36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on 29 January 2005
Why is Jeff lynne's genius never given the credit he so rightly deserves? both for his great songwriting and incredible producing ability. It seems that people think its un-cool to admit liking this band but are happy to admit to bands like Queen, Led Zeppelin ETC ETC. "Out Of The Blue" then, every song on this album is good you wont find any fillers here, the soundscape is enormous and filled with drama, the melodies are lush and the original vinyl package was great with its blue vinyl, poster and cardboard model ELO spaceship. It was 1977 and Star Wars had just hit the cinemas, I was seven and kept on to my Gran to get me "Out Of The Blue" just because I liked the album cover, what an introduction to the world of music. I would often play the album start to finish, all four sides and study the album sleeve, it was as if this band had arrived from another world bringing with them a very unique and exciting sound. What really amazes me is the sound production, remember this was 1977, it still sounds fresh today and has a big sound on any Hi-Fi you care to play it on. This album in my opinion stands up as a truly "Classic" piece of work especially when you consider it took Jeff Lynne just eight days to write it. Dated? I dont think so. Timeless Classic? Definately...
43 of 44 people found the following review helpful
on 30 May 2011
1977 was of course the year of punk and also the year of disco, but two inescapable albums also appeared in that year: 'Rumours' by Fleetwood Mac was released in February 1977 and in November that year, ELO released the double LP 'Out of the Blue'.
I disagree with some of the negative reviews. 'Out of the Blue' is a superb album from start to finish, and one which has really stood the test of time, as it still sounds as fresh today as it did when it was released over 33 years ago. Written and produced and arranged in its entirety by Jeff Lynne, and recorded at Musicland Studios in Germany, this is an ambitious album with 17 extremely well crafted songs, including three of ELO's massive hits, 'Turn to Stone', 'Sweet Talking Woman', and 'Mr Blue Sky'.
The lush string and keyboards/synthesiser arrangements are faultless.
On the original vinyl release (now a single CD):
1. Turn to Stone
2. Its Over
3. Sweet Talking Woman
4. Across the Border
1. Night In the City
4. Believe Me Now
5. Stepping Out
Concerto for a Rainy Day
1. Standin' in the Rain
2. Big Wheels
3. Summer and Lightning
4. Mr Blue Sky
1. Sweet is the Night
2. The Whale
3. Birmingham Blues
4. Wild West Hero
All 17 tracks are superb and there is not a weak moment on the album. Pick of the bunch: 'Turn To Stone', 'Sweet Talkin' Woman', 'Night In the City', 'Starlight', and the four tracks that make up the 'Concerto for a Rainy Day'. These are absolutely brilliant and the rest of the set comes close to matching them. 'The Whale' is the best instrumental track ELO ever did and 'Big Wheels' is their finest ballad ever.
Without doubt this is ELO's best work, 'Face the Music' and 'A New World Record' are good but this is better. Its miles better than 'Discovery' and the band's later work. If you ever own one ELO album, buy this one.
The sound of the remastered CD doesn't have any major enhancements on the original CD, so if you don't want the bonus tracks stick to the original CD, although this is best heard on vinyl.
One not to be missed.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
I'm happy to say that I've never stopped playing and enjoying my ELO albums, so there was no real need for me to get excited about this reissue. But I bought it anyway because I didn't have a CD edition, and because my LPs are a mid-price 1980s reissue in a one-piece sleeve, not the beautiful gatefold original, and I'm well pleased.
As other here have remarked, there are two ways to view this, and they depend on whether or not you already have a playable copy. If you do, you have to want the little book and the model spaceship - which are both nicely done - because the remastered sound is nothing remarkable. Not that it's bad, just not a reason in itself for replacing the copy you already have. The three extra tracks are the sort you will play once and once only - two are mere curiosities and 'Latitude 88 North', while it may have been written at the same time as the album songs, was recorded more than 20 years later (Lynne explains this in his notes) and sounds like a Traveling Wilburys effort.
So that deals with the reissue part. What's left is one of the great musical creations of any period. Ignore the words - Lynne never had any great pretensions to be a lyricist - and soak up those fabulous melodies, harmonies, cadences and layers and layers of sound. It's (still) fashionable to disparage 'Concerto for a Rainy Day' but I love it - especially the long instrumental introduction and, most of all, 'Big Wheels'. As Steve says below, it's wonderfully constructed - although you might find a certain irony in using so many people to perform a song about loneliness. It's up there with Siegfried's funeral scene in 'Gotterdammerung' for dramatic deployment of gorgeous, juicy chords - although it is, of course, pure coincidence that the discarded section from Wild West Hero contains a reference to falling into the fire!
