Out of the Blue (Electric Light Orchestra album)

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Out of the Blue
ELO-Out of the Blue Lp.jpg
Album artwork by Shusei Nagaoka
Studio album by Electric Light Orchestra
Released 3 October 1977
Recorded May – August 1977
Studio Musicland Studios, Munich
Genre
Length 70:12
Label
Producer Jeff Lynne
Electric Light Orchestra chronology
The Light Shines On
(1977)The Light Shines On1977
Out of the Blue
(1977)
Three Light Years
(1978)Three Light Years1978
Electric Light Orchestra studio album chronology
A New World Record
(1976) A New World Record1976
Out of the Blue
(1977) Out of the Blue1977
Discovery
(1979) Discovery1979
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, selling about 10 million copies worldwide.[1]

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[citation needed]. It was one of the first pop albums to have an extensive use of the vocoder, and helped to popularize it.[2]

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 a torrential downpour of 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 0:33 mark of the song, which marks 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 1:07 mark, the staccato strings play a morse code spelling out "ELO". The band used the song to open their 1978 World Tour 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. Again, the Vocoder is used at the end of the track where, at the 4:54 mark, one can hear "Please turn me over" as it fades out. 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,[3]and looks like the space station with a docking shuttle from 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968).[4] 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]

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,[5][6] 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. It was one of the landmark albums of the year, and the decade as well, remaining in the UK charts for about 108 weeks.[7]

The US release of Out of the Blue was originally distributed by 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 of the ELO catalogue to CBS Records worldwide early in 1978.

Reissues[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 1,000 copies were made on transparent blue vinyl and the rest were released in the standard black vinyl.

Reception and legacy[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic3.5/5 stars[8]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music5/5 stars[9]
MusicHound3/5[10]
Pitchfork8.1/10[11]
Rolling Stone(unfavourable)[12]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide3/5 stars[13]

In a contemporary review for Rolling Stone, Billy Altman said that the album was "meticulously produced and performed" and showed the influence of the Beatles, the Beach Boys and the Bee Gees. However, he detected a lack of passion in the work, which he dismissed as a "totally uninteresting and horrifyingly sterile package" and "All method and no madness: perfectly hollow and bland rock Muzak."[12]

Over the years a more favourable view has developed. Rob Mitchum of Pitchfork wrote in 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."[11]

Axl Rose – by his own admission "an old ELO fanatic" – said: "Out of the Blue is an awesome record."[14]

In October 2013, the album was ranked 23rd on VH1's list "Double Trouble: The 35 Best-Selling Double Albums of All Time".[15]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Jeff Lynne.

Side one
No.TitleLength
1."Turn to Stone"3:47
2."It's Over"4:08
3."Sweet Talkin' Woman"3:47
4."Across the Border"3:52
Total length:15:34
Side two
No.TitleLength
5."Night in the City"4:02
6."Starlight"4:30
7."Jungle"3:51
8."Believe Me Now"1:21
9."Steppin' Out"4:38
Total length:18:22
Side three (Concerto for a Rainy Day)
No.TitleLength
10."Standin' in the Rain"4:20
11."Big Wheels"5:10
12."Summer and Lightning"4:13
13."Mr. Blue Sky"5:05
Total length:18:48
Side four
No.TitleLength
14."Sweet Is the Night"3:26
15."The Whale"5:05
16."Birmingham Blues"4:21
17."Wild West Hero"4:40
Total length:17:32

Personnel[edit]

ELO
Production

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Canada (Music Canada)[33] Platinum 100,000^
Germany (BVMI)[34] Gold 250,000^
Netherlands (NVPI)[35] Gold 50,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[36] Platinum 300,000^
United States (RIAA)[37] Platinum 1,000,000^

References[edit]

