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Electric Light Orchestra - Out Of The Blue CD (album) cover

OUT OF THE BLUE

Electric Light Orchestra

 

Crossover Prog

3.57 | 189 ratings

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thehallway
Prog Reviewer
5 stars Jeff Lynne's compositional method is very much song-orientated rather than album- orientated. Yet, his very balanced command of mood, sound and thematic material leads to this being one of the most radio-friendly yet 'deep' concept albums out there. It seems to loosely tell a tale about aliens arriving on earth in their spaceship; encountering strange phenomenon such as our planet's weather, the contrast between the ocean, jungle and city environments, and of course, their relationships with each other and with humans.

The four sides of the album are similar musically but with different things to say and varying degrees of listenability. 'Turn to Stone' is a wonderful piece of synth-rock that expresses the pain one of the aliens feels as their lover leaves for planet earth. Perhaps 'It's Over' is the other alien's response! Both are very catchy, yet high quality emotional and musical constructions that set the tone for the rest of the album (90% of which could work as singles). 'Sweet Talkin' Woman' and 'Across the Border' deal with the alien's experiences on earth; perhaps falling in love with humans was a bad idea.... They expand the musical array into rock and roll territory, as well as some 'tijuana brass' style accompaniments on the latter song. Synths and vocoders are used to good effect.

Experiences of city night life are expressed wonderfully in the next song 'Night in the City', with its quirky and energetic sections that blend pop with the avant-garde. 'Starlight' has a more "relaxed disco" feel to it, and deals with the spaceship's attempts to call the alien to come back home. 'Jungle' sounds as it's name suggests, complete with Tarzan-calls! Then comes the conclusion to the first two sides in 'Steppin' Out' (and it's prelude 'Believe Me Now'); an epic, symphonic song that describes how the alien's former lover has decided to leave the spaceship and come down to earth to find them.

The aptly named mini-album 'Concerto for a Rainy Day' is almost a side-piece to the main storyline, describing the second alien's experience of Earth's variable weather. 'Standin' in the Rain' is very prog-rock, with Overture-like sections that introduce the suite with quite a dramatic effect. 'Big Wheels' links the inclement weather to the alien's sadness over their lost friend, while 'Summer and Lightening' is much more positive, conveying an increasing optimism as the sun comes out, with plenty of percussion and acoustic guitar. The finale here is the very famous 'Mr Blue Sky', ELO's biggest single yet one of their more complex, multi-part songs. It needs no description I'm sure.

The final side of the album details the aliens finding each other, firstly in 'Sweet is the Night'. The instrumental 'The Whale' is a calm, techo-ballad that conveys the mood of the ocean without the need of lyrics. The last two songs 'Birmingham Blues' and 'Wild West Hero' are less serious pop songs, adding western and ragtime styles to the already eclectic mix, and even stealing some Gershwin! Although the closer is a high-point on the album, it bears little relevance to the main storyline as far as I can tell.

Out of the Blue is a somewhat misunderstood "pop" record that needs a bit more attention from listeners before they appreciate it as a complete work (and not a mere list of okay-good songs). Only two or maybe three of the songs are forgettable; all of the rest stand up well on their own and as part of the story. The instruments are of course band-based and orchestral, which, in addition to plenty of innovative electronics and sound-effects, makes for a very rewarding, thick sound. Vocal harmonies and thoughtful lyrics complete the mix; just don't judge this monster based on any pre-conceptions.

thehallway | 5/5 |

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