September 28, 1974
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)
MIKE EDWARDS – cello, MIK KAMINSKI – violin, HUGH MCDOWELL – cello