On May 31, 1979, "Electric Light Orchestra (ELO)" released their eighth studio album, "Discovery".
This album has a special meaning for us. We received this album in real-time thanks to a special sale by the "Tempo" beverage company, in which records were distributed free of charge, in exchange for corks from "Tempo" bottles. Thanks to this amazing operation, which was called "Tempo Hit" at the time, we increased our record collection, and more importantly, we expanded our horizons with artists and genres that we might not have reached without this campaign.
These were other times. Without the Internet, YouTube, or Spotify, the main channels through which we were exposed to music were the radio and records. Sometimes we would listen to one album for months, until we had enough money (or corks) to buy the next album. The album was plowed back and forth until we knew every word and every note. By the way, we still have the specific album in our record collection. An Israeli version, which quite rarely in those years included a folded cover and even an attached poster. The choice of the album from all the hundreds of records distributed as part of Tempo's campaign was immediate. After all, "hits" from it were played non-stop on radio stations, at parties, and events, so we had no shadow of a doubt that we needed this album on the family record collection. The walk to the nearest record collection point was full of immense excitement accompanied by anxiety, lest the specific album is out of stock and God forbid we have to retrace our steps empty-handed and wait until the stock is renewed or alternatively choose another album. But to our great joy, this time our hand was on top and in exchange for a sufficient amount of corks we received the album of the "Electric Lights Orchestra".
This album marked a significant change in the musical style and lineup of the band, especially compared to the double masterpiece released before - "Out of the Blue" from 1977. This change was due to two main factors. First, at that time the "disco" was a pon high and the undisputed leader Jeff Lynne sought to divert the influences on the musical material from the "Beatles" to the "Bee Gees". Yes, Yes. He just wanted to sound like them. Second, The grandiose tour that accompanied the masterpiece album "Out of the Blue" and featured a huge replica of the spaceship from the iconic album cover, caused a huge financial loss. To this, we must be add the lawsuit in which the band was involved, during which it was accused of using full "playback" during their performances. All this led Jeff Lynne to conclude that it was time to cut back - and in this case, it was quite so, literally. The band, which sometimes numbered 7 or more members, was reduced to a quartet that includes Jeff Lynne, drummer Bev Bevan, keyboardist Richard Tandy, and bassist Kelly Groucutt.
The album "Discovery" introduced us to a band with an updated sound and a reduced lineup. The name of the album also indicates what is happening inside and it consists of the words: "Disco-Very" - that is, "full of disco". The literal interpretation also refers to "finding" a new sound under an efficient smaller band. The band, which is essentially a connection between rock and classical music and whose string players were an integral part of its ensemble, had to say goodbye to violinist Mik Kaminski and cellists Hugh McDowell and Melvyn Gale, and the result was immediately expressed in sound and musical direction. Although the three will appear in clips taken for the album's songs, their names are missing from the record cover.
As part of the musical changes, Jeff Lynne made a decision not to go on a tour to promote the album. Instead, the band filmed clips for all nine songs on the album without exception, and we in Israel even got to watch all those clips in one sequence, as these were broadcast at night on the only TV channel we had in the country. By the way, the three string players Kaminski, McDowell, and Gail appeared in the same clips as part of the band, but as mentioned they were no longer part of the band. We have compiled for you a playlist of all the clips in the chronological order of the album which you can watch here:
Five successful singles were released from the album.
The opening song "Shine a Little Love" was released as the first single and became the band's biggest hit to date. "The Diary of Horace Wimp" which describes a week in the life of a repressed man who wants to express his affection for a woman he meets. "Don't Bring Me Down" which is the band's biggest hit in the US and UK, and has no drummer in it, as the recording technician, came up with an idea to take a sample of Bev Bevan's drumming in the song "On The Run", slow it down and play it in a loop. "Confusion" which describes the thoughts of a man in a romantic relationship and of course the amazing "Last Train to London" which was released as a Double A-Side along with the previous song.
But this album is definitely not just the five singles we mentioned. All the other songs in it are noteworthy, especially the two ballads "Midnight Blue" and "Need Her Love".