Music: Electric Light Orchestra
Formed in 1970 by Roy Wood and Jeff Lynne, ELO was originally conceived as a rock band with classical instruments and sounds — an electrified light orchestra, hence its name. In other words, it was intended to bring the synthesis of Classical Music
and rock that the inchoate genre of Progressive Rock
promised to its logical conclusion. After the release of their first album in 1971, Wood left the band, leaving Lynne and drummer Bev Bevan. That didn't stop them, however. After recruiting some new members, ELO kept getting stronger throughout the 1970s
ELO's sound started changing considerably as time went on. After the release of the concept album Eldorado
, their songs started becoming less classical-sounding and more rock. Out of the Blue
, considered to be their best album, started bringing even more synths into their music, and Discovery
taking a (mostly) disco sound.
Sadly, ELO started to decline after the release of their second concept album, Time
. Secret Messages
was successful at first, but quickly fell off the charts. After three years, Balance of Power
was released and ELO was seemingly finished for good.
In 1989, Bev Bevan and Mik Kaminski created ELO Part II and released an eponymous album the same year. It was followed by Moment of Truth
in 1994. Bevan left in 1999 and sold his share of the ELO name to Jeff Lynne. The remaining members continued to perform and renamed themselves "The Orchestra". They released one more album No Rewind
in 2001. The band is still touring, as of 2012.
In 2001, Jeff Lynne released another ELO album, Zoom
. However, only Lynne and Richard Tandy, the band's primary keyboardist, were featured. Lynne reformed the band with some new members and started a new tour. The tour, however, was cut short, primarily due to the illness and death of Lynne's close friend, George Harrison
Their discography (with notable songs) includes:
- The Electric Light Orchestra (1971)note : "Mr. Radio", "10538 Overture"
- ELO 2 (1973): "Roll Over Beethoven", "Kuiama"
- On the Third Day (1973): "Daybreaker", "In the Hall of the Mountain King", "Showdown"
- Eldorado (1974): "Can't Get it Out of My Head", "Mr. Kingdom"
- Face the Music (1975): "Fire On High", "Evil Woman", "Strange Magic"
- A New World Record (1976): "So Fine", "Livin' Thing", "Do Ya", "Telephone Line"
- Out of the Blue (1977): "Turn to Stone", "Sweet Talkin' Woman", "Mr. Blue Sky"
- Discovery (1979): "Shine a Little Love", "Don't Bring Me Down"
- Xanadu (1980): "I'm Alive", "All Over the World", "Don't Walk Away", "Xanadu"
- Time (1981): "Twilight", "Hold On Tight"
- Secret Messages (1983): "Four Little Diamonds", "Rock 'n' Roll is King"
- Balance of Power (1986): "So Serious", "Calling America", "Endless Lies"
- Zoom (2001): "Alright", "Moment in Paradise"
This band shows examples of:
- All Just a Dream: "Jungle", most likely, given that it involves a bunch of animals singing about their awesome blue ship and ends with an alarm clock sound.
- Artifact Title: As time went on, the role of the string section decreased, rendering the "light orchestra" part of their name more and more moot. By the release of Time, the violins had disappeared entirely.
- Ascended Fanboy: Lead singer and Face of the Band Jeff Lynne conceived the band's idea with Roy Wood to be a sort of sequel to The Beatles, taking rock music in the direction "that The Beatles had left off." He later worked with former Beatles members on various projects, including The Traveling Wilburys and producing the "Threetles"note singles "Free as a Bird" and "Real Love".
- Bare Your Midriff: The alternative cover to "On The Third Day" by photographer Richard Avedon has ELO baring their belly buttons for the camera.
- Concept Album: Eldorado and Time. Side Three of Out of the Blue, the "Concerto for a Rainy Day," is a sort of mini-Concept Album on a larger non-concept release.
- Cool Shades: Is Jeff Lynne ever seen without them?
