Out of the Blue (Electric Light Orchestra album)
|Out of the Blue|
Cover art by Shusei Nagaoka
|Studio album by Electric Light Orchestra|
|Recorded||May–August 1977, Musicland Studios, Munich|
|Genre||Symphonic rock, art rock, progressive rock|
United Artists (US)
|Electric Light Orchestra chronology|
|Singles from Out of the Blue|
Out of the Blue is the seventh studio album by the British rock group Electric Light Orchestra (ELO), released in October 1977. Written and produced by ELO frontman Jeff Lynne, the double album is among the most commercially successful records in the group's history.
Jeff Lynne wrote the entire album in three and a half weeks after a sudden burst of creativity while hidden away in his rented chalet in the Swiss Alps. It took a further two months to record in Munich. Side three of the original double LP consisted of the symphonic Concerto for a Rainy Day, composed of four separate tracks which together made up a cohesive suite, instead of one continuous track. The inclement weather effects heard on "Concerto" were real and recorded by Lynne during a very rainy summer in Munich 1977. The Concerto suite would be Lynne's last dabbling in symphonic rock.
Concerto for a Rainy Day
Side three of the release is subtitled "Concerto for a Rainy Day", a four track musical suite based on the weather and how it affects mood change, ending with the eventual sunshine and happiness of "Mr. Blue Sky". This was inspired by Lynne's experience while trying to write songs for the album against torrential rain outside his Swiss Chalet. "Standin' in the Rain" opens the suite with a haunting keyboard over a recording of real rain, recorded by Jeff Lynne just outside his rented studio. Also heard at the 30 second point of the song marking the beginning of The Concerto is thunder crackling in an unusual manner voicing the words "Concerto for a Rainy Day" by the band's keyboardist, Richard Tandy. At around the 1 minute mark the staccato strings play a morse code spelling out ELO. The band used the song to open their 1978 Out of the Blue concerts.
"Big Wheels" forms the second part of the suite and continues with the theme of the weather and reflection followed by the more optimistic third part "Summer and Lightning". Apart from its inclusion on the Out of the Blue album, the song has never appeared on any of the band's compilations or as a B-side until 2000, when Lynne included it on the group's retrospective Flashback album. "Summer and Lightning" is the third song in the suite. The raining weather theme is continued throughout the track though the mood and lyrics are more optimistic. "Mr. Blue Sky", an uplifting, lively song celebrating sunshine, is the finale of "Concerto for a Rainy Day" suite. It is the only piece from the Concerto to be excerpted as a single.
The large spaceship on the album's cover (by now symbolic of the group) was designed by Kosh with art by Shusei Nagaoka. It was based on the logo Kosh designed for ELO's previous album, A New World Record, which connected with Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind fever. It also looks like a space station with a docking shuttle from 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). The number JTLA 823 L2 which is featured on the shuttle arriving at the space station is the original catalogue number for the album. The album also included an insert of a cardboard cutout of the space station as well as a fold-out poster of the band members. The space theme was carried onto the live stage in the form of a huge glowing flying saucer stage set, inside which the band performed.
The album had 4 million pre-ordered copies and quickly went multi-Platinum upon release. Out of the Blue spawned five hit singles in different countries, and was ELO's most commercially successful studio album. It was also the first double album in the history of the UK music charts to generate four top twenty hit singles. Lynne considers A New World Record and Out of the Blue to be the group's crowning achievements, and both sold extremely well, reaching multi-platinum according to RIAA Certification. Capital Radio and The Daily Mirror Rock and Pop Awards (forerunner to The Brit Awards) named it "Album of the Year" in 1978. Lynne received his first Ivor Novello award for Outstanding Contributions to British Music the same year.
The US release of Out of the Blue was originally on Jet/United Artists. This changed after American copies of Out of the Blue that were deemed defective began appearing at discounted prices in record shops in the US and Canada shortly after the album's release, affecting the album's sales. Jet sued United Artists and abruptly switched their distribution to CBS Records worldwide early in 1978. This eventually caused Jet to reassign the US distribution rights of this and all future and past ELO albums to US CBS Records under the Jet/Columbia logo.
Reception and legacy
Billy Altman in a January 1978 review in Rolling Stone felt that the album was "meticulously produced and performed" and showed the influence of the Beach Boys, the Bee Gees and the Beatles, but that the end result was "perfectly hollow and bland". Over the years a more positive view has developed, typified by this Rob Mitchum review from 2007: "Calling in the string section and commissioning the spaceship cover-art may be a big gamble, but Out of the Blue is proof of how good it can sound when the grand approach works."
All songs written by Jeff Lynne.
- Side one
- Side two
- "Night in the City" – 4:02
- "Starlight" – 4:30
- "Jungle" – 3:51
- "Believe Me Now" – 1:21
- "Steppin' Out" – 4:38
- Side three – Concerto for a Rainy Day
- "Standin' in the Rain" – 4:20
- "Big Wheels" – 5:10
- "Summer and Lightning" – 4:13
- "Mr. Blue Sky" – 5:05
- Side four
- "Sweet Is the Night" – 3:26
- "The Whale" – 5:05
- "Birmingham Blues" – 4:21
- "Wild West Hero" – 4:40
30th Anniversary Edition
The 30th Anniversary Edition was released in February 2007 with three bonus tracks, as part of the Sony/BMG Music Epic/Legacy series. The 30th anniversary issue was a limited pressing in hardback book with expanded 24-page full colour booklet. It includes full-length sleeve notes by Lynne and ELO archivist Rob Caiger, as well as rare photos and memorabilia. A push-out replica ELO Space Station is included as well as the standard jewel case edition with a full colour 12-page edited booklet. The album once again reached the top twenty album charts in the UK peaking at number 18. A sixth single "Latitude 88 North" was released as digital download single and as a promo 7" single.
In 2012, Music on Vinyl re-released Out of the Blue on vinyl on Epic, the first 1000 copies were made on transparent blue vinyl and the rest were released in the traditional black vinyl.
- 2007 bonus tracks
- "Wild West Hero" (Alternate Bridge – Home Demo) – 0:24
- "The Quick and the Daft" – 1:49
- "Latitude 88 North" – 3:24
- Jeff Lynne – lead vocals, backing vocals, guitar, keyboards, percussion
- Bev Bevan – drums, percussion, backing vocals, fire extinguisher on "Mr. Blue Sky"
- Richard Tandy – keyboards, guitar
- Kelly Groucutt – co-lead vocals on "Sweet Is the Night", backing vocals, bass guitar, percussion
- Mik Kaminski – violin
- Melvyn Gale – cello, piano
- Hugh McDowell – cello
- Louis Clark – Orchestra conductor
- Jeff Lynne – Producer
- Mack – Engineer
- Jeff Lynne – Orchestral and Choral arrangements
- Richard Tandy – Orchestral and Choral arrangements
- Louis Clark – Orchestral and Choral arrangements
Even though Kaminski appeared only on "Sweet Talkin Woman", "Across the Border" and "Wild West Hero", Gale on "Wild West Hero" and McDowell on none of the tracks, all three are credited as full band members.
|Canada (Music Canada)||Platinum||100,000^|
|United Kingdom (BPI)||Platinum||300,000^|
|United States (RIAA)||Platinum||1,000,000^|
*sales figures based on certification alone
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