Did Xanadu Destroy ELO's AOR Reputation?

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by lawrev, Oct 19, 2021.

  1. Chris C

    Chris C Music was my first love and it will be my last!

    If you had never heard "Video", then you probably also missed this equally drab b-side called "Sooner Or Later" ...

  2. Bobby Morrow

    Bobby Morrow Forum Resident

    No! Olivia was huge in 1980. Xanadu was her first movie since Grease and Magic was #1 for a month.

    It wasn’t until 1984/85 her popularity began to wane.
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  3. Bobby Morrow

    Bobby Morrow Forum Resident

    Agree with this.

    As I recall, ELO’s Time LP came out less than a year later after Xanadu and did well. Nobody was talking about Xanadu when Hold On Tight was in the charts.:)

    I always hoped Jeff would produce an album for Olivia, but although they spoke well of each other, I don’t think they even met again after Xanadu.
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  4. lawrev

    lawrev Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Never heard this track until now. It just sounds like a cold piece of mid - 80s pop. Years later, Jeff was correct. He had lost his way during that time. He recovered during the Harrison / Wilburys / Petty period (1987 - 1991) but since his "sound" has largely stayed consistent. At least it was different than during Xanadu.
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  5. lawrev

    lawrev Forum Resident Thread Starter

    What would be cool is if ONJ would join Jeff Lynne's band on stage for Xanadu - her on lead vocals, Jeff on backing.....
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  6. Bobby Morrow

    Bobby Morrow Forum Resident

    I don’t think she’s up to it these days..
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  7. bob_32_116

    bob_32_116 Forum Flaneur

    Perth Australia
    I'm no worshipper at the shrine of the Fab Four, but this is being really unfair on the guys. Maybe The Beatles at their worst could have done something like this, but it's hardly typical.
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  8. Joy-of-radio

    Joy-of-radio Forum Resident

    Central ME
    I suspect that for those who became ELO fans from the start, the band's obvious efforts to become more accessible and commercial might have been off-putting. I remember very well the disdain for disco among overly serious mostly male rock fans in the '70s. I think they were angry and jealous of men who embraced disco and of their ease in getting girlfriends who enjoyed dancing and having fun. My introduction to ELO came by way of their rendition of Roll Over Beethoven, and I was instantly intrigued and mesmerized with their melding of classical and rock. However, ELO's very early stuff is too adult and sophisticated for my liking, but as the band moved forward becoming more popular among the masses, my enjoyment of them grew. I find ELO's XANADU numbers quite lovely, and their collaboration with ONJ truly fun and novel! I own a Japanese compact disc edition that presents the movie soundtrack with its sides reversed of how it was originally issued. It's defiantly a more exciting configuration and seems to make better sense to me personally.
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2021
  9. TrekkiELO

    TrekkiELO Forum Resident

    Except for me on Electric Light Orchestra albums Time, Secret Messages and Balance of Power, Jeff Lynne seemed to bring something more, then afterwards Zoom in 2001, solo or not because at least he collaborated with other musicians, I also like me some Xanadu!
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2021
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  10. JoeRockhead

    JoeRockhead Forum Resident

    New Jersey
    unfortunately, plenty still hold this dim view
  11. lawrev

    lawrev Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Actually, on SM and BOP Jeff brought less and less because of the "incredible shrinking band syndrome." :) Zoom was also definitely an improvement over BOP but his basic musical approach since the end of the Wilburys has largely stayed the same. With one exception: Petty's Highway Companion. The reviews of that 2006 album noted that Jeff restrained his most obvious tendencies (or Tom kept a close eye on him) which I agree with.

    Jeff will never allow someone else to produce him, but I sure wish that would happen. That is breaking the Lynne mold.....a different producer, a live band in the studio, and of course I'd want Mack to engineer. But this scenario is a pipe dream.
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  12. TrekkiELO

    TrekkiELO Forum Resident

    Sure Jeff Lynne brought less regarding an incredible shrinking band or orchestra, yet the production quality was still there for me.

    Exact same thing happened to Genesis right before ELO but with different results, Casey Kasem did mention this about both bands separately on American Top 40 - The 80's!

    My all-time favorite classic rock groups...

    #1 Electric Light Orchestra (1972-1986 & 2001)
    #2 Genesis (1981-1991)
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2021
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  13. Fred1

    Fred1 Forum Resident

    No, it didn't.

    ELO always lived up to their reputation and in my opinion they never were an AOR band. ELO had another allegiance respectively target market.

    Their excellent "Discovery" was followed by the great "Xanadu" O.S.T. - a smooth musical transition.

