety of sources.220px-ELO-Out_of_the_Blue_Lp

The precise percentages, of course, vary on each track.

After some semi-rigorous data collection & statistical analysis, the double-album overall breakdown would be approximately:

25% Beatles (emphasis on McCartney, particularly on tracks like Mr. Blue Sky)

20% Queen (a few tunes drifted in a Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boy direction)

10% Brian Wilson (a couple of Heroes & Villains-y descending patterns)

10% ABBA (I’ve been finding myself singing Waterloo after listening to side 1)

5% Harry Nilsson (A bit of a Without You feel at times)

30% ELO (much of which likely ended up being used as source material for subsequent artists…)

The best news for me as a listener?

I already liked all of those artists individually.

As luck would have it, with a healthy amount of ELO added to the mix, they work quite well together too.

…..

Verbalize the Positive

Side 3 of the LP is named, Concerto for a Rainy Day.

This title was not at all misleading – it worked perfectly on a rainy morning today as a soundtrack for putting puzzles together with my daughter!

image (2)

From → 1970s

11 Comments
  1. I like Mr Blue Sky a lot – I should hear this sometime.

    • It’s one of those nice, works in multiple listening contexts records. Pretty agreeable to listen to alone or in the background with the family, never too intrusive nor too dull!

  2. Look at the bigger picture Geoff when Jeff (ha) hooked up with the Wilbury’s which involved a Beatle!

    Great work on the puzzles and music. I’m glad it’s Friday!

    • A fantastic point, Deke – I forgot about his Wilbury connection.
      Wouldn’t that have been perfect if this had sounded like percentages from Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, and Roy Orbison too!

      • That debut Wilburys albums was pretty damn good.

  3. Lovely piece, Geoff. As ELO albums go, this is probably my favourite. “Mr Blue Sky” is one of the best Beatles pastiches ever!

  4. Harrison permalink

    I do love me some ELO quite a lot, but I’m a lot more partial to Time and Eldorado

    • And I haven’t heard those ones yet – good to know there’s plenty more of their work to be enjoyed!

  5. Jigsaw puzzles while listening to tunes is my jam! I love all of Jeff Lyne’s collaborations with Petty and the Wilburys. I need to dive into the ELO catalogue at some point. I think I’ll start here.

    • It was my ELO gateway – and a gateway where the door certainly didn’t slam shut after listening!

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