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Electric Light Orchestra: Out of the Blue Tour Live at Wembley (DVD)

How surreal is this? The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester are cordially received by Don, David and Sharon Arden (years before she became Mrs. Ozzy Osbourne and barely recognizable here) for a sold out charity concert at Wembley Arena on a hot August night in 1978. None other than Tony Curtis, yes that Tony Curtis introduces the band as "the most outstanding rock group in the world today, my friends, The Electric Light Orchestra". Then a gigantic replica of a spaceship emits dry ice and laser beams and just when you'd expect Richard Dreyfuss to emerge with child size Martians, ELO hit the stage with an excerpt of "Concerto for a Rainy Day".

Originally released during the early days of DVD, the newly remastered print under review is a fine document of a time seemingly long ago when ELO was a household name. Alas, the DVD is not a complete show but an hour long edit from the Out of the Blue world tour. Never a favorite among hardcore prog rock fans, ELO nevertheless produced some classic progressive pop songs many of which are performed here, such as "Turn to Stone", "Sweet Talkin' Woman", "Do Ya" and a rocking "Roll Over Beethoven". Though I am certain there was plenty of studio trickery to tweak the sound quality, Richard Tandy shows that he was an underappreciated keyboardist as there's mellotron choir and vintage analog keyboards aplenty.

The picture quality is fine given the age of the material, although the inclusion of post production video effects, so common on 70s concert videos, is a little annoying. There are two audio options, a standard stereo mix and a 5.1 surround mix both of which sound surprisingly punchy for a film of this vintage.

There is only one bonus feature but it is a very good one, namely a video version of the entire Discovery album. Released in 1979, Discovery introduced a disco element to the mix, which made it the band's most commercially successful album to date. Five of the nine tracks were top ten hits in the UK and while I miss the band's more progressive tinged songs, Discovery is a good albeit poppy record. All nine tracks received a promotional video and they are all reprised here, both in stereo and in 5 channel surround; I must say that the surround mix is particularly impressive.

All in all, this is a fun DVD and absolutely recommended to the ELO fan. All we need now is for the remainder of the band's back catalog to be given the remaster treatment. How about it Mr. Lynne?

Program Contents

  1. Concerto for a Rainy Day
  2. Standing in the Rain
  3. Night in the City
  4. Turn to Stone
  5. Tightrope
  6. Telephone Line
  7. Rockaria
  8. Wild West Hero
  9. Showdown
  10. Sweet Talkin' Woman
  11. Mr. Blue Sky
  12. Do Ya
  13. Living Thing
  14. Roll Over Beethoven

Discovery Bonus Feature

  1. Shine a Little Love
  2. Confusion
  3. Need Her Love
  4. Diary of Horace Wimp
  5. Last Train to London
  6. Midnight Blue
  7. On the Run
  8. Wishing
  9. Don't Bring Me Down

Added: August 18th 2006
Reviewer: Steve Pettengill
Related Link: Face the Music Online
Hits: 3797
Language: english

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Electric Light Orchestra: Out of the Blue Tour Live at Wembley (DVD)
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2006-08-18 17:52:41
My Score:

ELO's Out of the Blue Tour Live at Wembley has long been rumored to have been one of the greatest lip-synch jobs in history. According to a few sources, when this concert was originally aired on cable, and then available on VHS, the audio track was dubbed over with the actual album tracks. If that was the case, shame on whoever performed that injustice. The show has seen a few DVD releases, the most recent on Eagle Vision, who lavishly package the set in a stunning digipack complete with vibrant live photographs as well as a small reproduction of the Out of the Blue tour program, which is a must have for the ELO collector.

Back to the audio issue, thankfully, other than some sweetening here and there with backing vocals and strings (especially on "Standin' In the Rain" and "Tightrope"), the actual audio track from the Wembley show is here, warts and all. You'll hear the occasional off-pitch vocal, some wrong guitar, cello, and violin notes, but otherwise this is ELO as they sounded live in 1978. While not the greatest showmen on the planet, their brand of symphonic pop, as well as the giant spaceship, made up for their lack of stage presence. Guitarist Jeff Lynne and bassist Kelly Groucutt made a great vocal duo, and did a very good job recreating the lush melodies to some of these classic songs. Highlights are the mix of hard rock guitar and strings on "Do Ya", the soaring pop harmonies of "Turn to Stone" and "Sweet Talkin' Woman", and of course the catchy, sweeping brilliance of songs like "Livin' Thing" and "Mr. Blue Sky".

As cool as it is to see two cellists and a violin player spinning around on stage and giving this pop-rock outfit a classical element, it's the keyboards of Richard Tandy that really made it all come together. Surrounded by his Moogs, electric and acoustic piano, ARP, Clavinet, and Mellotron, Tandy created a huge wall of sound that perfectly took Lynne's songs over the top. The ending romp "Roll Over Beethoven" sees Tandy throwing in his honky tonk piano as well as Moog lines into the mix in what is an otherwise rollicking fun song that also lets Lynne jam on the guitar a little.

If you are ELO fan you owe it to yourself to add this to your collection, as it is the only known footage of the band available from this time period. Congrats to Eagle Vision for putting a great package together here. The picture quality is very good, and the audio excellent.


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