ELO – Last Train To London

Last Train to London was on the Discovery album released in 1979. Dave (A Sound Day) covered this album and he has some great trivia on who the model was on the cover. Click on there and see who it was…it will probably surprise you.

I had this album and there are two songs I really liked off of it other than the big hits. One of them is this one and the other was The Diary of Horace Wimp.

Jeff was happy to admit that he appreciated disco. Shine a Little Love and Last Train To London certainly pointed that way.

This album generated four top-ten UK singles, a successful new milestone in spite of the fact that this was the first which the group did not support with a tour.

Last Train To London peaked at #39 in the Billboard 100, #28 in Canada, and #8 in the UK.

Discovery peaked at #5 in the Billboard Album Chart, #1 in the UK and #3 in Canada.

Jeff Lynne: “I love disco. I love it and I always have loved it, ever since I first heard that ‘bang, bang, bang, bang!’ And I realized, ‘Wow! You just keep the bangs in and fill the holes in with something else.’ And it worked. I mean Shine A Little Love is the perfect example, right there. And Last Train To London. I really enjoyed doing disco.”

Last Train To London

It was 9-29, 9-29 back street big city
The Sun was going’ down, there was music all around
It felt so right

It was one of those nights
One of those nights when you feel the world stop turning
You were standing there, there was music in the air
I should have been away, but I knew I’d have to stay

Last train to London, just heading out
Last train to London, just leaving town
But I really want tonight to last forever
I really wanna be with you
Let the music play on down the line tonight

It was one of those nights
One of those nights when you feel the fire is burning
Everybody was there, everybody to share, it felt so right

There you were on your own
Looking like you were the only one around
I had to be with you, nothing else that I could do
I should have been away, but I knew I’d have to say

Last train to London, just heading out
Last train to London, just leaving town
But I really want tonight to last forever
I really wanna be with you
Let the music play on down the line tonight

Underneath a starry sky
Time was still but hours must really have rushed by
I didn’t realize, but love was in your eyes
I really should have gone, but love went on and on

Last train to London, just heading out
Last train to London, just leaving town
But I really want tonight to last forever
I really wanna be with you
Let the music play on down the line tonight

ELO – Strange Magic

With ELO and Jeff Lynne, you knew you were getting a quality pop/rock song and it would be very catchy.

Strange Magic was written by ELO frontman Jeff Lynne, “Strange Magic” was on Electric Light Orchestra’s fifth studio album Face the Music.

By this time, the band had toned their orchestral sound to make it brighter and more radio-friendly. The strategy paid off, as this song and “Evil Woman” were both big hits.

The song peaked at #14 in the Billboard 100, #42 in Canada, and #38 in the UK in 1976. The album Face The Music peaked at #8 in the ===Billboard album charts and #35 in Canada.

Jeff wrote the song on various pianos in separate places while on tour in England with the band, presumably during the Eldorado tour.

From Songfacts

The song is about a captivating woman, but “Strange Magic” is also a good description for this song’s sonics. Compressed to a tight 3:27 for the single release (it runs 4:29 on the album), the song packs in an intriguing array of harmonies and hooks while integrating the famous ELO string section. The lyric is suitably trippy, and very repetitious, with the title appearing five times per chorus.

The weepy-sounding guitar lick is provided courtesy of Richard Tandy, who was somehow persuaded to take his hands off his various keyboards to pick up a guitar. Normally, Tandy’s array of Moog synth, clavinet, mellotron, and piano was so omnipresent that it led to the stereotype of prog-rock bands having a stack of keyboards onstage.

Some of you movie-music fans may cringe at this, but this song was also used in the 2007 stage production of Xanadu. Fear not, it was not part of the 1980 film soundtrack, although the soundtrack was the least of that film’s problems… or so we’re told.

The Pan-Pacific Auditorium in Los Angeles, California, doubled as the set of “Xanadu.”

