Electric Light Orchestra (ELO)

ARTICLE ABOUT ELO FROM SOUNDS, March 1, 1975

A good one from Mr. Page – an early report from the road with ELO. A great read.
Read on.

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After mingling with the men from ELO, MIKE FLOOD PAGE discovers, in no uncertain terms that…

Exploding cello players are hard to get

Backstage in the largest conventional theatre in London, midst a scatter of drum heads, cables, and flats from old plays, a group of casually dressed men surround a curious object on the floor. A cable snakes away from its wooden figure-eight body to a couple of small batteries; inside they connect to a small charge.
In an atmosphere of increasing tension it`s front is replaced. A young man holds it up, and enquires if everyone is ready. The group hurries away from him in alarm. Someone gives the signal: a flash, a bang, and the front of the exploding cello flies off.
ELO`s latest recruit, second cellist Melvin Gayle, looks at the wreckage in his hands with a mixture of surprise and dismay. There is a quick conference: it is agreed the latest weapon in ELO`s armoured assault on classical music is deemed OK for the night.
Jeff Lynne explains: “We were thinking of an exploding cello player but they`re so hard to get.” Ah yes, all those tiresome cleaning bills.
Tonight it`s the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, last night York; a couple of weeks back it was Phoenix or Denver or anywhere they like to hear the world`s first and best punk classic-rock band. They`ve never been able to restrain a good dig those Brummy liggers ELO.
Back in the days when the Idle Race were a cult band in Brummagem there was always that suspicion that they were too down to earth to take all that Tangerine Blancmange stuff too seriously, and the same esprit de piss-take pervades everything they do.
You know where their roots lie when you catch Jeff Lynne doodling away back stage at the middle break on `Runaway`, that classic by his hero Del Shannon. But then as new bassist Kelly Groucutt said in the pub later, “But `e`s yer mate now, Jeff, innee?” And indeed he is, but ELO are still a bunch of bad boys at heart. Unperturbed by the nonsense of the biz and still with their feet on the ground and their heroes in the early Sixties.

Over the same pint, no make that a couple, after the meal and before the show, Bev Bevan was explaining about the cover on their latest opus, `Eldorado` which has just cracked gold in the US where the group are still getting bigger and bigger. “Ere that`s right innit,” mused Kelly, “I mean, there`s seven of us now.” What they didn`t know, was that the cover was a still from the Wizard of Oz, the feet, those of the immortal Judy Garland. But everyone in the States knew right enough. “So they`re all saying how wonderful it is,” explains Bev, “and we`re saying, Oh, you know, we just thought it would be a good idea.”
It`s up for design awards now, but they`re not above getting a laugh out of it. Mind you that`s nothing to what happened to their first album in the States. United Artists, who handle them there, were in a hurry to start promotion on it, so a senior executive had his secretary call London for the title. Finding no-one in London who knew, she left a note on his pad that read `No answer`. So an album entitled `No Answer` is what they got. Still it`s a laff innit?
`Eldorado`. the same deft mix of pop classic strains with classic pop ideas that has seen them so far, overlaid with a real symphonic number, was the product of a few months thought on Jeff`s part, and two days on the lyrics. “I had to sit there for two days all day going `come on, do it, move on the paper!` and it come out alright in the end. Once I got started it was OK. I enjoyed that – working under pressure. It`s just that I fancied doing something with a concept. I thought about doing it with `On The Third Day` but we didn`t have time in the end.”
There must be problems transferring it to stage. “It`s quite difficult, yeah. But now Richard Tandy`s got a mellotron with choir parts an` stuff like that, it`s working out quite good. There`s a few more balls ups than there is on the record.”

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When ELO started, Jeff was quoted as saying that they intended to take-off from the point the Beatles had reached with `I Am The Walrus`. “That was because nobody had used strings and that was the obvious thing to compare it with I suppose. But that`s not the ambition anymore. When we started we didn`t know anything about it, about the instruments we were using or anything, but it`s taken a definite shape now.”
How about that weird high singing style he employs, something reminiscent of the old Move days, a Brummie peculiarity perhaps? “It`s not a conscious thing. I think it`s the way you hold yer leg actually. I just try to make my voice nicer than it really is. I just try and get the rough edges out of it. Maybe it`s the air in Birmingham what does it, all that snot.”
How does he go about writing and making an album like `Eldorado`? “On `Eldorado` I went out of my way to do some pseudo-classical stuff which I enjoy a lot. I have to cheat `cos I can`t play piano very well, so all the fast bits I had to do at half speed. That`s for me to show Richard what it should go like. When we record we do the rhythm tracks first just me Bev, Richard and Kelly.” Then in come the strings: Hugh McDowall, Melvin Gayle, and Mick Kaminsky on violin, and then the fancy parts which were arranged by an old mate Louis Clark.
The mugs were empty so it was back over the road to get into the stage gear in the pint sized dressing room and on to a packed house. The set was the mixture as usual with that peculiar mix of straight rock and rollers including a magnificent work out on `Day Tripper` and a stomping finale of `Great Balls Of Fire` – preceded by the exploding cello, which, lamentably came over as a bit of a damp squib, though Melvin looked relieved when that was over.

