Listen to “Mr Blue Sky” by Jeff Lynne-led orchestral pop Beatle-heads the Electric Light Orchestra, AKA ELO. The song is taken from the band’s 1977 record Out of the Blue.
Don’t be confused. This band is desperately uncool. They are big and sweeping in scale, and not a cool haircut to be found among them. And they have their own string section. How can that possibly be cool? But the charm of this band is not about that. The fact is that “Mr. Blue Sky” is one of the most stunningly optimistic, and joyful pop songs ever written. And pop is really the word. Listen to it shimmering with intricate, yet memorable, melody with almost child-like abandon. I tell you; if you’re not moved by this, you have no heart.
ELO came out of the glam era, originally co-led by Lynne and Roy Wood, who stayed for their debut, then left to form British glam rock band Wizzard. But, Lynne strayed from the glam model and looked at another stream of pop music – Sgt.Pepper and Magical Mystery Tour.
What he wanted was a rock group which incorporated the same sort of orchestral feel as Pepper, with actual classical overtones to boot. Yet, Lynne was interested in writing pop singles in that vein, which separated his approach from prog rock, who also wanted to take rock to a more ambitious level, albeit with much longer pieces.
The result was a string of hits in the mid-to-late 70s, and one or two in the 80s as well, before the band fractured and Lynne left. “Telephone Line”, “Turn to Stone”, “Livin’ Thing”, and many more hits dovetailed nicely into the orchestral sensibilities that people were getting from disco. And it also appealed to those who were interested in Beatle-esque pop hooks, during a period when everyone was wondering whether or not the actual Beatles would ever get back together.
Lynne of course would go on to become a sought after producer, one of his most high-profile jobs being when the Beatles did get back together in the 1994 single “Free As a Bird”, which took a John Lennon demo and turned it into a memorable, if nostalgic, epic single.
For more information about ELO, who have toured without Lynne for some years as led by original member and drummer Bev Bevan, check out the ELO official website.
13 thoughts on “Electric Light Orchestra, aka ELO, Performs “Mr. Blue Sky””
Rob- As uncool as they may be… they are still my favorite band of all time. Thanks a million for the article.
You’re very welcome!
They had some excellent songs, an incredible run, one of those bands whom you realize have so many songs you know and at least like, if not love.
Thanks for comments!
These guys are one of my guilty pleasures. I had this album as a young non-hipster kid in the ’70s. I remember taking a heap of abuse from some older mustachioed friends of my sister who were more into Zep and AC/DC and let me know “just how lame this record, and me, were.”
Question: What TV commercial is this currently being used in?
@morgan. What is this thing you call TV? 🙂
Of course you missed out on “Mr. Blue Sky”‘s prominence in the David Tennant Doctor Who story “Love & Monsters” because you knew I’d mention it…
@Graeme Burk – I almost added a clip!
“incredibly uncool?” I’m aghast Rob and seriously wonder if we can remain friends!!
ok, you said “desperately uncool.” my mistake. But COME ON!! 🙂
What can I say? Bad hair, bad clothes, their own string section. Yet, popstastic tunage!
Thanks for comments MoI!
Well, I had to come out of hiding in their defense. I don’t think i’ve ever even seen a picture of them. But like the man said above, excellent use of ELO in a Dr. Who episode, which was one of my favorites. But I’m not sure they could be called pop. Pop is pap but at least ELO was original, right?
I dunno MoI – I don’t think pop has to be pap. I do think that it’s the kind of thing that gets in your head and tends to stay there pleasantly all day. I think a lot of ELO tracks tend to do that.
Cheers for comments!
Just found your posting tonight on ELO. I agree…they are not seen as cool band. But I grew up a fan and have a soft spot in my heart for Jeff Lynne productions (they are very distinctive, especially the drum sound).
I like Mr. Blue Sky so much I sang its praises on my blog as well. And I included the “Real Love” Beatles/Jeff Lynne collaboration as a bonus.
Great post and quick historical overview.