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Calling all ELO fans


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"Out Of The Blue" was the last really great Electric Light Orchestra album. I kinda lost interest in them after that. I actually prefered their earlier stuff. "Showdown", "10538 Overture", "Roll Over Beethoven","Ma-Ma-Ma Belle", "First Movement(Jumpin' Biz)", all great pieces of music from their first three albums, which were not all that successful commercially. The big breakthrough was the 4th album "Eldorado". They got a bit too disco-y for me later on. But Jeff Lynne wrote some great stuff for ELO.

A bit of history is in order. As Edna pointed out, ELO evolved from legendary Birmingham, England (the same music scene that spawned The Moody Blues, Steve Winwood & many others) band The Move(circa 1966-1972). ELO was originally Roy Wood's idea & he invited Jeff Lynne to join The Move in 1970 to help him put the band together. Prior to that,Jeff fronted a band called The Idle Race, ironically taking Roy Wood's place in 1966, then known as The Nightriders. Both The Idle Race & The Nightriders made records (which are available on CD if you want to hunt them down) but chart success eluded bands. Meanwhile, The Move became a hit machine in the UK but by 1970 Roy Wood, their leader, was bored with it all so he dreamed up the ELO idea. The record company would only fund ELO if The Move continued to make records so the two bands actually co-existed for a while.

The original ELO plan was to take up where The Beatles "I Am The Walrus" left off, using instruments normally associated with classical music to play rock. Roy taught himself to play the cello, oboe, bassoon & other "classical" instruments mainly to save the cost of hiring session players as he & Jeff experimented with ELO's early sound in the studio. These instruments appear on the two Move albums recorded while Jeff Lynne was in the band, "Looking On"(1970) & "Message From The Country" (1971). Both contain excellent songs written by Jeff. ELO's first album, titled "No Answer" in the USA, was recorded between sessions for The Move's records. It took 18 months to finish, with Roy Wood overdubbing all the cello & brass parts himself. It was released in Dec.1971. In spring 1972, The Move put out one last single, "California Man" / "Do Ya", then officially ceased to exist. Roy & Jeff hired players & took ELO out on the road for a breif tour, which coincided with the release of "10538 Overture" as the band's first single, a top 10 hit in the UK.

After the tour, which did not go smoothly,, sessions for the 2nd ELO album began, though Roy was growing disatisfied with the direction the band was going in. In a nearby studio his old mate Rick Price, bassist with The Move, was rehearsing with his band Mongrel. Roy sat in & had so much fun he asked them if they would be interested in forming a band with him. Roy then abruptly quit ELO, taking a few players with him, to form Wizzard , and simultaneously began a solo career. Wizzard became another hit machine in the UK while ELO struggled to continue under Jeff Lynne's leadership. By the mid-70's, however, ELO eclipsed Wizzard & Roy Wood's solo records in populariity in their native UK and became hugely successful in the USA & rest of the world.

I've always wondered what how ELO would have fared if Roy Wood had stayed with them. We'll never know. But for those interested, there are several collections of the early ELO material available on CD as well as the complete first 3 albums, "No Answer", "ELO II" & "On The Third Day". A bit experimental but great stuff nonetheless. And for those who want to dig a little deeper, The Move's stuff is out there on CD, though a bit tougher to find, but the search will be worth it as there is a treasure trove of great material on those albums.

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