Strange Magic

You’re sailing softly through the sun
In a broken stone age dawn
You fly so high

I get a strange magic
Oh, what a strange magic
Oh, it’s a strange magic
Got a strange magic
Got a strange magic

You’re walking meadows in my mind
Making waves across my time
Oh no, oh no

I get a strange magic
Oh, what a strange magic
Oh, it’s a strange magic
Got a strange magic
Got a strange magic

Oh, I’m never gonna be the same again
Now I’ve seen the way it’s got to end
Sweet dream, sweet dream

Strange magic
Oh, what a strange magic
Oh, it’s a strange magic
Got a strange magic
Got a strange magic

It’s magic, it’s magic, it’s magic
Strange magic
Oh, what a strange magic
Oh, it’s a strange magic
Got a strange magic
Strange magic
Oh, it’s a strange magic
Oh, it’s a strange magic

Got a strange magic
Strange magic
Oh, what a strange magic
Oh, it’s a strange magic

Got a strange magic
Strange magic
You know I got a strange magic
Yeah I got a strange magic
Strange magic

 

ELO – Evil Woman

This is the first ELO song I remember being really popular on radio. The piano intro hooks me every time.

This song was recorded at Musicland Studios in Munich, Germany in 1975. Jeff Lynne wrote the song on a piano in the studio on the last days of recording, writing it very quickly.

The band’s recording for all of the other songs for the Face The Music album had been completed when Jeff needed another song. One morning, while the rest of the band was out, he sat at the piano and played the opening piano riff, which became the basis of the song. Later that same day, the rest of the band came in and recorded the backing track. The lyrics were written and recorded the next day at Musicland.

The line “There’s a hole in my head where the rain comes in,” was inspired by the Beatles song, “Fixing a Hole.”

The song peaked at #10 in the Billboard 100, #6 in Canada, #10 in the UK, and #8 in New Zealand in 1976.

Evil Woman

You made a fool of me
But them broken dreams have got to end

Hey, woman, you got the blues
‘Cause you ain’t got no one else to use
There’s an open road that leads nowhere
So just make some miles between here and there
There’s a hole in my head where the rain comes in
You took my body and played to win
Ha, ha, woman, it’s a cryin’ shame
But you ain’t got nobody else to blame

Evil woman
Evil woman
Evil woman
Evil woman

Rolled in from another town
Hit some gold, too hard to settle down
But a fool and his money soon go separate ways
And you found a fool lyin’ in a daze
Ha, ha, woman, what you gonna do
You destroyed all the virtues that the Lord gave you
It’s so good that you’re feelin’ pain
But you better get your face on board the very next train

Evil woman
Evil woman
Evil woman
Evil woman (hey hey hey)

Evil woman
Evil woman
Evil woman
Evil woman

Evil woman, how you done me wrong
But now you’re tryin’ to wail a diff’rent song
Ha, ha, funny, how you broke me up
You made the wine, now you drink a cup
I came runnin’ ev’ry time you cried
Thought I saw love smilin’ in your eyes
Ha, ha, very nice to know
That you ain’t got no place left to go

Evil woman
Evil woman
Evil woman (evil woman)
Evil woman

Evil woman (what an evil woman)
Evil woman (such an evil woman)
Evil woman (what an evil woman)
Evil woman (such an evil woman)

Evil woman (what an evil woman)
Evil woman (such an evil woman)
Evil woman (what an evil woman)
Evil woman (such an evil woman)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ELO – Sweet Talkin’ Woman

This song was on the Out of the Blue album. It edges toward disco a little but everything was at this time.

The song was originally called “Dead End Street” before Jeff Lynne decided he wasn’t happy, so he erased the vocal track and re-wrote the lyrics. Some words that survived from that version can be heard in the opening of the third verse, “I’ve been livin’ on a dead-end street.”

This song peaked at #17 in the Billboard 100, #16 in Canada and #6 in the UK in 1978.

