Styx released their sixh album titled CRYSTAL BALL. It was the first LP by the band to include Tommy Shaw. Tommy wrote the title song, which is still part of the bands set whenever they play live. I purchased this LP the day it arrived at Best Pharmacy, Barnwell SC. Shaw would make his presence felt in the band immediately by writing (or co-writing) five of the seven songs on the album. The track “Mademoiselle” was Tommy Shaw’s vocal debut and the album’s Top-40 hit.
The album’s title track would become a concert staple for the band, as it was performed on every subsequent Styx tour with which Shaw was involved.The previous Styx albums were good, but Tommy Shaw was the final ingredient that catapulted the band into superstardom. The next year, they released their breakthrough THE GRAND ILLUSION.
RUSH released their first double live album, ALL THE WORLD’S A STAGE. Recorded over three nights, June 11-13, 1976, at Massey Hall in Toronto, during the band’s breakthrough 2112 Tour. The release of the live album was, according to singer/bassist, Geddy Lee, “definitely something we used to buy us more time” to work on their studio follow up of 2112.
This album captures the entire setlist that was regularly performed during headlining shows of the 2112 tour. However, due to technological limits of approximately 20 minutes per side on vinyl, the positions of “Lakeside Park” and “2112” were swapped with “Fly By Night / In The Mood” and “Something For Nothing”.Due to stage time restraints during the 2112 tour of 1976, this performance of the song “2112” omits the “Discovery” and “Oracle: The Dream” sections of the studio recording. Although the final 32 seconds of “Discovery” are played as a lead-in to “Presentation”, the liner notes and track listing do not indicate this.
According to the liner notes, ALL THE WORLD’S A STAGE marks the end of the “first chapter of Rush” and would begin a trend of Rush releasing a live album after every four studio albums. This lasted until 2003, when the band released a live album and DVD of each subsequent studio album’s tour.ALL THE WORLD’S A STAGE was Rush’s first US Top 40-charting album and went gold, alongside A FAREWELL TO KINGS and 2112 on November 16, 1977.
ELDORADO: A SYMPHONY BY THE ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA was released as the fourth studio album by the Electric Light Orchestra. Jeff Lynne conceived the storyline before he wrote any music. The plot follows a Walter Mitty-like character who journeys into fantasy worlds via dreams, to escape the disillusionment of his mundane reality. Lynne wrote the album in response to criticism from his father, a classical music lover, who said that Electric Light Orchestra’s repertoire “had no tune”. The song, “Can’t Get It Out Of My Head” became ELO’s first Top Ten song, reaching no. 9. There is a strong Beatles influence that runs throughout the album, something that would become a staple sound of the band.
This was a major transitional album for ELO, and for Lynne. ELDORADO marks the first album on which Lynne hired an orchestra; on previous albums, Lynne would overdub the strings. The group’s three resident string players continued to perform on recordings, however, and can be heard most prominently on the songs “Boy Blue” and “Laredo Tornado”. Bassist, Mike de Albuquerque departed early on in the recording process, as touring made him feel separated from his family. Lynne plays most of, if not all, the bass tracks and backing vocals for the album, even though de Albuquerque received credit. Kelly Groucutt replaced de Albuquerque for the subsequent tour when cellist Melvyn Gale also joined (replacing the departing Mike Edwards). “Eldorado Finale” is heavily orchestrated, much like “Eldorado Overture”. Jeff Lynne said of the song, “I like the heavy chords and the slightly daft ending, where you hear the double bass players packing up their basses, because they wouldn’t play another millisecond past the allotted moment.”
The album was named one of Classic Rock magazine’s “50 Albums That Built Prog Rock” and ranked #43 on Rolling Stone’s “50 Greatest Prog Rock Albums of All Time.”
On a personal note: My favorite song from ELDORADO, is “Boy Blue”, which relates the scenario of a weary soldier returning home triumphantly, but with a new, slightly bitter, realistic view of what ha had accomplished, and his determination to never do it again. At the time the LP was released the Vietnam War was stumbling toward it’s chaotic conclusion, and there were weekly news stories on vets returning from the War, describing the nightmares they endured. For my 14-year old self, is was easy to put “Boy Blue” into the context of a song about returning Vietnam soldiers.
JEFF LYNNE – lead & backing vocals, electric & acoustic guitars, bass, Moog, production, orchestra & choral arrangements
BEV BEVAN – drums, percussion
RICHARD TANDY – piano, Moog, clavinet, Wurlitzer electric piano, guitar, backing vocals, orchestra & choral arrangements
MIKE DE ALBUQUERQUE – bass & backing vocals (credited; departed during the recording of the album)