Sunday, 19 April 2015

Light Friction: The Birth Pangs of Early ELO

#893: Hello ... Hello ... my old friends ... It's great to see you once again! In this third of three articles for ELOBF this month chronicling the birth of The Electric Light Orchestra, we look at some of the teething troubles that the new ELO ensemble encountered as they emerged from The Move with their own unique identity.
ELO's first ever gig could have been at Wolverhampton Civic Hall
What turned out to be ELO's first ever gig at The Greyhound in Croydon on Sunday 16th April 1972 had originally been planned to be their fifth live date. Yet, despite outnumbering the audience at that inaugural concert, ELO's recorded output was significantly more successful commercially with first single "10538 Overture" crashing the UK Top 10 to attain #9 and their eponymously entitled debut album managing #32 in the UK Top 40 with a four week chart run.
No Answer: ELO were presented by Move Enterprises in the US
Outside of their difficulties performing live, another unfortunate issue that befell the band was the infamous communication breakdown which meant that their debut LP, issued in early December 1971, "The Electric Light Orchestra" (Harvest #SHVL797) saw the US release in March 1972 erroneously entitled "No Answer" (#UAS-5573) due to a misunderstood secretarial telephone message at United Artists Records. This was no doubt embarrassing if not frustrating for both Roy Wood and Jeff Lynne.
The rare, withdrawn 'B' side for second single "Roll Over Beethoven"
"Queen Of The Hours" backed "Roll Over Beethoven" thereafter
If one purely looks at the differences in wording between both 'B' side labels (see above) for the UK release of "Roll Over Beethoven" (Harvest #HAR5063), it is interesting to see that the publisher for both Lynne penned tracks (taken from their first LP) has been changed from "United Artists Music Ltd." to "Carlin Music Corp./Sugartown Music" - possibly as a result of the aforementioned "No Answer" mistake by UA in the States. Knowing also that Roy left ELO during this time, it is also interesting to note that the words "Produced by Roy Wood and Jeff Lynne" were replaced with "Vocals by Jeff Lynne", hinting at the ongoing transition in leadership and transformation in direction of the band at that time.
From LP to CD: "No Answer" continues to be ELO's US album debut to this day!

Cancelled gigs, sparse attendances, marketing mayhem and terrible telephony but accompanied with credible chart success! Such were the birth pangs, frustrations, machinations and difficulties that the early Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) encountered as their co-founder Roy Wood bequeathed the proverbial light to Jeff Lynne and went on his own successful Wizzard way.

Until next "Time" in the ELO (and related) Universe ... KJS ... 19-Apr-2015


  1. I often wonder how ELO would have evolved had Roy Wood stayed with the band.

  2. Would they have included When Granma Plays The Banjo on ELO 2?