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 4 March 2007
There has been so much written about this album that it needs little plugging from me as its reputation will live on forever. However I thought it would be useful to showcase what are for me the five greatest tracks on an album where every track is a sheer delight.
1) Turn to Stone - the albums opener has an unusual fade-in intro and is driven by a distinctive keyboard riff played by Jeff Lynne rather than Richard Tandy the regular keyboards man with ELO. The song chugs along and then we get a brief middle section where Jeff sings the words extremely fast. The first single from the album and its relatively lowly chart placing did not reflect the class of the song.
2) Across the Border - another fade in, this time with a steam train which sounds exactly the same as that used on Abbas 'Nina Pretty Ballerina' (check it out if you don't believe me). Now this song should have been a single so great is its melody and hook. Radio 2 regularly play it even today - not bad for an album track although it did appear as the b-side of ELOs best single from the Xanadu soundtrack in 1981 (Don't walk away).
3) Believe me now/Steppin' out - Played to death on Nicky Hornes 'Mummies chart' when the album came out this track still sounds damn fine today. A cacophony of sound follows a classical style intro as the short 'Believe me now' segues into 'Steppin' out'. The latter is a superior ballad with some fine vocalising from Jeff. Keen eared listeners might spot that at around 4" 3' the riff sounds just like Genesis's 'Afterglow'.
4) Big Wheels - The second track on the 'Concerto for a rainy day' is in my opinion Jeff Lynnes masterpiece on this album. `Big Wheels' is quite simply wonderful. It has many highs and boasts a magic moment when the second verse starts and Bev Bevans drums strike up. The verse then leads to a crescendo of a chorus with the string section and choir much to the fore as the chorus climaxes and then the string break into the third verse is masterful. The track lasts over five minutes and no time is filler. This is a gem.
5) The Whale - I lost count of how many times people said to me "Oh I like all of 'Out of the Blue' but I'm not too keen on 'The Whale'" when 'Out of the Blue' was released. It seems everyone hated the track. Why ? It's different, it's probably ahead of its time. It's a little Vangelis in places but it features for me the definitive ELO sound and give the fact that 'Out of the Blue' was a double album is a welcome change from the sequence of vocal tracks.
So what of the reissue ? Well we've waited long enough but I have to say that I'm glad I waited to replace my ancient vinyl copy. The packaging is superb, the sleeve notes extensive, the space ship there is you want to build it (I'm leaving mine in situ) and of course there are three bonus tracks (see later). My two grips are 1) No lyrics and 2) The cd itself fits tightly into a cardboard housing which is liable to scratch it (like Pink Floyds 'Pulse').
Bonus tracks - well there isn't much room for extras since 'Out of the Blue' was a double album anyway. 'Wild West Hero' (demo) is very brief and features about 23 seconds of the chorus with slightly different lyrics. 'The quick and the draft' is just under two minutes of fairly frantic instrumental. 'Latitude 88 North' recently finished by Jeff Lynne is the best of the three being a full-length song and has the hallmark of being made at the same time as the rest of the album.
42 of 44 people found the following review helpful
on 7 March 2007
Before you decide to buy this reissue you should consider whether you actually need it, and if it offers anything that makes a re-purchase worthwhile. In comparison to the reissued 'A New World Record' this release offers very little new material, the three 'new' tracks offer little of any consequence (a demo version of 'Wild West Hero', a short instrumental track 'The Quick and the Daft' and an entirely forgettable 'Lattitude 88 North') adding little to understanding the development of the album. This perhaps explains why most of the effort has gone in to the presentation and packaging which house the disc, including an 'model spaceship' (which most collectors and completists will leave untouched) and liner notes written by Lynne.
This is frustrating as 'Out of the Blue' warranted so much more. It would have been wonderful to have heard the early versions of the songs contained in the album, to have heard just how the orchestral music and other elements were brought together in such a magnificent way, all prior to the advent of editing suites and computer software available now. One suspects that Lynne considers the album complete, not requiring an exposure of the 'inner workings' of the material. After 30 years Lynne has very reason to be proud of the record, but if such material was not made available for this release one wonders if it ever will be.
This release has apparently been remastered, and here I would sound a note of caution. A direct comparison with the earlier issue 'Out of the Blue' does appear to reveal a slight 'thinning' of the sound on the new issue, particularly noticeable with the bass underpining many of the songs. To these (subjectively of course) ears the new issue appears to have been robbed of the warmth and solidity that can be heard on the original vinyl and earlier cd issue.
