Sunday, 29 March 2020

First Live: The Night The Light Went On (In Long Beach)

#1,531: It was quite a surprise to Yours Truly KJS when, following years of ELO releases on Jet Records, that "The Night The Light Went On (In Long Beach)" (EPC32700) appeared on record shop shelves not only on the Epic label but also with new album artwork in November 1985. This writer was 18 years old and I remember buying the cassette at the time. It took another seven years to acquire a pristine vinyl copy of the album, thanx to my good friend Christian Evans, some persuasion and a copy of "Afterglow".

As an avid collector, I was aware of the original 1974 German, Dutch and South African gatefold LP release of "The Night The Light Went On (In Long Beach)" (Warner Bros. Burbank WB56058) as a copy often turned up in local second hand record shops, usually with a relatively hefty price tag and not in particularly good condition. Sandwiched between the studio albums "On The Third Day" (K56021) and "Eldorado" (K56090), "The Night The Light Went On (In Long Beach)" was a poor recording based on a rough mix of the concert held on the night of Sunday 12th May 1974 yet it provided an edited cover of ELO's iconic Beatles cover "Day Tripper" b/w "Daybreaker" (WB16456) as a single in Germany and Holland which remains a rather rare collectible for completists to this day.
The '85 Epic release was far better to the original '74 Warner Bros. issue owing to the fact that it was pressed using another superior recording of the gig found in the archives. The change in album art was also dramatic with the garish 1950's B movie parody slogan replaced by a sleeve sporting the familiar ELO logo atop an imagined LA highway sign replete with palm tree and traffic light. With the hiatus between "Secret Messages" in June 1983 and "Balance Of Power" in March 1986 nearing its end, the repackaging and reissuing of "The Night The Light Went On (In Long Beach)" - ELO's first official live album - was indeed timely.
It would be a further thirteen years before a remastered "The Night The Light Went On (In Long Beach)" (Epic 4911032) finally arrived on CD in 1998 with the accompanying booklet based on the 1985 sleeve with the original 1974 album art also faithfully reproduced within.

More live albums followed in 1998 with "Live At Winterland '76" (EAMCD038) and "Live At Wembley '78" (EAMCD039) via Eagle Records before the release of "Live" (2013) and "Wembley Or Bust" (2017). In terms of live output, we should also consider ELO Part II's "Performing ELO's Greatest Hits Live" (1992) and "One Night - Live In Australia" (1996) in the list too.

The story of Electric Light Orchestra's first live album "The Night The Light Went On (In Long Beach)" is long and unique but wouldn't it interesting to find more songs on those archived tapes and, if so, enough material to warrant an expanded release?

Related KJS/ELOBF articles
*** Until next "Time" in the ELOBF Universe ... KJS ... 29-March-2020 ***


  1. I remember picking up this album in a record store in Berlin (I was stationed there from 1987 to 1991). I've listened to it a few times, but the audio quality was so poor. Good to hear there's a better version out there. Will explore....

  2. I have the european release of the CD. Sounds güd.