ELO USA 8-tracks

 

Electric Light Orchestra - USA Audio 8-tracks


Comments and Observations

The Story of 8-track Tapes: The 8-track cartridge, commonly known as the 8-track tape or simply the 8-track, was a very popular format in the USA and also in the UK. The name derives from the tape having four stereo tracks on one tape, which could be played individually based on where the tape head was placed. It was also the ideal format for quadraphonic recordings prior to the introduction of surround sound, but this was not really recognized at the time.

The 8-track cassette is called a cartridge because it only contains one reel. The 8-track system was developed in 1965 by William P. Lear, who developed it from the less common 4-track cassette, which was itself a variant of the FIDELIPAC endless cassette that was introduced to radio stations in 1959. The main advantage of the 8-track format was that it could be played indefinitely, without any need to flip it over or touch it in any way. It was an excellent format for playing in automobiles. A disadvantage was that for uninterrupted playing across four stereo programs, the normally two-sided record had to be edited to create four relatively equal playing times, which often caused song interruptions. And generally, there were no fast forward or rewind options.

Insides of an 8-track tapeThe 8-track contains a spool for the 1/4-inch wide, graphite-coated plastic tape, the guide mechanism, and a pressure roller. It was designed as an endless tape-- in other words, it plays continuously without any user intervention. Due to the design, the players could be built very simply and produced more cheaply than two-reel devices, as there were no changes in direction or rewinding processes. Although there were some players with fast forward, rewinding is technically impossible. The endless tape has eight tracks, enabling up to four stereo recordings (eight mono recordings) on one tape. Thus, the playing time of an LP could be achieved with "less" tape. The tracks are switched electromechanically by moving the reading head in the playback device. The tracks could be changed manually at any time using a button, otherwise a piece of switching tape (made of metal) ensures an automatic track change after each tape run. There is usually an indicator light that shows which track is being played. There were also devices for self-recording of blank cassettes, but they were used very little.

Enjoying an 8-track in the carThe main disadvantages of the technology are the audible clicks when changing tracks and the occasional audio bleeding between the tracks when playing back: With maladjusted devices, parts of the adjacent tracks can also be heard quietly. In addition, the tape was not "unrolled" but "pulled out" in the middle; the result was far greater wear and earlier loss of quality than the consumer was used to from coil devices. The playback speed is 3 3/4 inches per second (9.53 cm/sec.) In the 1970s, the 8-track technology was pushed out of the market by the stereo tape cassette (the compact cassette introduced by Philips in 1962, with smaller dimensions and longer recording times) after the development of the auto-reverse function made manually turning these cassettes no longer necessary. The last commercial pre-recorded 8-track cassettes appeared in the US in 1988, but were no longer available in record stores at that time. In Germany, an attempt was made to establish the format in the early 1970s, but unfortunately it failed. Warner Germany still advertised the cartridge format when it released On The Third Day, but left it as it was in mid-1974.

In the 1970s, in the US the 8-tracks were available with an open-bottomed company cardboard sleeve sealed in transparent cellophane. Some 8-tracks even had a protective clip that you could clip over the open band to protect it. The tape shells were usually black plastic, but shells in other colors were also available. Even small design deviations, depending on the manufacturing plant, are known. The cartridges were delivered with a paper strip glued on which contained the cover artwork, the album information and the album title.

For the listening experience, the main difference from vinyl LPs is, of course, the often changed track order and the interrupted songs that were necessary for the endless tape. The songs on a two-sided LP were divided into four programs of equal length. In principle, the playing time of a program (the tape length) is a quarter of the total playing time of the album. Exceptions were made on certain albums to increase the length of each program above a quarter of the overall album, to allow all songs to play uninterrupted by a program break, with the resultant extra time being filled by repeating part of a song. On some other albums, interruptions of songs were avoided by having a few bars of a certain song repeated or removed in order to balance the lengths of the four programs. Having only silence playing until switching to the next program didn't seem to be an option at all-- the premium seeming to be totally uninterrupted music. When a song was divided, it usually faded down to a lower volume at the end of the program and faded up again after switching, so that some song information was lost in the process. While it may now seem strange to contemplate how these changes of song sequences and interruptions of songs damaged the artistic integrity of albums, for listeners of the day who chose the 8-track format for its convenience, the altered albums became their versions that they knew and loved.

There is even an 8-track dealer who, for a surcharge, will copy the exact 8-track to CD-R when you buy it, so that you can also enjoy the 8-track's unique qualities acoustically.

ELO on 8-track Tapes: For the Electric Light Orchestra, nearly the entire catalog was released on 8-track, from No Answer up until the Secret Messages album. Under United Artists, each album was released in stores, presumably on the same day as the vinyl counterparts, although in the early days, before ELO's chart successes, they may have lagged behind the vinyl releases by a few weeks or months. When ELO moved from United Artists, all prior 8-tracks were released again under the new CBS brand.

United Artists (UA) Tapes: What immediately catches the eye with the United Artists tapes is the fact that the cover photo basically only consisted of the image of the artwork, i.e., without the lettering of the artist's name and the album title, which were written in a uniform font above or below the album art. In many United Artists advertisements as well, you can see the album photo without any lettering. It's as if UA considered the name and title to be merely identifiers rather than intrinsic parts of the album artwork. By displaying the unadorned, clean album artwork, the UA 8-tracks were a unique experience for the eyes as well as the ears.

All United Artists 8-tracks were also made for Columbia House Record Club (CRC), but only two were released for the RCA Music Service. The cover design corresponded to the specifications for the corresponding labels, and the programs were generally the same.

The RCA Music Service editions had a completely different design of the credits, had the original cover photo and also the original order number, which was supplemented with its own club number. So, for example Electric Light Orchestra II UA-EA040G with subnumber S 123289 was printed on the front, whereby only the subnumber could be read on the back. The cases are in white color. The release of the entire ELO catalog from RCA Music Service is uncertain, therefore only those known to exist, Electric Light Orchestra II and Out Of The Blue are shown below.

