Jim Irvin – “The Bullring Variations: ELO” (2001)

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(Jim Irvin’s article from Mojo magazine, August 2001 issue–reprinted from Beat Patrol)

April 20, 2001. The fat drops of rain falling on New York cannot dampen the anticipation that’s crackling along this usually quiet side-street. Here stand the few hundred lucky souls selected to witness the first show in 15 years by their favourite band. Soon they’ll be ushered into a makeshift TV studio and seated inches from a skinny man with a cloud of chestnut-coloured hair, a trim beard and wraparound shades that hide his baggy eyes. He’ll caress an electric guitar and sing songs that rocked their young lives.

Pray silence, please, for the Electric Light Orchestra!

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Mayhem. You could hold a nice barbecue with the warmth of this response.

Staring at his feet, Jeff Lynne strolls on, plugs in, strums something. His body language ripples through a few emotions: Oh no, I can’t hear the guitar! Those people are a bit close! But they’re bloody pleased to see me!

He senses it’ll be okay, looks up and says hello.

For two hours we’re treated to the works of a master. It’s impossible not to grin like a fool at ‘Mr Blue Sky’, ‘Don’t Bring Me Down’, ‘Evil Woman’, all of them. But, seated in the heart of this diverse, adoring crowd, I reflect on how I once despised this music. When ELO were at their artistic and commercial peak, right at the height of punk, I considered them artless, sexless, pointlessly extravagant – on stage and in their arrangements – their words meaningless, their melodies appropriated from greater pop minds. Ersatz and processed, the sonic equivalent of Dairylea cheese. Gloop for the masses.

What a horrible snob I was. Of course, the dream of punk as a great proletarian force was cobblers. The real ‘70s Music Of The People was being made by disco acts and bands like ELO, a noble music that’s uplifting and unpretentious. You don’t have to decode it or hitch a lifestyle to it. It’s music made with pleasure, for pleasure; a rare commodity we should treasure. Here’s how it happened…

Read more: https://beatpatrol.wordpress.com/2009/07/04/jim-irvin-the-bullring-variations-elo-2001/

Jeff Lynne working on ELO album

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(via Prog Magazine)

by Scott Munro / 07 Nov 2014

Jeff Lynne has revealed he’s working on new ELO material.

And he says he’s planning more live dates following his appearance at London’s Hyde Park earlier this year – an event he feared could have been a disaster.

Lynne picked up the Outstanding Contribution award at the Classic Rock Roll Of Honour event in LA this week and had previously hinted at bringing ELO back. Now he’s confirmed future plans are in place.

Read more: http://prog.teamrock.com/news/2014-11-07/jeff-lynne-working-on-elo-album

Songs You May Have Missed #385

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Jeff Lynne: “So Sad” (2012)

We used to have good times together/But now I feel them slip away/It makes me cry to see love die/So sad to watch good love go bad…

I’ll tell you what else is so sad: the thought that we’ve probably heard the last of the Electric Light Orchestra, one of the truly iconoclastic bands to emerge in the 70’s. As nice a tribute to the music of his formative years as Jeff Lynne’s Long Wave is, it is also one more reminder that we can’t expect a reunion tour by the band who carved such a one-of-a-kind British symphonic rock niche.

So I’ll direct the following to anyone reading this who was born too early, or too late, or was too much of a rock snob or punk music fan to care about the Electric Light Orchestra:

Beginning with the “Showdown” single in late 1973 (a favorite of John Lennon’s as the story is told) Lynne and his supporting cast released a series of ever more ambitious albums (Eldorado, Face the Music, A New World Record) culminating with the platinum-selling double LP Out of the Blue in 1977. With its gatefold cover adorned with a spaceship that brought to mind 2001: A Space Odyssey and simultaneously punched up the Star Wars/Close Encounters zeitgeist, Out of the Blue was an album you bought and rushed home with. And beyond the eye-popping artwork, the 17-song, 70-minute epic didn’t disappoint musically. In fact, in addition to its four charting singles (“Turn to Stone”, “Sweet Talkin’ Woman”, “Mr. Blue Sky” and “It’s Over”) the abundance of great album tracks is truly stunning. It was the band’s artistic and commercial high water mark.

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It was also archetypical of the kind of commercial pop rock (ABBA, Journey, Toto, Foreigner, et al) that has found favor with next-generation fans, musicians and tastemakers. No less a standard-bearer of nouveau geek chic than the Decemberists made “Mr. Blue Sky” an encore of their live set during their breakout tour of 2006. And Doctor Who, Britian’s foremost cult TV phenomenon, dedicated an entire episode subplot to the music of ELO. So if you still think you’re too cool for this band, think again.

Is Jeff Lynne’s Long Wave a bad LP? Not by a long shot. As this cover of the Everly Brothers’ 1960 hit demonstrates, Lynne has a knack for finding the essence of the song, marinating it in that trademark Lynne sound, and creating something pleasant to the ear. Is his sound a watered-down Beatles imitation as some say? Good question. I’ll answer it with two more questions: 1) Aren’t most bands some form of the very same thing? and 2) Is there anyone more worth imitating?

No, I’ll never have a problem with Jeff Lynne being such an obvious Beatle disciple. My only lament isn’t that he gives us “watered-down Beatles”. It’s that at this point perhaps all he can offer is watered-down Electric Light Orchestra.

