Tuesday, 21 January 2020

About Time: ELO's Inner Sleeve Munich Mystery

#1,514: When ELO released their second concept album "Time" (Jet/CBS JETLP236/FZ37371) in  early July 1981, eager fans including Yours Truly KJS broke the cellophane wrapping to get at the new Electric Light Orchestra offering to be presented with an inner sleeve that included the album lyrics above a photograph of ELO's four core members Jeff Lynne, Bev Bevan, Richard Tandy and Kelly Groucutt standing in front of and looking up at a futuristic building in support of the theme of what was to be their second UK #1 album.

Some of us wondered where that photo was taken and if you didn't already know, the intent of this elobf article is simply to inform you that the aforementioned building is the 27 floor HVB Tower (formerly known as the Hypo-Haus) in Arabella Park, Munich, Germany just across the road from Musicland Studios, where not only "Time" was recorded but also "Face The Music", "A New World Record", "Out Of The Blue", "Discovery" and "Xanadu" with the help of legendary sound engineer Mack (a.k.a. Reinhold Mack).

Construction began in 1974 (ironically the year that ELO's first concept album "Eldorado" was released) and was completed seven years later with its inauguration in November 1981 meaning that ELO's lyric liner photo was taken just before building work was finished. The HVB Tower remains an administrative building of the HypoVereinsbank to this day. So now you know!

*** Until next "Time" in the elobf universe ... KJS ... 21-Jan-2020 ***

Saturday, 18 January 2020

ELO: Translucent Light Orchestra

#1,513: One of the facets of being an avid Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) and related artistes record (vinyl) collector is that you can come across and learn something about the actual manufacturing of the records that we all know and love if not some of the variations in those processes. Indeed, in this recent elobf article, we highlighted eight UK issued injection moulded ELO singles and briefly covered their origin in the early seventies origin and cost reducing purpose.

Which brings Yours Truly KJS to the subject of this article! Did you know that some ELO records pressed in the Republic of Ireland and the States although supposedly black and opaque are actually translucent? The definition of the word translucent is a substance allowing light to pass through but not defined shapes; semi-transparent. And that is the case with three records that grace my personal record collection.

It's been a few decades since I discovered that if I held up my US import copy of ELO's 1979 hit single "Don't Bring Me Down" b/w "Dreaming Of 4000" (Jet/CBS ZS9 5060) up to a decent wattage light bulb, it was actually possible to see through it in a dark brown haze. The reason for this is that it was actually made from styrene (a la polystyrene), essentially cheaper recycled plastic possibly due to the oil crisis back in the day. Note also that some top quality audiophile records pressed in what was termed 'super vinyl' also had the same feature.

Fast forward seven years to 1986 and across the North Atlantic to Eire and if you were lucky enough to buy a copy of ELO's LP "Balance Of Power" (Epic EPC26467) or lead single "Calling America" b/w "Caught In A Trap" (Epic A6844), you would've also found out that both also had a brownish transparency when held up to a light. Check out the above elobeatlesforever (elobf) photo montage! You can see that it's much easier to see the translucency in those two Epic releases.

Whereas it is easy and cheap to obtain a styrene copy of "Don't Bring Me Down" via eBay or Discogs, finding translucent copies of "Balance Of Power" and "Calling America" is likely more difficult making them desirable to collectors and quite valuable.

Related elobf articles
ELO: Eight Injection Moulded Singles
UP36264: Telephone Line Twist
Recommended: Telephone Line [Aslan]

*** Until next "Time" in the elobf universe ... KJS ... 18-Jan-2020 ***

Saturday, 11 January 2020

Another Chart Breaks: From Out Of Nowhere

#1,512: After dropping a whopping 70 places to #98 last week, Jeff Lynne's ELO former #1 album "From Out Of Nowhere" duly exited the UK Official Albums Chart Top 100 today following a modest nine (9) week chart run. The charts these days are somewhat different to their 20th century predecessors owing to the inclusion of digital downloads and streaming data as well as there being whole new generation or two of music buying general public so how do we gauge the performance of FOON?