Jeff Lynn: “It was a song called Dead End Street. I’d done all the words and everything, finished it. And I came down the next day in the studio and I went, ‘I hate that. Let’s rub all the vocals off.’ And so, he goes, ‘Really?’ Y’know, me engineer. And I said, ‘Yup. Get rid off everything off there. Whatever to do with the vocals.’ And he did. He rubbed ’em all off. And I’d been sitting up in the hotel, which is above the studio, working at night just trying to think of a new tune and new words, which I did. And tried it the next day and there they worked. So, it was a good job I did, but it also meant changing the arrangement slightly. So a lot of pairs of scissors were used that day.”

From Songfacts

This was a hit single from British pop rock band Electric Light Orchestra’s double album, Out of the Blue, recorded at Musicland Studios in Munich, Germany during the summer of 1977. The song finds ELO leader Jeff Lynne searching for the elusive sweet talkin’ woman. He asks everyone he knows where he can find her, and even calls the operator to ask about her whereabouts, but his search is fruitless. Seems she doesn’t want to be found.

The USA single release was ten seconds shorter than its British counterpart due to a slightly faster mix. It is not known whether it was purposely edited to help the song to get more airplay or a simple error due to the tape machine being run at the wrong speed.

Like several songs on Out of the Blue, this song made use of the Vocoder 2000. ELO were one of the first music acts to make extensive use of the vocoder, which could synthesize voice into a robotic sound.

Robert John “Mutt” Lange inadvertently ripped off this track when he wrote the Huey Lewis & the News song “Do You Believe In Love?,” for their 1982 Picture This album. The verses have the same melody and the lyrics of the opening verse are remarkably similar. “I was walking down a one way street; Just a looking for someone to meet; One woman who was looking for a man.”

Sweet Talkin’ Woman

I was searchin’ (searchin’) on a one-way street
I was hopin’ (hopin’) for a chance to meet
I was waitin’ for the operator on the line
(She’s gone so long)
What can I do?
(Where could she be?)
Don’t know what I’m gonna do
I gotta get back to you

You gotta slow down (slow down), sweet talkin’ woman
You got me runnin’, you got me searchin’
Hold on (hold on), sweet talkin’ lover
It’s so sad if that’s the way it’s over

I was (walkin’), many days go by
I was thinkin’ (thinkin’) ’bout the lonely nights
Communication break down all around
(She’s gone so long)
What can I do?
(Where could she be now?)
No no no, don’t know what I’m gonna do
I gotta get back to you

You gotta slow down (slow down), sweet talkin’ woman
You got me runnin’, you got me searchin’
Hold on (hold on), sweet talkin’ lover (hold on)
It’s so sad if that’s the way it’s over

I’ve been livin’ on a dead-end street
I’ve been askin’ ev’rybody I meet
Insufficient data coming through
(She’s gone so long)
What can I do?
(Where could she be?)
No no no, don’t know what I’m gonna do
I gotta get back to you

Slow down (slow down), sweet talkin’ woman
You got me runnin’, you got me searchin’
Hold on (hold on), sweet talkin’ lover (hold on)
It’s so sad if that’s the way it’s over

Slow down (slow down), sweet talkin’ woman
You got me runnin’, you got me searchin’
Hold on (hold on), sweet talkin’ lover (hold on)
It’s so sad if that’s the way it’s over

Slow down (slow down), sweet talkin’ woman
You got me runnin’, you got me searchin’
Hold on (hold on), sweet talkin’ lover (hold on)
It’s so sad if that’s the way it’s over

Slow down (slow down), sweet talkin’ woman
You got me runnin’, you got me searchin’
Hold on (hold on), sweet talkin’ lover (hold on)
It’s so sad if that’s the way it’s over

Slow down (slow down), sweet talkin’ woman
You got me runnin’, you got me searchin’

ELO – Don’t Bring Me Down

This is one of the songs that got me into ELO. I always thought Jeff Lynne was singing “Bruuucee” in this song but he wasn’t. Jeff Lynne repeatedly sings the word “gruss” after the song’s title line? Apparently, it was a made-up place-keeper word to fill a gap in the vocals when he was improvising the lyrics.

When the German engineer Reinhold Mack heard the ELO frontman’s demo he asked Lynne how he knew “Gruss” means “greetings” in his country’s language. Upon learning the German meaning, Lynne decided to leave it in. Many fans misinterpreted “gruss” as “Bruce.” In fact, so many people misheard the lyric that Lynne actually began to sing the word as “Bruce” for fun at live shows.

