ELO Armchair Theatre.jpg
ELO Zoom.jpg
ELO Long Wave.jpg
ELO Mr Blue Sky.jpg
ELO Live.jpg
ELO Alone In The Universe.jpg
ELO Wembley Or Bust.jpg
ELO From Out Of Nowhere.jpg

JEFF LYNNE and ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA
50th ANNIVERSARY RE-ISSUES
Sony Music International

On September 28, 1974, John Lennon appeared on the New York City radio station WNEW and said:  "Showdown' I thought was a great record…and it's a nice group - I call them 'Son of Beatles' - although they're doing things we never did, obviously. But I remember a statement they made when they first formed was to carry on from where the Beatles left off with 'Walrus…”

 

Those words, from one of the world’s most successful songwriters in the world’s most successful band, are the greatest endorsement a band could ever have. When he said them, The Beatles were no more and although many bands had come along and were proclaimed as ‘The next Beatles’, none ever truly were because the claim was based on mania and image (T.Rextasy, Bay City Rollermania, etc) rather than the music. ELO were certainly no image band and girls didn’t flock screaming to their shows so what’s left to credit their success and the praise from Mr Lennon? The music and to celebrate their main man’s 50 years of success, Sony have re-released six ELO albums spanning the years 2001 to 2019 as well as Jeff Lynne’s only two solo albums to date.

 

Each of the limited-edition discs comes with a ‘Beatle DNA’ sticker on the front which not only reflects John Lennon’s original statement but also acknowledges amongst other later collaborations with all three surviving members and of course it was Jeff who was chosen by Paul, George and Ringo to fill the producer’s chair for their two new singles around the 1996 Anthology project due to George Martin being unavailable – you don’t get much more Beatles DNA than that. The paper jackets are of a high-quality silk finish whilst the English booklets are in a high-quality gloss; the Japanese booklets are B/W and include liner notes and all the translated lyrics. As an added decoration, the obi strips are di-cut with the ELO spaceship logo at the top. Needless to say, the discs are mastered using Sony’ own BS2CD mastering which gives more clarity and separation to the music. Placed altogether, the eight discs look magnificent and will be a beautiful addition to any Rock fans collection. Right then, onto the albums themselves.


Armchair Theatre (1990 Jeff Lynne Solo Album)

ELO split in 1986 after their heavily synthesized Balance of Power album was released. Jeff’s first solo album sees a slight return to the classic ELO sound in places whilst trying to express himself as both producer and a musician who wishes to move forward. It is an interesting mixture of styles, a pot-pourri of Pop through the previous four decades that show where his roots lie and where he will eventually go. Comprising eight originals and three covers, the latter of which all have vastly different arrangements to the more familiar ones we know, the album is in hindsight, the foundation of everything musically he does from here onwards. It should be noted that this album was recorded around the time Jeff produced George Harrison’s Cloud Nine album: George returns that favour to Jeff by playing some sublime slide work on three tracks. Both were of course now Travelling Willburys having released their debut in 1988.

 

                            Every little Thing     

                            Don’t Let Go             

                            Lift Me Up           

                            Nobody Home   

                            September Song   

                            Now You’re Gone

 

Zoom (2001 ELO Studio Album)

In the fifteen years between ELO’s Balance Of Power and this release, Jeff had recorded a second Travelling Willburys album after which the band split, overseen The Beatles Anthology sessions, co-produced Paul McCartney’s Flaming Pie album with George Martin and had established himself not only as an in-demand producer for others but also a very good multi-instrumentalist. Hence the credits for the album read ‘Jeff Lynne: lead vocals, backing vocals, lead guitar, rhythm guitar, cello, piano, keyboards, bass, drums, songwriting and production’. The only other original member to play on the album is Richard Tandy and it is certainly a real return the classic ELO sound but at the time or release, Popular music had moved forward so far that Zoom sounded dated and consequently, it didn’t sell well but today, it is a glimmering jewel in the ELO catalogue. If you have never heard it, now would be a very good time to buy it.

 

                            Alright   

                            Moment In Paradise   

                            State Of Mind   

                            Just For Love   

                            Stranger On A Quiet Street   

                            In My Own Time   

Long Wave (2012 Jeff Lynne Solo Album)

Jeff’s second solo album is all covers. It’s a very nostalgic collection (for Jeff) and builds slowly opening with three acoustically driven tracks before he gets into a groove covering Don Covay’s Mercy Mercy (1964) and then onto Roy Orbison’s Running Scared (1962),  Roy being a fellow Travelling Willbury of course. Each song is given the Jeff Lynne treatment as can be heard in the multi-layer ELO-style vocals in She (Charles Aznavour, 1974) and his take on Charlie Chaplin’s Smile (1936) which has a very lazy shuffle to it, turning the song from the tear-jerking Chaplin version into a ‘Come on, life is not that bad’ kind of song. For Love Is A Many Splendored Thing from the film of the same name (1955), Jeff has re-imagined the song beyond anyone’s wildest dreams and it’s brilliant. Eclectic would be a good word to describe this collection of tracks but the words inventive, terrific and fun are also just as relevant.

