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.