The song peaked at #4 in the Billboard 100, #3 in the UK, #1 in Canada, and #6 in New Zealand in 1979. The song was on the Discovery album which peaked at #5 in the Billboard Album Chart in 1979.

 

From Songfacts

This was the first ELO song that did not use strings. After recording it, they fired their string section, leaving four members in the band.

This is the highest-charting ELO hit in both the UK and US, although ELO’s “Xanadu” collaboration with Olivia Newton-John did hit #1 UK. 

ELO leader Jeff Lynne wrote this song late in the sessions for the Discovery album. He came up with the track by looping the drums from a song he recorded earlier in the session, then coming up with more music on the piano. The words came last, as Lynne put together some lyrics about a girl who thinks she’s too good for the guy she’s with.

As a little joke, Lynne put a count-in at the beginning of the song, even though there was nobody he was counting in.

This turned out to be a good theme song for astronauts enjoying their time in space. The song was played to astronauts on the Space Shuttle Columbia as their wake up call on July 6, 1996 – they were in flight longer than expected because of bad weather on the ground. ELO’s record company also tried to tie in the song with the Skylab space station, which crashed to Earth on July 11, 1979 after six years in space. They placed ads in trade magazines promoting the new single “Don’t Bring Me Down” by dedicating it to Skylab.

This appears in the 2006 Doctor Who episode “Love & Monsters,” and in the 2012 Family Guy episode “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!” It has also been used in these films:

I Can Only Imagine (2018)
Super 8 (2011)
College Road Trip (2008)
The In-Laws (2003)
Donnie Brasco (1997)

In 2020, this was used in a Peloton commercial where a dad tries to stay motivated using the fitness bike. It was also used in the trailer for the 2017 film The Emoji Movie.

Don’t Bring Me Down

You got me runnin’ goin’ out of my mind
You got me thinkin’ that I’m wastin’ my time
(Don’t bring me down, no no no no no)
I’ll tell you once more before I get off the floor
(Don’t bring me down)

You wanna stay out with your fancy friends
I’m tellin’ you it’s got to be the end
(Don’t bring me down, no no no no no)
I’ll tell you once more before I get off the floor
(Don’t bring me down)

Don’t bring me down, gruss
Don’t bring me down, gruss
Don’t bring me down, gruss
Don’t bring me down

What happened to the girl I used to know?
You let your mind out somewhere down the road
(Don’t bring me down, no no no no no)
I’ll tell you once more before I get off the floor
(Don’t bring me down)

You’re always talkin’ ’bout your crazy nights
One of these days you’re gonna get it right
(Don’t bring me down, no no no no no no no)
I’ll tell you once more before I get off the floor
(Don’t bring me down)

Don’t bring me down, gruss
Don’t bring me down, gruss
Don’t bring me down, gruss
Don’t bring me down

You’re lookin’ good just like a snake in the grass
One of these days you’re gonna break your glass
(Don’t bring me down, no no no no no no no)
I’ll tell you once more before I get off the floor
(Don’t bring me down)

You got me shakin’ got me runnin’ away
You got me crawlin’ up to you everyday
(Don’t bring me down, no no no no no)
I’ll tell you once more before I get off the floor
(Don’t bring me down)

I’ll tell you once more before I get off the floor
(Don’t bring me down)

Electric Light Orchestra · 10538 Overture

This was the first song ELO recorded and released.  Jeff Lynne wrote it when he was in a band called The Move. This prompted some members of The Move to go ahead with plans to create a new band with string instruments called The Electric Light Orchestra.

The song peaked at #9 in the UK in 1972.

The album was first released in the UK as Electric Light Orchestra. When it was released in the US a few months later, someone from their American Record company called to find out the name of the album but didn’t get through. That person wrote down “No Answer” on the paperwork, and that was accidentally used as the name of the US release.

 

From Songfacts

Lynne wanted the lyrics to be about a man who had a number rather than a name.

