Sunday, 22 October 2017

ELO: The Jet/Polydor Years

Jet Records were launched by Don Arden in October 1974 with the Lynsey De Paul single "No Honestly" (amusingly given the catalogue number JET747) breaching the UK Top 10. Initially distributed by Polydor with a brief stint by Island Records during which Roy Wood enjoyed his final Top 20 non-Christmas themed hit "Oh What A Shame" (JET754), Jet Records went onto to become the flagship label for ELO right up until 1983. Formed after the limited success of ELO and Wizzard on the Warner Bros. Burbank label, the majority of the Jet single releases during this period were of injection moulded manufacture (typical of Polydor at the time) of a deep blue label colour.
Interestingly, Jet released eight singles and three albums featuring a combination of ELO, Roy Wood, Roy Wood's Wizzard and Bev Bevan during this period before Jet switched to United Artists Records in Summer 1976. Yet chart success was again hard to achieve for ELO in the UK. Despite "Evil Woman" (JET764) peaking at #10 in late January 1976, only "Strange Magic" (JET779) also charted (reaching #38 in July of that year) with "Nightrider" (JET769) and - quite amazingly - their acclaimed album "Face The Music" (JETLP11) failing to chart at all.

Even more disappointing was the fact that none of the Jet/Polydor single releases by Roy Wood, Roy Wood's Wizzard and Bev Bevan troubled the UK charts either. Even "Mustard" (JETLP12) drew a blank. This was, of course, in complete contrast to the rising profile of the Electric Light Orchestra in the United States and was likely the reason that the compilation "Ole ELO" (JETLP19) was withdrawn in the UK. Perhaps the difference in the fortunes of ELO on either side of the Atlantic could be explained by the fact that they changed labels three times in the UK for their first five studio albums when in the US they remained with United Artists Records.
Of special interest to Yours Truly KJS and elobeatlesforever (elobf) is the fact that "Heavy Head" (the 'B' side of the "Let There Be Drums" single) cited shared songwriting credits for Bev Bevan, Kelly Groucutt and Richard Tandy alongside Jeff Lynne for the first and only time on the Jet label (see above). Note also that that the transition from Jet/Polydor to Jet/UA was highlighted by the quoting of JET786 and JETLP20 in brackets when "Livin' Thing" (UP36184) and "A New World Record" (UAG30017) were released, following on from the final Jet/Polydor catalogue numbers JET785 and JETLP19 respectively (also shown above).

Undoubtedly, the creation of Jet Records provided the platform for the later successes of Jeff Lynne and ELO whilst it marked a lack of promotion, focus and support for Roy Wood. ELO returned to the UK Top 10 singles chart during these days but there was little else commercially to shout about. Another change in marketing and manufacturing partners ensued, this time with United Artists Records (more on that subject in a forthcoming elobf article) and the rest, they say, is history.

See also: ELO: The Burbank Years

Until next "Time" in the ELO [and related] Universe ... KJS ... 22-Oct-2017


  1. I think roy lost out more coz of the changes mustard is a great album and why look thru the eyes of a fool didnt chart i never understood it always remember roy being on supersonic with that

  2. Hi Keith, the UK OLE ELO Jet LP19 must be one of the rarest ELO records! In all my years of collecting I have never seen one. This is the first time I have seen a photograph of one.