- Cover Version: Covered Chuck Berry's "Roll Over Beethoven" on ELO 2 and a cover of Del Shannon's "Little Town Flirt" was added for the rerelease of Discovery. The song "Do Ya" was also a cover of an older version written by Jeff for The Move, a band he and Wood had been part of previously.
- And their epic version of "In the Hall of the Mountain King" VIOLIN SOLO!
- Crapsack World: A good number of songs in Time describe the far-off year 2095 in a vaguely depressing way; some of the problems might just be viewed from the lens of a none-too-happy visitor from 1981 ("The Way Life's Meant to Be", "Yours Truly, 2095"), but other problems seem to concern things we might find a bit dystopian or environmentally unsound (e.g. some of the "news" items in "Here Is The News").
- Earn Your Happy Ending: "The Diary of Horace Wimp."
- Epic Instrumental Opener: One of Jeff's favorite tropes. See also the openings for Eldorado and Time.
- Fake-Out Fade-Out: "Mr. Blue Sky"
- Funny Afro: Jeff Lynne.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: "Oh No Not Susan" got away with the word "fucking" during a time when the radio was censored heavily. This may have something to do with it being difficult to distinguish the word with all the double-tracking going on in the song's vocals.
- Not to mention this is one of the very seldom times that Jeff Lynne has cursed in his songs. Another example would be the use of "shit" in "Easy Money", from Zoom.
- Greatest Hits Album: Several. For the interested, the best of these would probably be the aptly-named Very Best Of... discs.
- The 2012 Very Best Of disc, Mister Blue Sky, is a greatest-hits record, but consisting of all-new recordings of the songs by Jeff Lynne, along with a new track, 'Point Of No Return', that Lynne had recorded in 2009.
- Probably the best greatest-hits compilation featuring the original recordings is the 3-CD set Flashback, released shortly before the release of Zoom.
- Humiliation Conga: in 'Evil Woman'
- I Am the Band: Jeff Lynne, especially after the release of Zoom.
- Last Note Nightmare: Horace Wimp...Horace Wimp...Horace Wimp...
- Line-of-Sight Name: Their first album is known as No Answer in America, as that's what somebody told the people responsible after he tried calling to find out what the title was.
- Lyrical Dissonance: "Calling America" and "So Serious"
- Not to mention "Tightrope," "Julie Don't Live Here Anymore," "Ordinary Dream"... Jeff Lynne loves this trope.
- Meaningless Meaningful Words: "Prologue." It sounds pretty profound, but good luck trying to make any sense of it.
- Motor Mouth: The bridge to "Turn To Stone."
- New Sound Album: While they had been experimenting with synthesizers and electronic music before, Discovery marked a very significant shift in the band's music.
- Protest Song: "Kuiama" and "Laredo Tornado"
- Punny Name: Electric light plus light orchestra. Get it?
- The band's first logo was a parody of GE's then-current "lightbulb" logo.
- Record Producer: Jeff Lynne produced almost all of the band's albums himself, and would go on to produce many other artists.
- Robot Girl: "Yours Truly, 2095"
- Rock Me, Amadeus!: Their covers of "Roll Over Beethoven" and "In the Hall of the Mountain King."
- Something Blues: "Birmingham Blues"
- Song Of Song Titles: "Beatles Forever" is crammed full of Beatles song titles.
- Spiritual Successor: John Lennon himself referred to ELO as The Son of the Beatles.
- And in turn, The Polyphonic Spree has been compared to ELO, with songs like "Soldier Girl" proving the point.
- Subliminal Seduction: After the band was accused of this, Face the Music and Secret Messages deliberately had backmasking put in as a joke.
- The music is reversible, but time is not! Turn back! Turn back! Turn back! Turn back!
- Trilling Rs: "Don't bring me dowwwwn, Grrrrrruuuuuuuusssss!!!"
- Up to Eleven: Their multi-multi-multi-multitracked production values, especially around 1974-78, and the concert productions in 1978 which included a "spaceship" filled with stage lights and lasers overhead operated on this level.
- You Are Number Six: "10538 Overture"