The song is track two on their 1976 album, A New World Record, and was the final single to be released from the album, until September 2006 when "Surrender" was released from the expanded reissue of the album. It became their "biggest single success in the US and was their first UK gold award for a single. With ELO's continuing success in America it seemed obvious to Lynne to use an American ring tone during the song." Writer/guitarist, Lynne explained:
|“||To get the sound on the beginning, you know, the American telephone sound, we phoned from England to America to a number that we know nobody would be at, to just listen to it for a while. On the Moog we recreated the sound exactly by tuning the oscillators to the same notes as the ringing of the phone.||”|
The song charted in the Top Ten in both the UK and the US, peaking at number 8 in the UK and number 7 in the US. In 1977, the song would reach number 1 in New Zealand andCanada. The US version of the single was released in green vinyl—as was the norm, many ELO singles were issued in different colors—but it was the only single that was green. It became the band's first single to achieve Gold sales figures.
"Telephone Line" is the theme song of the 1977 film Joyride starring Desi Arnaz, Jr., Robert Carradine, Melanie Griffith, and Anne Lockhart, directed by Joseph Ruben. The song is featured in the movie Billy Madison when Billy phones a former high school classmate, played by Steve Buscemi, to apologize for picking on him.
It was also used on HBO's Big Love in the season 2 episode "Vision Thing".
Duo Jack And White, featuring American Idol finalist Brooke White recorded a cover of "Telephone Line" on their covers EP "Undercover" digitally released in 2012. The version also featured guest vocals from Fitz of the band Fitz & The Tantrums.
|Australian Kent Music Report Singles Chart||10|
|Canadian RPM Top Singles||1|
|French SNEP Singles Chart||10|
|German Media Control Singles Chart||32|
|New Zealand RIANZ Singles Chart||1|
|UK Singles Chart||8|
|US Billboard Hot 100||7||RIAA: Gold|
|US Cash Box Top 100 Singles||4|
|US Record World Singles||7|
|US Billboard Year-End||22|
|Song by Electric Light Orchestra from the album Mr. Blue Sky: The Very Best of Electric Light Orchestra|
|Released||8 October 2012 (UK)
9 October 2012 (US)
|Recorded||2001–2012 Bungalow Palace|
|Mr. Blue Sky: The Very Best of Electric Light Orchestra track listing|