[Review] The Electric Light Orchestra: The Night the Light Went On (in Long Beach) (1974)

An early live album that was banished to the continent for its infidelities, only to return partially restored and redeemed years later.

Kronomyth 3.5: Das ist mir wurst.

The Electric Light Orchestra’s first live album suffered a similar fate as King Crimson’s Earthbound: shipped off to a distant German uncle after its UK and US relations deemed it an embarrassment. In the band’s defense, The Night the Light Went On (in Long Beach) is a good performance marred by a poor recording. In the 80s, the band found a better mix of the concert and re-released the album, but by then everyone who wanted it had already picked up an import copy in their local record store.

ELO had a pretty static setlist from night to night in support of their third album, On The Third Day, featuring half of that album plus material from their first and second albums. Also included in their live performance was a cover of The Beatles’ Daytripper and a brief violin showcase for Mik Kaminski. “Daytripper” is as much fun as you’d expect from a Beatlophile like Jeff Lynne, including a bit of naughty language that replaces “she’s a big teaser” with “she’s a prick teaser.” Missing from this album are the core of a setlist which would have included performances of “Oh No Not Susan,” “Ma-Ma-Ma Belle,” “Bluebird Is Dead” and “King of the Universe” — some of my personal favorites from their third album, although I’m not sure they’d gain much in a live setting.

In its remastered state, this is a fun ride. This version of 10538 Overture sounds even better than I remember (I can finally make out the lyrics!), Daybreaker gets things off to a rousing start and the solos on Showdown should be heard by every ELO fan. In the Hall of the Mountain King (which ends inexplicably with a quick version of Great Balls of Fire) and Roll Over Beethoven were never great classical-rock hybrids to begin with, in my opinion.

Personally, I felt a live album from the band was premature. Then again, I’m not sure any of this material would have made their live setlist after A New World Record (maybe “Roll Over Beethoven”), so it’s an interesting look at ELO in their early stage. The audio quality even in the remasters is less than ideal, but the painstakingly precise performances make up for it. The same people who would have shelled out good money for an import of this are probably the same people who will appreciate it today, so feel to skip this one unless you’re building a complete ELO collection.

Original elpee version

A1. Daybreaker (Jeff Lynne) (5:30)
A2. Showdown (Jeff Lynne) (8:30)
A3. Daytripper (Paul McCartney/John Lennon) (6:37)
B1. 10538 Overture (Jeff Lynne) (5:30)
B2. Mik’s Solo (Mik Kaminski) / Orange Blossom Special (traditional arr. by ELO) (2:12)
B3. Medley: In the Hall of the Mountain King (Edvard Grieg, arranged and adapted by ELO) / Great Balls of Fire (Jack Hammer/Otis Blackwell) (6:42)
B4. Roll Over Beethoven (Chuck Berry) (5:40)

The Players

Bev Bevan (drums), Mike de Albuquerque (vocals, bass), Mike Edwards (cello), Mik Kaminski (violin), Jeff Lynne (vocals, guitar), Hugh McDowell (cello), Richard Tandy (electric piano, minimoog). Produced by Jeff Lynne.

The Pictures

Title concept and design by John Kehe/Mick Haggerty. Artwork by Mick Haggerty. Photos by Pierre Chanteau, Eric Cato, Tina Speakman.

The Plastic

Released on elpee in 1974 in Germany (Warner Bros., WB 56058) with gatefold cover.

  1. Re-issued on elpee in November 1985 in the UK (Epic, EPC 32700).
  2. Re-released on remastered compact disc in 1998 in the UK (Epic, 491103 2) with unique cover.

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