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