Imagine if the Beatles had progressed further. They might have teamed up with the Beach Boys, and created an unusual, very English sound. It would have involved clear crisp vocals, great guitar work, delicious harmonies, and the use of violins, cellos, and electronic oddities like the vocoder, and the synthesizer. There would have been a ‘crescendo’ sound, and a refreshingly unique take on vocal construction, with a nod to the past.
If you can imagine all this, then you have ELO. (Electric Light Orchestra)
Between 1971 and 1986, ELO released eleven albums, achieving great success in the UK, and elsewhere. The writer of most of the songs, guitarist, lead vocalist, and front man, Jeff Lynne, established himself as one of the foremost talents in British pop music during this time. Although they never reached number one on either side of the Atlantic, they sold over fifty million records, and were constantly in the UK and Billboard charts throughout their long career. Originally a mixture of British groups The Move, and The Idle Race, they formed as ELO with both Roy Wood and Lynne, as well as Bev Bevan on drums, as early as 1970. After a change of line-up, with various members coming and going, they hit their stride in 1975, with the release of the album ‘Face The Music’.
A year later, and their album ‘A New World Record’, saw them go to new heights, with more strings, additional orchestral arrangements, and a new batch of songs that captured the imagination. By 1979, they were filling venues all over Europe, and were the biggest-selling group in the UK that year. In 1986, Bevan left the band to join Black Sabbath, and ELO as we knew it was more or less over. Despite occasional attempts to re-form and tour, the original spark was gone, and we are left with only the legacy of their success.
They released so many songs that I like, it is hard to choose. I have settled on one of the less over-produced numbers, proving that they could render a tender love song as well as a huge pop hit.