ELO Mix Baroque with the Beatles–And Other Treasures from Jeff Lynne Tribute Channel

 

Electric Light Orchestra’s live cover of The Beatles’ “Day Tripper” is from a 1974 live album called The Night the Light Went On (In Long Beach) which though recorded in the U.S. was, somewhat ironically, only released in Europe. Thus even loyal fans in this country have never come across this performance. 

Similarly to the band’s early covers of “Roll Over Beethoven” and “In the Hall of the Mountain King” this is another early example of Jeff Lynne’s fusion of classical music with rock and roll, later achieved more seamlessly on hits like “Livin’ Thing” and “Sweet Talkin’ Woman”.

Note Lynne’s sly amendment to the lyric, changing “she’s a big teaser” into “she’s a prick teaser” (probably what McCartney wanted to say.)

This and lots more great ELO tunes appear on the YouTube Jeff Lynne tribute channel movejefflynnelo with upgraded audio, and painstakingly synched with vintage videos. It’s a treasure trove for fans of ELO and Lynne’s previous band, The Move.

http://www.youtube.com/user/movejefflynnelo?feature=watch

 

Lynne Me Your Ears: Are New ELO Recordings Better Than The Originals?

Mr Blue Sky: The Very Best

Next week will see the release of Mr. Blue Sky: The Very Best of Electric Light Orchestra. Jeff Lynne has rerecorded many of the band’s most timeless classics and, judging from the music samples on Amazon.com, they sound fantastic.

http://www.amazon.com/Mr-Blue-Sky-Very-Best/dp/B008OJ291W/ref=sr_1_2?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1349401227&sr=1-2&keywords=electric+light+orchestra

As Lynne has said, that was pretty much the goal:

“The idea was to get them to sound better,” Lynne told Rolling Stone about Mr. Blue Sky. “Because I’ve been working for all these years  with these great people and producing records with people, I became a much  better producer. So when I listen to my old ELO songs, I used to think, ‘I wish  I’d done that a bit better.’ And in the end, I drove myself mad. So I decided I  should re-record one. I started with ‘Mr. Blue Sky,’ and re-recorded the whole  thing from scratch. I enjoyed doing that a lot, and when I listened back to it  and compared it to the old one, I really liked it much better. My manager  suggested I do another couple and see how I get on with them, and I did ‘Evil  Woman’ and ‘Strange Magic,’ and they came out really good too. So I just carried  on doing them.”

Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/videos/premiere-jeff-lynne-covers-soul-nugget-mercy-mercy-20120921#ixzz28Ny8KrWm

I’m really conflicted on this one. First, I don’t think this album should be called a Best of Electric Light Orchestra. Most people consider “Best of” to be synonymous with “Greatest Hits”. And these are not the hit versions of these songs, even if you consider them to be superior to the versions that charted decades ago. It’s a misleading album title and cover.

Secondly, I’m a stickler for original hit versions–fanatically so, in fact. And the only example I can think of where an artist rerecorded an entire album’s worth of their classic hits and actually improved on the originals is Roy Orbison’s 1987 In Dreams: The Greatest Hits compilation (also misleadingly titled). The superior recording technology, smoother background vocals, ace studio musicians, and the fact that Orbison’s voice at 51 sounded, miraculously, better than it had at 25 made In Dreams a definitive document of his hits–at least to me.

In Dreams: The Greatest Hits In Dreams: Roy Orbison's Greatest Hits

Two different covers, same album.

By the way, In Dreams is sadly out of print; however, used copies are available at Amazon.com starting at less than a buck and I highly recommend picking one up:

http://www.amazon.com/Dreams-Greatest-Hits-Roy-Orbison/dp/B00008EPZG/ref=sr_1_2?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1349402556&sr=1-2&keywords=roy+orbison+in+dreams

Still, that was Roy Orbison. And if you could expect anyone to revisit sacred music and actually improve on it, it would be someone whose vocal talents were beyond comprehension in the first place.

Jeff Lynne has never been known to be anything more than competent as a vocalist. But he is a masterful (sometimes remasterful) producer. I’m sure the new compilation will have cracking sound, which will leave me with a difficult decision as to which versions of these songs to pledge my allegience to. With any artist not named Orbison, choosing the original versions would be a no-brainer. But back in the 70’s ELO was all about great sound. Lynne went to great pains to make an ELO album a state of the art listening experience. Maybe that’s why he can’t leave it alone–he can’t bear to see (or hear) that sound become dated, when it had been so fresh in its day.

ELO Front Man Jeff Lynne Makes a Return

(From Rolling Stone)

For the past decade, not much has been heard musically from ELO mastermind (and  solo artist/former Traveling Wilbury) Jeff  Lynne. For fans clamoring for some new Lynne recordings, you are about to be  treated to a pair of new releases from the bearded, sunglass-sporting gentleman.  October 9th will see the release of both Long Wave and Mr. Blue  Sky: The Very Best of Electric Light Orchestra – the former a covers  collection of early radio favorites of Lynne’s, and the latter re-recordings of  ELO classics.

Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/videos/premiere-jeff-lynne-covers-soul-nugget-mercy-mercy-20120921#ixzz27D46Y8a9

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