Music Monday: The Magic of ELO

Despite holding the less than desirable record of the band with the most Billboard Hot 100 top 40 hits (20) without a number one single of any band in US chart history, Electric Light Orchestra still found its way into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2017.

ELO was formed in Birmingham in 1970 out of a desire to form a new band that would use violins, cellos, string basses, horns and woodwinds to give their music a classical sound, taking rock music in the direction to “pick up where the Beatles left off”. (Wikipedia)

During ELO’s original 13-year period (early 70s to mid 80s) of active recording and touring, they sold over 50 million records worldwide.

I remember many days of my youth spent listening to ELO. They had some great hits: Can’t Get It Out of My Head, Evil Woman, Strange Magic, Livin’ Thing, and Telephone Line.

I also remember using the instrumental song Fire on High as my background music in my one and only public juggling performance.

It’s hard to pick one song (I’ve featured Telephone Line before), but I think this time I’ll go with Boy Blue from the Eldorado album, which has one of my favorite album covers of all-time (shown above).

The song is an anti-war song set during the Crusades and forms the second dream as part of the overall Eldorado dreamscape. It tells a story about a hero returning from a far off war and the rapturous welcome he received from his town folk. Boy Blue (the character of the song) rebuffs the hero worship and declares his hatred of war, stating his refusal to ever take up arms again.

I picked this version in case you wanted to see the lyrics; it’s a powerful song, with great music…


42 thoughts on “Music Monday: The Magic of ELO

  1. ELO was the first concert I ever attended… 1978. Festival seating… we were in line at 4am. Having never been to a concert before, let alone a stadium concert, we didn’t know the opening act (not counting the 5 others that played through the day) was usually an up & coming act. They were… Journey.

    I couldn’t have had a better first concert experience!

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  2. Thanks for the memories! ELO were formed out of The Move, who had a string of pop hits here in the Sixties. They got huge after a fairly rocky start. Roy Wood, one of their founders, left in summer 1972 while their debut single, 10538 Overture was in the charts, and formed the band Wizzard. I saw ELO at uni on their debut tour in late 1972. It was a disaster! They only played for about 45 minutes, then admitted they didn’t know any more songs and played 10538 again as their encore. One of the roadies spent most of the gig lying on the stage trying to hold down parts of Bev Bevan’s drum kit, which were making a bid for freedom. Things got better for them after that! They only had one #1 single here, the Xanadu collaboration with Olivia Newton John. I liked the group, but if pushed I’d probably say that my favourite Jeff Lynne music was in the Travelling Wilburys!

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    1. I was curious what your thoughts would be on ELO. How cool that you got to see them as they were just starting out – and it could only get better after the experience you had. And another blogger just shared the Xanadu song the other day. Ahh… the traveling willburys – haven’t heard that name in a long time!

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      1. They’ve always been one of those bands that I like when I hear them but don’t go out of my way for – I’ve never bought any of their records, though there are a few favourites, like Wild West Hero. That was a very strange gig, quite possibly the worst I’ve even seen by a ‘name’ act! I think it was Jill who shared Xanadu – but it isn’t one I really like. You should revisit the Wilburys – I challenge anyone to listen to their first album and not feel happier afterwards…

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  3. Good Choice! Its hard not to like ELO. Their music is intelligent pop played by great musicians. Jeff Lynne is an absolute diamond.

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  4. You and Clive always treat me to some great tracks…Boy Blue was a new one on me I love ” Can’t Get it Out Of My Head” (1975) ….i should listen to them more … I need to update my play lists 🙂 x

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    1. Can’t Get It Out of My Head was one of my faves as well. You shouldn’t mention me and Clive in the same sentence. He is on a different level with his knowledge and love of music.

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