So - do you buy? If you are a completist then of course this question is redundant, but if you have the previous issue on cd I would strongly suggest that there is no pressing reason for you to buy another copy. And if you do not already own this record (on any format) then consider it as being an essential purchase - and consider looking around for the earlier cd issue which will now be available at a ridiculously cheap price.
The four stars have been awarded for the music - but for the actual treatment of the music (not the packaging) and the decisions taking regarding bonus material I would award two stars. In this respect this release represents a wasted opportunity.
36 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on 20 February 2007
"Critical reappraissal is due".
Couldn't agree more, like ABBA, it's time to look past the supposed "cheesiness" factor and appreciate this great band for what they were.
They weren't just Beatle rip off merchants, they weren't just trying to fuse Rock and Classical music, they weren't a "Progressive Rock" band.
I grew up with E.L.O. and they first came to my attention when I heard a performance of a song called "Evil Woman" on Top Of The Pops and heard a short section of string playing in the middle that was so bizarre, that it blew my young musical mind..I decided to keep track of this band.
The next thing I knew was that everyone seemed to be raving about an album called "A New World Record", which produced a number of very catchy, big selling singles.
I bought the album and almost wore it out, wondering how they could get such a polished, big sound, especially the drums.
While many were raving about Queen's innovations, I was captivated by what Jeff Lynne was doing, instrumentally, harmonically and vocally.
For me, "Out Of The Blue", shows the man and his band at the peak of their powers, though I disagree with many who claim that it was all down hill from that point on.
There are marvellous moments in all of the subsequent albums, though I think only "Time", comes near to the overall consistancy.
People complain that the songs on "Out Of The Blue", and indeed all other ELO albums all "sound the same", nothing could be further from the truth.
Yep, Lynne has a few favourite chord progressions and his backing vocals can follow predictable paths, but there are so many original diversions, in so many of the individual songs that I'm not too concerned about that..
I'll highlight just three:
1. The section in the middle of "Turn To Stone"..
2. The section towards the end of Summer And Lightning,where Lynne echoes the chord progression of Spector's "You've Lost That Loving Feeling", and builds to the climax in much the same way.
3. The "static" area, over a repeated bass riff, in "Birmingham Blues", where he sings "across the world I've seen, people and places, could be the same", and the almost frozen nature of this section is a musical reflection of the lyrics.
There is some very clever musical thinking going on here.
However, on top of all the song writing skills, it's the production skills of Jeff Lynne which still stand up today.
I think it's this contribution which marks this man out as a genius.
Like Spector and Steinman, it's easy to know when a work has the "Lynne" mark on it, and the later works of Roy Orbison, Tom Petty and George Harrison, all of whom went back to him time and again, shows how much they respected his skills.
And, it's kind of poetic, for me that the people who he's always accused of "ripping off" came to him in order to get them to bring John Lennon "back to life"..
And, his skills are in full view on "Out Of The Blue", the huge amount of work that went into this album, is hard to fathom.
All in all, I believe this album to be one of the all time greats, not just of that era, but along with "Rumours" and "Hotel California", of all time.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 13 January 2005
It seems strange that out of all the classic 1970s bands, there are two which have not received the recognition they deserve. ELO and Supertramp. I've given up trying to reason why but for the record here is my statement on this seminal album. It is not a coincidence that all four ex-Beatles have mentioned ELO as some sort of Son Of Beatles. Countless bands have been called that but ELO are about the closest, particularly in their sublime chord sequences and melodies, and their arrangements so reminiscent of Pepper era George Martinesque heavenly yet tasteful and slightly understated strings. The final proof came when Jeff Lynne was selected to produce the Beatles' final songs "Free As A Bird" and "Real Love" in the mid 1990s. But here with "Out Of The Blue" we find ELO at their commercial peak and pretty close to their artistic peak with only their previous offering "A New World Record" (1976) running it close. Inspired though "Face The Music" (1976) and the two albums to follow were: "Discovery" (1979) and "Time" (1981).
