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Popular Culture 20130111 — The Electric Light Orchestra: On the Third Day

(9 pm. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

On the Third Day was the third album released by the band, issued 197311 in the US on United Artists and 197312 in the UK on Warner Brothers (they had previously been contracted to Harvest).  It made #52 in the US but did not chart in the UK.

Jeff Lynne produced the record and wrote all of the material with one exception, and you can tell that immediately.  I did not think that it was a very good album, but that is just an opinion.

That is not to say that it was a bad album, but I sort of hold a band like ELO to a higher standard.  In all fairness, they had some stiff competition, since The Who released Quadrophenia that year, The Rolling Stones released Goat’s Head Soup, and Pink Floyd released Dark Side of the Moon!

The lineup for the band changed from the previous one, and even during the recording of the material for it.  Here are band members who contributed to all of the released material:

Mike de Albuquerque on bass

Bev Bevan on drums

Mike Edwards on cello

Jeff Lynne guitar and vocals

Richard Tandy on synthesizer and piano

For performers other than these I shall point them out as we come to them.

The first song on the record is “Ocean Breakup/King of the Universe”, an odd song by even ELO standards.  Mik Kaminski played violin on this piece.  Note the code that is repeated from time to time, the Morse for “ELO”.

It’s all making me ready

It’s all doing what you gotta do

I know “A”

I see my life come shine

Golden sunrise

Tragic day dream

I am so afraid —

King of the Universe, Are you King of the Earth

King of the Universe, Are you King of the Sky

King of the Universe, Are you King of the Sky

“Bluebird is Dead” is the next track, and it is pretty much OK, but if taken as symbolic for a person is quite sad.  Kaminski also played on this song.

Little Darlin’ of my life

You keep movin’ cross my mind

You gave me a sunny day

Now it looks as if I’ll pay

Why do they say — Bluebird is dead?

I can still see her, touch her, my Bluebird

The love that she gave, I don’t believe, No, No, I don’t believe

Bluebird came to me tonight

Waiting patiently for light

She said I know that you will grieve

But my darlin’ I must leave

Why do they say — Bluebird is dead?

I can still see her, touch her, my Bluebird

The love that she gave, I don’t believe, No, No, I don’t believe

Bluebird say it is not so

Please I cannot hear you speak

It must be that you’re so tired

In the darkness of the night

Why do they say — Bluebird is dead?

I can still see her, touch her, my Bluebird

The love that she gave, I don’t believe, No, No, I don’t believe

The third track, on which Kaminski also played, is “Oh No Not Susan”, sort of more traditional ELO sounding.  I actually like it pretty well.

Susan spent the weekend at her stately home

Crying at the lions on the garden wall

And then she’d sigh — sneak away

Look at her style — free the day

Oh no not me — I wouldn’t

Oh no not me — I couldn’t

That’s all she says, her money and her place

They just don’t mean a thing

Susan met the Lords and Dukes of everywhere

Smiling kissing wishing that they’d go to hell

And then she’d laugh — wonder why

Take a nap — sit and cry

Oh no not me — I wouldn’t

Oh no not me — I couldn’t

That’s all she says, her money and her place

They just don’t mean a *** thing

The forth song, the last on which Kominski played on the album, is “New World Rising/Ocean Breakup”.  It is really pretty good, with more action, for lack of a better word, than the previous tracks.

New Dawn, smiling down the old blue world

Can you feel it, like the first of Spring

The bells are ringing out a little tune for you

Daylight, everyone hears the sound

Hey, Goodmornin’, how you doin’, well I’m doin’ fine

It’s nearly nine I must be gone

I see no sorrow now

Nobody has a care

Hey there, why don’t you join me I’ll be glad to know you

Take some time out, would you like to work or play

Or wander slowly through this bright new day

Everyone laughs, can’t believe what’s goin’ on round here

New World Risin’, everybody kicked their blues away

Not for today but evermore

I see no sorrow now

Nobody has a care

New Day, smiling down on the world

Can you feel it, like the first of Spring

The bells are ringing out a little tune for you

The fifth track, “Showdown” was not issued on the UK version because it was recorded whilst the band was still with Harvest Records.  It did appear on the US version since the contractual environment was different.  This song is well known, and one of the better ones on the record.  Wilf Gibson played violin on this song, and Colin Walker joined them on cello.  They played on the rest of the album, so I shall not mention personnel any more with two exceptions:  Ted Blight played cello (evidently uncredited) on some or all of the tracks.  The other exception shall come presently.

I actually like this song very much, since it has the “classic” ELO sound.  It was released as a single, and charted at #53 in the US and at #12 in the UK.  I think that this is the first song by the band that I remember from the radio.  Here is a story about radio in Fort Smith, Arkansas at the time.

