Friday, 6 August 2021

An Appreciation of Concerto For A Rainy Day

#1,607: Ask an avid or casual Electric Light Orchestra fan which is their fave ELO album and you'll probably get a variety of answers - but definitely "No Answer". For some it changes from time to time and others it's firmly fixed. This writer finds it difficult to choose between "A New World Record" (UAG30017; 1976; UK #6), "Time" (JETLP236; 1981; UK #1) or "Eldorado" (K56021; 1974) although I tend to defer to either of ELO's Jeff Lynne penned classic concept masterpieces (look out for a future KJS/ELOBF article referencing both records) if pushed although I do still retain a soft spot for ANWR as the first ELO LP that Yours Truly KJS purchased.

Yet - despite how much I treasure "Out Of The Blue" (UAR100; 1977; UK #4) as a whole - one cannot talk about classic ELO albums without mentioning the audio excellence of "Concerto For A Rainy Day" - the wonderful side 3 of OOTB consisting of "Standin' In The Rain", "Big Wheels", "Summer And Lightning" and "Mr. Blue Sky" which still manages to send a shiver down the spine even now - especially when played at reasonably high volume! From the opening rumbles of thunder to the vocoder urgings to turn over to side 4, this remains one the most iconic pieces of music of the period showcasing, as it does, the occasionally overlooked orchestral mastery of Louis Clark and Richard Tandy offered to Jeff Lynne. In terms of the running order, the listener is prepared by the step change in mood during side 2 with the funtastic "Jungle" followed by "Believe Me Now" and "Steppin' Out" (a close musical cousin to "Big Wheels" in my opinion). The same is true when the rather eloquent "Sweet Is The Night" arrives after the sun sets on "Mr. Blue Sky". Perhaps the one advantage of listening to OOTB on CD is that you can listen seemlessly from the aforementioned "Believe Me Now" to "Sweet Is The Night" and be completely drawn in by the magnificence of what many consider ELO's finest hour.
Live performances over many years of (elements of) "Concerto For A Rainy Day" by ELO Part II, The Orchestra and top class ELO tribute bands have thrilled their audiences even before Jeff Lynne's ELO arrived on stage. Only The ELO Experience (as far as I can recall) have played all four songs in their set and - "Believe Me Now" - no ELO set list is complete without (at the very least) "Standin' In The Rain" in there alongside "Mr. Blue Sky"! Its influence extends in many musical directions too. For instance, Take That famously sampled it during their "Beautiful World" and ensuing tours as did Rob Fusari (when supporting ABC in 2016). It's now over four decades since "Concerto For A Rainy Day" first blew away lovers of Electric Light Orchestral rock - and many others too. Go listen to it again today!

3 comments:

  1. I will always love Secret Messages most of all. Second come early ELO + Time, then everything else.

    Yes, I know SM is not classic ELO sound (most if not all orchestra arrangements are synth/fake and sparse), but the atmosphere of all the tracks is one of a kind. You know, what Jeff said about the recording studio: it sounded "just right".

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  2. You would be a very brave person to say anything is better than OOTB's concerto for a rainy day in the history of music! It is clearly Jeff at his peak. I don't think it gets any better than this. ANWR and Time are close but I have often said OOTB is the best album ever. I don't say that because I am a bias ELO fan I truly believe it. Yes I have heard all the Beatles albums, Pink Floyd, Zepplin, M Jackson, Fleetwood Mac, U2, Rolling Stones, Queen, Abba, Oasis, Simon and Garfunkel, Meat Loaf, I actually own most of them, but as good as they are, they IMPO are not as good.

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