Yours Truly KJS thought that it would be therefore interesting to look at how new Jeff Lynne/ELO releases (excluding compilations) have done in the 21st century relative to each other. Looking at the table below as compiled by elobf, the least successful release in terms of peak position was "Zoom"  and, obviously, "From Out Of Nowhere" was best placed. It's also noteworthy that "Alone In The Universe" stayed in the chart practically twice as long as the chart topping FOON and is likely the most commercially successful. The resurgence in the popularity of Jeff Lynne and the music of the Electric Light Orchestra is underlined by the fact that five of the six albums in question including "Long Wave", "Mr. Blue Sky" and "Wembley Or Bust" all made the UK Top 10.

So how did "From Out Of Nowhere" do? In the opinion of this writer, it was a return to form, a hit but not a bestseller.
*** Until next "Time" in the elobf universe ... KJS ... 11-Jan-2020 ***

Saturday, 4 January 2020

34 Play: Electric Light Orchestra Part Two & Zoom

#1,511: When Jeff Lynne retired ELO in the wake of "Balance Of Power", their sixth consecutive Top 10 UK studio album in March 1986, little did fans and followers think that it would be another 26 years before they would see the ELO maestro trouble the upper echelons of the UK charts again with new twin albums "Long Wave" and "Mr. Blue Sky" in October 2012.

In the ensuing decade, Jeff Lynne would go on to co-write with and produce the likes of George Harrison, Tom Petty, Roy Orbison and Paul McCartney as well as being a key member of ultimate supergroup The Traveling Wilburys and also the man pulling the strings behind two hit singles with the remaining three Beatles as part of their Anthology project. Chart success did not elude them or by extension Jeff during that time even though his debut solo album "Armchair Theatre" enjoyed modest success (peaking at #24) on home territory.

It was during this period that Bev Bevan formed ELO Part II and despite signing with the somewhat unfashionable Telstar label, their eponymous debut album still managed a respectable #34 (note that ELO's first two studio albums managed #32 and #35 respectively). Several compilations were issued with heavy TV advertising campaign elevating Dino's Very Best Of ELO set to #4 in July 1994 whilst Bev and ELO Part II toured extensively from Europe to the Americas to Australia.
The ELO fan base was (and still is) split to an extent when it comes to the existence and legitimacy of ELO Part II but such was the relative disinterest of the general public in and the poor promotion of ELO at the turn of the century that even a newly rebooted Electric Light Orchestra with Jeff Lynne at the helm could only hit #34 in 2001 with "Zoom". It would be another decade before the hit albums returned and a resurgent ELO were adopted as a national treasure yet many fans would do well to remember that in the hinterland between 1986 and 2012, both ELO and ELO Part II attained #34 in the UK album chart with new records, ten years apart.

Related elobf articles
Jeff Lynne: ELO in the 21st Century
Chart Tragedy: What Went Wrong with Zoom?
ELOwnership: What's In A Name?
Chart Chat: Rolling Over Without Beethoven
ELO: The Telstar Years
Compilation Corner: The Very Best of ELO (Dino)

*** Until next "Time" in the elobf universe ... KJS ... 04-Jan-2020 ***

Wednesday, 1 January 2020

Yours Truly 2019: A Year In Review

#1,510: Besides being the year in which elobeatlesforever (elobf) ended up taking a six (6) month sabbatical, 2019 was still a year of many happenings in the elobf universe with the Japanese BSCD2 issue of "Secret Messages" (albeit minus "Beatles Forever"), the chart topping new studio album "From Out Of Nowhere" and extensive US tour by Jeff Lynne's ELO, the release of an expanded "Mustard" set by Roy Wood, the live orchestration of "Earthrise" by Morganisation and a certain 10th birthday celebration in May being major highlights.

We may not have been present at some gigs this year and indeed may have taken our "Time" in returning with new writings but this writer feels that the best way to commemorate a dramatic if not somewhat abridged year for elobf would be best summarised via the above montage and this selection of twenty (20) articles published in early and late 2019 covering a wide range of subject matter thus ... 

Yours Truly KJS would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every visitor and contributor to elobeatlesforever (elobf) during 2019 and to also wish you a Happy, Peaceful, Prosperous if not ELOtastic New Year! Looking ahead, there's much to look forward to, musically speaking, in 2020 so please consider bookmarking elobf and reading more new articles in this new decade!

