ELO is such a perplexing band. They were big, but not huge. They wrote some good rock tunes, but nothing fantastic. They are respected but not universally loved. They were skilled and they were cheesy. In a sense, they encapsulate 70s rock perfectly.
I have a double CD greatest hits collection and if you take the time to listen to their hit music one thing becomes clear; they could have been phenomenal. They aren’t, of course, and the reason seems obvious; they were horrible lyricists. Couple that with some corny arrangements and every great guitar riff gets mutilated by some ridiculous lyric like “oh, oh, telephone line” or “rama lama lama lama rock ‘n’ roll is king”. ELO is the best anti-drug campaign ever.
Still, they did manage to write one song that very nearly overcomes the stupid lyrics. It didn’t but its bloody close. That’s just how good this guitar riff is plus the arrangement avoids much of the orchestral nonsense they were famous for. As such it is my favourite ELO song and a song I grieve for because it could have been one of the greatest guitar rock songs of all time.
I’m kicking off your weekend with “Ma-Ma-Ma Belle” by Electric Light Orchestra from the 1973 release, On The Third Day.
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