Backstage Weekend - 70's legends Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) recorded live by the BBC during a concert at Guildhall in Portsmouth, 1976.
November 27, 2010

ELO - achieved stardom the old fashioned way - nonstop touring for years.

From that period of around 1973-1978 you couldn't turn on a radio anywhere and not hear ELO playing something completely familiar. They became such a household name in America that they ran the risk of over-exposure. And for good reason. One of the keys to their early success was non-stop touring. Basically, they criss-crossed the U.S. repeatedly over the course of two years and the tactic paid off handsomely.

ELO (or Electric Light Orchestra as they started off as) came from the ashes of a couple cult bands of the mid-late 1960's; The Move and The Idle Race with Jeff Lynne and Roy Wood sharing co-founder credit, along with Bev Bevan who was a drummer from The Move. Wood left the band after the first album and went off to form his own group, Wizzard which borrowed from the ELO format of mixing a rock band setup with the addition of strings. Lynne had a very commercial approach to his work, even early on with The Idle Race, Lynne was responsible for tight, pop material that was well produced and catchy. Wood was less commercial in that respect and as ELO, they were logger heads over direction the band was taking.

With Wood gone, ELO proceeded to tap into a more commercial sound than they had before. With the popularity of Disco, ELO wandered seamlessly into that genre and, as much as they ran the risk of over-exposure when they first started, they were running the risk of being pegged as a Disco band. But even with that, they managed to transcend the commercial desire to pigeon hole and kept their image as a good live band whose music had a wide appeal.

So here they are, recorded live by the BBC during a concert at Guildhall in Portsmouth in 1976 at what was probably their peak in popularity (although they went on long into the 80's). All of their material sounds familiar if you were around at the time. It's almost a Greatest Hits presentation. But ELO knew how to keep a good thing going. And maybe it does seem very familiar, it's also because they produced a lot of good material during their tenure.

You can play this loud and sing along if you want to. The neighbors will probably do the same thing.

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