While wallowing in all things Electric Light Orchestra this week, I came across a 37 year-old album I had completely forgotten about – ELO’s 1974 live release, The Night The Light Went On (In Long Beach). If you’re a fan you may know the weird story behind this LP, and why almost nobody – including the band – has very fond memories of it. When first released, with the dorky original cover you see below, some genius sent the wrong tapes to the mastering plant. As a result, when the LP came out in 1974 (sandwiched between On The Third Day and Eldorado) it sounded so awful that the group ended up suing over it. Many believed ELO sounded as lousy live as the original LP’s garbled sound suggested… and there’s no way it helped ticket sales. I think I listened to it once or twice before filing it on the shelf next to another legendarily rotten-sounding live album, King Crimson’s Earthbound. Fact is, this album was so tainted that ELO’s label didn’t even bother to release it on CD when the 80s rolled around. Further, when a proper vault tape was eventually found and a CD was finally mastered in the 90s, it wasn’t even released in the States… or the UK, the band’s home turf. Here’s the funny part. It’s actually a damn fine album, capturing the still young band pulling out all the stops, breathlessly nailing those orchestrations and harmonies. Without the lush studio surrounds (and overdubbing) the limited “strings” tend to make ELO sound more like a synth band than an orchestra, but the lean, mean line-up delivers like they’re still hungry and eager to please. Too bad nobody who had the old vinyl knew it. (In Long Beach) isn’t a drop-dead, most-own album, but it is a long-lost snapshot of the band’s classic line-up, before the eventual bloat would leave them lumbering towards the tar pits a decade later. Check out ELO’s version of The Beatles’ “Day Tripper” (with a string section & “Satisfaction” quote). Here’s a page from the booklet where Lynne and Bev Bevan reference the disaster that was Long Beach. A blast from the past that nobody liked… until they were finally given a chance to hear it. Amazon.
Day Tripper (6:46)
10538 Overture (5:50)
Orange Blossom Special (Mik’s Solo) (2:30)
In The Hall Of The Mountain King/Great Balls Of Fire (8:43)
Roll Over Beethoven (4:30)