1053 was the serial number of the desk Lynne used to write this. They added the 8 and included the word “Overture” to make it clear they were an orchestra.

10538 Overture

Did you see your friend crying from his eyes today
Did you see him run through the streets and far away
Did you see him run, did you see him fall
Did his life flash by at the bedroom door

Did you hear the news it came across the air today
Someone has been found on the rocks down in the bay
Did you see him hide, did you see him crawl
Does his life mean more than it did before

Did you see that man running through the streets today
Did you catch his face, was it 10538

ELO – Telephone Line

I could pick about any ELO song and do fine. Jeff Lynne is one of the best pop/rock songwriters. In my opinion, he can write super catchy songs without being sugary. Telephone Line peaked at #8 in the Billboard 100, #7 in the UK and #1 in Canada in 1977.

Lynne once said that ELO will “Pick up where ‘I Am the Walrus’ left off.”

http://www.jefflynnesongs.com/telephoneline/

Telephone Line was originally recorded at Musicland Studios in Munich, Germany during July of 1976. This recording was for the backing track only. The orchestra was recorded later at De Lane Lea Studios, Wembley, England. Just before release, other minor edits (including the muted telephone intro) were done at Cherokee Studios in Los Angeles, California, USA. The early working title was Bad Salad Telephone (a play on the term “sad ballad”), so it appears that the telephone theme was an early concept for the song.

Telephone Effects: The telephone intro for the song has drawn a lot of attention over the years. There are two notable things about it. First, the ringback tone heard (as one would hear when waiting for the line to pick up) is a North American ringback tone which is quite distinctive from that heard in the U.K. at the time. The band was having much greater success in America at the time and this inspired them to use the North American sound rather than the British sound. To get the sound just right, the band called to an office in America in when they knew no one would answer. It was likely to have been the Jet Records office in California because the time zones from England or Germany to America would have likely meant the offices were closed when the call was made. The band did not simply record the tone and insert that into the record as has been stated in some interviews, but rather they studied the sounds and then recreated them on synthesizer. If one listens closely, they are clearly not a match.

The other interesting bit about the intro is the muted, mono telephone sound, as if the listener is listening through the telephone to the song’s intro. This was a very late addition to the song. The recording was completed and Jeff was bringing the tapes from England to California when he got the idea to add the effect to the song. So it was in Cherokee Studios in Los Angeles that engineers Duane Scott and Kevin Gray were instructed to manually add the effect to the completed stereo master. The song plays normally until the very first vocal line of the first verse when the mono, listening-on-the-telephone effect cuts in. This continues, along with the ringback tone, until the “lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely nights” line when the full stereo version of the song is slowly phased in and the ringback stops. In addition, the ringback tone is again heard mid-song, in the short bridge following the first chorus and before the third verse. In the alternate vocal version heard on the 2007 A New World Record remaster, which has a non-fading end, the ringback tone is heard yet again as the last notes of the song are waning.

Telephone Line

Hello. How are you?
Have you been alright through all those lonely lonely lonely lonely lonely nights?
That’s what I’d say.
I’d tell you everything, if you’d pick up that telephone.

Hey. How you feeling?
Are you still the same?
Don’t you realize the things we did we did were all for real? Not a dream.
I just can’t believe they’ve all faded out of view.

Blue days, black nights

I look into the sky
The love you need ain’t gonna see you through.
And I wonder why
The little things you planned ain’t coming true.

Telephone line, give me some time, I’m living in twilight
Telephone line, give me some time, I’m living in twilight

O.K. So, no one’s answering,
Well can’t you just let it ring a little longer longer longer
I’ll just sit tight, through the shadows of the night
Let it ring for evermore.

Blue days, black nights

I look into the sky
The love you need ain’t gonna see you through.
And I wonder why
The little things you planned ain’t coming true.

Telephone line, give me some time, I’m living in twilight
Telephone line, give me some time, I’m living in twilight

Telephone line, give me some time, I’m living in twilight
Telephone line, give me some time, I’m living in twilight