A life in music No.3 – 1977
E.L.O – ‘Out Of The Blue’
Now, my dad was a plane-spotter – like a train-spotter, but with a slightly smaller anorak. He had dozens of books containing thousands of aircraft makes, types and registration numbers, and when he visited an airport and spotted a previously un-spotted plane, he’d underline it with his red BIC® in one of his books. I think he’s seen them all now. I went with him a few times, but I think I enjoyed the cycle ride to Hurn Airport more than the aircraft. Anyway, I say this as in 1976 and 1977, with the help of my dad I became a song-spotter. Listening to the Top 40 singles chart was a must, but for a year or more just as, if not more important, was listening to Jimmy Savile on Radio 1. His Old Record Club featured Top Tens from the late 1950s onwards, and with the book of Hit Singles at the ready, when we heard a song, we’d find it, underline it, and put a ‘listened to’ date for reference. Unbelievable nerdy. They were hugely enjoyable weekly lessons in the history of pop music.
It was during these years, and almost certainly listening to the Old Record Club that my love of music really began to sprout, set to grow at a rapid pace. I didn’t actually start ‘owning’ records ’til a few years later, but the first album I’d say was mine (although it wasn’t, it was my dad’s) was Out Of The Blue by the Electric Light Orchestra. The album was, and still is, a gigantic, overblown, over-indulgent pop classic. Of course, I had very little knowledge of E.L.O prior to this album, and the fact that it was a ‘double album’ with an enormous multi-coloured space ship on the front must have impressed me too. But, I remember playing this album obsessively over a short period of time. Aged 11 I would still say sport (any and every) gave me the most pleasure in my young life, but this album, and in particular Savile’s radio programme slowly but surely lead to music becoming my most beautiful infatuation.
Two years later, when E.L.O’s Greatest Hits was released containing eleven absolute gems, I probably played it more than this. Four years later The Beatles would become my musical obsession, but E.L.O’s multi-layered, harmony heavy Out Of The Blue was almost gentle opener, preparing me for the Fab Four. Jeff Lynne’s beautiful, lush production owed much to George Martin, and whilst this may feature on many music lovers ‘guilty pleasure’ list, I simply loved listening to it. At the time I clearly had no clue about production techniques, or about rock and pop history, and may say it’s over-produced or a tad AOR, others will rightly say music is music and labels are for losers. For me, Jeff Lynne was just a genius songwriter.
1972: Theme To Robinson Crusoe
1973: Sweet – ‘Blockbuster’
1977: E.L.O – ‘Out Of The Blue’