ELO, Neil Diamond, and Grateful Dead

I didn’t start paying attention to music until 1980. My parents did not listen to rock: Dad liked Bach and Mom liked Anne Murray. So, I know very little about 70s rock. However, when it comes to the 80s, I can name that tune in 3 notes.

When I hear about 70s rock and great artists of the 70s, it always about Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, David Bowie, and Pink Floyd. Now and then, people throw in Ramones, Clash, Elvis Costello, Sex Pistols, and Blondie as notable. I guess Elton John was popular but not considered great or influential (?). Then you had the disco greats, if you can call them that.

So, what’s the deal with Electric Light Orchestra (ELO), Grateful Dead, and Neil Diamond? Everyone knows of them, I guess they sold a ton, but they don’t get a lot of credit? respect? accolades? I’m not sure what the word is.

What are their places in rock history and lore?

As a side note, is Touch of Grey considered a good song by Dead fans, or is it considered a sellout?

My wife saw ELO at a local DJ-sponsored rock club at the Dupage County Fairgrounds. Yeah, it was when they were The Move With Strings (one electric violin and one electric cello, as she recalls), but she thought they were awesome. They went on to outsell a SHITLOAD of bands, so I suspect they are willing to rest on their laurels, justifiably ignoring the losers who came after them as they rake in their royalties.

Are you kidding? Its role was to put the guys’ kids through college. Total sellout.

Oh, and Neil Diamond? Ask women, but not my wife (thank GOD!). MASSIVE hitmaker, and I’ll admit that he crossed over to the Straight Guy market, though we won’t admit it, but he THOROUGHLY understood the “pop music for now people” market. I, reluctantly, consider him a god.

Nope. I don’t know much about anything that happened before 1980.

Would these artists sort of fall in the same category as Billy Joel and Tom Petty? You know, respected careers but not lumped in with the greats?

Y’know, at a friend’s party, I looked at his record collection and accurately said, “You got married in 1979.” Between the two of us we will RULE rock trivia contests!

Are YOU kidding? On what basis are you making that statement?
You are aware that they allowed people to bring recording gear into venues to make bootlegs, right?
My thought is that it was a happy accident.

Deadhead here. Touch of Grey is considered a “sell out” because it was a top 40 hit, and the Dead had only one, Touch of Grey. They didn’t need money as they were always a top touring band during the 80s if not the top money making touring band. Touch of Grey is not what the band was about. Pick up Live Dead. Play it a few times. That is what the Dead were about. And it was different every night, so the Heads followed them about because the show was never the same. Nobody else did what the Dead did.

ELO. Quintessential 70s high production value band. They were enjoyable, but ABBA did the same thing a lot better. I enjoy their music because it is a sweet memory. Never saw them live, never a nut about them.

Neil Diamond. I will leave this to Neil Diamond fans, who are truly hardcore. A few very memorable tunes, but not really my cup of tea. He could be counted on to give a great show every time. Even if you weren’t a big fan, you would admire his desire to please the audience.

ELO were pretty big in the UK, having started with huge credibility as Roy Wood’s big project after The Move. There was a real buzz when the first lp came out… Of course, he didn’t last very long before he went on to form Wizzard but the rest carried on very successfully… Lots of us perceived them as pretty bland, though.

Neil Diamond had several huge hits and then we hardly ever heard of him again over here! Dedicated fanbase, like Barry Manilow a bit later on…

The Dead were huge in their own way, but a lot of people over here knew almost nothing about them, or what they sounded like. They, and their fans, were looked on as left-over hippies and a bit of a joke. When punk happened the whole idea of bands playing jams and 3 hour sets just seemed wrong!

Mike (fan of the Dead on and off since 1972)

From Wikipedia.

Jeff Lynne is considered by many to be one of the greatest pop tune crafters of all time.

Bearflag70, I wasn’t going to post my first thought because it’s technically off topic but given the above, have you heard of Muscle Shoals?

During the 1970s, the Swampers backed or otherwise helped to produce:

[li]Wilson Pickett[/li][li]Aretha Franklin[/li][li]Lulu[/li][li]Joe Cocker[/li][li]Rolling Stones[/li][li]Paul Simon / Simon & Garfunkel / Art Garfunkel[/li][li]Willie Nelson[/li][li]Traffic[/li][li]Percy Sledge[/li][li]Boz Scaggs[/li][li]Bob Seger[/li][li]Rod Stewart[/li][li]Cat Stevens[/li][li]Joan Baez[/li][li]James Brown[/li][li]Isaac Hayes[/li][li]Dire Straits[/li][li]Jimmy Buffett[/li][li]Levon Helm[/li][li]Eric Clapton[/li][li]Glenn Frey[/li][li]Carlos Santana[/li][li]Bob Dylan[/li][li]The Oakridge Boys[/li][li]Alabama[/li][li]T. Graham Brown[/li][li]Sawyer Brown[/li][/ul]
I’m with dropzone on Neil Diamond. Massive hitmaker, not only his but others. Did you know Urge Overkill’s “Girl, You’ll be a Woman Soon” from the Pulp Fiction soundtrack was written and recorded by Neil Diamond back in 1967?

Ditto Toxylon on ELO. I would also say that if Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Roy Orbison, and George Harrison want to form a band with you, then you have had some degree of influence in music.

I would add a bit of Jackson Browne and John Prine to the 1970s mix. Specifically, I’m thinking of Jackson Browne’s “Running on Empty” (1977) and John Prine’s “Diamonds in the Rough” (1972) and “Sweet Revenge” (1973).

I’m not sure you are allowed to use ELO and Grateful Dead in the same sentence. :eek:



Never heard of Muscle Shoals before now.

Neil Diamond is still way more popular than most people give him credit for. He is still known for giving great shows in major sell-out venues. Sweet Caroline is the unofficial Boston Red Sox theme song and it appeals to all ages. Flash in the pan punks may appear in the entertainment rags of the day but Neil still destroys them all.

Thanks for the primer. I saw about 40 to 50 Dead shows and am quite familiar with what they were “about”. It is not the greatest song, fine. In my opinion, as I said before, it was a happy accident (being a hit). If I were to make an accusation like that (of being sellouts), it would be to Jerry for being a part of Pac Man fever.

ELO made a lot of money, but don’t get a lot of respect. Their songs (singles at least) have a sameness that gets shallower with every song. I love their sound, but they should have mixed up the arrangements more.

My favorite is “I Can’t Get It of My Head.”

Randy Newman wrote a song about how much he loved ELO, and how ANY of their songs would do just fine.

I don’t put much significance on Jeff Lynne playing with the Traveling Wilburys. Stars that have had several low-selling albums (Dylan, Harrison, and Orbinson at the time.) will happily work with people that have better access to the top 40. Or maybe they were just all good friends.)

Neil Diamond was an outstanding pop song writer (“I’m a Believer”), but he couldn’t go deep. When he tries to be significant it only hits with people who think that, say, Paul Simon just gets too far out.

The Grateful Dead, well, that’s a topic for 10,000 endless discussion threads. The best Dead songs are richer than the best songs from Diamond or ELO, but they haven’t done as many good songs as Diamond or ELO.

I’d take “Shiloh” or “Mr. Blue Skies” over “Sugar Magnolia.”

Neil Diamond probably would. ELO is considered above the curve – Jeff Lynne earned a lot of cred by joining the Traveling Wilburys.

The Grateful Dead are legendary.

Tom Petty was a Wilbury.

I know, right? Even his chair didn’t bother to listen to him when he got all maudlin and stuff.