Reviewed by – Matt Rowe
Out of the Blue was an ambitious Jeff Lynne project that paid off with a flurry of hits that included the double album opener, “Turn to Stone,” and continued with other classic ELO tunes like “Sweet Talkin’ Woman,” and the very Sgt Pepper-esque “Mr Blue Sky.” The album was released as a gate-folded double LP (remember…not many acts got away with double LP releases unless they were “good for it.” ELO proved that with pre-sales for Out of the Blue logging in at 4 million units – weeks before actual release). In addition, ELO was able to go the extra mile, tweak the labels a bit more, and get a Space Station fold-out worked into the album. Clout. Jeff Lynne had plenty of it during this period.
After the release of Out of the Blue, ELO went to the fullest measure of a show by introducing a 100-foot flashing UFO similar to that found on the cover of the album with emitting lasers. Used as a prop, the fiberglass saucer that housed the ELO light show, would produce the members of the band in a dramatic fashion. Over all, the Out of the Blue World Tour, with stops in the US and Europe, had played to over two million fans in 92 shows over eight months (February to September 1978).
Legacy and Epic continue with their near complete Expanded and Remastered series of Electric Light Orchestra catalogue by turning their attention to the most popular of ELO albums, Out of the Blue. With Jeff Lynne assisting Epic with the revitalizing of ELO albums, there is a Lynne introduction in this new Edition, which appears as two versions, a Special Edition gate-folded Digipak with replicated fold-out space station (just like the old days), and a standard CD jewel reissue.
Both versions of this 2007 reissue of Out of The Blue contain 3 bonus tracks that include a very short (20 second) curiosity of an alternate bridge to the quirky end cut from the album, “Wild West Hero.” The second bonus track is “The Quick and The Daft,” a cinematic piece that features orchestral and choir arrangements layered by the usual flavour of ELO (violin/guitar), which is also short (almost 2 minutes in length). The final cut is “Latitude 88 North,” a pretty good Beatles-like tune outtake and one that Lynne had difficulty completing. It is the album’s only complete bonus inclusion. The song was very recently released as a new ELO single and is an interesting new tack in reissues promotion. If it works, it could provide a new type of radio – new releases of outtake singles from popular bands of past decades. Hmmm…
This reissue’s booklet will be larger (24-pages vs 12-pages) for the Special Edition however both editions will contain an introduction to the new re-release written by Jeff Lynne as well as new liner notes written by ELO historian, Rob Caiger. Caiger’s essay is peppered with Jeff Lynne statements concerning the original album. The booklet also has photos, credits, making this awards-winning album a worthy add to your ELO reissued library. The sound is great, and, although the gap is filled with interesting bonuses, I still believe that a definitive edition can be put together where ELO is concerned. Out of the Blue ran a course on the Billboard charts for over two years. It also had lengthy stays on Euro charts including the UK Top 50. Out of the Blue defines ELO greatly, marking the era as peak ELO, when Lynne finally reached his vision of what ELO was supposed to be. The Special Edition Digipak of Out of the Blue brings back the excitement of that period with its extra attention to detail. I’d opt for that. If it’s just the music that suits you, the standard CD will work beautifully.
Release Date: February 20, 2007
Produced by: Harvey Brooks, Nick Gravinetes & Jeff Lynne
Turn to Stone / It’s Over / Sweet Talkin’ Woman / Across The Border / Night in the City / Starlight / Jungle / Believe Me Now / Steppin’ Out / Standin’ In The Rain / Big Wheels / Summer and Lightning / Mr Blue Sky / Sweet Is The Night / The Whale / Birmingham Blues / Wild West Hero / Wild West Hero (Alternate Bridge – Bonus Track) / The Quick and The Daft (Bonus Track) / Latitude 88 North (Bonus Track).
Electric Light Orchestra:
Jeff Lynne – Vocals / Guitar / Keyboards / Synthesizers
Bev Bevan – Drums
Melvyn Gale – Cello
Kelly Groucutt – Bass / Percussion
Mik Kaminski – Violin
Hugh McDowell – Cello
Richard Tandy – Synthesizers / Keyboards