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Archive for October 28th, 2011

Of Wizzards and Electric Light Orchestras: Roy Wood Opens His “Music Book” and ELO Goes “Essential”

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Electric Light Orchestra may not have been the first band to merge a classical sensibility with the power of rock, but the group was undoubtedly the most successful.  Yet the group of “Mr. Blue Sky” and “Evil Woman” began as a decidedly different aggregation, born out of the ashes of Birmingham, England’s The Move.  When lead singer Carl Wayne departed The Move, his bandmate Roy Wood invited one Jeff Lynne, of The Idle Race, to join him.  This revitalized line-up of The Move produced two albums.  Legend has it that Wood made the first suggestion to add cellos to Lynne’s song “10538 Overture,” originally intended as a Move B-side.  But whatever the genesis, the two men created an altogether new sound together.  It wasn’t long before tensions between management, Wood and Lynne came to a head, and Wood departed the newly-christened Electric Light Orchestra.  Lynne, of course, took ELO to new heights while Roy Wood’s Wizzard racked up six U.K. Top 10 singles and a considerable legacy of its own.  This fall, the legacies of both Electric Light Orchestra and Roy Wood are being celebrated with two new anthologies.

The two-disc Essential Electric Light Orchestra is in stores now from Legacy Recordings, and if the name sounds familiar, that’s because a single-disc version was issued under the same title in 2006.  That edition’s 15 tracks have more than doubled to 37, with selections from every ELO album between 1971 and 1986 represented.  (No selections are included from 2001’s Zoom, a Jeff Lynne solo effort in all but name.) With Wood’s departure after the band’s very first album in 1971, Lynne continued to guide the classically-inspired rock band to pick up “where the Beatles left off.”  The heavier, more progressive sound of the early albums soon gave way to a more accessible, effortlessly melodic but still intricately orchestrated style.  The band’s fourth album, 1974’s Eldorado, became its first gold album, containing the hit “Can’t Get It Out of My Head.”  1975 follow-up Face the Music offered two more giant hit singles, “Evil Woman” and “Strange Magic,” and the classic line-up was in place: Lynne (writer/producer as well as vocals/guitar), Bev Bevan (drums, percussion, vocals), Richard Tandy (piano, organ, keyboards, guitar), Kelly Groucutt (bass/vocals), Mik Kaminski (violin), Hugh McDowell (cello), and Melvyn Gale (cello).  Electric Light Orchestra was, indeed, on its way to becoming one of the most singular acts in rock history, even arriving for concert appearances in a giant spaceship!

All of the original versions of ELO classics can be found on The Essential with the exception of Olivia Newton John’s “Xanadu,” written and produced by Lynne for the soundtrack to the 1980 film.  Lynne’s own rendition has been included from the 2000 box set Flashback.  (“I’m Alive,” “All Over the World” and “Don’t Walk Away” all appear from the soundtrack recording.)  1977’s Out of the Blue and 1979’s Discovery are the two best-represented albums with five tracks apiece.  As this collection is designed to emphasize the singles side of the band, there is only one track from 1971’s The Electric Light Orchestra (or No Answer in its American edition) and 1972’s ELO 2.  Only one cut has been excerpted from 1975’s concept album Eldorado, but it’s a doozy, the dreamlike hit “Can’t Get It Out Of My Head” which was ELO’s first American Top 10 single.

Hit the jump for the details on Roy Wood’s Music Book, plus the track listing and discography for both releases! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

October 28, 2011 at 10:43