Tuesday, 12 January 2021

Vinyl Story: Wild West Hero

#1,559: As mentioned in my tribute to my mother last year, my first experience of the music of ELO was listening to a cover of "10538 Overture" on budget label Music For Pleasure's "Hot Hits XIII"  (#MFP50041) back in 1972 as a five year old. Back then there were a core of house bands who were essentially studio session musicians hired by labels such as Hallmark, Pickwick, Stereo Gold Award and the aforementioned MFP to recreate the hit singles of the time. Major high street shops such as Woolworths and British Home Stores had racks full of these albums (including the well known "Top of the Pops" series) and they were a familiar sight to many in the Seventies. 
Jeff Lynne and the Electric Light Orchestra were at their commercial peak in 1979 as they basked in the afterglow of "Out Of The Blue" (#UAR100/#JETDP400), their first UK #1 album "Discovery" (#JETLX500) and a run of seven Top 10 singles including "Mr. Blue Sky" (#UP36342/#SJET104) and "Don't Bring Me Down" (#JET153). Many of ELO's hits were copied and could be found in these budget compilations and perhaps the ultimate acknowledgement of success was having a whole album dedicated to a specific artiste. And so it was in 1979 when Chevron Records, another budget label, put out "Wild West Hero" (#CHVL146) by Hits Machine Unlimited (who are identified in the excellent 1996 ELO & related discography "Unexpected Messages" as Jack Livingston Orchestra & Singers).
Looking back, I didn't add "Wild West Hero" to my collection at the time (but did later thanx to eBay) as it wasn't an official ELO release and, admittedly, by then I was a little snobby when it came to these kind of records! Yours Truly KJS gave it a play whilst writing this elobf article and in all honesty, the twelve trax actually don't sound that bad. In some ways you could argue that albums like "Wild West Hero" are a prototype or precursor to the rise of the tribute bands who arrived on the scene some twenty years later and remains an interesting part of the ELO story.

*** Until next "Time" in the elobf universe ... KJS ... 12-Jan-2021 ***

Saturday, 9 January 2021

Follow Me Follow ELOBF? (6)

#1,558: Being as we're now settling into 2021, Yours Truly KJS and elobeatlesforever (elobf) thought that it would be a good idea to remind friends and followers of the multiple ways to keep in touch and find KJS/elobf via our usual email address and/or this selection of five social media platforms (facebook, twitter, Gab, Parler and YouTube) thus:

#elobf #elobeatlesforever 


*** Until next "Time" in the elobf universe ... KJS ... 09-Jan-2021 ***

Tuesday, 5 January 2021

Christmas Classics Revisited: How Wizzard & Slade Compare

#1,557: Another Christmas has come and gone and with it the regular festive popularity both of Wizzard's "I Wish It Could be Christmas Every Day" and Slade's "Merry Xmas Everyone". Whilst it's well documented that Slade deservedly topped the Christmas 1973 chart and Wizzard had to be content with #4 following the late release of IWICBCED due to a contractual dispute between the outgoing Harvest (#HAR5079) and incoming Warner Bros. (#K16336) labels, many folks aren't aware that both songs remained in the UK Singles Top 10 well into January 1974 with Roy Wood's solo single "Forever" (#HAR5078) also crashing the proverbial party in peaking at #8 in the same month.
Back in 2017 elobeatlesforever (elobf) published this article wherein we looked at the relative chart positions of Slade and Wizzard since 1973. Yours Truly KJS noted - following the inclusion of streams and digital sales in the chart from 2007 onward - that Wizzard charted higher than Slade on 10 out of 11 occasions. The trend has continued since with Wizzard peaking at #12 and Slade at #18 most recently in 2020 meaning that "I Wish It Could be Christmas Every Day" has finished above and "Merry Xmas Everyone" for the last eleven years. It's also noteworthy that in the above elobf tabulation, the roles were largely reversed before the digital era.
"It's a bit like The Beatles or The Rolling Stones, you either prefer one or the other! Woody or Noddy. If nothing else, both songs continue to shine a light on what is still considered by many to be the most memorable and enduring of Christmas charts tussles ... ever!" (KJS/elobf)

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Saturday, 2 January 2021

ELO 2021: 50th Anniversary Thoughts

#1,556: Hello and welcome to 2021! Perhaps one of the most noticeable nuances in the strange year that was 2020 has to be the absence of any mention of ELO's 50th anniversary. Whereas one can easily discover the birth of The Move (Sunday 23rd January 1966), the same cannot be said of the definitive, formal arrival of the Electric Light Orchestra a la Roy Wood, Jeff Lynne and Bev Bevan. It would therefore true to say (if you'll excuse the pun) that there is a little "Confusion" when it comes to ELO's actual age and it's a subject of two almost controversial elobeatlesforever (elobf) articles in 2010 (click here and here to read).

Yours Truly 1970
Recorded in July 1970, the general consensus is that the first ELO song was "10538 Overture", a Jeff Lynne song originally intended as a 'B' side for a then future single by The Move. Some fans also identify another Lynne penned track: "What?" (found on the The Move's "Looking On" album and also the flip side to the "When Alice Comes Back From The Farm" UK single) as the definitive ELO launch point. This would, of course, mean that 2020 was indeed their 50th anniversary as the 40th anniversary release of the DVD "Electric Light Orchestra Live - The Early Years" (Eagle Rock Entertainment #EREDV780) suggested.

Yours Truly 1971
For this writer, it is the release of debut album "The Electric Light Orchestra" (Harvest #SHVL797) on Friday 3rd December 1971 that defines phonographically the year in which ELO began. Whereas 1970 is undoubtedly the year ELO was conceived in a recording sense, (P)1971 is undeniably the year that official ELO releases commenced. Indeed, the 1991 EMI 2CD compilation "Early ELO" was subtitled 1971-1973 and the Light Years enhanced reissue in 2001 was cited as a 30th anniversary edition.

Yours Truly 1972
Adding to the mix in this story is the fact that it was actually 1972 when ELO enjoyed their first hit single with the aforementioned "10538 Overture" (Harvest #HAR5053), performed their first live dates and belatedly released their first long player in the US under the title "No Answer" (United Artists #UAS-5573) due to a certain unfortunate secretarial error. It was also interesting to see ELO Part II touring the UK in 1997 under the banner of "Celebrating 25 years of ELO's Greatest Hits" and Face The Music fanzine marking ELO's 25th anniversary in 1992.

Yours Truly 2021
Since then, all manner of CD and DVD compilation releases have generally resorted to ascribing those Early ELO years as 1970-1973 (check out the above montage header) yet, as stated at the outset of this article, here we are in the New Year having seen no mention of a 50th ELO birthday during 2020. For these reasons and the fact that the Jeff Lynne's ELO tour bus remains parked up due to the ongoing plandemic there is now the strongest of cases, commercial speaking, to release new EJLO material or repackage classic ELO discography &/or videography. ELO fans should therefore expect to see a lot more activity from Sony Legacy (and others) this year in formally celebrating and marketing five decades of Birmingham's best. We're wishin' and hopin' that happens lest this ELOpportunity is wasted.
The Move certainly do have a defined beginning and they'll be celebrating their 55th birthday soon!
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*** Until next "Time" in the elobf universe ... KJS ... 02-Jan-2021 ***