Issue Date
Tape Detail
Comments
No Answer
1972
Spine Front Back
United Artists - 8U-8377
Track Detail
Program 1: 10538 Overture / Whisper In The Night

Program 2: Nellie Takes Her Bow / Manhattan Rumble (49th Street Massacre)

Program 3: First Movement (Jumpin' Biz) / Queen Of The Hours / The Battle Of Marston Moor (July 2nd, 1644)

Program 4: The Battle Of Marston Moor (July 2nd, 1644) continued / Look At Me Now / Mr. Radio


Thanks to the clever title arrangement, only one song, probably the least popular, had to be separated. With a program length of approximately 10:21, the split in The Battle Of Marston Moor (July 2nd, 1644) occurs at 3:56 minutes with no fade out. Program 4 starts at 3:57 in the bassoon section for the last 2:07 and is not faded in. Changing the subject makes it seem like two different songs.
The first USA E.L.O. 8-track by United Artists was released in 1972 as The Electric Light Orchestra, 8U 8377. The name No Answer was not found on the entire sleeve. In the old design of the United Artists logo and red background, the LP cover image was shown in a slightly larger image section. The purple writing is nicely arranged over the picture and the tape is protected with a clip.
Electric Light Orchestra II
1972
Spine Front Back
United Artists - UA-EA040-G
Track Detail
1: Roll Over Beethoven / Jeff's Boogie #1

2: Jeff's Boogie #1 continued / Kuiama

3: Kuiama continued / Jeff's Boogie #2

4. Jeff's Boogie #2 continued / Mama


The programs here were divided into 10:01 minutes, but this resulted in three splits in the five long album tracks. In any case, they didn't want to separate Roll Over Beethoven, the single hit, in its 8:02 version and opened the album with this.

All songs are played directly one after the other without a break in between. The first split occurs in Jeff's Boogie #1 ending at 2:15 and fading out at 2:10.

In program 2 Jeff's Boogie #1 fades in quietly at 2:16, has full volume at 2:19 and continues at 5:59. Kuiama was faded at 4:11 after "...no mercy tool" and separated at 4:15 before the down strokes.

In program 3 Kuiama continues with 6:55 at 4:16 with the softly faded down strokes and at 4:19 before the slide intro it has full volume again. Jeff's Boogie #2 fades out at 3:19 ending with "launching pad" at 3:24.

On program 4 Jeff's Boogie #2 song fades-in again back at 3:29 before the "... pad" at 3:22 and reached full volume at 3:23. Mama finishes the album with its regular 6:57.

Electric Light Orchestra II, UA-EA-040-G, shows the group photo with the lightbulb that has landed from the inside fold-out page of the LP cover artwork. Album title and group name are above in uniform typeface. The song titles and album credits are printed in white type on a black background, as was carried over to all subsequent albums, and are presented in a uniform black UA sleeve.

Hear a Jeff's Boogie #1 track change sample.

Hear a Kuiama track change sample. Notice the tape bleed.

On The Third Day
1973
Spine Front Back
United Artists - UA-EA188-G
Track Detail
1: Showdown / In The Hall Of The Mountain King

2: Oh No Not Susan / New World Rising / Daybreaker

3. Daybreaker -reprise- / Ma-Ma-Ma Belle / I'm Only Dreaming Of 4000

4. Ocean Breakup / King Of The Universe / Bluebird Is Dead / Oh No Not Susan -reprise-


Program lengths are given between 11:02 and 11:05.

This album also starts with the single hit, Showdown, which is played in full length. This is followed by the 20 second piano interlude prior of Ma-Ma-Ma Belle, before transitioning into the dawn intro of In The Hall Of The Mountain King.

Program 2 starts with the full interlude opening of Oh No Not Susan (which starts at 4:22 in Bluebird Is Dead!), includes, of course, the unlisted Ocean Breakup Reprise after New World Rising, and ends with the final note of Daybreaker at 3:30.

Program 3 starts with a short 1:41 Daybreaker reprise that fades in later at 2:10, which then goes into the piano interlude and Ma-Ma-Ma Belle. This is followed by the Dreaming Of 4000, which is mentioned here under a strange mixture of the early title and final title as I'm Only Dreaming Of 4000.

Program 4 starts with the normal LP running order and ends in Oh No Not Susan at 2:16 "... money and" which fades out at 2:03 with the second sung "oh no...".

The arrangement is quite clever: the piano interlude is doubled, the second Oh No Not Susan and Daybreaker are missing 16 seconds and 1:41 respectively.

On The Third Day, UA-EA 188-G, shows the black and white photo of Richard Avedon without the names of the members on a black background.
Eldorado
1974
Spine Front Back
United Artists - UA-EA339-G
Track Detail
1: Eldorado Overture / Can't Get It Out Of My Head / Boy Blue

2: Boy Blue (continuted) / Laredo Tornado / Poorboy (The Greenwood)

3: Mister Kingdom / Illusions In G Major / Nobody's Child (part)

4. Nobody's Child (entirety) / Eldorado / Eldorado Finale


Program 1 ends in Boy Blue at 3:42 on "I've seen God" and fades down with "flies" at 3:35.

Program 2 begins Boy Blue at 3:25 "eeh-eeh..." and has full volume in the string transition, introducing the "I've seen bold knights..." verse. So Boy Blue is "extended" by 18 seconds. Poor Boy (The Greenwood) is played to the full here.

In program 3 at the end of Mister Kingdom, the orchestral prelude of Nobody's Child can be heard for 20 seconds, which fades out 1 second earlier. Then Illusions In G Major followed. After Illusions in G Major, Nobody's Child starts at 0:21, fades out after the "...ladies" at 1:59 and ends at 2:07 with the "ahh ohoho".