    ELO/Jeff Lynne went on producing quality stuff.
  14. Adfly7

    Adfly7 Forum Resident

    Hamburg, Germany
    I always liked the "ELO" side of the vinyl, and Xanadu is a great track!
    Don't think it destroyed anything, the peak of my ELO fan period was when TIME was released and I bought it brand new on vinyl! By then I had probably spun my US Cut-Out copy of Xanadu 50 times already.
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  15. Northernlight

    Northernlight Forum Resident

    Or E.L.O.'s, really. Time sold very well, at least in the UK, in the summer of '81, along with the 'Hold On Tight' single. When subsequent singles didn't do so well, and 'The Way Life's Meant To Be' actually bombed, only then did E.L.O.'s slide become apparent, but even Balance Of Power in '86 was a top 10 album on the strength of their name (no hit singles to help it along). You could say that Time flattered to deceive in '81; they no longer sounded like they had.
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  16. Bobby Morrow

    Bobby Morrow Forum Resident

    They had one big hit from all those later albums here. Well, Calling America wasn’t massive..
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2021
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  17. Northernlight

    Northernlight Forum Resident

    No, 'America' really struggled. I expected it to do better, because it was an update of their old sound and had a similar theme to 'Telephone Line'. That was just me assuming that others were as nostalgic as I was in 1986 - they clearly weren't. The other two singles from Power were pretty good, but you knew they were going to flop. Even 'Rock & Roll Is King' in '83 was a flop compared to their 70's success rate. Those last two albums sold well considering their lack of hit singles.
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2021
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  18. TrekkiELO

    TrekkiELO Forum Resident

    That would be "Calling America", an American Top 40 hit here stateside at #18, they made music videos for it along with its follow-up "So Serious", both got MTV airplay, Coming to America is a comedy film by Eddie Murphy in 1988!


    Like most of the songs on Balance of Power, "Calling America" is musically upbeat and bright. Lyrically, it features a similar theme to ELO's earlier single "Telephone Line", where the narrator is longing for a lover from across the telephone.

    However, what differentiates the song is a focus on communication via satellite and problems with such. Appropriately, the song pays homage to the track "Telstar", which had celebrated the communication satellite of the same name, in the instrumental section. In his column Real Life Rock (published in The Village Voice), Greil Marcus called the song an "answer record to [the] 24-year old hit". Fellow American music journalist Chuck Eddy said, "Greil Marcus was the only person besides me who realized that 'Calling America' by ELO was one of the most brilliant records of last year. I thought it was really neat that it ended up on both our top 10's."
  19. Chazzbo13

    Chazzbo13 Forum Resident

    Somerset, PA
    The older I get (don't ask LOL), the more I think Getting To The Point is the best track on BOP...but the mid 80s was never going to be the time to hit big with a lush ballad of loss and failed dreams...the rest of the album continues to diminish (to me) as time goes by...there are a few catchy pop moments on the album, for sure, but it's like musical cotton candy; tasty at first but it doesn't really fill you up...
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  20. Northernlight

    Northernlight Forum Resident

    'So Serious' got so little plugging in the UK. The only time I heard it, other than on the LP, was when they appeared on the Wogan TV show, which was a very popular show that was on every weeknight (Terry Wogan was absent this time and Kenneth Williams from the Carry On films was standing in for him).
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  21. Bobby Morrow

    Bobby Morrow Forum Resident

    Whoops. That was a strange slip. I really like Calling America too.:laugh:
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  22. Northernlight

    Northernlight Forum Resident

    'Is It Alright' instantly reminded me of A New World Record. I never really noticed the booming drums at the time, or the fact that there were no real strings on it. It did sound like strings at the time. I suppose that was cotton candy, although I still like it.
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  23. TrekkiELO

    TrekkiELO Forum Resident

    Stateside Electric Light Orchestra made their 2nd and final appearance on Dick Clark's American Bandstand playing "Calling America" & "So Serious", 1st one was back in '73, ELO played "Roll Over Beethoven", now back to 1986 with Solid Gold, then at Disneyland that summer!


    PS-Plus they were also a part of Birmingham UK's Heart Beat 86 organized by Bev Bevan.
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2021
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  24. grimble

    grimble Forum Resident

    Metroland, UK
    I can’t speak for the USA but I think what did it for ELO in the UK, where their popularity lasted a little longer (although we were late starters as far as ELO were concerned) was some curious choices for singles post Discovery that just weren’t indicative of the albums they were promoting.

    There’s no reason why ELO couldn’t have followed a similar trajectory to Queen in the U.K. in the 80s, but I’ve always felt the novelty of Don’t Bring Me Down has a lot to answer for, turning ELO into a cartoon version of itself, concluding with the cheesy and irrelevant Rock ‘N’ Roll Is King, which shunted ELO as far as the public were concerned into Shakin’ Stevens territory, and a year too late at that. This just served to undermine both the quality of the album it came from (and should never have been included on in the first place) and the credibility of the band as a serious act.
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2021
  25. W.B.

    W.B. The Collector's Collector

    New York, NY, USA
    The first known radio Top 40 countdown show to use Radio & Records that I know of was the early 1980's syndicated series The Dick Clark National Music Survey. I can still hear him pronouncing "in-DUST-ry trade publication" in my head . . .

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