*** Until next "Time" in the elobf universe ... KJS ... 01-Jan-2020 ***

Saturday, 28 December 2019

ChartWatch: Top 10 Return for Roy Wood & Wizzard

#1,509: As we approach the end of a decade in which elobeatlesforever (elobf) has seen healthy growth from modest beginnings, it seems apt and right to acknowledge another significant milestone for The Move, ELO and Wizzard co-founder Roy Wood.

In the week that saw Jeff Lynne's ELO and "From Out Of Nowhere" remain in the Official Top 30 Album Chart in slipping from #26 to #28 (after 8 weeks), astute fans of Roy Wood will be delighted to see Wizzard rise an amazing nineteen (19) places #10 in the Official Singles Chart with their seasonal classic "I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday" giving Woody his first UK Top 10 single when "Are You Ready To Rock?" peaked at #8 in January 1975.
The continued resurgence of IWICBCE is, of course, a result of the inclusion of download and streaming sales by the Official UK Charts Company since 2007 and, looking at the above elobf table, you can see a steady increase in the peak chart position over the last decade of what many folks still consider to be the ultimate Christmas song since it originally reached #4 in December 1973.

Yours Truly KJS and elobeatlesforever (elobf) would like to congratulate both Roy and Wizzard for attaining their first Top 10 single in almost 45 years and hope that we will soon see some long awaited new material, even an album, in the approaching decade.

Related elobf articles

*** Until next "Time" in the elobf universe ... KJS ... 28-Dec-2019 ***

Thursday, 19 December 2019

ELO: Eight Injection Moulded Singles

#1,508: Injection moulded singles started appearing on record shelves circa 1971 predominantly by two of the major labels at that time in Philips and Polydor. They were developed primarily as a way of reducing the cost in manufacturing the 7" format with their painted labels deemed somewhat cheaper than the printed paper labels that preceded them for decades.

Whereas elobeatlesforever (elobf) has focused on the rarer UK issued ELO solid centre singles "Showdown" (HAR5077), "Turn To Stone" (UP36313), "Mr. Blue Sky" (UP36342) and "Telephone Line" (UP36254) in recent years, Yours Truly KJS thought it was high time that elobf took a look at the injection moulded singles featuring ELO released in the UK.

Firstly, released in support of "Face The Music" (JETLP11) during their tenure on Jet/Polydor, the three FTM singles "Evil Woman" (JET764), "Nightrider" (JET769) and "Strange Magic" (JET779) were all injection moulded in dark blue and are easy to find. Bev Bevan's solo single "Let There Be Drums" (JET777) and four Roy Wood/Wizzard releases are other examples.

Next, with ELO at their commercial peak in 1979 and their "Discovery" album (JETLX500) still riding high in the UK album chart, some green coloured injection moulded copies of the third single "Don't Bring Me Down" (JET153) were imported from France to help Jet/CBS meet the demand turned out to be ELO's highest placed UK single at #3 in their own right.

Another four years or so would elapse before ELO fans and collectors would come across more of the same in 1983 probably due more to ongoing financial difficulties at Jet rather than actual record sales when both "Rock 'n' Roll Is King" (A3500) and "Secret Messages" (A3720) appeared with a silver injection moulded label in addition to initial copies sporting the familiar yellow Jet paper label. A blue coloured injection moulded variant of "Rock 'n' Roll Is King" was also issued and continues to be a rarity to this day. For the record, "Rock 'n' Roll Is King" peaked at #13 and "Secret Messages" stalled outside the Top 40 at #48.

Another ELO injection moulded UK single appeared in May 1984 as part of the Harvest/EMI Golden 45's series when "10538 Overture" backed by "Roll Over Beethoven" (G45 22) saw reissue as a silver injection moulded item as well as editions in alternate black and mauve paper labels. This is perhaps the rarest of the eight featured records in this article to locate. ELO (and related artist) vinyl continues to offer up the odd surprise for the avid and/or casual fan and collector! Here's hoping that you've enjoyed reading this article!