The Entirety (entire version) of Nobody's Child starts on program 4 again at 0:21 with the first "painted ladies" and fades quieter in the fifth "painted ladies" block from 3:43 and can hardly be heard at 3:49 and ends at 3:51. Eldorado starts with 2 seconds of Illusions In G Major guitar decay.

The order makes sense, as leaving Illusions In G Major would have meant a program change after 48 seconds.

Eldorado - A Symphony By The Electric Light Orchestra, UA-EA 339-G, also shows only the cover photo without writing. And for the first time a "Produced by Jeff Lynne" among the songs. The program lengths are given as 10:18 to 10:20. Here they tried not to change the conceptual structure of the album too much and kept the song order except for the swapping of Nobody's Child with Illusions In G Major.

Hear a Boy Blue track change sample.

Hear a Nobody's Child track change sample

Hear the transition of Mister Kingdom to Illusions In G Major sample, with the intro of Nobody's Child between them.

Hear the transition of Illusions In G Major to Nobody's Child sample, without intro of Nobody's Child.

Face The Music
1975
Spine Front Back
United Artists - UA-EA546-H
Track Detail
1: Fire On High / Poker

2: Evil Woman / Nightrider

3. Waterfall / One Summer Dream

4. One Summer Dream (continued) / Strange Magic / Down Home Town


The first two songs of program 1 end exactly at 9:04.

Program 2 is the same as the LP counterpart.

In program 3, One Summer Dream ends at 4:49, and fades down at 4:42.

Program 4 has about 40 seconds left for the end of One Summer Dream, between 4:57 and 5:36. So 8 seconds are missing here and about 10 seconds from the all too quiet faded out end, which would have been inaudible on a tape anyway. Thus, the sides of the same length could be achieved with 9:04.

It fits well though, as One Summer Dream feels more like an echo before clearly ending the album with the final chord of Down Home Town. Here, too, a clever cut, which is not noticeable at all due to the fade-out program 3.

Face The Music, UA-EA 546-H, also shows the unlettered cover photo and on the back the sentence "All compositions by Jeff Lynne". The program time here is always 9:04.

Hear a One Summer Dream track change sample.

Olé ELO
1976
Spine Front Back
United Artists - UA-EA630-H
Track Detail
1: 10538 Overture / Kuiama

2: Kuiama (continued) / Roll Over Beethoven

3: Ma-Ma-Ma Belle / Can't Get It Out Of My Head / Evil Woman

4. Showdown / Boy Blue / Strange Magic


The split from Kuiama in program 1 is in the middle of the violin solo at 6:52, with the song already fading away at 6:44.

On program 2 Kuiama resumes at 6:57 and is at full volume at 7:02. So there are 5 seconds missing from the violin solo with the prominent piano chord, which of course is not noticeable if you don't know the song any other way. The long versions of Roll Over Beethoven (8:02) and Kuiama (11:10) were used, and the intro/outro-free versions as on the Olé ELO LP.

Program 3 plays Ma-Ma-Ma Belle in the 3:33 version, which faded at 3:22 with "ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-ma..." and ended at 3:33 with "ma, ma-ma -ma...".

On program 4, Showdown was faded at 4:01 in "run again" and ends at 4:03, 4 seconds earlier. Boy Blue faded at 5:06 (at full album version) in the "back" and ends with the "oh oh" at 5:12, missing the last 5 seconds, which were present on the Olé ELO LP-version.

By swapping Showdown and Evil Woman, no further splits were necessary.

Of course, Olé ELO, UA-EA 630-H, should not be missing. This time the cover is complete with writing and the programs have a playing time of 12:18.

Hear a Kuiama track change sample.

Hear a Showdown early fade sample.

Hear a Boy Blue early fade sample.

A New World Record
1977
Spine Front Back
United Artists - UA-EA679-H
Track Detail
1: Tightrope / Mission (A World Record)

2: So Fine / Living Thing / Above The Clouds

3. Above The Clouds (continued) / Telephone Line / Rockaria!

4: Do Ya / Shangri-La


In program 1, Tightrope fades out at 4:48 and ends at 5:03, making it 2 seconds shorter.

In program 2, Above The Clouds plays for 1:54, fading softer at 1:48 "still it's alright with me" and ending with "believe me now".

Program 3 plays 1:26 of Above The Clouds, which now has "I'm waiting here" faded in at 0:49 and full back at 0:52. The song is normally only 2:17, and is included here as 3:20. This repeats Above The Clouds at 1:05 minutes. A good sacrifice to avoid further cuts and not destroy the transition from So Fine. Rockaria! with 3:06 starts without the false start and is played out completely.

With Tightrope as the first song and the sequences So Fine / Livin' Thing / Above The Clouds, Telephone Line / Rockaria! and Do Ya / Shangri-La at the end, the drama of the album hardly gets lost.

Hear a Tightrope early fade out sample.

Hear a Above The Clouds track change sample.

Joyride
1976
Joyride 8-track spine
Spine Front Back
United Artists - UA-EA784-H
Track Detail
1: The Best That I Know How / Tightrope / Eatin' Dog Food

2: Dancin' In Alaska / Can't Get It Out Of My Head / Boy Blue

3. The Best That I Know How (Intrumental) / So Fine / The Getaway / Rockaria!

4: Telephone Line / Train Stuff / The Best That I Know How (Reprise)

UA-EA 784-H, has nothing to do here, but as the only UA-sampler we'll make an exception. The album cover is complete with lettering, the programs go from 10:15 to 10:18 and by slightly swapping 4 songs, no songs had to be divided and the structure of the album remained the same.
Out Of The Blue
1977
Spine Front Back
United Artists - JT-EA823-L2
Track Detail
1: Turn To Stone / It's Over / Sweet Talkin' Woman / Across The Border / The Whale

2: The Whale (continuted) / Sweet Is The Night / Wild West Hero / Jungle / Night In The City

3: Night In The City (continued) / Starlight / Believe Me Now / Steppin' Out / Birmingham Blues

4. Standin' In The Rain / Big Wheels / Summer And Lightning / Mr. Blue Sky


There was a clear focus on the complete Concerto For A Rainy Day. It's on program 4 and not separated, ending the album with dignity. The "please turn me over" fits well because it "automatically" begins again with Turn To Stone afterwards. In order to achieve this, parts of The Whale and Night In The City were repeated after the split, and thus "extended" by 4:53 and 3:58 respectively. The 8-track album is 8:01 minutes longer than on the LP!

