Thursday, July 7, 2011

Electric Light Orchestra: Mr. Blue Sky

It’s TV Thursday and today’s selection is featured in the latest TV commercial for Glidden Paints. The Electric Light Orchestra was known for releasing records with a great deal of forethought and during the mid 1970s. Not only were the LPs well produced (and often layered with multiple tracks ala Phil Spector’s “Wall of Sound”), they appealed to superficial buyers like me who enjoyed getting records on different colored vinyl.

At one time much of the ELO catalog was available on colored vinyl. The album “Out of the Blue” and its single “Mr. Blue Sky” were both released in blue vinyl. Other colored vinyl ELO singles included “Mr. Telephone Line” in green and “Sweet Talkin’ Woman” in purple. I am sure there are others, but those are the ones I remember.

The singles in colored vinyl are much better in quality than United Artists 1970s singles released on black plastic. The black plastic (not vinyl) were susceptible to noise and radio jocks will remember how quickly these records cue burned when cueing the singles up for airplay. The color releases were in actual vinyl and virgin vinyl at that.

Many times record companies would melt down returned records in an effort to cut costs. Often you would find un-melted pieces or filler floating to the playing surface causing bumps and anomalies on the records surface. I don’t know how many records that had been pressed by Capitol with these problems that I had to return. This was not the case with virgin vinyl – especially colored vinyl.

“Mr. Blue Sky” was not that huge of a hit in the United States as it only charted at #35. It fared better in the UK as it was a top 10 hit peaking at #6. One of my favorite parts of this song is the vocoder that is used midway through the tune. Korg developed a keyboard vocoder; however, the technology had been available without a keyboard interface. Much of what sounds like a vocorder on recordings today is actually auto-tune technology.

Glidden Paint Commercial

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