Happy Birthday Out of The Blue – ELO Flashback 40

It’s a Happy Birthday to me and a Happy Birthday to Out of The Blue as I share a special Flashback 40. It’s a big 40 for Out of the Blue by Electric Light Orchestra. This peach of an album was released on same day I was born. It sadly wasn’t released in honour of me, but Im quite happy to share my my entry into the world with its release.

Out of The Blue was released as a double album and is home to a number of it’s well known tracks that we still love and play 40 years on, the likes of Sweet Talkin’ Woman, Turn To Stone and the absolutely epic mood lifter Mr Blue Sky. This track has to be one of my favourite songs of all time. They had released another two singles from the album, those being Wild West Hero and the track It’s Over. As well as the album being fantastic, their album cover has to be one of the most familiar and recognised covers over period it’s been released. The registration number on the side of the docking space craft, is the original catalogue number for the album.

Jeff Lynne wrote the album in three weeks over in a Swiss chalet, influenced by the rain lashing on the door. It is I have to say the testament to fantastic writing, to create a piece of musical joy. An album which would appear to feature some musical influences from the great names of the 20th Century ranging from the Beatles to the Bee Gees.

This album the last of the progressive/Symphonic outing created by Jeff Lynne, is certainly a fine way to end one musical direction, Im not sure there could be a finer way in doing so without doing it cheaply and of course that would not be Jeff Lynne’s manner or style.

The album sold 10 million copies and was the first double album in UK char history to produce 4 top twenty singles a hardly suprising fact given the releases from the album. The album itself was one that simply didn’t really want to leave the chart, top ten in ten different countries and in the UK and US album chart it peaked at number 4. Come the end of 1977 it was outside the top 40, only to speed up the chart come the end of 1978 to the position of number 7. The thirtieth anniversary reissue even charted in at number 18. Can’t imagine many albums charting a top 20 on an anniversary release.

Out of The Blue had six single releases of which the first single released was Turn To Stone a romantically themed song of someone struggling when their love has left them but with the hope that they will return some day. It was the lowest charting release from the album reaching only number 18 even though it is quite a catchy tune. It reached top ten in both Sweden and Canada, whilst pitching up in at number 13 on the US Billboard chart. It is another one that is still a popular play and back in 2008, Lynne was awarded a certificate by the BMI for the track reaching one million airplays.

Mr Blue Sky was the second single and  there is nothing much that needs to be said about this glorious track of foot tapping joy. It is surely hard not to enjoy this timeless track. Perfect for any moment. when the mood needs lifting or indeed you just want to play it. I guess though we should thank the change in weather for this. In a BBC interview Lynne had said that in the preceeding two weeks there was gloom and mist but when the sun finally appeared it was a case of wow at the beautiful alps. This track made it to number six in the UK charts and despite being released in the January, by the end of the year it had only just left the top 40 finishing 1978 with a position of 43.

Mr Blue Sky is for those that don’t know,  the finale of the third side of the Double Album which consists of the Concerto For A Rainy Day. It was the only track from that to be released. The opening track titled Standing In The Rain includes recordings of actual rain. The idea of wet gloomy weather continues up until of course Mr Blue Sky, but it is indeed a good piece of music to listen to all the way through.

The song has featured in many tv programmes and films including Dr Who, CSI, Waterloo Road and most recently Guardians of The Galaxy Vol.2 as well as being used in the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics. I very much doubt it will ever stop being used given how joyful and cheery it is.

Sweet Talkin’ Woman was another top ten hit for the band as it hit a high of number six in the UK chart, it wasn’t as popular as the other notable releases in the other charts although it did mostly chart in the top 30.

So wrapping up, for me ELO and this album was my earliest introduction to the band and in my own opinion, it should be an album that every music lover has in their collection regardless of the music genre you like.

So happy 40th birthday to this fine album that ages so well and long may it be listened to.

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Fleetwood Mac – Rumours Flashback 40

Here is the first album look back in my Flashback 40 series. Kicking off is Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours album. The 11th studio album of their career, it was one that was to be, despite everything that was going on outside the recording studios. To be honest it was an album that was even lucky to be written and completed given the situation of a number of the band members, it in a way though it probably existed purely down to the external factors and quite possibly with its title.

It was released on 4th February 1977 and was a huge success as they achieve number ones in five different countries throught out the coming months. In the US, it had spent 31 weeks non consecutively at the top of the Billboard 200. Come March 1978 ,Rumours alone had sold 8 million copies in the US and ten million around the world. In the UK it entered in at number at number 7 before hitting the top early in 1978  giving the band their first UK number one album.

To this day the album is still selling and as recent as 2009 it had shipped 30 million album sales. That is pretty darn good for one album. There are bands who wish they could sell 30 million albums in a career let alone for one album. As at July 2016 it was the 11th best selling album in UK history.

Rumours gives us some of the bands most notable releases such as Dreams, Don’t Stop, Go Your Own Way and of course The Chain. The Chain is famous for the use of the Bass line for the BBC’s Formula One theme tune up until they lost tv rights. Upon its return to the BBC, the  track entered the charts in 2009 through downloads where it reached 94 in th charts. It did so again in 2011 reaching 89, after a facebook campaign to get it number one for the start of the 2011 season.

The album looks like it reflects the break up of Buckingham and Nicks’ relationship with each of them taking a different perspective of the break up. With Stevie Nicks it seems to be reflective, but with Buckingham there seems to be some anger and bitterness. It would seem strange that the songs written could have some great music but yet be about break ups from two sides. For example Go Your Own Way sees a bitter line, but the music to the song is catchy and seemingly more light as it were.