The songs have the same simple but effective elements that Lynne brought to his Idle Race classic `Please No More Sad Songs`, but for the most part the strange keening vocals are but a poor second to the histrionics of the music. And the music, it`s so literal-minded, such a rip-off, and so successful. This is genuine classic-rock from the garbage can. A punk idea of art.
If they took it seriously they`d lose out to the Rick Wakeman`s and ELP`s of this world before the match had begun, but they don`t. They know that under the camouflage they have good simple songs, with a melancholy or strident one, and a solid rocking undertow.
Not that they are bad musicians, they are just headed in a different direction from the grandiose pretensions of the serious arty classic rock brigade.
The last number over they`re off for a minute. The crowd noise surges up, Jeff looks around at the gaudy crew scattered behind the curtain “Right lads, let`s get back out there”. And it`s a riotous trip through the most straightforward idea since Chuck Berry wrote it. `Roll Over Beethoven` with a classic intro. Now why didn`t someone think of that before?
Then the last curtain down, it`s back to the dressing room for peace and quiet and to change. Except that you  can`t get to your civvies for a crowd at least three times too big for the room.
The situation was well beyond human control. Champagne corks popping in such a press becoming dangerous ballistic missiles. Your reporter, humming a recherche little number by Verdi, and snapping his fingers to a Bo Diddley rhythm, made his excuses, and left.

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I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!

This number of Sounds also contains articles/interviews with these people: Joe Cocker, Argent, Paul McCartney, The Troggs, Chaka Khan, Lindisfarne, Rupert Holmes, Black Oak Arkansas, Labelle, Return To Forever, Arthur Lee, Flying Burrito Brothers, Glitter Band, Andy Fraser, The Sound of Philly, Back Door, Ronnie Lane, John Entwistle, Tom Paxton.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.

ARTICLE ABOUT Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) FROM SOUNDS, February 1, 1975

Just like Mr. Barton I find that this album is not the strongest in the ELO catalog. But still it definitely has its good moments. The album cover is kinda nice too, making you think of “Alice in Wonderland”.
Read on!

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Electric Light Orchestra: `El Dorado` (Warner Bros.)

Album review by Geoff Barton

Many have attempted to achieve the perfect synthesis between rock and classical music, and I dare say that the ELO have succeeded better than most – but even so this `El Dorado` album is far from their best, I think. It`s a curious, haphazard work that manages to touch on just about every extreme of the musical spectrum. On one hand there`s the fragmentary mixture of classical tunes – the titles of which you just can`t seem to put your finger on – at the beginning of `Boy Blue`: on the other there`s the straight rock and roll of the strangely-titled `Illusions In G Major`. The overall sound of this, presumably some sort of concept album, is quite insistent and decidedly uncomfortable. Jeff Lynne`s production is unsubtle and, at times, the whole thing comes out through the speakers with almost bludgeoning power. At the beginning `El Dorado` is immediately reminiscent of the Moodies, as guest speaker murmurs indistinctly and in deep tones over sweeping strings. This leads into `Can`t Get It Out Of My Head`, possibly the most outstanding track on the album, with memorable chorus – something ELO have always excelled at – and, towards the end, a tasteful exchange between synthesiser and violins. `Laredo Tornado` has Stevie Wonder undertones (this is turning out to be a strange mixture) and the first side climaxes in no mean fashion as rock collides with a mixture of, or so it seems, the themes from `The Magnificent Seven` and `The Big Country` together with the `William Tell Overture`. Besides `Illusions In G`, side two is notable for Lennonesque vocals on `Mister Kingdom`. This one`s a gently reflective tune for ELO – yet it still comes across with the force of a ten thousand watt neon sign. Most strange.

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I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!

This number of Sounds also contains articles/interviews with these people: Average White Band, Chick Corea, Gilbert O`Sullivan, Guess Who, Led Zeppelin, Trapeze, John Martyn, John McLaughlin, Gary Moore, Billy Connolly, J. Geils Band, John Holt, Hall & Oates, Donovan, Country Joe McDonald, Golden Earring.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.