  1. ^ Album's 2007 remastered liner notes.
  2. ^ Jenkins, Mark (2007). Analog Synthesizers: Understanding, Performing, Buying- from the legacy of Moog to software synthesis (1st ed.). Focal Press. p. 1. ISBN 978-0-240520-72-8. 
  3. ^ Ex-Voto Films. "KOSH – Electric Light Orchestra on Vimeo". Vimeo.com. Retrieved 2 October 2011. 
  4. ^ 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) – Posters
  5. ^ allmusic ((( A New World Record > Overview )))
  6. ^ Wild, David. "The Story of a Rock and Roll Band and the Pop Genius Who Dared to Go Baroque". Flashback.
  7. ^ "Jeff Lynne on the One Show". YouTube. Retrieved 15 February 2018. 
  8. ^ Eder, Bruce. "Out of the Blue – Electric Light Orchestra : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 18 October 2012. 
  9. ^ Larkin, Colin (ed.) (2011). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th edn). London: Omnibus Press. p. 915. ISBN 978-0-85712-595-8. 
  10. ^ Graff, Gary; Durchholz, Daniel (eds) (1999). MusicHound Rock: The Essential Album Guide. Farmington Hills, MI: Visible Ink Press. p. 383. ISBN 1-57859-061-2. 
  11. ^ a b Mitchum, Rob (1 March 2007). "Electric Light Orchestra: Out of the Blue | Album Reviews". Pitchfork. Retrieved 18 October 2012. 
  12. ^ a b Altman, Billy (12 January 1978). "Album Reviews: Electric Light Orchestra, Out of the Blue". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 29 March 2007. Retrieved 18 October 2012. 
  13. ^ Brackett, Nathan; with Hoard, Christian (eds) (2004). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th edn). New York, NY: Fireside/Simon & Schuster. p. 274. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8. 
  14. ^ Wall, Mick (January 2002). "Eve of destruction". Classic Rock #36. p. 95. 
  15. ^ Runtagh, Jordan (3 October 2013). "Double Trouble: The 35 Best-Selling Double Albums of All Time". vh1.com. Retrieved 11 October 2017. 
  16. ^ a b c Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. 
  17. ^ Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 24 February 2012
  18. ^ "dutchcharts.nl Electric Light Orchestra – Out of the Blue" (ASP). dutchcharts.nl (in Dutch). MegaCharts. Retrieved 8 August 2011. 
  19. ^ "InfoDisc : Tous les Albums classés par Artiste > Choisir Un Artiste Dans la Liste : Electric Light Orchestra". infodisc.fr. Archived from the original on 15 February 2012. Retrieved 24 February 2012. 
  20. ^ a b "Hit Parade Italia – Gli album più venduti del 1978" (in Italian). hitparadeitalia.it. Retrieved 24 February 2012. 
  21. ^ Oricon Album Chart Book: Complete Edition 1970–2005. Roppongi, Tokyo: Oricon Entertainment. 2006. ISBN 4-87131-077-9. 
  22. ^ "charts.org.nz Electric Light Orchestra – Out of the Blue" (ASP). Hung Medien. Recording Industry Association of New Zealand. Retrieved 24 February 2012. 
  23. ^ "norwegiancharts.com Electric Light Orchestra – Out of the Blue" (ASP). Hung Medien. VG-lista. Retrieved 24 February 2012. 
  24. ^ "swedishcharts.com Electric Light Orchestra – Out of the Blue" (ASP). Sverigetopplistan. Retrieved 24 February 2012. 
  25. ^ "Chart Stats – Electric Light Orchestra – Out of the Blue" (PHP). UK Albums Chart. Retrieved 24 February 2012. 
  26. ^ "allmusic ((( Out of the Blue > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums )))". allmusic.com. Retrieved 24 February 2012. 
  27. ^ "Album Search: Electric Light Orchestra – Out of the Blue" (ASP) (in German). Media Control. Retrieved 24 February 2012. 
  28. ^ "Electric Light Orchestra". Offfical Charts Company. Retrieved 12 March 2013. 
  29. ^ "Dutch charts jaaroverzichten 1977" (ASP) (in Dutch). Retrieved 2 April 2014. 
  30. ^ a b c "Complete UK Year-End Album Charts". Archived from the original on 19 May 2012. Retrieved 12 September 2011. 
  31. ^ "RPM Top 100 Albums of 1978". RPM. Archived from the original on 19 June 2013. Retrieved 24 February 2012. 
  32. ^ "Dutch charts jaaroverzichten 1978". Dutchcharts.nl. Retrieved 2 April 2014. 
  33. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Electric Light Orchestra – Out of the Blue". Music Canada. 
  34. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Electric Light Orchestra; 'Out of the Blue')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. 
  35. ^ "Dutch album certifications – Electric Light Orchestra – Out of the Blue" (in Dutch). Nederlandse Vereniging van Producenten en Importeurs van beeld- en geluidsdragers. 
  36. ^ "British album certifications – Electric Light Orchestra – Out of the Blue". British Phonographic Industry.  Select albums in the Format field. Select Platinum in the Certification field. Enter Out of the Blue in the search field and then press Enter.
  37. ^ "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

External links[edit]