Electric Light Orchestra


“Livin’ Thing” is a great song, but I’m an admirer of Paul Thomas Anderson’s 1997 film Boogie Nights, and it’s hard to disassociate the tune from Dirk Diggler’s schlong. Such are the pitfalls of licensing music for film; you might end up singing over the cock shot. Who could argue it’s not a smashing closer, though?

Speaking of hilarious juxtapositions, I don’t know how it got into my head, but when I hear “Turn To Stone” I think of some of the cast of the ’70s comedy satire Soap disco-dancing with each other. In particular, Robert Mandan, Jennifer Salt, Diana Canova and Gordon Jump. Maybe it was something I saw on WKRP in Cincinnati, instead. And the song might have been “Last Train To London”, actually. I HAVE BRAIN DAMAGE.

I'm betting there's footage of Billy Crystal disco-dancing somewhere, and it's awful.

Though I bet there’s footage of Billy Crystal disco-dancing somewhere, and it’s awful.

Yes, there is a porno called Edward Penishands, and indeed it put me off dirty video for good. Search engines are not your friend in this matter. Try to follow this train of thought; someone saw a movie where a girl loves a monster with bundles of knives for hands, and said to themselves, “if only he’d fist her”. Whereas any sane person would see a doctor at this revelation, or at least interpret “penis hands” as finger-dicks, this man went the full distance, creating a goth Johnny Depp with vaguely cock-like stumps. The ends of Edward’s arms look like dongs infected with the bullhead clap. It is revolting and incredulous when women hungrily fellate or insert these hideous appendages, yet they do. It’s like an empowerment video for amputees and people maimed in industrial accidents. And perhaps most Lovecraftian of all, there is a giant Trident wrapper hung on a wall like a painting. Don’t ask what happens when Edward jizzes. That way lies madness.

In tiny letters on the bottom of panel one, it indicates “Chu-Bops”. Around 1980, Chu-Bops appeared on the shelves of sweet shops, and what really made them appealing was that the album art was shrunk down to tiny size at great definition, so essentially they could be miniature props. They were roughly Barbie-sized, which girls loved. They came with a pink circle of bubble gum, embossed with grooves to look like a tiny record. I had Tattoo You by the Rolling Stones, and Business As Usual by Men At Work, among others. I’d love to share a picture here with you, but you’ll have to search it out yourself, as literally nothing relating to them is labeled for reuse. Let’s move along before I get bilious.

I realize that I return to the well of shooting myself (or others) in the head quite often. Look at it like my version of Homer Simpson strangling Bart. Cartoons often used extreme violence as a punchline when I was a kid, because within the context, it’s funny out of nowhere. It was a safe space to appreciate conflict. For a blackout gag, the losers would scream “NOW HE TELLS US” in unison, before shooting themselves in the temple. There have been guns and heads since before I was born. I have a deep appreciation and abiding respect for their work as a comedy team. And as for violence, the Three Stooges didn’t exactly find fame using Robert’s Rules of Order.

The “greatest hits” collection I still have is Strange Magic: The Best of Electric Light Orchestra.

Not bad.

Not bad.

The reason I bought this double CD, which I vaguely recall being bargain priced, was the hit single “Do Ya”. I still find it to be their best song:

It’s easier to appreciate ELO thirty years on, outside of their imitators and sound-alikes. Airbrushed album covers with spaceships and cursive type treatments were everywhere in the ’70s. Bombastic rock opera with a string section was ubiquitous. Children used to grow up learning a classical instrument, which made finding skilled musicians a less daunting task. Now that money goes towards giving kids laptops. I’m sure that’ll produce results of some kind one day.

Anyway, I mentioned this elsewhere, but the song that got stuck in my head and made me want to eat a bullet was “Confusion” and not “So Serious”. These songs feature synthesizer tones that were embraced in the ’80s, but now sound like the height of fromage. DEVO was a real horror show around this time for the same reasons. No wonder Tom Scholz was so pissed off.

Ironically, I’ve never gotten “Can’t Get It Out Of My Head” stuck in my head. The mediocre design for Eldorado, the album it hails from, was provided by none other than Mrs. Ozzy Osbourne.



ELO is also one of the only things that made the movie Xanadu worth sitting through, but that’s another article.

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