Program 1 disconnects from The Whale at 3:10, and shuts down at 3:06.

However, program 2 starts again with The Whale at 0:02 and has 4:55. So 4:53 is duplicated in The Whale. Night In The City gets fade out at 1:43 before the slide effect with the guitar hits and ends at 1:50 with the slide fading away.

On program 3, however, the song starts again at 0:03 and thus contains almost the entire song at 3:58. This includes 3:58 from Night In The City twice. It can be doubted whether the songs that start from scratch improve the listening experience.

Program 4 is completed with no edits or interruptions, thus preserving the Concerto for a Rainy Day.

Hear a The Whale track change sample.

Hear a Night In The City track change sample.

CBS Tapes: After the change of distributor from United Artists to CBS, all 8-tracks were re-released. The cartridges came in uniform window sleeves with storage instructions and all show the complete album cover photos (including band name and album title) on a black frame and the 5-digit catalog number. On The Third Day still has the black and white cover, but with the album title highlighted in blue! On the back are the programs listed and a note about the Dolby B process, since all tapes have now been dubbed with Dolby. The master tapes already created by the CRC were used for most of the albums, since those were already created in the CBS family. But for some, new 8-track masters were created to tweak the ugly transitions found on the United Artists tapes. In principle, the endless tape has been extended by a few seconds, which then results in different transitions.

Note, the last CBS era release-- indeed the last ELO 8-track tape ever-- was 1983's Secret Messages, which was not available in shops, but through Columbia House mail order only.

No Answer
1978
Spine Front Back
Jet Records/CBS - JZA 35524
Track Detail
Program 1: 10538 Overture / Whisper In The Night

Program 2: Nellie Takes Her Bow / Manhattan Rumble (49th Street Massacre)

Program 3: First Movement (Jumpin' Biz) / Queen Of The Hours / The Battle Of Marston Moor (July 2nd, 1644)

Program 4: The Battle Of Marston Moor (July 2nd, 1644) continued / Look At Me Now / Mr. Radio


With a program length of approximately 10:21, the split in The Battle Of Marston Moor (July 2nd, 1644) occurs at 3:56 minutes and is turned down at 3:49.

However, program 4 only begins at 4:01 in the bassoon section and has full volume at 4:06.

Due to the change of subject, it then seems like two different songs and the missing 5 seconds don't come up. This version was initially used on the CRC tape.

Hear a The Battle Of Marston Moor (July 2nd, 1644) track change sample.
Electric Light Orchestra II
1978
Spine Front Back
Jet Records/CBS - JZA 35533
Track Detail
1: Roll Over Beethoven / Jeff's Boogie #1

2: Jeff's Boogie #1 continued / Kuiama

3: Kuiama continued / Jeff's Boogie #2

4. Jeff's Boogie #2 continued / Mama


Compared to the United Artists tape, this was extended by 10 seconds of program time in order to place the separations more skillfully.

Jeff's Boogie #1 now plays until at 2:22 and ends very abruptly, fading away at 2:20.

Program 2 continues just as quickly, since it starts again at 2:19 and continues at 5:59, with the last 4 tones being repeated. Kuiama is perfectly separated at 4:26 and the song continues at 6:47 at 4:27 with the slide guitar intro as if they were two separate songs. (This separation was also applied to the cassette tape.) Jeff's Boogie #2 fades down at 3:37 in the "look out face..." and is gone at "change our place" 3:40.

It starts again on program 4 at 3:14 again at 3:36 with the prelude before "look out face...". At Mama, at 6:33, the passage from 6:24 is repeated, making the song 9 seconds longer.

Hear a Jeff's Boogie #1 track change sample.

Hear a Kuiama track change sample.

Hear a Jeff's Boogie #2 track change sample.

On The Third Day
1978
0
Spine Front Back
Jet Records/CBS - JZA 35525
Track Detail
1: Showdown / In The Hall Of The Mountain King

2: Oh No Not Susan / New World Rising / Daybreaker

3. Daybreaker -reprise- / Ma-Ma-Ma Belle / I'm Only Dreaming Of 4000

4. Ocean Breakup / King Of The Universe / Bluebird Is Dead / Oh No Not Susan -reprise-


On The Third Day, JZA 35525, has been extended by 20 seconds and has playing times from 11:23 to 11:27.

Program 1 now contains a full 40 second repeat of the "Dawn" intro after In The Hall Of The Mountain King, and fades down at 0:35.

Program 2 starts with the interlude upbeat of Oh No Not Susan (at the end of Bluebird Is Dead), also includes New World Rising and the uncredited Ocean Breakup Reprise, and ends in Daybreaker after the full 20-second piano interlude (3:51) which fades quieter at 3:42.

Program 3 starts with the complete Daybreaker which then fades out at 2:23 and ends at 2:35, so there is no piano interlude before Ma-Ma-Ma Belle.

On program 4, the interlude before Oh No Not Susan starts with a conspicuous second pause, although the whole song is then repeated and is thus completely on the tape twice.

There was no saving on tape here, so that all songs could be recorded quite generously

On The Third Day, JZA 35525, still has the black and white cover, but with the album title highlighted in blue!

Hear an In The Hall Of The Mountain King ending sample.

Hear a Daybreaker ending sample.

Hear a Daybreaker to Ma-Ma-Ma Belle track change sample.

Hear Oh No Not Susan (Reprise) in entirety.