ARTICLE ABOUT ELO FROM SOUNDS, August 17, 1974

I always liked a bit of ELO. Jeff Lynne`s often melancholy songs appeal to me. One of their albums, the fantastic concept album “Time” is one of my 10 favourite albums of all time. So, naturally, I give you this article from those golden days of the 70s.

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All`s well that ends up sliding down a wall

Resident wino Rob Mackie reports

I had seen Jeff Lynne the night before or possibly not. I recall going to the bar and asking for a glass of wine. “Ah, you`ll have to go to the wine bar for that, Sir”, he shrieked above the din that Heinz and assorted musicians were making onstage.
I strode manfully to the wine bar. “`Fraid we haven`t got any glasses, Sir”, he shouted above John Baldry`s stage vocalising (strange, I could have sworn it was Heinz). “I haven`t got a glass”, I re-shouted. “You`d better take this bottle, then”.
It was some time later that I looked up from me bottle and realised that it must have had hallucinatory substances in it. Because there, on the stage, was the Move. No really, I know they broke up years ago. But there they were, resurrected in their final pre-incarceration incarnation, playing… well I can`t quite remember what but it sounded fine, fine.
I took the remaining half of my wine bottle to safer climes, and went to get some food (they confiscated the bottle but that`s another story). It was no good, though. I kept waking up in a cold sweat expecting to see Brummy ghosts pounding out “Blackberry Way” at the bottom of my bed and putting axes through my TV set. Was this the beginning of my final disintegration? Would my future nights be punctuated with small, dead pop groups climbing out of the wallpaper to be interviewed?

VISION

Pacing up and down amid endless cups of coffee, I decided there was only one thing for it. The only way out was to confront in the sober light of day a genuine quarter of the Move, and get him to confirm or deny the meaning of this strange vision.
I wrote the four names out on four pieces of paper and threw them to the winds. The one with `Jeff Lynne` on it fell to earth on my left toe. That settled it. Bright and early the next day, I took my left toe off to see Jeff Lynne.
Well, I`m still not sure. Jeff couldn`t tell whether he`d been having a strange hallucination as well, or whether it had all happened. He muttered something about playing “some rock`n`roll and “Sliding Down A Wall”. The Old Elmore James classic popularised by John Mayall? I asked, not having heard of it.
“Well, no. I started playing this number and I was leaning up against this wall, and I found I was gradually sliding down it.” “It, er, it sounded very good to me, although I wasn`t in a very fit state to judge…” “You were in the right state to be there then, because nobody was in a fit state to play. Great party.”
I think I`m OK, I think it really happened, at any rate, the Wood-Lynne base, upon which the original ELO was erected, is definitely set to get together for a one-off single. “We never did co-write before, but we got together the other evening and got drunk and ended up writing a bit. At least it`ll put a stop to all these silly press stories about a feud between us.”
But there was a fairly long period when the mere mention of the name of R. Wood or J. Lynne in an interview with the other would bring forth `no comments` worthy of someone about to run for President, was there not? “Yeh, I s`pose it did get a bit silly at the time but we`re better pals now than ever.” But the Brummies have come over all chummy again, and all`s well that ends up sliding down a wall.

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A 100-piece ELO sounds like a winos gutter-dream too, but I`m assured that it`s happening. “It`s quite a big venture for me”, says Jeff with characteristic undersell. “Lot of blokes, but I`ve been working up to this for a long time, it`s like a whole symphony. I`ve been dying to do it for such a long time, it`s just the drag of having to write all the parts out.”
But help was at hand from the Birmingham grapevine: “I got somebody in to do it. Lou Clark who used to be with Raymond Froggatt years ago, he was his bass player, went to college and all that. It`s worked out really well, I`m pretty thrilled about it, because this is the sort of thing I always wanted for the ELO. I`ve got that depth and weight that we could never get with just two cellos and a violin.”
The new improved vaster ELO, album variety, is not going to be possible for all the live gigs, of course. But, having seen ELO on stage a few times in the past, I don`t doubt they`ll manage to make the band sound a lot bigger than it is.
The groups plans for the next few months required some regional clarification: first there`s a six-week tour of the States coming up in a couple of months, which will coincide with the new album`s release there.
But in Britain, the plan is to tour early next year, and not release the album until then, with a single coming off it as a preview to plug the gap. There`s no decision as to what the single will be yet, but you have Mr. Lynne`s word for it that “there`s no cheap, nasty rock stuff at all”, so it will be heavily orchestrated.
“Actually”, he confides, “I`d rather not put singles out at all, but in England, you have to. The record company says so.” As ELO`s four singles thus far have all been quite sizeable hits, without having startlingly huge publicity beforehand, the record company would appear to be well vindicated.

