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IN-DEPTH
SONG HOMECOVER VERSIONSYOUR VIEWS
Mr Blue Sky
Electric Light Orchestra
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ELO

He’s been in the Move, he’s been a Traveling Wilbury and he’s even produced The Beatles. But for most people, Jeff Lynne remains forever associated with Electric Light Orchestra.

When Lynne founded ELO in 1971, along with Roy Wood, critics immediately branded them “a poor man’s Beatles” but fans loved the innovative fusion of classical and rock’n’roll instrumentation, and the band clocked up twenty Top 20 hits between 1972 and 1983 - including ‘Mr Blue Sky’, which reached #6 in January 1978.

Lavishly orchestrated with a pounding beat, ‘Mr Blue Sky - like the bulk of ELO’s hits - was written by Jeff Lynne.’ This one came about after he locked himself away in a Swiss chalet determined to fashion ELO’s follow-up to A New World Record.

Jeff Lynne
Jeff Lynne talks about how he wrote Mr. Blue Sky in a chalet near Lake Geneva in Switzerland.


Lots of Gibb Brothers’ vocal inflexions and Beatles’ arrangement quotes (Penny Lane bell, Pepper panting, Abbey Road arpeggio guitars). But this fabulous madness creates its own wonder – the bendy guitar solo, funky cello stop-chorus, and the most freakatastic vocoder since Sparky’s Magic Piano. Plus the musical ambush on “way” at 2.51 still thrills. And that’s before the Swingle Singers/RKO Tarzan movie /Rachmaninoff symphonic finale gets underway. Kitsch, yet truly exhilarating.
Dominic King

“It was dark and misty for two weeks,” Lynne later recalled, “and I didn’t come up with a thing. Suddenly the sun shone and it was ‘Wow, look at those beautiful Alps.’ I wrote ‘Mr Blue Sky’ and 13 other songs in the next two weeks.” The subsequent album, 1977’s Out Of The Blue, consolidated Electric Light Orchestra’s success.

Even Lynne admitted later that early ELO had “sounded like an accident in a violin warehouse.” But realising that they’d never see The Beatles again, and captivated by the type of extravagant concert put on by Pink Floyd, America lapped up Electric Light Orchestra. Half a dozen gruelling tours, supporting the likes of Blood, Sweat & Tears and Deep Purple, saw ELO crack the lucrative US market and establish themselves as one of the decade’s biggest bands.

Your comments.A vastly underrated timeless classic


John

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