Eldorado
1978
Spine Front Back
Jet Records/CBS - JZA 35526
Track Detail
1: Eldorado Overture / Can't Get It Out Of My Head / Boy Blue

2: Boy Blue (continuted) / Laredo Tornado / Poorboy (The Greenwood)

3: Mister Kingdom / Illusions In G Major / Nobody's Child (part)

4. Nobody's Child (entirety) / Eldorado / Eldorado Finale


This tape has a longer program time compared to the United Artists tape.

Program 1 in Boy Blue now in the "I've seen bold knights... verse at 3:35 fades out with "flies" and ends with "rolling in the mire" at 3:39.

Program 2 begins Boy Blue at full volume at 3:30 with "I've seen bold...". At the end of Poor Boy (The Greenwood), 4 seconds between 2:46 and 2:50 were removed, leaving the song the same transitions into the last 3 bars before the final chord.

In program 3 there is a seamless transition from Mister Kingdom to Illusions In G Major, but it also works very well and the last second of the reverberation is missing. Nobody's Child plays until 2:06 and fades down at 2:02 "stay here with me".

Nobody's Child resumes on program 4 at 0:30 on the second piano bars and ends at 3:26 after the "ahh ahh" and flows seamlessly into Eldorado.

The missing bars in Poor Boy are kind of unforgivable. This album edit was earlier used for the CRC tape.

Hear a Boy Blue track change sample

Hear a Nobody's Child track change sample

Face The Music
1978
Spine Front Back
Jet Records/CBS - JZA 35527
Track Detail
1: Fire On High / Poker

2: Evil Woman / Nightrider

3. Waterfall / One Summer Dream

4. One Summer Dream (continued) / Strange Magic / Down Home Town


Face The Music, JZA 35527, was extended by about 20 seconds per side from 9:19 to 9:25.

In Program 1, Poker is followed by the 21-second Orchestral Interlude prior to Strange Magic.

In program 2, Evil Woman then starts directly with the piano intro without an orchestral interlude and, by repeating the 3rd verse, goes from 4:06 (the album version; here minus 15 seconds!) back to 3:17 (or 3:50 back to 3:01) extended by 49 seconds to 4:48.

In program 3, after Waterfall, the 15-second orchestral interlude prior to Evil Woman follows, then it goes into the intro of One Summer Dream, which gets quieter at 4:48 and ends at 4:56.

In program 4, One Summer Dream resumes a little earlier back at 4:24 again with only the sung "one" being faded-in and the song playing out in full at 1:21 as on the LP. Strange Magic follows at 4:08 with no orchestral interlude and transitioned normally to Down Home Town.

Thus, all song parts of the LP were used and only Evil Woman repeated with 49 seconds and One Summer Dream with 30 seconds.

Editor's Note: This CRC tape is not currently available for review, but if the pattern holds, it matches the earlier CBS version. If and when this CRC tape is reviewed, this section will be updated appropriately.

Hear a One Summer Dream track change sample.
Olé ELO
1978
Spine Front Back
Jet Records/CBS - JZA 35528
Track Detail
1: 10538 Overture / Kuiama

2: Kuiama (continued) / Roll Over Beethoven

3: Ma-Ma-Ma Belle / Can't Get It Out Of My Head / Evil Woman

4. Showdown / Boy Blue / Strange Magic


Olé ELO, JZA 35528, has had its program playing time extended by 5 seconds. Kuiama faded out in program 1 in the violin solo at 6:51 and ends at 6:59.

Program 2 starts Kuiama again back at 6:51 and repeats the part that fades in more quietly. As a result, the 5 missing seconds from the United Artists 8-track are now included and so Kuiama is now 8 seconds longer overall.

And the shortened endings of Showdown and Boy Blue could now be played in full at 4:07 and 4:12, respectively, like on the Olé ELO LP.

Editor's Note: This CRC tape is not currently available for review, but if the pattern holds, it matches the later CBS version. If and when this CRC tape is reviewed, this section will be updated appropriately.

Hear a Kuiama track change sample.
A New World Record
1978
Spine Front Back
Jet Records/CBS - JZA 35529
Track Detail
1: Tightrope / Mission (A World Record)

2: So Fine / Living Thing / Above The Clouds

3. Above The Clouds (continued) / Telephone Line / Rockaria!

4: Do Ya / Shangri-La


In program 2, Above The Clouds plays for 1:54, fading down at 1:48 "still it's alright with me" and ending with "believe me now".

Program 3 plays 1:26 of Above The Clouds, which now fades in at 0:49 "I'm waiting here" and is back in full force at 0:52. Compared to the UA edition, the "now" and the "I'm" can hardly be heard during the transition. The song is only 2:17, and is included here with 3:20. With that, Above The Clouds repeats itself at 1:05 minutes. Rockaria! starts at 3:06 without the false start and omits 9 of 13 beats at the end and goes straight into the final chord, which means that 1 second is missing at the beginning and 4 seconds at the end. This version was earlier used for the CRC tape.

Hear a Above The Clouds track change sample.

Hear a Rockaria! sample.

Out Of The Blue
1978
Spine Front Back
Jet Records/CBS - ZAX 35530
Track Detail
1: Turn To Stone / It's Over / Sweet Talkin' Woman / Across The Border / The Whale

2: The Whale (continued) / Sweet Is The Night / Wild West Hero / Jungle / Night In The City

3: Night In The City (continued) / Starlight / Believe Me Now / Steppin' Out / Birmingham Blues

4. Standin' In The Rain / Big Wheels / Summer And Lightning / Mr. Blue Sky


Now with shorter double portions of The Whale (2:38) and Night In The City (1:53).

Program 1 disconnects from The Whale at 3:06, and shuts down at 2:59.

However, program 2 starts again with The Whale at 0:28 and has 4:34. So 2:38 is duplicated in The Whale. Night In The City fades out at 1:53 after the slide effect on the guitar hits, ending with "city" at 2:05.