And again, like so many great artists (Beatles, Stevie Wonder, Fleetwood Mac, Stones) it is with a double album that this band produce their most eclectic and captivating set. The rollicking opener "Turn To Stone" sets the tone but the second number "It's Over" is where Lynne's Beatlesque (or should I say McCartneyesque??) melodic genius kicks in! A truly inspired album track. "Sweet Talking Woman" is a brilliant, infectious single and "Across The Border" closes Side 1 (of the original vinyl LP!) in fine style. Then we have "Night In The City" which is great and needs to be played LOUD, "Starlight", an effortless ballad of considerable beauty. "Jungle" is a riot, again recommended at LOUD volume. "Believe Me Now" and "Stepping Out" are simply inspired and we are only half way through the album. For me Side 3 is what takes this album onto another plane: all four songs go so well together, from the symphonic "Standing In The Rain" to "Big Wheels", the best ballad on the album (and possibly their greatest ever) to the utterly hypnotic "Summer And Lightning" and we don't need to say much about "Mr Blue Sky" a tour de force single if ever there was one! And then there are still four more tracks on what used to be Side 4. "Sweet Is The Night" is as the title suggests..no joke here. "The Whale" an interesting instrumental which manages to sound like it's written in An Ocean somewhere, "Birmingham Blues" a joyous rocker which should be the anthem for all Warwickshire cricket supporters whenever Warwickshire lose a match. The final song is perhaps the most majestic song on the whole album: "Wild West Hero". A guy at my school played this song and this song alone non stop for what seemd like months. And I wasn't complaining.
ELO had many fine moments but this album above any other captures them at their wonderfully overblown peak. It came Out Of The Blue to me as this was one of the very first albums I discovered, but after "Face The Music" and "A New World Record", both from 1976, this 1977 album should not have come as a surprise. Here, they took the best from those previous two albums and produced a brave and masterful double album. I find it a strange and wonderful testament to this band that the new Concert Arena in Budapest appears to have modelled on the ELO spaceship which graces this album's front cover. There is obviously a closet ELO fan in the Hungarian government somewhere...if so, you may not receive an OBE but you should be PROUD of yourself.
30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on 18 March 2005
I'm 26 years old so this album was before my time, and I can't believe I may still have never listened to ELO if it wasn't for a random browse through my dad's record collection a decade ago (I was into Blur, Radiohead etc). Ten years later I would definitely say that Out of the Blue is is my favorite album of all time. There are only one or two tracks I'm not too keen on (ie Jungle); 50% of the rest are very good and the other 50% are stunning. Sweet Talkin' Woman was the song that blew me away at the time, but 'Standin' in the Rain' also really stood out; that must have been way ahead of its time. I would recommend ELO to anyone of any age, and this album is a great place to start.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on 16 January 2011
Overblown fantastic joy, out of the blue is one of the few double albums that works all the way through. ELO took time to get started especially in the UK single hits but until a New world Record the albums did not sell well. If a New world record set the bench mark, out of the Blue took things to another level, and still is a fantastic musical experience. Side three which it was now (track 10-13) on cd is one of the best experiences in music you will ever hear, i know am i saying this about elo,but even "take that" now use mr blue sky as an introduction to shine when preformed live. Oh and dr who used loads of elo in the story love and monsters, and how the songs stir. Jeff Lynn said he wanted to make an album where every track could be a single, I think he almost did it, however only four singles were lifted from the album not bad for a double. This has been re-mastered like all the previous ELO albums, Personally listening on a good stereo this is a good re master, better than any MP3 download but not leaps and bounds from the original CD, considering Jeff Lynne was involved with the re mastering I was hoping for a slightly better sound, but hey have to wait till 40th anniversary now.Its a shame the charts are full of all that rap crap this is real music enjoy.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 28 February 2007
I really miss music on a grand scale. I guess that's why after the glorious '70s I turned to symphonies and opera to avoid the rot of the 80's. But back in '77 Jeff Lynne and the fab E.L.O. (+ pink floyd, elp, Queen, king crimson, yes etc...)felt every listening experience on your frankly rubbish record player or non Dolby tape deck had to be a glorious experience. Through the crackles the listener was regulary launched into space on some great sonic adventure. Sadly (perhaps) many of these interstellar survivors, as they crashed back to earth, found punk as puberty set in and the super group was super no more.
UNTIL suddenly in this enlightened age a feeling that anything goes suddenly spread across this land. Suddenly it was acceptable to enjoy everything you wanted to. With your head up high you can now buy Kaiser Chiefs, Mozart, Take That, The Stranglers (you must buy The Stranglers) and The Electric Light Orchestra. Yes and this time they are digitaly remastered with extra tracks. Yes you can look adoringly on the ELO space shuttle as it docks with the ELO flying saucer and not be afraid of ridicule. Out of the Blue is there once again for you to enjoy (and it sounds fantastic this time too.) The Deluxe edition is a packaging joy with lovely notes by Mr Lynne and a build it yourself space ship. Ah what joy.
To those of you who have no idea what I am talking about (yet are slightly intrigued) give the ELO a listen. It's grand rock with orchestrial pretentions and fantastic tunes. It's fun and nothing to be ashamed of anymore.
Perhaps one day Mr Lynne will write music as grand as this once again. until then my space ship has come to take me back in time to the '70s.