EUROPE

For Europe, there`s a different plan again, with a live album set to come out (not for Britain and the States) and a single of “Day Tripper” to be taken from it. Which could cause a lot of confusion and record importing between various continents, I would have thought. Still we`ll have to see.
Well, it`s a bit confusing to say the least, but as long as Jeff manages to remember what`s going on where… chances are pretty good that the next album might be the band`s first gold album: the sales have been building steadily, and the last, “On The Third Day” reaped the tour benefits, with 220,000 sales in the States, and 30,000 here.
How long did he take preparing this somewhat mammoth task? “I did it more or less in a week when I was at home, working more or less day and night. Drove me wife mad. The result of which is enough material to fill the album three times over, and a choice to three different themes, which is going to be the next problem.
But if all this sounds as if the Electric Fellows are becoming extremely serious and forsaking the silly symphony stage act of yore, it sounds wrong. “You`ve got to have the silliness on stage to balance things out with”, says Jeff emphatically.

SMASHED

At times, things get even sillier than he intends. “Mike Edwards got into a way of playing his cello on this bloke`s shoulders, and one day, he just sort of toppled off and landed straight on top of his cello – crack. It was right in the middle of a number, and every one just fell about laughing, because there he was with just this pile of rubble left in his hands.
“That`s the only time we actually smashed anything, but the trouble is, he`s also a phantom lead-puller. He stamps on everybody`s lead, and of course, the plug goes `Zoonk`, and shoots off somewhere behind the drums. You get something like that.
“He`s really good, and it makes it a laugh, but there was one night, he came round and pulled everybody`s lead out one by one. We were playing at the time. I think he must have been drunk or something, but he pulled all of them out, and we got backstage at the end, we said `What did you do that for?` He said `Oh, well, I fancied hearing a drum solo from Bev`.”
My, these irresponsible pop stars. What will they get up to next? Well, probably, they`ll have to go and put some vocals on. Jeff`s still got a whole collection of vocals to add to the painstakingly laid down huge orchestra, which he refers to disparagingly as `my crap vocals`. The eclectic plight of a giant mutated orchestra!

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I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!

This number of Sounds also contains articles/interviews with these people: Tim Hardin, Joan Baez, Mike Garson, Mike Oldfield, Russ Ballard, Pink Floyd, Herbie Hancock, Queen, Wendy Waldman, Alan Stivell, Contraband.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.

ARTICLE ABOUT ELO FROM NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS, MARCH 2, 1974

I have personally transcribed this from the original paper and you are free to use it as you like. If you use it on your own webpages – please credit me or put up a link to my blog.

There is no doubt that as a songwriter and a musician, Jeff Lynne is one of the most talented people you could lend your ears to. Therefore, it is a pleasure for me to reprint this article from 1974. Enjoy!

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Meanwhile, on the third day, Jeff Lynne said:

LET THERE BE LIGHT

(and there was light)

The String Quartet had just concluded a short recital of chamber music, when one of the violinists – a somewhat distinguished gentleman with shiny bald pate sparsely trimmed with tufts of silver grey – suddenly jumped up, tucked his instrument safely under one arm and proceeded to elbow his way towards Jeff Lynne through the crowd of inebriates and mediamen who had gathered to welcome the Electric Light Orchestra to America.
Grabbing hold of Lynne`s right hand and pumping it furiously, the violinist (who was old enough to be Lynne`s grandfather) effected his own introduction:
“Say, young man,” he gushed, “I`ve got all of your three albums and both the members of the quartet and myself think they`re just great. Yessir, they`re quite splendid.” Lowering his voice Lynne`s confidant disclosed, “We play them all the time and to be quite truthful, we`ve learned a lot.”

Before Lynne had time to recover from this unsolicited outburst of senior citizen fanmania, his newly acquired admirer zoomed into a highly-technical discourse on the Electric Light Orchestra – interspersed with innumerable questions concerning musical theory as applied to ELO`s synchronisation of classical and rock forms. “I hadn`t understood a single word he`d said,” Lynne recollects of the incident. “And when I informed him that I can`t read or write music you should have seen the expression of utter amazement on his face.
“Sure,” Lynne continues, “I know what all the notes and the chords are, but really, that`s about as far as it goes. It took me quite some time to convince him that I wasn`t just having him on.”