On program 3, however, the song starts again at 0:12 and thus contains almost the entire song at 3:50. This includes 1:53 from Night In The City twice.

Again, Concerto for a Rainy Day is included its entirety and is not edited.

This version was earlier used for the CRC tape.

Hear a The Whale track change sample.

Hear a Night In The City track change sample.

Discovery
1979
Spine Front Back
Jet Records/CBS - FZA 35769
Track Detail
1: Shine A Little Love / Need Her Love

2: The Diary Of Horace Wimp / Last Train To London / Shine A Little Love (reprise)

3: Midnight Blue / On The Run / Wishing (Part 1)

4. Wishing (Conclusion) / Confusion / Don't Bring Me Down


The program length is from 10:00 to 10:10, so program 2 offers a reprise of Shine A Little Love. The song starts without the intro, like the single version. It fades out at 1:36 (full version!) and ends with the end of the chorus at 1:48. Oddly enough, Last Train To London had to be shortened a bit for this. It only has 4:13 and is already quieter at 3:59. The last 16 seconds are missing.

Program 3 therefore still has space for 1:59 Wishing, which is faded quieter in the solo at 1:53.

Wishing is then faded in back again on 1:56 on program 4 and is therefore 4 seconds longer in total.

Hear the Shine A Little Love reprise track.

Hear a Wishing track change sample.

ELO's Greatest Hits
1979
Spine Front Back
Jet Records/CBS - FZA 36310
Track Detail
1: Evil Woman / Living Thing / Turn To Stone

2: Can't Get It Out Of My Head / Showdown / Rockaria!

3. Sweet Talkin' Woman / Ma-Ma-Ma Belle / Strange Magic

4: Telephone Line / Mr. Blue Sky / Sweet Talkin' Woman (reprise)


By bringing Turn To Stone forward and deferring Telephone Line, no songs had to be split. Showdown fades out 3:34 on "I need you" and ends at 3:52 with "me". There are 15 seconds are missing from the end, because the song seamlessly merges into the complete Rockaria! with false start. Ma-Ma-Ma Belle fades out at 3:22 on "ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-ma..." and ends at 3:33 on "ma, ma, ma-ma...".

The program playing time is 11:30, so for that on program 4 Sweet Talkin' Woman Reprise fades out at 1:40 in "...down" and ends at 1:48 in "hold on".

Hear a Showdown early fade sample.

Hear a Ma-Ma-Ma Belle early fade sample.

Hear the Sweet Talkin' Woman reprise.

Xanadu
1980
Spine Front Back
MCA Records - MCAT 6100
Track Detail
1: Magic / Suddenly (with Cliff Richard) / Dancin' (with The Tubes) (Part 1)

2: Dancin' (with The Tubes) (Conclusion) / Suspended In Time / Whenever You're Away From Me (with Gene Kelly) (Part 1)

3: Whenever You're Away From Me (with Gene Kelly) (Conclusion) / I'm Alive / The Fall / Don't Walk Away (Part 1)

4: Don't Walk Away (Conclusion) / All Over The World / Xanadu


Due to contractual requirements, the song order was probably not supposed to be changed, which resulted in separating 3 songs. The program playing time can be calculated at 10:10 to 10:26.

In program 1, Dancin' fades out at 1:53 with "(rather do)-ooo-oo..." and ends with "...sweet thing" at 2:01.

Program 2 starts Dancin' 6 seconds later at 2:07 and quickly fades in with "I wanna dance with you" and had 3:05 in full. Whenever You're Away From Me fades out 3:05 at the whistling and ends at 3:11.

Program 3 starts Whenever You're Away From Me at 3:13 with the remaining 1:08 and returns to full volume at "wherever you go" (3:15). Don't Walk Away fades out at 1:46 on the lone sung "don't walk awa-a-a-ay" and ends at 1:51.

Program 4 starts Don't Walk Away at 1:52 with "Is it a dream..." which quickly fades in. The excess length of the ONJ side from the ELO side is cleverly compensated.

"From The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack Xanadu" featuring Olivia Newton John and Electric Light Orchestra, MCAT 6100. Released by MCA in a plain MCA 8-track cardboard sleeve, the label shows the album cover and listing the ONJ tracks first, making the title track the last song. "* Produced by John Farrar, + Produced by Jeff Lynne (Recorded In Europe)" are the only other credits on the strip.

Hear a Don't Walk Away track change sample.

Time
1981
Spine Front Back
Jet Records/CBS - FZA 37371
Track Detail
1: Prologue / Twilight / Yours Truly, 2095 / The Lights Go Down

2: Ticket To The Moon / Another Heart Breaks / Here Is The News

3: The Way Life's Meant To Be / 21st Century Man / Hold On Tight

4. Rain Is Falling / From The End Of The World / Epilogue / Another Heart Breaks (reprise)


The program playing time is around 11:45. With Here Is The News, the following upbeat fades out 2 seconds earlier at 3:46.

In program 4, the Epilogue follows without a break, and then Another Heart Breaks starts again, which then fades out in the so-called 3rd verse after the "five" at 2:50 and ended after the "seven" at 2:57.

Time, FZA 37371, shows an enlarged cover section and larger album title and lists a barcode on the back for the first time. "All Music and Lyrics by Jeff Lynne. Produced by Jeff Lynne" is written beyond it. By rearranging the songs, no song had to be separated. However, the running order of the 8-track-album suffers somewhat in the chronology of events. But who knows how well our time traveler will do.
Secret Messages
1983
Secret Messages 8-track spine Secret Messages 8-track front Secret Messages 8-track back
Spine Front Back
Jet Records/CBS - QZA 38490 (Columbia House edition)
Track Detail
1. Secret Messages / Loser Gone Wild

2. Stranger / Danger Ahead / Train Of Gold (beginning)

3. Train Of Gold (conclusion) / Rock 'n' Roll Is King / Bluebird / Take Me On And On (beginning)

4. Take Me On And On (conclusion) / Four Little Diamonds / Letter From Spain


Mathematically, it was incomprehensible how four equally long programs could be created in this order. The solution was to extend Loser Gone Wild by 37 seconds by repeating the sequence from 4:08 "silent voices calling too" to 4:45 "loo-oo-oo-oo-ooh". Of course, the song connoisseurs notice this immediately, but the 8-track listeners will not have noticed it.