Related elobf articles
HAR5077: Solid Centre Showdown
UP36264: Telephone Line Twist
Turn To Stone: Solid Centre Success!
UP36313: Turn To Stone Twist
ELO: The Jet/Polydor Years
Jet Records Discography
Mr. Blue Sky: ELO's Signature Song

*** Until next "Time" in the elobf universe ... KJS ... 19-Dec-2019 ***

Thursday, 12 December 2019

Career Crossroads: Roy Wood & Jeff Lynne

#1,507: Perhaps the most fascinating period in the careers of Roy Wood and Jeff Lynne is the five year period between 1971-76 in which The Move morphed into the Electric Light Orchestra and Roy Wood excelled both with Wizzard and as a solo artist.

Yours Truly KJS has compiled the above matrix of twenty one (21) charting UK singles to highlight the amazing success that Roy Wood enjoyed during a time when Jeff Lynne had his first UK hit UK yet was very much in the shadow (commercially speaking) of his former band mate until the meteoric rise of ELO in their home country started in 1976. We can draw some interesting facts and conclusions from the aforementioned graphic produced for elobeatlesforever (elobf) thus:

Related elobf articles
ELO: The Burbank Years
ELO: The Jet/Polydor Years
An Appreciation of Roy Wood
Jet Records Discography
Chart Tragedy: ELO's UK Album Chart Famine
Another Chart Breaks: Early ELO in the UK & US
Caught Live: Nick Owen in Conversation with Roy Wood

*** Until next "Time" in the elobf universe ... KJS ... 12-Dec-2019 ***

Tuesday, 10 December 2019

Reasons to Release: Beatles Forever

#1,506: Much has been said down the years, not least by this writer, regarding "Beatles Forever", the one and only remaining (officially) unreleased track from "Secret Messages", ELO's originally intended 1983 double album (JETDP402) which was sadly culled "for commercial reasons" to the 1LP issue (JETLX527) that we all knew and loved until the 35th anniversary 2LP was released last year (albeit without its proverbial crown jewel) not forgetting the recent Japanese Blu-spec CD2 issue, also without "Beatles Forever".
Whilst we have been told that the track is an embarrassment to Jeff Lynne these days on account of his later work with George Harrison, Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney, we know that "Beatles Forever" was indeed deemed good enough to be revealed to the masses if the 2LP had been released back in 1983, even though elements of it appeared in 1984's "Video!" as part of the "Electric Dreams" OST. It's also fairly certain that it would have been part of a "Secret Messages" 30th anniversary edition in 2013 that was in the works before the ELO maestro signed up with Frontiers Records. Hence, leaving out "Beatles Forever" from "Secret Messages" (both in 2018 and 2019) still seems bizarre especially when it was labelled as "The Legendary Double Album As Conceived By Jeff Lynne - Recorded in 1983" and quoted in the brief sleeve notes as having "escaped intact".
The funny thing is that Jeff Lynne does not need be concerned with the title "Beatles Forever", it is not unique being a phraseology used in Beatles magazines, fanzines, books, tapes and even a German EP (see the above header montage) across six decades. His song would merely join a long line of tributes and accolades afforded to his Beatles heroes.

Yours Truly KJS began elobeatlesforever (elobf) in February 2009 to promote the official release of "Beatles Forever". If there were no appetite for another "Secret Messages" album set, a limited edition single would do! We continue with those hopes.

Friday, 6 December 2019

ChartWatch: From Out Of Nowhere Rebounds + Wizzard Return

 #1,505: Perhaps due to the recent BBC4 re-transmission of their November BBC Radio 2 In Concert show and the "Wembley Or Bust" film last weekend as well as the release of the "From Out Of Nowhere" picture disc (read more here), Jeff Lynne's ELO have returned to the Official Albums Chart Top 100 this week, jumping from #22 up to #18 after five (5) weeks on the chart. "All Over The World" has also chalked up its 201st week in the Top 100 by sneaking in at #99.

Meanwhile, over in the Official Singles Chart Top 100, Roy Wood and Wizzard have re-entered at #44 with "I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday". Having peaked at #12 last year, Woody stands a good chance gatecrashing the Top 20 again in 2019!

Related elobf articles

*** Until next "Time" in the elobf universe ... KJS ... 06-Dec-2019 ***