The powers that be at Sony BMG gave the nod to a limited edition outside of a standard edition. So that makes the message clear: Out of the Blue is the album that defines Electric Light Orchestra. For the world outside of the fanbase, there doesn't seem to be much else to ELO other than this album. But ELO had everything you can ask for in 1977-8. 17 new songs spread out over 2LPs, posters and cut-out spaceship to promote the album stuffed inside (you don't see that anymore, do you?) and an enormous concert tour that fed wild hungry imaginations. As an absolutely riveted kid, the moment I played this album was the moment I latched on for good.
It's 30 years later and in that time, ELO became the one band which I enjoy exploring completely. I'm interested in hearing everything from the crude beginning to the bittersweet end and all the crumbs in between. And I mean everything. So, where does Out of the Blue stand in all of this. This album is so many things I hope for in an album with Jeff Lynne's name on it: some short little pop ditties, an even shorter segue track or two, but also some longer more in-depth tracks. I hear the unique places (for better or worse) where Jeff Lynne, the producer, takes his songs... and for a satisfying amount of time, I hear these guys play!! For those reasons, Out Of The Blue is strong, perhaps the strongest of their career. As a fan 30 years later, though, I'm stuck in a dilemma. No matter how many times I try to warm up to this album today, I find it so over the top, I just barely get through it. This album was a dream come true for me as a kid, but today...
Yes, I appreciate the hard work Jeff and the rest of the band and support staff did to create this. Yes, the remastered edition sounds excellent and reveals little details I never knew were there. It helps, believe me. Jeff's creative burst isn't going by unnoticed. But on the whole, Jeff Lynne and ELO were way more interesting before and after this album. I can’t help but to notice the remaster also reveals several tape flaws in some of the more quiet areas of the album.
Now, this doesn't mean there's nothing to celebrate. When I heard eco-book edition, though, I thought of the soundtrack to Six Feet Under and worried... a lot. It's bulky and a bit flimsy. But then you get a copy of Out Of The Blue's eco-bok in your hands. At first you think, how did they fit 24 pages, a cut-out spaceship and a CD in there. But they did, and it's fantastic. The liner notes here probably paint the clearest picture of what any of ELO's recording sessions were like, plus a pretty comprehensive rundown of why ELO was one of the biggest most successful bands in the world during 1978. For those reasons and the amazing remastering, there's plenty to celebrate. Only thing is, I'll probably be looking at it way more than I'll be playing it.