Train Of Gold fades out in the solo at 2:22 and ended at 2:28. Then kicks off with the upbeat to the final chorus at 2:29 on Program 3.

Rock 'n' Roll Is King is with full album outro. Take Me On An On ends after the "...it might be" at 0:55 of the first verse and fades in at 0:56 with "somewhere far away..." on program 4. The total playing time is around 10:45, with program 4 is a bit shorter. 3 seconds before and after the tape change have to be added. Here you can already see how "matterless" the 8-track format has become. The songs new running order was probably decided at the CRC.

Secret Messages, QZA 38490, is of course the rarest 8-track. The demand for 8 tracks were of course also lower, which could only be obtained through mail order and were only produced for CRC.

Hear a Train Of Gold track change sample.

Hear a Take Me On And On track change sample.

ColumbiaHouseAd Columbia House (CRC) Tapes: The CRC tapes were thought to be released at or near the same time as the United Artists tapes. They contained the same song order, but there were often slight deviations in the edits made to the songs.

All the ELO United Artists 8-tracks were licensed to the Columbia House Record Club (CRC). The cover artwork, identically to the 8-tracks manufactured by UA, were usually devoid of band name and album title. At CRC, the catalog numbers were derived from the UA numbers. So, Eldorado UA-EA339-G, became just the EA 399H, exactly in this spelling. The price code G has already been increased to H. Later editions also carried a CRC on the cartridge spine. The backs of the covers got a new design with white writing on a black background. The 8-tracks were shipped in uniform Columbia House storage-labeled cases manufactured in Terre Haute, Indiana.

Since a record club naturally pays more attention to cost savings, new master tapes were created for almost all 8-tracks in order to optimize the song flow. One was not squeamish when a few seconds of sound information were lost as a result. The exception for unclear reasons was On The Third Day, which used the same 8-track masters as the United Artists tape. When CBS took over distribution, they naturally used the same Columbia House master tapes, given that CBS and Columbia House were in the same corporate family. However, for the CBS On The Third Day tape, an all new master was created.

After the switch of ELO distribution from United Artists to CBS in 1978, it seems that there was no effort to differentiate the 8-tracks manufactured by CBS for retail sale from those sold by Columbia House. CRC remained active in producing 8-tracks into the 1980s. Nothing is certain, but it is assumed that they switched to selling the pre-1978 tapes through CRC with the CBS markings. Regardless, for ELO's post-1978 releases, CRC sold the CBS tapes with no special editions. The exceptions to this are the 1980 MCA-produced Xanadu tape, which was not available through CRC due to licensing issues, and the 1983 Secret Messages release which was only available on 8-track through CRC.

Only the United Artists-era CRC releases are shown here.

Issue Date
Tape Detail
Comments
No Answer
1972
Spine Front Back
United Artists - UA-EA040-G (Columbia House edition)
Track Detail
Program 1: 10538 Overture / Whisper In The Night

Program 2: Nellie Takes Her Bow / Manhattan Rumble (49th Street Massacre)

Program 3: First Movement (Jumpin' Biz) / Queen Of The Hours / The Battle Of Marston Moor (July 2nd, 1644)

Program 4: The Battle Of Marston Moor (July 2nd, 1644) continued / Look At Me Now / Mr. Radio


This version featured the same edits as appeared on the CBS tape.
Hear a The Battle Of Marston Moor track change sample.
Electric Light Orchestra II
1972
Electric Light Orchestra II 8-track spine Electric Light Orchestra II 8-track front Electric Light Orchestra II 8-track back
Spine Front Back
United Artists - UAE-40 (Columbia House edition)
Track Detail
1: Roll Over Beethoven / Jeff's Boogie #1

2: Jeff's Boogie #1 continued / Kuiama

3: Kuiama continued / Jeff's Boogie #2

4. Jeff's Boogie #2 continued / Mama


This version is assumed to feature the same edits as used on the CBS tape.

Editor's Note: This CRC tape is not currently available for review, but if the pattern holds, it matches the later CBS version. If and when this CRC tape is reviewed, this section will be updated appropriately.

On The Third Day
1973
Spine Front Back
United Artists - EA 188 (Columbia House edition)
Track Detail
1: Showdown / In The Hall Of The Mountain King

2: Oh No Not Susan / New World Rising / Daybreaker

3. Daybreaker -reprise- / Ma-Ma-Ma Belle / I'm Only Dreaming Of 4000

4. Ocean Breakup / King Of The Universe / Bluebird Is Dead / Oh No Not Susan -reprise-


The track arrangement and split of song is the same as the United Artists (UA-EA188-G) tape.

Editor's Note: The UA and CRC tapes being the same is partially assumed. While reviewing the CRC tape, the first two programs were the same, but then the tape broke and the last two programs were not available. If and when it become available for review, this section will be changed.

Like the United Artists tape, the CRC version shows the black and white photo of Richard Avedon without the names of the members on a black background.

Hear the transition of Showdown to In The Hall Of The Mountain King sample, with the interlude/intro of Ma-Ma-Ma Belle between them.

Hear the transition of Oh No Not Susan sample, with ending of Bluebird Is Dead attached.

Hear a Daybreaker reprise sample.

Hear a Oh No Not Susan reprise sample.

