ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA The Night The Light Went On (In Long Beach) (1974)

The Night The Light Went On (In Long Beach) (1974)
The Successful Rebirth Of A Once Really Bad Album

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.

Daybreaker (5:39)
Showdown (7:01)
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)


  • Willard
    August 15, 2011 - 09:53 | Permalink

    Search HERE

  • Michael Hockinson
    August 15, 2011 - 12:57 | Permalink

    Thank you for posting this. If you had played me ELO’s cover of “Day Tripper” and asked me to guess who it was, I probably would have said Cheap Trick…

    • Willard
      August 15, 2011 - 14:36 | Permalink

      It’s cool because McCartney wasn’t even playing “Day Tripper” in ’74. He was still trying to carve out an identity for himself and temporarily left some of his live legacy to others, like ELO & CT.

  • Matthew Best
    August 15, 2011 - 16:34 | Permalink

    This is an album I’ve never heard, though I can definitely remember seeing it (in the original sleeve, of course) in second-hand shops literally hundreds of times. Now I know why.

    • Willard
      August 15, 2011 - 16:56 | Permalink

      Even discounted, that cover was unappealing.

  • August 15, 2011 - 21:36 | Permalink

    As always, you’re analysis is crisp, well thought out, and well written. You make me want to listen to albums I’ve never wanted to hear before. Cheers, Paul

    • Willard
      August 15, 2011 - 21:58 | Permalink

      Aren’t you nice. You’re not setting me up for a civil suit when you listen and hate it, are you? Thanks, as always, for stopping by.

  • Horst
    August 15, 2011 - 22:00 | Permalink

    Heh, I had a vinyl copy of this album (had to pay extra because it was a Jem import). Just like Willard, I listened once and kicked myself for blowing my hard-earned paperboy money.

    • Willard
      August 15, 2011 - 22:07 | Permalink

      Really. Getting imports was a bitch back then, too.

  • August 16, 2011 - 16:02 | Permalink

    Thanks for the backstory on this one. Bev’s drums sound particulary great here! Much as I like the mid-late ’70s studio albums, the sound of Bev’s kit on those recordings doesn’t reflect how powerful his drumming can be. Nice to hear it in full force here!

    • Willard
      August 16, 2011 - 16:46 | Permalink

      Pretty raw for ELO. Too bad it took decades to appreciate it.

  • Aking
    June 16, 2012 - 21:19 | Permalink

    Thanks for this music and the story behind it. I have owned the German LP version since 1974. I never knew a proper source tape had been found, and I wasn’t willing to spend big bucks to hear the same thing on import CD I had on record. This one sounds much better than my record. I know ELO sounded great in concert, because I saw them live in 1975 and 1976. ELO’s record company had another famous screw-up before this, when their self-titled first album was released as “No Answer” in the US due to an inept phone conversation.

  • Willard
    June 16, 2012 - 21:31 | Permalink

    Funny. Many thanks.

  • humanebean
    June 9, 2013 - 13:24 | Permalink

    Thanks, as ever, Cap’n! I’ve long been fascinated by E.L.O. ( I saw them on the “spaceship” tour in 1978 —LOUDEST damn concert I ever heard. I remember holding my breath [for no apparent reason … *cough*] and feeling my entire body vibrating with sound. Like, totally, wow. Great, though.) and Jeff Lynne’s pop sensibilities, even as some of his production technique borders on self-parody. Great to have this little snapshot, cleaned up and all purty for the masses. Bravo! – H.B.

    • Willard
      June 9, 2013 - 13:49 | Permalink

      Cool… never had the luck to see them live myself.

  • Anonymous
    December 9, 2015 - 14:23 | Permalink

    thank you

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