Yet in no way has Jeff Lynne`s lack of academic training proved to be a hindrance. Quite the contrary. If, as the man says, one is unaware of the applied rules of the game, then accordingly one just plays it by ear. As simple as that.
In all innocence, this approach has enabled this amiable musical lawbreaker to do those things that would no doubt prompt the entire faculty of the Royal College of Music to tutt: “tish-poo.” Dare one even hazard a thought to how these most learned tutors would react to the following modus operandi: “I just go right ahead and do things just the way I feel `em.”

And the way Mr. Lynne “feels `em” has made the ELO a power to be reckoned with. One minute they`re tearing through a rough house send-up of Beethoven`s Fifth neatly tacked onto the Entire Chuck Berry Repetoire Riff, the next moment Norman Whitfield is expertly rolled over and out for a slice of cello-dominated soul sleaze. By way of non-stop contrast, guitars and violins stand toe-to-toe as they thrust and parry. Moogs are synthesized and percussables are percussed in a wild profusion of original – if somewhat unorthodox – ideas.
ELO may well have given Tchaikovsky the news, but Lynne adamantly refutes any suggestion that he is a frustrated classical musician who`s just jumped out of the closet.

Mr. Lynne.

Mr. Lynne.

“Sure, I love a lot of classical music, but there`s also a helluva lot that I don`t like. I suppose I`ve got the same kinda taste as the average bloke in the street. You know – a little bit of Beethoven and Tchaikovsky, but I don`t like none of this modern pseudo-intellectual stuff…the stuff that usually sounds like crashing cans.
“The last thing you could accuse ELO of being is pretentious. From the very start, we`ve carefully avoided the problem that some groups have of taking themselves too bloody serious…the ultra-cool far-out-man brigade.” He points fingers but doesn`t name names.
“Yeah, we play some serious stuff – well, let`s say: as serious as we want it to be. But we`ve always managed to offset that part of our programme with some harmless nonsense.
“That was the reason why we came up with `Roll Over Beethoven` and `In The Hall Of The Mountain King.` We weren`t doing any rowdy rockers at the time and we thought it would be good fun to arrange them for our instrumentation as a bit of a laugh.”

Now, contrary to what one might be forgiven for thinking, Lynne insists that – as a musician – he experiences far fewer restrictions within the complex format of the Electric Light Orchestra than those of his immediate contemporaries, employed in the more accepted rock group line-up. “Really, that`s one of the main reasons why ELO came into being in the first place. Simply because I`d become so fed-up with the usual guitar bands.”
He clarifies: “After a while, you`re forced into a situation whereby you just keep on repeating yourself over and over again. There`s only so much you can do with guitars after you`ve exhausted straight riffs and half-hour guitar solos.”

From experience, it`s nearly always the strong-brewed British beer-and-skittles bands that are consumed in vast quantities by American audiences. Anything milder just pays its way. Though a new wine in an old bottle, ELO are proving that America is now becoming more appreciative of the exotic, exported bouquets.
“I was really amazed by just how much American audiences knew about us before we went over for the first tour. I mean, they were actually shouting out for numbers off the earlier albums along with things I`d done years ago with the Idle Race and the Move. In fact, after the gigs, kids were coming backstage with old Idle Race albums for me to autograph.”
In the midst of the sixties British Beat Boom, the Idle Race were a band forever on the brink of breaking into the bigtime – but, in the end, didn`t. Today they`ve remembered as something of a minor cult. It`s somewhat of a paradox that the comparative commercial failure of the Idle Race was in some ways responsible for the escalating success of the Electric Light Orchestra.

“The Idle Race served as my apprenticeship,” Lynne explains. “The thing was, I was very naive in those days…totally unaware of the business side of music. I just made me little records, sat back – and watched `em all go down the drain.
“We didn`t have a manager and so naturally we didn`t know what to do about it. Everyone would say, what Great Records we made and that they were Hits, but none of `em ever did make it.
“Funnily enough, it never worried me too much that those records didn`t sell `cause I really didn`t know any better. I just kinda accepted it. I`ll tell you, I wouldn`t accept it now…never.”
Obviously, Jeff Lynne is an artist who has learned from past mistakes, even if they were not of his own making.
Believe me, it`s not often you can write that about someone.

ROY CARR

A new band at the time.

A new band at the time.

This number of the NME also contains articles/interviews with these people: Jimmy The Mod (Terry Kennett), Steve Marriott, Sutherland Brothers and Quiver, Angie Bowie, P.J. Proby, Roy Wood, Todd Rundgren, Blue Öyster Cult, Black Oak Arkansas, YES, Sweet, Monkees, Leo Fender, Greenslade.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail, if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be around or upwards of 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.