In the late 1960s and very early 1970s there was a 100,000 watt FM station called KMAG that played excellent rock music and had good jocks.  (If you go to Facebook, look up Bob Ketchum, who has a music series there even now.  He was one of the jocks at KMAG).  The owners decided to change formats, and then only two AM stations played much rock, KWHN and KFDF.  Both were AM, so the sound quality was not nearly as good as KMAG had been.  Folks from that era still use the phrase, “When KMAG was really KMAG…” when talking about music radio from those days.  Finally a new FM station, KSIR, came on the air and it played rock, and in the early days was essentially a robot because the music and comments from the jocks changed only about once a week.  Fred Baker owned it, and it was, although not very good, at least FM and it DID play rock.

It was really low power, and even though I lived only about 10 straight line miles from it, I often had to “go mono” because the stereo separation would fade in and out several times a minute, which was extremely annoying.  It turns out that its broadcast antenna was on a pole, like a street light pole, in front of the studio!  When I was in Fort Smith the separation was fine, but at Hackett is was not.  Since KMAG was not playing rock any more, I must have heard “Showdown” on KISR or one of the AM outlets first.  I shall talk about radio more in future installments.

She cried to the southern wind

About a love that was sure to end

Every dream in her heart was gone

Headin’ for a Showdown

Bad dreamer, what’s your name

Looks like we’re ridin’ on the same train

Looks as through there’ll be more pain

There’s gonna be a Showdown

And it’s rainin’ all over the world

It’s raining all over the world

Tonight, the longest night

She came to me like a friend

She blew in on a southern wind

Now my heart is turned to stone again

There’s gonna be a Showdown

Save me, oh save me

It’s unreal, the suffering

There’s gonna be a Showdown

And it’s rainin’ all over the world

It’s raining all over the world

Tonight, the longest night

“Daybreaker” was the first track on the second side on both the UK and the US releases.  It is really a pretty nice instrumental, and I like it fine.  It is also a fast mover, and the Moog work is nice.

The second track on the second side is “Ma-Ma-Ma Belle”, another song that I remember from the radio.  It is a nice, rocking number with the classic ELO sound.  It is noteworthy for another reason:  glam rock legend Marc Bolan shared guitar duties with Lynne on this song.

Got love, if that’s what you need

I got three or four babies sittin’ on my knee

I got love waitin’ for you

I come sneakin’ round the corner of the avenue

You gotta Ma-Ma-Ma Belle, or I will get you

You know you gotta Ma-Ma-Ma Belle, before I get you

There’s one thing that’s on my mind

And that’s getting hold of you before I serve my time

I’ll keep on, with my heavy load

Till I see you come a strollin’ down that open road

You gotta Ma-Ma-Ma Belle, or I will get you

You know you gotta Ma-Ma-Ma Belle, before I get you

I love you Ma-Ma-Ma Belle

That’s why I want to get it all well I’m sure you can tell

I got, good soul, runnin’ so deep

Gonna get you in the corner so that I can keep

Can’t you hear me once Ma-Ma-Ma Belle

You gotta Ma-Ma-Ma Belle, or I will get you

You know you gotta Ma-Ma-Ma Belle, before I get you

“Dreaming of 4000” is the third track on the second side, and also features Bolan on guitar.  It seems a bit pretentious to me, but it is still not a bad song.  Note the tribute to The Beatles at the beginning of the fifth stanza.

Saviour of the night came slowly on the silent river

And the lord of life came following, his sins to be forgiven

While the world sat back and laughed away the hours

Till the dawning of the daybreak

I heard them laugh I heard them cry

I saw them praying to the sky

I heard the wind howl in the trees

Down there on bended knee

And I see the light

But I know I must be dreaming

Feel the soul, quiet emotion

Sail on by, helpless devotion

If that’s how it feels, it better be real

Take care of your woman

Or you’ll never ever see the light

Take heed of the warnin’

Or you know it’s gonna be too late

Here, There, Everywhere

They keep on movin’ without fear

They look me up, they look me down

They press my body to the ground

But I see the light, see the light it’s comin’ shinin’

And on a Summers day

When thoughts are drifting far away

And life is good and real to see

My world is saved and I am free

But in the night

Still I know I must be dreaming

The final track is an instrumental, a rendition of the classical composer Edvard Grieg’s “In the Hall of the Mountain King”.  This a good cover of a very famous piece, but there is another that I shall provide that I like better.

ELO was not the only band who performed this piece.  What do you think of this version?

Yes, indeed, folks, that is really The Who!  As much as I like ELO, you just can not beat The Who!  Moon is perfect, and the bass line from Entwistle is just great, with him taking the lead in bass from time to time.  What a masterpiece!

All in all, I had forgotten how good this album was.  One of the joys of writing this series is to listen to things that I have not heard in many years and thus to rediscover things that I had relegated to the dustbin of my memory.

That does it for tonight.  I shall check comments from time to time, but have a feeling that I may be occupied with a friend much of the evening.  I shall not abandon you, though.

Warmest regards,

Doc, aka Dr. David W. Smith

Crossposted at

The Stars Hollow Gazette,

Daily Kos, and

firefly-dreaming

2 comments

  1. Translator

    a largely forgotten piece of really good music?

    Warmest regards,

    Doc

  2. Translator

    I very much appreciate it.

    Warmest regards,

    Doc

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