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"10538 Overture"
Single by The Electric Light Orchestra
from the album
The Electric Light Orchestra ( No Answer)
B-side"First Movement (Jumping Biz)"
Released23 June 1972 (UK)
29 July 1972 (US)
RecordedJuly 1970
StudioPhilips Studios, London
Genre Progressive rock, Symphonic rock[ citation needed]
Length5:32 (Album length)
4:04 ( Single edit)
Label Harvest
Songwriter(s) Jeff Lynne
Producer(s) Roy Wood, Jeff Lynne
The Electric Light Orchestra singles chronology
"10538 Overture"
" Roll Over Beethoven"

"10538 Overture" is the debut single by Electric Light Orchestra (ELO), released in 1972.


The song, written by Jeff Lynne, was first recorded as an intended B-side for a single by the Move, Lynne's previous group. Both Roy Wood and Lynne sang on it, as happened later with The Move's " California Man". The song is about an escaped prisoner; Lynne wanted to give the character in the song a number, as opposed to a name, and he chanced upon the number 1053 while looking at the mixing console. Wood suggested adding an "8" to fit the melody better. Although intended to be a song for The Move, after cello parts were added it became the Electric Light Orchestra's first release. It was during the single's chart run that Wood left ELO, emerging later in the year with a new band called Wizzard.

Record World said that "this superb and highly commercial British group will have an American hit sooner or later. This, the opening track from their new concept album, may be the one." [1]

Classic Rock History critic Brian Kachejian rated it as ELO's 8th best song, calling it a "sentimental grooving ballad." [2]

Stereogum contributor Ryan Reed rated it as ELO's 9th best song, saying that "The late-’60s Beatles influence was never more apparent – from the metallic, descending electric guitar riff (shades of ' I Want You') to the Indian-tinted cello lines and disjointed stereo panning." [3]


10538 Overture was an idea that Jeff (Lynne) brought along to the studio which was originally to be a Move track. After recording the basic backing track, the other guys went home, leaving Jeff and myself to run riot with the overdubs. At the time, I was very keen on collecting instruments, and had just acquired a cheap Chinese cello. After we had finished overdubbing the guitars, I sat in the control room trying out this cello and sort of messing around with Jimi Hendrix type riffs. Jeff said, 'That sounds great, why don't we throw it on the track.' I ended up recording around fifteen of these, and as the instrumentation built up, it was beginning to sound like some monster heavy metal orchestra. In fact, it sounded just bloody marvellous.

— Roy Wood, 28 March 2006 - No Answer Remaster

I had this guitar track, like a real big riff on a guitar. I laid it down in the studio and Roy Wood got his cello, his Chinese cello, and he overdubbed about fifteen cello riffs, just double tracking all the time-- and it sounded fantastic. We thought, it was like 'Wow!' and we just sat round playing it for days.

— Jeff Lynne, 31 July 2006 - The Harvest Years 1970-1973 liner notes


The B-side to "10538 Overture" was "First Movement (Jumping Biz)", an instrumental by Wood. The song first appeared on the band's debut album The Electric Light Orchestra in 1971. Wood plays classical guitar, oboe and cello. Wood has apparently acknowledged that "First Movement (Jumping Biz)" was inspired by the 1968 song " Classical Gas".

By [Roy Wood's] own admission First Movement (Jumping Biz) owed a debt to Mason Williams' transatlantic 1968 hit Classical Gas...

— Rob Caiger, 28 March 2006 - No Answer Remaster[ citation needed]

"10538 Overture" became a B-side itself when a live version was released as the flip side of " Evil Woman" in 1975; containing elements of " Do Ya", later to become a track in its own right on " A New World Record" [4] [5]

Chart history

Chart (1972) Peak
Dutch Top 40 [6] 24 (tip)
UK Singles Chart [7] 9


Jeff Lynne version

"10538 Overture"
Song by Electric Light Orchestra
from the album Mr. Blue Sky: The Very Best of Electric Light Orchestra
Released8 October 2012 (UK)
9 October 2012 (US)
Recorded2001–2012 Bungalow Palace
Label Frontiers
Songwriter(s)Jeff Lynne
Producer(s)Jeff Lynne
Mr. Blue Sky: The Very Best of Electric Light Orchestra track listing

Jeff Lynne re-recorded the song in his own home studio. It was released on a compilation album with other re-recorded ELO songs, under the ELO name. [8]

Covers and other uses

The song was covered by Bobby Sutliff and Mitch Easter in 2001 for the Jeff Lynne tribute album Lynne Me Your Ears, [9] by Parthenon Huxley in 2005, [10] and by Def Leppard in 2006 on their cover album Yeah! [11] The song's main guitar riff was also 'sampled' by Paul Weller for his 1995 song " The Changingman". [12] The song was also used in the 2013 film American Hustle. [13]


  1. ^ "Single Picks" (PDF). Record World. 27 May 1972. p. 10. Retrieved 1 April 2023.
  2. ^ Kachejian, Brian (26 September 2022). "Top 10 Electric Light Orchestra Songs". Classic Rock History. Retrieved 30 April 2023.
  3. ^ Reed, Ryan (7 January 2016). "The 10 Best ELO Songs". Stereogum. Retrieved 3 May 2023.
  4. ^ "Electric Light Orchestra - Evil Woman (Vinyl) at Discogs". November 1975. Retrieved 28 February 2013.
  5. ^ "Electric Light Orchestra - Evil Woman / 10538 Overture (Vinyl) at Discogs". 1975. Retrieved 28 February 2013.
  6. ^ "Top 40: Electric Light Orchestra - 10538 Overture". Retrieved 2 June 2013.
  7. ^ "Electric Light Orchestra". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 5 March 2013.
  8. ^ "Releases : elo - Mr. Blue Sky - The Very Best of Electric Light Orchestra". 5 October 2012. Retrieved 28 February 2013.
  9. ^ Damas, Jason. "Lynne Me Your Ears: A Tribute to the Music of Jeff Lynne". AllMusic. Retrieved 9 December 2015.
  10. ^ "Homemade Spaceship: The Music of ELO - P. Hux : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 28 February 2013.
  11. ^ Thomas, Stephen. "Yeah! - Def Leppard : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 28 February 2013.
  12. ^ Hewitt, Paolo (2008). Paul Weller: The Changing Man. London: Transworld Publishers. p. 284. ISBN  978-0-552-15609-7.
  13. ^ "American Hustle (2013) - IMDb" – via