Electric Light Orchestra – Out Of The Blue

Electric Light Orchestra - Out Of The BlueYou have to be in the mood for ELO, and a whole lot of ELO at its most ELO-esque, if you’re going to absorb this entire double album in one sitting. This album contains the singles “Turn To Stone”, “Sweet Talkin’ Woman” and “Mr. Blue Sky”, three of the best ELO singles ever to hit the airwaves. Some of the best album tracks also come from this one as well, including “Starlight”, one of the best songs ELO ever recorded. Don’t ask me why, but my favorite Jeff Lynne compositions show their 50s-retro roots quite audibly. Also included are “Jungle”, a song that sounds incredibly silly on the surface but is appealing all the same; “Standing In The Rain”, keyboardist Richard Tandy’s most jaw-dropping performance (and this was years before MIDI, children); the rough-edged Birmingham Blues (about the band’s home town – England, not Alabama); “Summer And Lightning” and “Night In The City” (two of the very few songs in which every possible good clichè of ELO’s sound converges), and one of my favorite instrumentals, “The Whale”. 4 out of 4 starsSome would argue that this is the last time ELO really sounded good, and that’s not entirely untrue. Out Of The Blue also marks the beginning of ELO’s most commercial phase of existence; the adventurous ELO of old didn’t return until 1981.

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  1. Turn To Stone (3:47)
  2. It’s Over (4:08)
  3. Sweet Talkin’ Woman (3:48)
  4. Across the Border (3:53)
  5. Night in the City (4:01)
  6. Starlight (4:26)
  7. Jungle (3:51)
  8. Believe Me Now (1:21)
  9. Steppin’ Out (4:39)
  10. Standin’ in the Rain (4:21)
  11. Big Wheels (5:05)
  12. Summer and Lightning (4:14)
  13. Mr. Blue Sky (5:05)
  14. Sweet is the Night (3:26)
  15. The Whale (5:02)
  16. Birmingham Blues (4:23)
  17. Wild West Hero (4:42)

Released by: Jet
Release date: 1977
Total running time: 70:12

Split Enz – Dizrythmia

Split Enz - DizrythmiaThis is perhaps the least listenable of all the Enz’ albums. You’d think that I, a solid Crowded House fan, would adore Dizrythmia for the arrival of future Crowdies lead man Neil Finn, but on this album his talent is still very much in the process of developing and maturing. The whole collection isn’t a total loss, as it features favorites such as “Bold As Brass” and the downright sinister “Charlie”, as well as my personal favorite on this disc, “Crosswords”, a wonderfully silly song with a surprisingly complex 2 out of 4arrangement. To describe this album in a single phrase – this is Split Enz in flux. It becomes obvious that the amazingly polished sound of Second Thoughts was a bit of a fluke early in the band’s history. Still, a lot of Enz fanz like this album, so I could very well be wrong.

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  1. Bold As Brass (3:31)
  2. My Mistake (3:02)
  3. Parrot Fashion Love (3:54)
  4. Sugar and Spice (3:48)
  5. Without a Doubt (6:08)
  6. Crossroads (3:26)
  7. Charlie (5:32)
  8. Nice To Know (4:24)
  9. Jamboree (6:36)

Released by: Mushroom
Release date: 1977
Total running time: 40:21

10cc – Deceptive Bends

10cc - Deceptive BendsThough it contains one of the two songs most everyone thinks about when the name 10cc comes up, this album is pretty much average. “The Things We Do For Love” has earned its classic status, but there are other great songs on this album, including the wonderfully beautiful but offbeat ballad “People In Love” and the very strange and well-produced “Honeymoon With B Troop”. (Well-produced in this case meaning that the effects and acoustic treatments used on various voices and instruments are absolutely perfect given the song’s subject; and it’s just so weird, ya gotta love it!) But there are some simply average tracks, such as another well performed and produced track, Feel the Benefit, which is an attempt at emulating the epic-scale structure of such pop medleys as the Beatles’ “Golden Slumbers” / “Carry That Weight” / “The End” that comes across as just that, a smaller-scale copy. Most of the album is pretty good, though; and it comes from that remarkable convergence of talents that seemed to take place all around the same time; 1977 3 out of 4brought us this album with one of 10cc’s biggest singles, ELO’s Out Of The Blue, Alan Parsons’ I Robot, The Rumour’s Frogs, Sprouts, Clogs & Krauts, John Williams’ Star Wars soundtrack, and many others – at least in my book, 1977 seems to have been a musical flashpoint.

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  1. Good Morning Judge (2:53)
  2. The Things We Do For Love (3:30)
  3. Marriage Bureau Rendezvous (4:03)
  4. People In Love (3:45)
  5. Modern Man Blues (5:35)
  6. Honeymoon with B Troop (2:47)
  7. I Bought a Flat Guitar Tutor (1:46)
  8. You’ve Got A Cold (3:36)
  9. Feel the Benefit (11:29)

Released by: PolyGram
Release date: 1977
Total running time: 39:24