|Format 7" single||Label Harvest|
|B-side "First Movement (Jumping Biz)"|
Released 23 June 1972 (UK) 29 July 1972 (US)
Recorded 1970–1971 Phillips Studios
Length 5:32 (Album length) 4:04 (Single edit)
"10538 Overture", released in 1972, was the first single by The Electric Light Orchestra (ELO).
The song, written by Jeff Lynne, was first recorded as an intended B-side on one of The Move's singles. 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.
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.
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.
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 and became the B-side to "10538 Overture" and features Wood on 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...
"10538 Overture" became a B-side itself when a live version was released as the flip side of "Evil Woman" in 1975.
Jeff Lynne version
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.
Covers and other uses
The song was covered by Bobby Sutcliff and Mitch Easter in 2001 for the Jeff Lynne tribute album Lynne Me Your Ears, by Parthenon Huxley in 2005, and by Def Leppard in 2006 on their cover album Yeah!. The song's main guitar riff was also sampled by Paul Weller for his 1995 song "The Changingman".