Out of the Blue (Electric Light Orchestra album)

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Out of the Blue
Cover art by Shusei Nagaoka
Studio album by Electric Light Orchestra
Released 3 October 1977
Recorded May–August 1977, Musicland Studios, Munich
Genre Symphonic rock, progressive rock, art rock
Length 70:12
Label Jet (UK)
United Artists (US)
Producer Jeff Lynne
Electric Light Orchestra chronology
The Light Shines On
(1977)
Out of the Blue
(1977)
Three Light Years
(1978)
Singles from Out of the Blue
  1. "Turn to Stone"
    Released: October 1977
  2. "Mr. Blue Sky"
    Released: January 1978
  3. "Sweet Talkin' Woman"
    Released: February 1978
  4. "Wild West Hero"
    Released: May 1978
  5. "It's Over"
    Released: October 1978

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.

Recording[edit]

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[edit]

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. 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.

Cover art[edit]

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,[1] 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).[2] 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.

Release[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3.5/5 stars[3]
Pitchfork Media (8.1/10)[4]
Rolling Stone (unfavorable)[5]

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,[6][7] 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[edit]

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".[8] 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."[9]

The album is included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[10]

On 3 October 2013, the album was ranked No. 23 at 1 million units sold on VH1's Double Trouble: The 35 Best-Selling Double Albums of All Time[11]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Jeff Lynne.

Side one
No. Title Length
1. "Turn to Stone"   3:47
2. "It's Over"   4:08
3. "Sweet Talkin' Woman"   3:48
4. "Across the Border"   3:53
Side two
No. Title Length
5. "Night in the City"   4:01
6. "Starlight"   4:26
7. "Jungle"   3:51
8. "Believe Me Now"   1:21
9. "Steppin' Out"   4:39
Side three (Concerto for a Rainy Day)
No. Title Length
10. "Standin' in the Rain"   4:21
11. "Big Wheels"   5:05
12. "Summer and Lightning"   4:14
13. "Mr. Blue Sky"   5:05
Side four
No. Title Length
14. "Sweet Is the Night"   3:26
15. "The Whale"   5:02
16. "Birmingham Blues"   4:23
17. "Wild West Hero"   4:42

30th Anniversary Edition[edit]

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
  1. "Wild West Hero" (Alternate Bridge – Home Demo) – 0:24
  2. "The Quick and the Daft" – 1:49
  3. "Latitude 88 North" – 3:24

Personnel[edit]

ELO
Production

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.

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Sales/shipments
Canada (Music Canada)[12] Platinum 100,000^
Germany (BVMI)[13] Gold 250,000^
Netherlands (NVPI)[14] Gold 50,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[15] Platinum 300,000^
United States (RIAA)[16] Platinum 1,000,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone

Charts[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ By Ex-Voto Films. "KOSH – Electric Light Orchestra on Vimeo". Vimeo.com. Retrieved 2 October 2011. 
  2. ^ 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) – Posters
  3. ^ Eder, Bruce. "Out of the Blue – Electric Light Orchestra : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 18 October 2012. 
  4. ^ Mitchum, Rob (1 March 2007). "Electric Light Orchestra: Out of the Blue | Album Reviews". Pitchfork. Retrieved 18 October 2012. 
  5. ^ Altman, Billy (12 January 1978). "Internet Archive Wayback Machine". Web.archive.org. Retrieved 18 October 2012. 
  6. ^ allmusic ((( A New World Record > Overview )))
  7. ^ Wild, David. "The Story of a Rock and Roll Band and the Pop Genius Who Dared to Go Baroque." Flashback.
  8. ^ Billy Altman (12 January 1978). "Out of the Blue review". Rolling Stone. 
  9. ^ Rob Mitchum (1 March 2007). "Electric Light Orchestra: Out Of The Blue". Pitchfork. 
  10. ^ Outline Page
  11. ^ The 35 Best-Selling Double Albums Of All Time | Music News + Gossip | VH1 Music
  12. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Electric Light Orchestra – Out of the Blue". Music Canada. 
  13. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Electric Light Orchestra; 'Out of the Blue')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. 
  14. ^ "Dutch album certifications – Electric Light Orchestra – Out of the Blue" (in Dutch). Nederlandse Vereniging van Producenten en Importeurs van beeld- en geluidsdragers. 
  15. ^ "British album certifications – Electric Light Orchestra – Out of the Blue". British Phonographic Industry.  Enter Out of the Blue in the field Search. Select Title in the field Search by. Select album in the field By Format. Click Go
  16. ^ "American album certifications – Electric Light Orchestra – Out of the Blue". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH
  17. ^ a b c Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. 
  18. ^ Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 24 February 2012
  19. ^ "dutchcharts.nl Electric Light Orchestra – Out of the Blue" (ASP). dutchcharts.nl (in Dutch). MegaCharts. Retrieved 8 August 2011. 
  20. ^ "InfoDisc : Tous les Albums classés par Artiste > Choisir Un Artiste Dans la Liste : Electric Light Orchestra". infodisc.fr. Retrieved 24 February 2012. 
  21. ^ a b "Hit Parade Italia – Gli album più venduti del 1978" (in Italian). hitparadeitalia.it. Retrieved 24 February 2012. 
  22. ^ Oricon Album Chart Book: Complete Edition 1970–2005. Roppongi, Tokyo: Oricon Entertainment. 2006. ISBN 4-87131-077-9. 
  23. ^ "charts.org.nz Electric Light Orchestra – Out of the Blue" (ASP). Hung Medien. Recording Industry Association of New Zealand. Retrieved 24 February 2012. 
  24. ^ "norwegiancharts.com Electric Light Orchestra – Out of the Blue" (ASP). Hung Medien. VG-lista. Retrieved 24 February 2012. 
  25. ^ "swedishcharts.com Electric Light Orchestra – Out of the Blue" (ASP). Sverigetopplistan. Retrieved 24 February 2012. 
  26. ^ "Chart Stats – Electric Light Orchestra – Out of the Blue" (PHP). UK Albums Chart. Retrieved 24 February 2012. 
  27. ^ "allmusic ((( Out of the Blue > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums )))". allmusic.com. Retrieved 24 February 2012. 
  28. ^ "Album Search: Electric Light Orchestra – Out of the Blue" (ASP) (in German). Media Control. Retrieved 24 February 2012. 
  29. ^ "Electric Light Orchestra". Offfical Charts Company. Retrieved 12 March 2013. 
  30. ^ "Dutch charts jaaroverzichten 1977" (ASP) (in Dutch). Retrieved 2 April 2014. 
  31. ^ a b c "Complete UK Year-End Album Charts". Retrieved 12 September 2011. 
  32. ^ "RPM Top 100 Albums of 1978". RPM. Retrieved 24 February 2012. 
  33. ^ "Dutch charts jaaroverzichten 1978". Dutchcharts.nl. Retrieved 2 April 2014. 
  34. ^ "Top Pop Albums of 1978". billboard.biz. Archived from the original on 31 December 2012. Retrieved 2 May 2013. 

External links[edit]