The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

27 February 2007

10538 and all that

Maggie Katzen has been doing short record reviews for a while now, and recently she took on this sort-of-classic:

No Answer — The Electric Light Orchestra: whee! there's nothing on here I've ever heard before, but I really liked it. probably too "arty" for most people. a few bits made me think of Apocalyptica.

Like the Move LPs before it, No Answer didn't sell all that well Stateside, though attached to it comes one of the weirder stories in pop/rock history. Snopes tells it this way:

The legend differs slightly in some the details from telling to telling, but the basic premise is that when United Artists was preparing to schedule Electric Light Orchestra's debut album for release in the U.S., someone from United Artists (either an executive or his secretary) placed a call to someone connected with ELO (either an executive at Harvest Records or the group's manager) to find out, among other things, what the LP should be titled. The caller, having failed to reach the desired party, jotted down the notation "no answer," a phrase which was mistaken for an album title and assigned to the U.S. version of the group's debut record.

ELO's Bev Bevan is cited as a source, and well, he should know, right?

The Orchestra didn't catch on here so quickly — "10538 Overture," the single, a #9 hit in Britain, did not chart in the US, and it would fall to the second album, titled Electric Light Orchestra II, to establish ELO Stateside. A version of Chuck Berry's "Roll Over Beethoven," amped up with bits from Ludwig's Fifth on the strings, cut down from a tad over eight minutes to 4:30, almost made it into the Top 40; the full version got tons of airplay in New England, where actual Move records had sold in small quantities. ("Do Ya," which never made it up above #93 in Billboard, was in moderate-to-heavy rotation on WAAF.)

And to think I was going to be short on material today.

Posted at 6:27 AM to Tongue and Groove


Actually, the album was supposed to be entitled "Left message, awaiting callback" but that was too long.

Posted by: triticale at 7:34 PM on 27 February 2007