10538 Overture

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"10538 Overture"
Single by The Electric Light Orchestra
from the album
The Electric Light Orchestra (No Answer)
B-side "First Movement (Jumping Biz)"
Released 23 June 1972 (UK)
29 July 1972 (US)
Format 7" single
Recorded 1970–1971 Phillips Studios
Genre Cello rock, symphonic rock, glam rock
Length 5:32 (Album length)
4:04 (Single edit)
Label Harvest
Writer(s) Jeff Lynne
Producer(s) Roy Wood, Jeff Lynne
The Electric Light Orchestra singles chronology
"10538 Overture"
"Roll Over Beethoven"

"10538 Overture", released in 1972, was the first single by The Electric Light Orchestra (ELO).


The song, written by Jeff Lynne, was first recorded as a B-side on one of The Move's singles. Roy Wood and Lynne shared vocal duties on the song, much like The Move's "California Man". The song is about an escaped prisoner, but Lynne wanted to give the character in the song a number as opposed to a name when he chanced upon the number 1053 while looking at the mixing console. Wood suggested adding an "8" to fit the melody better. Although intended to be a song for The Move, after multiple cello parts were added, it became the Electric Light Orchestra's first release. It was during the single's chart run that Wood left ELO, emerging later in the year with a new band called Wizzard.


10538 Overture was an idea that Jeff (Lynne) brought along to the studio which was originally to be a Move track. After recording the basic backing track, the other guys went home, leaving Jeff and myself to run riot with the overdubs. At the time, I was very keen on collecting instruments, and had just acquired a cheap Chinese cello. After we had finished overdubbing the guitars, I sat in the control room trying out this cello and sort of messing around with Jimi Hendrix type riffs. Jeff said, 'That sounds great, why don't we throw it on the track.' I ended up recording around fifteen of these, and as the instrumentation built up, it was beginning to sound like some monster heavy metal orchestra. In fact, it sounded just bloody marvellous.

— Roy Wood, March 28, 2006 - No Answer Remaster

I had this guitar track, like a real big riff on a guitar. I laid it down in the studio and Roy Wood got his cello, his Chinese cello, and he overdubbed about fifteen cello riffs, just double tracking all the time-- and it sounded fantastic. We thought, it was like 'Wow!' and we just sat round playing it for days.

— Jeff Lynne, 31 July 2006 - The Harvest Years 1970-1973 liner notes


The B-side to "10538 Overture" was "First Movement (Jumping Biz)", an instrumental by Wood. The song first appeared on the band's debut album The Electric Light Orchestra in 1971 and became the B-side to "10538 Overture" and features Wood on classical guitar, oboe and cello. Wood has apparently acknowledged that "First Movement (Jumping Biz)" was inspired by the 1968 song "Classical Gas".

By [Roy Wood's] own admission First Movement (Jumping Biz) owed a debt to Mason Williams' transatlantic 1968 hit Classical Gas...

— Rob Caiger, March 28, 2006 - No Answer Remaster

"10538 Overture" became a B-side itself when a live version was released as the flip side of "Evil Woman" in 1975.[1][2]

Chart positions[edit]

Chart (1972) Peak
French SNEP Singles Chart 5
Dutch Top 40[3] 24
UK Singles Chart[4] 9

Jeff Lynne version[edit]

"10538 Overture"
Song by Electric Light Orchestra from the album Mr. Blue Sky: The Very Best of Electric Light Orchestra
Released 8 October 2012 (UK)
9 October 2012 (US)
Recorded 2001–2012 Bungalow Palace
Length 4:44
Label Frontiers
Writer(s) Jeff Lynne
Producer(s) Jeff Lynne
Mr. Blue Sky: The Very Best of Electric Light Orchestra track listing

Jeff Lynne re-recorded the song in his own home studio. It was released in a compilation album with other re-recorded ELO songs, under the ELO name.[5]

Covers and other uses[edit]

The song was covered by Bobby Sutcliff and Mitch Easter in 2001 for the Jeff Lynne tribute album Lynne Me Your Ears,[6] by Parthenon Huxley in 2005,[7] and by Def Leppard in 2006 on their cover album Yeah!.[8] The song's main guitar riff was also sampled by Paul Weller for his 1995 song "The Changingman".[9]


  1. ^ "Electric Light Orchestra - Evil Woman (Vinyl) at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 28 February 2013. 
  2. ^ "Electric Light Orchestra - Evil Woman / 10538 Overture (Vinyl) at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 28 February 2013. 
  3. ^ "Top 40: Electric Light Orchestra - 10538 Overture". Top40.nl. Retrieved 2 June 2013. 
  4. ^ "Electric Light Orchestra". Offfical Charts Company. Retrieved 5 March 2013. 
  5. ^ "Releases : elo - Mr. Blue Sky - The Very Best of Electric Light Orchestra". Elo.biz. 5 October 2012. Retrieved 28 February 2013. 
  6. ^ Damas, Jason. "Lynne Me Your Ears: A Tribute to the Music of Jeff Lynne". AllMusic. Retrieved 9 December 2015. 
  7. ^ "Homemade Spaceship: The Music of ELO - P. Hux : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 28 February 2013. 
  8. ^ Thomas, Stephen. "Yeah! - Def Leppard : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 28 February 2013. 
  9. ^ Hewitt, Paolo (2008). Paul Weller: The Changing Man. London: Transworld Publishers. p. 284. ISBN 9780552156097. Retrieved 9 December 2015. 

External links[edit]