A few months back, I wrote that if the Electric Light Orchestra were finally elected to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, then by extension, the Traveling Wilburys Eighties supergroup of George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne, the mastermind behind ELO, would all be Hall of Famers separately. As you know, ELO was inducted this past spring, thus completing that supergroup’s separate membership in the Hall. Now, do I think the group will be inducted? Probably not, although they did create two absolutely enjoyable albums. I really think the voters should focus on more deserving artists who stuck to their main artistic vision, and not reward a hobby, albeit a hobby that was this good, with a place in the Hall of Fame.
Now, to be perfectly honest, I was born to parents who were a just a bit too old for rock & roll music, and I was the older of their two offspring. So, I discovered the Electric Light Orchestra when they had a radio hit with their cover of the Chuck Berry hit “Roll Over Beethoven”. Then, a year or so later, I fell in love with the song “Can’t Get It Out of My Head”, so I began to read up about the band, this Electric Light Orchestra. It was through those articles in Creem, Circus and Hit Parader magazines that leader Jeff Lynne’s group vision was to pick up where The Beatles had left off with “I Am the Walrus”. The significance of that sentence was so vital in my development as a rock music lover. ELO lead me to The Beatles! Because of that one fact that Jeff Lynne said about ELO picking up where The Beatles had left off with “I Am the Walrus” kickstarted my whole inquiry into The Beatles. Who knows how I would have discovered The Beatles otherwise?
Still, I developed a love for the Electric Light Orchestra. I remember seeing them on TV a couple of times in the mid-Seventies. The first time was on some awards program that could have been either the Grammys or the American Music Awards. Whatever, I was fascinated by a rock band that was augmented with a string section that were not hired hands but actual members of the band. Then, I remember seeing ELO perform on Midnight Special one night after a basketball game, which was a pretty good way for me to unwind.
When I got to college, it seemed as though the Electric Light Orchestra’s status as a top hitmaker and major tour attraction was waning. Still, I had promised my younger brother, who is three-and-a-half years younger age-wise and four years behind me grade-wise, that I would take him to ELO whenever they would play around central Indiana. It was shortly after I moved on campus at Ball State University that I heard ELO was having a concert with Daryl Hall and John Oates as the opening act down at Indiana University on a Friday night. That the concert was ended up being my brother’s first concert, and what a concert it was. That night cemented a life-long commitment as a fan of both artists.
In the past, I have celebrated the exploits of Daryl Hall and John Oates. So, today, I celebrate the music of the Electric Light Orchestra by listing My 25 Favorite Songs by the Electric Light Orchestra. Let the countdown begin!
25. “The Diary of Horace Wimp” (Discovery, 1979)
24. “Rockaria!” (A New World Record, 1976)
23. “Calling America” (Balance of Power, 1986)
22. “Xanadu (with Olivia Newton-John)” (Xanadu OST, 1980)
21. “Confusion”/”Last Train to London” (Discovery, 1979)
20. “I’m Alive” (Xanadu OST, 1980)
19. “All Over the World” (Xanadu OST, 1980)
18. “Rock ‘n’ Roll Is King” (Secret Messages, 1983)
17. “Do Ya” (A New World Record, 1976)
16. “Roll Over Beethoven” (ELO II, 1972)
15. “Fire on High” (Eldorado, 1974)
14. “10538 Overture” (No Answer, 1972)
13. “Hold on Tight” (Time, 1981)
12. “Shine a Little Love” (Discovery, 1979)
11. “Sweet Talkin’ Woman” (Out of the Blue, 1977)
10. “Turn to Stone” (Out of the Blue, 1977)
9. “Showdown” (On the Third Day, 1973)
8. “Twilight” (Time, 1981)
7. “Livin’ Thing” (A New World Record, 1976)
6. “Telephone Line” (A New World Record, 1976)
5. “Evil Woman” (Face the Music, 1975)
4. “Don’t Bring Me Down” (Discovery, 1979)
3. “Strange Magic” (Face the Music, 1975)
2. “Can’t Get It Out of My Head” (Eldorado, 1974)
1. “Mr. Blue Sky” (Out of the Blue, 1977)
Now, that’s a formidable Top 25! Whew! Thank God for the vision of Jeff Lynne, or else we would not have these beautiful songs. Now, go back and listen to those songs. Try to hear just which Beatles song Mr. Lynne is referencing in each particular song of his. It is amazing that you can hear The Beatles’ influence, and how each ELO song jumps off from “I Am the Walrus”.
One last thing, which has nothing to do with ELO. Over the weekend, we lost another great soul singer who found a sip of success late in his life, Mr. Charles Bradley. His last three albums, along with the albums that the late Sharon Jones, kept old Sixties and Seventies Stax-style soul music alive here in the 21st century. Unfortunately for soul lovers like me, we are losing this types of wonderful big-voiced singers who started in the church. Currently, there have been many new retro-soul artists, like Leon Bridges and Mayer Hawthorne, but there is no replacing the type of soul singer that we have lost recently. As I have said before, Heaven’s choir just got another beautiful voice. RIP Charles Bradley!
See you all tomorrow!