Electric Light Orchestra (or ELO for short) in concert to end the week. One of those bands that came along in the 70s that you really couldn’t pigeonhole at the time. They were an offshoot of the defunct and much lamented Move, formed by ex-Move members Jeff Lynne, Roy Wood and Bev Bevan. Only they added strings as well as dabs of Classical into the mix and were probably best described at the time as Art-Rock and Progressive Pop. The Move had a very tough time breaking in the United States, which was a shame as they were one of the great underrated and overlooked bands of the late 60s. But as ELO they stood out – not really Progressive in the Genesis sense and certainly not Glam – obviously not pre-Punk, or garage Rock, or Disco – they were hard to place. But what they did was quickly align themselves with the FM quasi-underground market – and tour the U.S. almost constantly for a good two years. That intense touring paid off and they found themselves straddling mainstream and garnering a string of hit albums in the process.
This concert (actually bits of two concerts recorded by BBC Radio for their In Concert series) is primarily taken from a Guildhall performance in Portsmouth with the last three songs from a performance at Golders Green Hippodrome. It was all done during a tour to promote their then-latest album, Face The Music.
ELO’s fifth studio LP was released in 1975 and was their first to be recorded at Musicland Studios in Munich. A new line-up of the band was featured, with bassist Kelly Groucutt and cellist Melvyn Gale replacing Mike de Albuquerque and Mike Edwards, respectively. Where Lynne had usually sung all lead vocals, new member Groucutt replaces him on “Poker” (while Lynne sings harmony) as well as one of the verses in “Nightrider”.
The singles “Evil Woman” and “Strange Magic” were the most commercial songs they had recorded up to that point. “Evil Woman” was a big hit in the UK and the US, embracing disco rhythms while still embodying ELO’s classic sound. Lynne wrote the chords and melody of this song in only six minutes, making it his fastest feat of composition.
And with all that in mind, click on the Play button and enjoy.