Out of the Blue

Out of the Blue

No one ever accused Jeff Lynne and his Electric Light Orchestra of thinking small. On 1977’s Out of the Blue, ELO allows its ambitions to run unrestrained through a host of symphonic rock permutations. Released as a two-disc set, this album marked the fullest flowering of the group’s expansive musical vision. As on earlier releases, Beatles-derived motifs are present in abundance—the bouncy English charm of “Mr. Blue Sky” and the dreamy atmosphere of “Big Wheels” owe a particular debt to Paul McCartney. By this point, though, Lynne and his bandmates had developed their own recognizable sonic trademarks, especially a fondness for ’50s-style roots-rock. Tracks like “Birmingham Blues” and “Across the Border” harken back to the prime of Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis, while “Sweet Talkin’ Woman” invokes the layered vocal interplay of the Beach Boys. ELO’s fascination with pre-World War II pop is evident in elegant, slightly campy tracks like “Sweet Is the Night” and “Wild West Hero.” Smoothly-crafted hit singles like “Turn to Stone” are counterpointed with impressionistic instrumentals like “The Whale.” With a sense of grandeur and a touch of humor, Out of the Blue shifts from whimsy to melodrama like a widescreen film spectacular.

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