Deep Album Cuts Vol. 88: Electric Light Orchestra

This week, The Electric Light Orchestra (or simply Electric Light Orchestra, the definite article The was dropped from their name after the first two albums) will be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. It was ELO's first time being nominated for the hall, but they'd been eligible for about 20 years, which gives you an idea of how they're a pretty big deal but not so big that they were going to slide in at the first opportunity. In fact, they're getting in a year after the band whose first album referenced them with the song "ELO Kiddies."

Electric Light Orchestra Deep Album Cuts (Spotify playlist): 

1. Look At Me Now
2. Momma a.k.a. Mama
3. Ocean Breakup / King Of The Universe
4. Bluebird Is Dead
5. Illusions In G Major
6. Eldorado
7. Poker
8. Fire On High
9. So Fine
10. Mission (A World Record)
11. Tightrope
12. Birmingham Blues
13. Summer And Lightning
14. On The Run
15. Wishing
16. The Fall
17. Yours Truly, 2095
18. Bluebird
19. Heaven Only Knows

Track 1 from The Electric Light Orchestra a.k.a. No Answer (1971)
Track 2 from ELO 2 (1973)
Tracks 3 and 4 from On The Third Day (1973)
Tracks 5 and 6 from Eldorado (1974)
Tracks 7 and 8 from Face The Music (1975)
Tracks 9, 10 and 11 from A New World Record (1976)
Tracks 12 and 13 from Out Of The Blue (1977)
Track 14 and 15 from Discovery (1979)
Track 16 from Xanadu (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) (1980)
Track 17 from Time (1981)
Track 18 from Secret Messages (1983)
Track 19 from Balance Of Power (1986)

ELO had over a dozen top 20 hits in America in the '70s and '80s, but it feels like only 4 or 5 of those songs have survived into heavy rotation on classic rock radio and that general pop culture nostalgia cycle of film and ad placements. But everything I'd ever heard by the band always sounded pretty fantastic, and I enjoyed the 2015 comeback album credited to 'Jeff Lynne's ELO,' Alone In The Universe, so I always meant to dig into their back catalog.

One way that ELO has amassed an impressive legacy that I hadn't really considered is through samples. Save for that Pussycat Dolls song that used an "Evil Woman" loop, there aren't many big famous tracks that have used their music, but there's a wealth of underground hip hop songs and album tracks by big stars that have grabbed dramatic strings from ELO tracks, often ones that weren't hits. In fact, Who Sampled included ELO in the top 10 of a list of most sampled rock artists. "Tightrope" has been sampled by Jeezy and Ab-Soul, "Eldorado" has been sampled by J Dilla, "Fire On High" has been sampled by El-P and Joe Budden, and "So Fine" was sampled by L.A. Style's rave classic "James Brown Is Dead." It blew my mind the first time I heard "Ocean Breakup," because it's sampled on one of the best Baltimore rap albums ever, Dalton, Vol. 1 by Tim Trees, and I'd often wondered what that sample was.

Jeff Lynne is well known for his late '80s production sound on huge records by Tom Petty, George Harrison, Roy Orbison, and of course the supergroup that included all of them, The Traveling Wilburys. But really that stripped down jangly sound Lynne used on those records is seldom heard on ELO records, and only on the last couple '80s albums do you start to hear that distinctive snare sound I associate with Full Moon Fever.

I fell in love with a lot of these songs, but particularly "Poker" and "Mission (A World Record)" and "Heaven Only Knows" and "Summer And Lightning." Also, does "Bluebird" have anything to do with "Bluebird Is Dead," released almost an entire decade earlier? I always thought of ELO as kind of a synth heavy act and thought the 'orchestra' name was kind of a pretentious flourish, so I was a little taken aback with just how lavish the string arrangements on some of these records are. Lynne is a really good songwriter who has some absolutely bulletproof songs under his belt, but it's really his ear that I think is getting ELO in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Previous playlists in the Deep Album Cuts series:
Vol. 1: Brandy
Vol. 2: Whitney Houston
Vol. 3: Madonna
Vol. 4: My Chemical Romance
Vol. 5: Brad Paisley
Vol. 6: George Jones
Vol. 7: The Doors
Vol. 8: Jay-Z
Vol. 9: Robin Thicke
Vol. 10: R. Kelly
Vol. 11: Fall Out Boy
Vol. 12: TLC
Vol. 13: Pink
Vol. 14: Queen
Vol. 15: Steely Dan
Vol. 16: Trick Daddy
Vol. 17: Paramore
Vol. 18: Elton John
Vol. 19: Missy Elliott
Vol. 20: Mariah Carey
Vol. 21: The Pretenders
Vol. 22: "Weird Al" Yankovic
Vol. 23: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Vol. 24: Foo Fighters
Vol. 25: Counting Crows
Vol. 26: T.I.
Vol. 27: Jackson Browne
Vol. 28: Usher
Vol. 29: Mary J. Blige
Vol. 30: The Black Crowes
Vol. 31: Ne-Yo
Vol. 32: Blink-182
Vol. 33: One Direction
Vol. 34: Kelly Clarkson
Vol. 35: The B-52's
Vol. 36: Ludacris
Vol. 37: They Might Be Giants
Vol. 38: T-Pain
Vol. 39: Snoop Dogg
Vol. 40: Ciara
Vol. 41: Creedence Clearwater Revival
Vol. 42: Dwight Yoakam
Vol. 43: Demi Lovato
Vol. 44: Prince
Vol. 45: Duran Duran
Vol. 46: Rihanna
Vol. 47: Janet Jackson
Vol. 48: Sara Bareilles
Vol. 49: Motley Crue
Vol. 50: The Who
Vol. 51: Coldplay
Vol. 52: Alicia Keys
Vol. 53: Stone Temple Pilots
Vol. 54: David Bowie
Vol. 55: The Eagles
Vol. 56: The Beatles
Vol. 57: Beyonce
Vol. 58: Beanie Sigel
Vol. 59: A Tribe Called Quest
Vol. 60: Cheap Trick
Vol. 61: Guns N' Roses
Vol. 62: The Posies
Vol. 63: The Time
Vol. 64: Gucci Mane
Vol. 65: Violent Femmes
Vol. 66: Red Hot Chili Peppers
Vol. 67: Maxwell
Vol. 68: Parliament-Funkadelic
Vol. 69: Chevelle
Vol. 70: Ray Parker Jr. and Raydio
Vol. 71: Fantasia
Vol. 72: Heart
Vol. 73: Pitbull
Vol. 74: Nas
Vol. 75: Monica
Vol. 76: The Cars
Vol. 77: 112
Vol. 78: 2Pac
Vol. 79: Nelly
Vol. 80: Meat Loaf
Vol. 81: AC/DC
Vol. 82: Bruce Springsteen
Vol. 83: Pearl Jam
Vol. 84: Green Day
Vol. 85: George Michael and Wham!
Vol. 86: New Edition
Vol. 87: Chuck Berry
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