Out of the Blue (Electric Light Orchestra album)
Out of the Blue
Studio album by Electric Light Orchestra
Released October 1977
Recorded May–August 1977, Musicland Studios, Munich
Genre Rock, art rock
Length 70:12
Label Jet, United Artists, Columbia
Producer Jeff Lynne
Electric Light Orchestra chronology
A New World Record
Out of the Blue
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3/5 stars[1]
Pitchfork Media (8.1/10)[2]
Rolling Stone (unfavorable)[3]

Out of the Blue is the seventh studio album by the British rock group Electric Light Orchestra, released in October 1977. Written and produced by ELO frontman Jeff Lynne, the double album is among the most commercially successful records in the group's history.



Jeff Lynne wrote the entire album in three and a half weeks after a sudden burst of creativity while hidden away in his rented chalet in the Swiss Alps. It took a further two months to record in Munich. The album had 4,000,000 pre-ordered copies and quickly went multi-Platinum upon release. Out of the Blue spawned five hit singles in different countries, and was ELO's most commercially successful studio album. It was also the first double album in the history of the UK music charts to generate four top twenty hit singles. Side three of the original double LP consisted of the symphonic Concerto for a Rainy Day, composed of four separate tracks which together made up a cohesive suite. The inclement weather effects heard on "Concerto" were real and recorded by Jeff Lynne during a very rainy summer in Munich 1977. The Concerto suite would be Lynne's last dabbling in symphonic rock.

Jeff Lynne considers A New World Record and Out of the Blue to be the group's crowning achievements [4][5] and both sold extremely well, reaching multi-platinum according to RIAA Certification. Capital Radio and The Daily Mirror Rock and Pop Awards (forerunner to The Brit Awards) named it "Album of the Year" in 1978. Jeff Lynne, the album's composer, received his first Ivor Novello award for Outstanding Contributions to British Music the same year.

The large spaceship on the album's cover (by now symbolic of the group) was designed by Kosh with art by Shusei Nagaoka. It was based on the logo Kosh designed for ELO's previous album, A New World Record which connected with Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind fever. It also looks like a space station with a docking shuttle from 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968).[6] The number JTLA 823 L2 which is featured on the shuttle arriving at the space station is the original catalogue number for the album. The album also included an insert of a cardboard cutout of the space station as well as a fold-out poster of the band members. The space theme was carried onto the live stage in the form of a huge glowing flying saucer stage set, inside which the band performed.

A small controversy surrounded the US release of Out of the Blue on Jet/United Artists Records. The band and Jet Records accused United Artists of flooding the market with thousands of defective copies of the vinyl double album set. This eventually caused Jet to reassign the US distribution rights of this and all future and past ELO albums to US CBS Records under the Jet/Columbia logo.

Concerto for a Rainy Day

Side three of the release is subtitled "Concerto for a Rainy Day", a four track musical suite based on the weather and how it affects mood change, ending gloriously with the eventual sunshine and happiness of "Mr. Blue Sky". This was inspired by Jeff Lynne's experience while trying to write songs for the album against torrential rain outside his Swiss Chalet.

"Standin' in the Rain" opens with a haunting keyboard over a recording of real rain, recorded by Jeff Lynne just outside his rented studio. Also heard at the 30 second point of the song marking the beginning of The Concerto is thunder crackling in an unusual manner voicing the words "Concerto for a Rainy Day" by the band's keyboardist, Richard Tandy. At around the 1 minute mark the staccato strings play a morse code spelling out E L O. The Band used the song to open their 1978 Out Of The Blue concerts.

"Big Wheels" forms the second part of the Concerto for a Rainy Day suite and continues with the theme of the weather and reflection followed by the more optimistic third part "Summer and Lightning". Apart from its inclusion on the Out Of The Blue album, the song has never appeared on any compilation or B-sides until 2000, when Jeff Lynne, the song's composer, included it on the group's retrospective album Flashback.

"Summer and Lightning" is the third song in the "Concerto for a Rainy Day" suite. The raining weather theme is continued throughout the track though the mood and lyrics are more optimistic.

"Mr. Blue Sky", an uplifting, lively song celebrating sunshine, is the finale of "Concerto for a Rainy Day". It is the only piece from the Concerto to be excerpted as a single. In the last orchestral note, the phrase "Please Turn Me O-ver" (an instruction for owners of the original vinyl album to turn it over to listen to the following side) is heard spoken through a vocoder. This bit has been misheard repeatedly as "Mr. Blue Sky, why?", but original keyboardist Richard Tandy confirmed the actual lyric to members of the Showdown ELO fan list.[citation needed]


The remastered album was re-released on February 20, 2007 (US) and 26 February 2007 (UK), as part of the Sony/BMG Music Epic/Legacy series. The 30th anniversary issue was a strictly limited one-off pressing in hardback book with expanded 24-page full colour booklet. It features full-length sleeve notes by Jeff Lynne and ELO archivist Rob Caiger, as well as rare photos and memorabilia. A push-out replica ELO Space Station for this version was released as well as the standard jewel case edition with a full colour 12-page edited booklet. The album once again reached the top twenty album charts in the UK peaking at #18. A sixth single "Latitude 88 North" was released as digital download single and in a limited 7" format.


The album is included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[7]

In August 2006, it was named by the UK's Q magazine as the #11 'Guilty Pleasure' album of all time – a list designed to celebrate 'uncool' but excellent records, which received considerable publicity.

Original track listing

All music and lyrics were written by Jeff Lynne.

Side One
No. Title Length
1. "Turn to Stone"   3:47
2. "It's Over"   4:08
3. "Sweet Talkin' Woman"   3:47
4. "Across the Border"   3:52
Side Two
No. Title Length
5. "Night in the City"   4:02
6. "Starlight"   4:30
7. "Jungle"   3:51
8. "Believe Me Now"   1:21
9. "Steppin' Out"   4:38
Side Three (Concerto for a Rainy Day)
No. Title Length
10. "Standin' in the Rain"   4:20
11. "Big Wheels"   5:10
12. "Summer and Lightning"   4:13
13. "Mr. Blue Sky"   5:05
Side Four
No. Title Length
14. "Sweet Is the Night"   3:26
15. "The Whale"   5:05
16. "Birmingham Blues"   4:21
17. "Wild West Hero"   4:40

The 30th Anniversary Edition was released on February, 20th 2007 with three bonus tracks.

2007 bonus tracks
No. Title Length
18. "Wild West Hero (Alternate Bridge - Home Demo)"   0:24
19. "The Quick and the Daft"   1:49
20. "Latitude 88 North"   3:24



Even though Mik Kaminski appeared only on "Sweet Talkin Woman", "Across the Border" and "Wild West Hero", Melvyn Gale on "Wild West Hero" and Hugh McDowell on none of the tracks, all three are credited as full band members.

Chart performance

Country Peak Weeks
Canada 1 29
Sweden 2 11
Australia 3 31
Norway 3 30
United Kingdom 4 113
United States 4 58
Spain 4 22
New Zealand 6 22
France 14 8
Japan 32 22


External links

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