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- This outstanding copy of ELO’s seventh studio album boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last- exceptionally quiet vinyl too
- Lots of hits on this one, Turn to Stone and Mr. Blue Sky among them
- “The last ELO album to make a major impact on popular music, Out of the Blue was of a piece with its lavishly produced predecessor, A New World Record… Out of the Blue was massively popular and did become the centerpiece of a huge worldwide tour that earned the group status as a major live attraction for a time.”
- If you’re an ELO fan, this classic double album from 1977 is surely a Must Own
- The complete list of titles from 1977 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here
- If you are new to the music of ELO and want to learn more about our pick for their best album, click here
This Jet Records pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records rarely even BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.
If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.
What the best sides of Out of the Blue have to offer is not hard to hear:
- The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
- The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1977
- Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
- Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
- Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional space of the studio
No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.
One of the qualities that we don’t talk about on the site nearly enough is the SIZE of the record’s presentation. Some copies of the album just sound small — they don’t extend all the way to the outside edges of the speakers, and they don’t seem to take up all the space from the floor to the ceiling. In addition, the sound can often be recessed, with a lack of presence and immediacy in the center.
Other copies — my notes for these copies often read “BIG and BOLD” — create a huge soundfield, with the music positively jumping out of the speakers. They’re not brighter, they’re not more aggressive, they’re not hyped-up in any way, they’re just bigger and clearer.
And most of the time those very special pressings just plain rock harder. When you hear a copy that does all that, it’s an entirely different listening experience.
What We’re Listening For on Out of the Blue
- Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
- The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
- Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks for the guitars, drums and piano, not the smear and thickness common to most LPs.
- Tight, note-like bass with clear fingering — which ties in with good transient information, as well as the issue of frequency extension further down.
- Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the players.
- Then: presence and immediacy. The musicians aren’t “back there” somewhere, way behind the speakers. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would have put them.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
Turn to Stone
Sweet Talkin’ Woman
Across the Border
Night in the City
Believe Me Now
Standin’ in the Rain
Summer and Lightning
Mr. Blue Sky
Sweet Is the Night
Wild West Hero
The last ELO album to make a major impact on popular music, Out of the Blue was of a piece with its lavishly produced predecessor, A New World Record, but it’s a much more mixed bag as an album. For starters, it was a double LP, a format that has proved daunting to all but a handful of rock artists, and was no less so here. The songs were flowing fast and freely from Jeff Lynne at the time, however, and well more than half of what is here is very solid…
Out of the Blue was massively popular and did become the centerpiece of a huge worldwide tour that earned the group status as a major live attraction for a time.
Side 3: Concerto for a Rainy Day
Side three of the release is subtitled Concerto for a Rainy Day, a four track musical suite based on the weather and how it affects mood change, ending with the eventual sunshine and happiness of “Mr. Blue Sky”. This was inspired by Lynne’s experience while trying to write songs for the album against torrential rain outside his Swiss Chalet. “Standin’ in the Rain” opens the suite with a haunting keyboard over a recording of real rain, recorded by Jeff Lynne just outside his rented studio. Also heard at the 30 second point of the song marking the beginning of The Concerto is thunder crackling in an unusual manner voicing the words “Concerto for a Rainy Day” by the band’s keyboardist, Richard Tandy. At around the 1 minute mark the staccato strings play a morse code spelling out ELO. The band used the song to open their 1978 Out of the Blue concerts.
“Big Wheels” forms the second part of the suite and continues with the theme of the weather and reflection. Apart from its inclusion on the Out of the Blue album, the song has never appeared on any of the band’s compilations or as a B-side until 2000, when Lynne included it on the group’s retrospective Flashback album. “Summer and Lightning” is the third song in the suite. The raining weather theme is continued throughout the track though the mood and lyrics are more optimistic. “Mr. Blue Sky”, an uplifting, lively song celebrating sunshine, is the finale of “Concerto for a Rainy Day” suite. It is the only piece from the Concerto to be excerpted as a single.
The album had 4 million pre-ordered copies and quickly went multi-Platinum upon release. Out of the Blue spawned five hit singles in different countries, and was ELO’s most commercially successful studio album. It was also the first double album in the history of the UK music charts to generate four top twenty hit singles. Lynne considers A New World Record and Out of the Blue to be the group’s crowning achievements, and both sold extremely well, reaching multi-platinum according to RIAA Certification.
Capital Radio and The Daily Mirror Rock and Pop Awards (forerunner to The Brit Awards) named it “Album of the Year” in 1978. Lynne received his first Ivor Novello award for Outstanding Contributions to British Music the same year.