Eldorado
1974
Spine Front Back
United Artists - EA 339 (Columbia House edition)
Track Detail
1: Eldorado Overture / Can't Get It Out Of My Head / Boy Blue

2: Boy Blue (continuted) / Laredo Tornado / Poorboy (The Greenwood)

3: Mister Kingdom / Illusions In G Major / Nobody's Child (part)

4. Nobody's Child (entirety) / Eldorado / Eldorado Finale


This version featured the same edits as appeared on the CBS tape.
Face The Music
1975
Spine Front Back
United Artists - EA 546 (Columbia House edition)
Track Detail
1: Fire On High / Poker

2: Evil Woman / Nightrider

3. Waterfall / One Summer Dream

4. One Summer Dream (continued) / Strange Magic / Down Home Town


This version featured the same edits as created for the CBS tape.

Editor's Note: This CRC tape produced during the United Artists era is not currently available for review, but if the pattern holds, it matches the later CBS version. If and when this CRC tape is reviewed, this section will be updated appropriately.

Olé ELO
1976
Spine Front Back
United Artists - EA 630 (Columbia House edition)
Track Detail
1: 10538 Overture / Kuiama

2: Kuiama (continued) / Roll Over Beethoven

3: Ma-Ma-Ma Belle / Can't Get It Out Of My Head / Evil Woman

4. Showdown / Boy Blue / Strange Magic


This version featured the same edits as created for the later CBS tape.

Editor's Note: This CRC tape produced during the United Artists era is not currently available for review, but if the pattern holds, it matches the later CBS version. If and when this CRC tape is reviewed, this section will be updated appropriately.

A New World Record
1977
Spine Front Back
United Artists - EA 679 (Columbia House edition)
Track Detail
1: Tightrope / Mission (A World Record)

2: So Fine / Living Thing / Above The Clouds

3. Above The Clouds (continued) / Telephone Line / Rockaria!

4: Do Ya / Shangri-La


This version featured the same edits as later edits used for the CBS tape.
Hear Above The Clouds in FULL.

Hear a Rockaria! sample.

Out Of The Blue
1977
Spine Front Back
United Artists - EA 823 L (Columbia House edition)
Track Detail
1: Turn To Stone / It's Over / Sweet Talkin' Woman / Across The Border / The Whale

2: The Whale (continuted) / Sweet Is The Night / Wild West Hero / Jungle / Night In The City

3: Night In The City (continued) / Starlight / Believe Me Now / Steppin' Out / Birmingham Blues

4. Standin' In The Rain / Big Wheels / Summer And Lightning / Mr. Blue Sky


This version featured the same edits as later edits used for the CBS tape.

RCA Music Service (RCA) Tapes: Licenses were also granted for the RCA Record Club. The RCA Music Service was a competitor to Columbia House, however they could never truly compete in regards to music selection due to contractual and licensing issues. Thus, only two Electric Light Orchestra albums were available through RCA. (Note: If RCA did manage to release any other albums, they were not specially marked and must have been the United Artists versions.)

The issues had a completely different design of the credits, showing only the original cover photo and also the original catalog number, which was supplemented by its own club number. So, f0r Electric Light Orchestra II UA-EA040G and subnumber "S 123289" were both printed on the front, whereby only the subnumber could be read on the back. The cases were white.

The RCA tapes were thought to be released at or near the same time as the United Artists tapes. They also contained the same song order and edits (it is believed), so must have been from the same source prepared for the 8-tracks.

Issue Date
Tape Detail
Comments
Electric Light Orchestra II
1972
Electric Light Orchestra II 8-Track spine Electric Light Orchestra II 8-Track front Electric Light Orchestra II 8-track back
Spine Front Back
United Artists - S 123289 (RCA Music Service edition)
Track Detail
1: Roll Over Beethoven / Jeff's Boogie #1

2: Jeff's Boogie #1 continued / Kuiama

3: Kuiama continued / Jeff's Boogie #2

4. Jeff's Boogie #2 continued / Mama


This tape has the same order and edits as the United Artists (UA-EA040-G) tape.
Out Of The Blue
1977
Spine Front Back
United Artists - S223719 (RCA Music Service edition)
Track Detail
1: Turn To Stone / It's Over / Sweet Talkin' Woman / Across The Border / The Whale

2: The Whale (continued) / Sweet Is The Night / Wild West Hero / Jungle / Night In The City

3: Night In The City (continued) / Starlight / Believe Me Now / Steppin' Out / Birmingham Blues

4. Standin' In The Rain / Big Wheels / Summer And Lightning / Mr. Blue Sky


This tape has the same order and edits as the United Artists (JT-EA823-L2) tape.

Final Thoughts

ELO's critical success coincided with the greatest success of the 8-track format. The format allowed greater portability than the vinyl and reel-to-reel counterparts. It also had the advantage of continuous play, so there was no need to interact with the tape once it was set to play.

However, the format was also doomed to failure. The smaller, more portable cassette tape could also have continuous play once the auto-reverse feature was added. Cassettes also had fast forward and rewind functions, which 8-tracks lacked. But probably most important was that songs on cassette did not have to be heavily edited to fit the four "side" format. Further, 8-tracks tended to have a high failure rate, due in part to the pinch roller being in the tape itself and being an easily wearable item. They were mostly played in automobiles, so the extreme heat and cold of that environment easily stressed the various parts of the units, causing them to break down.

As cassettes sales rose during the late 1970s and early 1980s, sales of 8-tracks quickly died. This was followed over the years by digital compact discs, mini-discs, and eventually, simple digital files. The 8-track tape is now an anachronism of the 1970s. But they are a curious piece of ELO history, showing many interesting edits and weird song ordering. Still, for many who grew up in the era, this was their learning experience of the band's music. For these reasons, they should not be forgotten.


This page is intended to be a complete record of Electric Light Orchestra's USA 8-track tape releases. If you notice any errors or omissions, please contact us at jefflynnesongs@gmail.com and let us know. We strive for accuracy.

Patrik Guttenbacher & Robert Porter
February 2024