Tuesday, 16 August 2016

After Vinyl: The Single Life of ELO

"Alone In The Universe" yielded this quartet of 1-track promo CDR's ...
#1,156: Hello ... Hello ... my old friends ... It's great to see you once again! For many, the definition of the single was a 7" vinyl record, usually taken from a forthcoming album or a current LP. That was certainly the case when Yours Truly KJS purchased my first record "Turn To Stone" (Jet/UA #UP36313) by ELO back in the day. Since then the term "single" has morphed into other such formats as the cassette single, the CD single and the digital/download single. So much so, that very often, we now often do not see any physical singles released, save for CD promos destined mostly for certain radio stations and media outlets as part of marketing campaigns timed to coincide with TV appearances, festival bows and tours.

A sure sign of the success of a band or an album would have been the number of physical singles issued from an LP. In the UK - between "Face The Music" and "Balance Of Power" - ELO released a minimum of three (3) singles per album, often with a picture sleeve and occasionally in 10", 12" and even picture disc editions for fans and collectors to amass. Before then, it was essentially one single per LP with just five (5) UK singles issued from their first four (4) albums with a couple of CD singles released from "Zoom" thereafter.
"Long Wave" yielded these 1-track promo CD singles ...
The advent of the digital/download single and the change in the way that charts are compiled has meant that the aforementioned CDR promos are the nearest modern equivalent to those singles that we all loved buying and collecting for so long. It was therefore nice to see that two (2) CD promos were issued by Frontiers for Jeff Lynne's 2012 comeback solo record "Long Wave" and that four (4) CD promos were distributed by RCA to support the promotion of "Alone In The Universe" in rather fetching sleeves in the style of those classic ELO singles.

I would rather that we were still treated to physical single releases now that ELO are now back on the proverbial map in terms of popularity. Many ELO fans didn't buy "When I Was A Boy" as a digital single, either because they preferred to wait for AITU to arrive or because they were not part of the download generation. With the heavy number of plays on YouTube and amazing radio airplay, "When I Was A Boy" deserved to grace the upper reaches of the Official Singles Chart rather than achieve a modest #94 in the Official Singles Download Chart. Maybe it was a chance missed by Columbia and a lesson to be learned for when the new album is released and promoted. In any case, it was great to see four "singles" taken from an ELO album for the first "Time" since 1982.

Until next "Time" in the ELO (and related) Universe ... KJS ... 16-Aug-2016


  1. I think WHEN I WAS A BOY first hit the airwaves I am sure I saw it at number 1 on iTunes at a point.Im the older generation so I don't know much about the singles now.

  2. Greetings Keith, thank you for reaching out to Louis Metoyer. We JUST got off the phone talking about my obsession with instigating a UK Fragile X tour and we got on the subject of ELO and Louis started telling me about one day when he was over at Warner Bros and he connected with Jeff Lynne and George Harrison...ask him it's a great story :)

  3. when I was a boy went to number 1 on the iTunes charts