Whilst there are the songs we all come to know, Rumours has tracks that make this album complete. Songbird written and sung by Christine McVie is a beautiful acoustic track that has a relaxing feel to it and one that is still sounds fresh even though it’s forty years old. A song with an appeal, that it was covered by the late Eva Cassidy and featured in her posthumously released album titled Songbird. It reached number one back in 2001. Willie Nelson also covered it on his album, also titled Songbird. The song itself found its way into the charts back in 2009 when it reached 56. This was down to an X Factor contestant singing it in her audition.

The album takes a brief country feel with the track, it was a track actually written by Stevie Nicks and Lindsay Buckingham pre Rumours and is a look at a romantic break up although it was way before   their very own break up. It’s hard not to like this track with it’s uplifting beat.

Oh Daddy is one of the few tracks not about break up. There is a seeming split about who it is about. Christine McVie claimed that it was about Mick Fleetwood, who was the only father around the band at the time, although others claimed it was about the bands lighting director, who McVie was dating at the time. Regardless of who it’s about, it’s a good track to listen to.

So there we have it (at last) the first of a number of Flashback 40 album reviews.

Films TV & Music of 77 – Flashback40

I may have entered the world close to the end of the year, but I have to say it was most definitely a fine year for film and music. The notable films from that year are of course Star Wars: A New Hope, Close Encounters of The Third Kind and Saturday Night Fever, but 1977 was one that saw a wonderful collection of different film genres.

It appeared to be comedy, action and Sci Fi in 1977 with an odd horror film thrown in.  A Bridge Too Far, even Smokey and the Bandit was a hit in the states grossing second in the top ten films, surprisingly beating Close Encounters.

Ray Harryhausen’s talents were shared once more in Sinbad and The Eye of The Tiger. Eye of The Tiger was the third outing in the film franchise. Another film making its third outing in its Franchise, was Aiport 77. The final film sees a private 747 being hijacked before crashing into the sea in the Bermuda Triangle area. The year wouldn’t be the same without a Bond film and 77 had its turn with Roger Moore returning in the The Spy Who Loved Me.

If adventure appealed to you in 1977, you would have been rewarded with some fine films. Jabberwocky, Pete’s Dragon, Gulliver’s Travels and The Man in The Iron Mask.

Horror fans had a fair few films to enjoy, some well known and some not so well known. The Hills have Eyes, Exorcist II, The Child, EraserHead and The Island of Doctor Moreau.

So if people weren’t going to the cinema, they were more than likely watching tv and in the late 70’s there were many things to enjoy, some already on tv included favourites such as Corrie, Match of the Day, Blue Peter, Crackerjack, Doctor Who, to name but a few. There were some making their debut,  The guys at Ci5 and the Professionals were starting their time on tv, Krypton Factor with Gordon Burns that saw many sitting watching contestants carrying out various challenges and of course everyones favourite outtake show (well maybe not everyones) It’ll be Alright On The Night started its journey entertaining us with bloopers from various tv shows.

It was quite a year in the world of music, great albums, singles and sadly some big names departing the world. Whilst I will take a look at albums and singles separately, there were a lot of moments that took place. Some good, some crazy and then the music stars that passed away.

Kicking off 1977 in a punk rock stylee were The Clash. They were playing at the opening night of The Roxy, the short lived punk rock club. The Sex Pistols kicked off a long and controversial year. One single down and EMI terminate the contract after band members behaviour at Heathrow at the start of January. Never fear A&M to the rescue….or maybe not. On 10 March they sign the band in front of Buckingham Palace and six days later its game over. Band members behaviour towards staff sees the end of another deal.

The Sex Pistols get signed up by Virgin Records in May and last longer than six days. They didnt even get fired for trying to interrupt the Queen’s Silver Jubilee. Their album Never Mind The Bollocks, here’s the Sex Pistols got to number one in October despite major retailers refusing to stock it.

Of course it wasnt just about the Sex Pistols in 77. The B-52s were making their first public performance. Yes they have been around that long. Fleetwood Mac released the album Rumours and what an album that was, still strong 40 years after its release.

Having been the victim of a technicians strike in April, the 22nd Eurovision Song Contest took place. France beat off the UK and Irish entries to win.

The second half of the year saw death and accidents. Grateful Dead drummer Micky Hart survives driving his Porsche off a canyon, injuries to Joe Perry and Steve Tyler from an explosive see a number of dates cancelled. A plane carrying the band Lynyrd Skynrd crashes. It kills lead singer Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Zaines, backing vocalist Cassie Gaines and assistant road manager Dean Kilpatrick. Others are seriously injured. It spelled the end for the band, who had hits Sweet Home Alabama and Freebird until they reformed in the late 80’s.

On the 16th August The King Elvis Presley was dead. He was found at is home in Graceland. It was because of his death that my mum gave me my middle name Aron, which was the same as Elvis, not sure that my mum was a big fan of his though. Presley’s passing wasnt the only death of a great. Marc Bolan of T Rex was killed in a car crash he was only 29.

It was Bing Crosby’s final Christmas show in 1977, but it did include the iconic duet of Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy with David Bowie.

December 77 saw Elvis Costello make his US debut and having decided to change a song, found himself banned, quite some way to go to be honest.

Over the year of 1977 many a musical act were making their way into the music scene. Adam and The Ants, The Buggles, Def Leppard, Dire Straits, The Human League,INXS,Martha and The Muffins and Men Without Hats were just some starting off 40 years ago. The Cars, Police and Van Halen also signed deals with their respective record companies.

Well that end the look at 1977. What a year for entertainment it was. Still to come will be the years 87, 97, 2007 with a few other flashback years to come.