Electric Light Orchestra: Jeff Lynne (vocals, guitar, keyboards); Mik Kaminski (violin); Hugh McDowell, Melvyn Gale (cello); Richard Tandy (keyboards); Kelly Groucett (bass); Bev Bevan (drums, percussion).
Nowadays, 1977 is remembered as both the year of punk and the year of disco. At the time, though, it was the year of Fleetwood Mac's RUMOURS and Electric Light Orchestra's OUT OF THE BLUE, two albums that were simply inescapable. But where overexposure made RUMOURS feel somewhat stale and dated, OUT OF THE BLUE sounds as fresh now as it did at the time. This is due in large part to the obsessive insularity of Jeff Lynne's aesthetic. He seems not to be ignoring musical trends, but to be simply unaware of them.
Lynne's mid-period Beatles fixation combines with his love of lush orchestrations and pristine production to create some of his strongest music, including the enormous hits "Turn to Stone," "Sweet Talkin' Woman" and "Mr. Blue Sky." However, the autobiographical "Birmingham Blues" suggests that Lynne was tiring of the rock-star grind, which might explain ELO's lowered profile after this release.
Q (p.119) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "Their virtuoso musicianship dazzled. But the real genius was in the songwriting and wonderfully unorthodox arrangements."
Uncut (p.95) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "The symphonic pretensions and STAR WARS-via-Sergio Leone imagery have impacted everyone from Air to Muse."
Mojo (Publisher) (p.114) - 5 stars out of 5 -- "[I]t shows ELO at their most lush and broad: the choral arrangements have something of '30s Hollywood, the strings arrive simultaneously from several eras -- past and future..."