A New World Record – Electric Light Orchestra – United Artists – 1976
Get out your cargo shorts and fire up the grill, because this week we’re going back to Dad Rock territory with ELO’s landmark 1976 album A New World Record. Often thought of as the best representation of ELO’s sound — and the pinnacle of Jeff Lynne’s arrangement, writing and production — this set of songs draws from a bevy of richly melodic influences, from the Beatles to the Beach Boys to ‘50s street corner doo-wop to possibly even John Cale.
With such perennially loved sounds baked into its foundation, what makes A New World Record sound dated to modern ears? How could arrangements and orchestrations of such timeless origin be connected so deeply to one decade? Is it possible, in 2018, to genuinely love this album for what it is, with no trace of irony? Join us for a discussion about that, musical legacies and evolution, and song connections — and maybe, if you listen closely, you’ll hear a dad joke or two.
Episode notes and postscript corrections
- Hello, and welcome to another episode with your sensitive and feels-feeling hosts!
- We are highkey passionate the concepts of legacies, preserving history and learning from it, keeping stories and traditions alive, and, as millennials, carrying the torch. As always, we would love to talk to you about how we, as millennials, can carry the torch.
- We’ve discussed the broad landscape of music that came out in this same time period on several occasions. For more historical context or further discussions, check out our episodes on Television’s Marquee Moon, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers’ self-titled debut, Jackson Browne’s Running on Empty, Rolling Stones’ Some Girls, Blondie’s Parallel Lines, and/or Patti Smith’s Easters.
- Seriously, though, when is the last time Jeff Lynne was seen without his sunglasses?
- Related, this dog honestly does look like him.
- Take: “Dated” doesn’t always necessarily mean bad or unenjoyable.
- And we don’t care if it’s not cool, among millennials especially, to like ELO. We super don’t care. We know we are not cool.
- “Tightrope” is really just a Beatles song with classical embellishments. Don’t be like this guy and tell us we’re drunk for thinking there’s a connection.
- It’s also a great ~welcome to the album song~
- We are highkey here for all of Grace Spelman’s music nerd playlists, but Welcome to the Album, a playlist comprised solely of excellent opening tracks, is truly fantastic.
- A friendly reminder that at the end of the day, all of the songs have been written. Originality comes when you incorporate past influences and build upon them to make something new and unique. All good art is stealing, and appropriation is the sincerest form of robbery.
- Shoutout to the Traveling Wilburys. Again. We love those guys.
- Telephone songs are so cool in that times change, but sad phone calls have stayed relevant.
- @ people who grew up with great expectations for the 21st century: we are sorry. We wish we had robots and stuff like that, too.
- Yeethoven (pronounced YAY-to-ven, sorry) is an absolutely brilliant orchestral mash-up project by the Young Music Foundation that saw their debut orchestra performing Beethoven interspersed with tracks from Kanye West’s Yeezus. Trust us, it’s fascinating to hear the similarities and see how classical music is very much still relevant in modern music today.
- It was such a banger that they did it again with songs from The Life of Pablo and it slammed.
- Here’s more about how the band used a Moog in a really awesome, early-adaptive way.
- This video of James Jamerson basslines, animated, from our fave millennial funk torchbearers Vulfpeck.
- Gonna go ahead and file “Do Ya” under “Songs You’d Have To Have Your Head Buried In The Sand To Have Never Heard Before”
- We promise we’re going to do an episode on the Wilburys at some point. Swear.
- End of the night songs are great songs. Check out our Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers episode or our T. Rex episode to hear more what we have to say about them.
- As always, hit up our master playlist on Spotify for all the songs we mentioned today in one place.
Favorite track(s): So Fine and Livin’ Thing (Carly) | Tightrope and Livin’ Thing (Carrie)
Least favorite track: Rockaria! (Carly) | Shangri-La (Carrie)
- Jeff Lynne – Vocals, lead, rhythm, and slide guitars, percussion, Wurlitzer EP200 electric piano
- Bev Bevan – Drums, Minimoog drum, percussion, backing vocals
- Richard Tandy – Wurlitzer EP200 electric piano, Minimoog synthesizer, Micromoog synthesizer, SLM Concert Spectrum, Electra x320 guitar, Hohner clavinet, Yamaha C7 grand piano, Mellotron M400, Maestro phase shifter, percussion, backing vocals, Systech flanger
- Kelly Groucutt – Vocals, bass guitar, percussion, backing vocals
- Mik Kaminski – Violin, Maestro echoplex, Univox univibe
- Hugh McDowell – Cello, Systech phaser, Mu-Tron III, Mu-Tron phasor, Maestro echoplex
- Melvyn Gale – Cello, Maestro echoplex
- Mary Thomas – operatic vocals
- Patti Quatro – uncredited backing vocals
- Brie Brandt – uncredited backing vocals
- Addie Lee – uncredited backing vocals
Jeff Lynne’s ELO: Wembley or Bust trailer | 2017
“Livin’ Thing” live at Glastonbury | 2016
Saturday Sessions: Jeff Lynne joins CBS This Morning | CBS (2015)
“Tightrope” live on Zoom Tour | 2001
“Tightrope” music video | 1976
“Livin’ Thing” music video | 1976
Classics Album Interviews: Jeff Lynne on ELO’s A New World Record (radio interview) | BBC (August 1990)
Jeff Lynne and George Harrison Play Banjos | Date unknown, but appears to be from a documentary on George Harrison. Reach out if you know which one it is!
ELO’s Bev Bevan Talks Rock Hall Induction, Jeff Lynne Rift | Rolling Stone (December 2016)
ELO’s Jeff Lynne: My Life in 15 Songs | Rolling Stone (January 2016)
It’s A Livin’ Thing (Jeff Lynne interview) | The Quietus (June 2015)
ELO’s Jeff Lynne: ‘All those hipsters with beards are copying me!’ | The Guardian (October 2014)
In Defense of ELO | Square Zeros (June 2014)
Jeff Lynne revisits his roots with ELO and classic covers projects | Goldmine Mag (June 2013)
Electric Light Orchestra, “Telephone Line” | American Songwriter (April 2013)