Saturday, 27 January 2018

ELO: The Singles That Got Away

#1,374: With an impressive 27 UK Top 40 Singles to their name, the Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) were rightly lauded as one of the most successful British bands of all time between 1971 and 1986, particularly when one considers that they clocked up fifteen Top 10 hits during that period and twenty consecutive Jeff Lynne penned ELO singles released between "Strange Magic" (JET779) in July 1976 and "Ticket To the Moon"/"Here Is The News" (JET7018) in January 1982 made said Top 40.

Either side of that impressive chart run, there were only seven ELO singles that either failed to chart or reach the Top 40. Yours Truly KJS and elobeatlesforever (elobf) thought therefore that it would be interesting to take a brief look at this particular 7" septet. Quite amazingly, "Can't Get It Out Of My Head" (K16510) was the first ELO single that did not chart in the UK (although it was a part of The ELO EP which peaked at #34 in December 1978). By the way (and in complete contrast), the first ELO single to make the US Billboard Top 10! was ... "Can't Get It Out Of My Head"!

"Nightrider" also failed to chart in 1975 as did "The Way Life's Meant To Be", the fourth single taken from "Time" in 1982, signalling the waning of ELO's 7" career wherein only the lead singles "Rock 'n' Roll Is King" (A3500) and "Calling America" (A6844) from their final two albums "Secret Messages" and "Balance Of Power" made the Top 40. Four other singles: "Secret Messages", "Four Little Diamonds", "So Serious" and "Getting To The Point" only made minor chart impact (see above table for further detail). Aside from those, Bev Bevan's Electric Light Orchestra Part Two also managed a modest #60 in May 1991 with "Honest Men" (ELO100).

Chart Tragedy: ELO's UK Album Chart Famine
The Fall: ELO & Jet Records 1981-86
Chart Tragedy: Honest Men

Seven ELO singles did get away, figuratively speaking, in the UK and fans still treasure and collect their few non-charting singles with equal zeal. Never forget that ELO were unstoppable in terms of single and album sales at their commercial peak on both sides of the Atlantic. They are also the only band in American chart history who hold the record for having the most Billboard Hot 100 Top 40 hits without a number one single. That's quite an amazing factoid eh?

Until next "Time" in the ELO (and related) Universe ... KJS ... 27-Jan-2018


  1. Didn't realise it was 27 hits. Great stuff again K.J.S.

  2. Stranger from SM was released in America and Europe as a single but sadly no push by the record company, should have been a monster single.