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

OUT OF THE BLUE

Electric Light Orchestra

 

Crossover Prog

3.64 | 289 ratings

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ZowieZiggy
Prog Reviewer
4 stars I was not really enthusiast with their last studio album, so I was quite suspect before I heard this one. The commercial and poppy mood is developed more and more but the harmonies are again great. The master in melodies has striked again with pieces like "Turn To Stone", "It's Over", "Sweet Talkin' Woman" : they truely belong to the best ELO repertoire (not taking int account their first two effort which were the most prog ones). These songs might sound childish or easy listening but they are really nice. Nothing to do with "Kuiama" of course but pleasant to hear. No need of thinking too hard : they are just meant to provide a good peaceful moment and they reach their goal.

"Across the Border" is more rock'n'roll oriented : good violins like in the good old days. Another nice moment. "Night In The City" is more complex : wonderful vocal harmonies and great orchestration. "Starlight" is a pop ballad but again, nothing wrong with it. Somewhat remininscent of "El Dorado" which means great cellos and vocal harmonies. This album is really pleasant so far : only good numbers which is a good surprise after the disappointing "A New World Record".

"Jungle" is the first poor song so far : the elements are not really working together and the melody attemps to be catchy but fails. It is premonitory of what will await the fan in later works, unfortunately. I will never understand that "Believe Me" only lasts for 1'21". This should only be the intro of an epic ELO track. A fabulous song. It is very rare that I am so keen on such a short piece of music, but really it is a very subtle track. A short but intense moment. "Steppin' Out", "Standing In The Rain" and "Big Wheels" are great ballads with beautiful chord arrangements (but this is no surprise of course) and very Beatles oriented. IMO, it is obvious that Jeff wanted to achieve another "El Dorado" but just missed it by an inch. Some more rocking songs would have boosted this effort and make it a bit more varied because the problem here is the feeling of repetitiveness even if almost all songs are very nice they are built on the same structure and tempo.

"Summer & Lightning" : for very brief moments (in the intro and twice iduring the song we have a kind of string guitar like in "Just A Little Bit" from Supertramp - also released in 1977). Melody is sub-par comparing with the rest of the album (but it is only the second weaker track).

"Mr Blue Sky" is fortunately a more rythmy tune, just to wake up a bit : great vocal harmonies (as usual) and a very nice backing band (this song would have fit with no problem on El Dorado - my ELO fave album if you don't know yet...). One of the best song on this whole effort. "Sweet is the Night" is another trick from Jeff's hat : either he was tought on how to write such wonderful melodies or he must be a bloody gifted song-writer (probably both actually). A pure pop beauty.

"The Whale" is the weakest track of the album (but so far only two of them were poor). Some computerized voice upon supermarket/elevator music. Skip it. "Birmingham Blues" with its West Side Story background violins is another weak track : I guess Jeff got tired at this point. "Wild West Hero" is an average closing number : I would have expected a more inspired or brilliant number to finalize this work.

It is a pity that this very good album closes on three very average tracks (I guess their management cleverly recognized this and deliberately placed these songs at the end of the fourth side of this effort).

But even the Beatles with their White Album will have some weaknesses (to say the least) to release a consistent double LP, so who can blame Jeff for these (very) few weaker moments ? How fantastic would have it been to get a collaboration with Jeff and three (John, Georges and Ringo) of the fab four at the time of their split (1970) which corresponds to the early days of ELO ? No one will never know (although two of them will join in 2001 for "Zoom"). Four stars.

ZowieZiggy | 4/5 |

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