 

                            She   

                            If I Loved You   

                            So Sad   

                            Mercy Mercy   

                            Running Scared 

                                Bewitched, Bothered And Bewildered

Mr Blue Sky (2012 ELO Studio Album)

At first glance this seems like a greatest hits compilation but it is in fact re-recordings of some of the hits with the exception of the last track, Point Of No Return. Having honed his skills as a producer, Jeff took the time to study and learn all the new technology that was now available in recording studios and had the thought one day that maybe he could make the songs sound better using that technology. He started with Mr Blue Sky and indeed, right from the start, the songs have a better, cleaner sound and the instrument separation is more defined. The arguments for and against re-recordings are vast and often come down to personal taste or nostalgia but these tracks are certainly worth listening to and musically do not differ at all from the originals.

 

                            Mr Blue Sky   

                            Evil Woman   

                            Strange Magic   

                            Don’t Bring Me Down   

                            Turn To Stone   

                            Showdown   

Live (2013 ELO Live Album)

In 2001, ELO announced a US tour to support the Zoom album as well as performing two promotional shows for PBS at CBS Television City, Los Angeles. Richard Tandy was back with ELO and the reviews agreed that the show was excellent but astonishingly, tickets failed to sell so the tour was cancelled and the decision was made to release the show on VHS and DVD instead under the title ‘Zoom Tour Live’. Twelve years later, the audio from the show was dusted off and given the full mastering treatment (as opposed to a VHS/DVD release which used the TV broadcast mix) and released. Sony’s BS2CD really shines here when you compare it to the DVD audio. Brighter, louder and crisper, there is no doubt that if the US had heard this rather than the PBS mix, the tour would have sold out. Four tracks are included here that not on the DVD, namely Secret Messages, Sweet Talkin' Woman, Twilight, and Confusion.

 

                            Evil Woman   

                            Showdown   

                            Secret Messages   

                            Livin’ Thing   

                            Sweet Talkin’ Woman   

                            Mr Blue Sky

Alone In The Universe (2015 Jeff Lynne’s ELO Studio Album)

Inspired by ELO’s Hyde Park show the previous September for the BBC’s Festival In A Day show (ELO’s first real gig in twenty-eight year) that received unanimous rave reviews all round and drew an audience of some 50,000 Pop fans, Jeff decided to make a new ELO record. A slight name change was required as in 1989, the original ELO drummer, Bev Bevan, formed a band called ELO II and hence, ‘Jeff Lynne’s ELO’. Opening with a simple classic piano riff and haunting vocal line, we are plunged back in time lyrically, melodiously and sonically and before we have the chance to reach for a tissue to dry the tears that are welling inside us at the sheer joy of what we know is about to unfold, those wonderful drums with Jeff’s signature production sound come bursting in. This is A1, 10/10 Pop perfection

 

                            When I Was A Boy   

                            Love And Rain   

                            Dirty To The Bone   

                            When The Night Comes   

                            The Sun Will Shine On You

 

Wembley Or Bust (2017 Jeff Lynne’s ELO Live Album)

The last time ELO played at Wembley was on the Out Of The Blue tour in 1978 and it was criticised at the time as the band were using backing tracks to help keep time. Unfortunately, the backing tracks became audible and the band were falsely accused of miming. All memories of that were expunged though when on 24th June 2017, 70,000 people turned up and witnessed the best Rock concert of the year. The show was recorded for both a video and audio release and the results heard here are truly amazing. The mix is crystal clear; the performances are perfection. Released on vinyl, it consisted of three records and Sony have very kindly included all three inner sleeves even though it is a two disc CD set. The 24 page English booklet contains a gorgeous selection of photos from the show.

 

                            Standin’ In The Rain   

                            Evil Woman

                            All Over The World

                            Showdown

                            Livin’ Thing

                            Do Ya

 

From Out Of Nowhere (2019 Jeff Lynne’s ELO Studio Album)

Having been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2017 and Richard Tardy returning as a permanent member to ELO, it was time to return to the studio. Jeff achieved something with this record that he had not done since 1981 and that was to have a No.1 record in the UK and rightly so as this exceeds all expectations. Down Came The Rain is as close to classic ELO from the mid-70s as you can get whilst One More Time takes you right back to the days of 1972 and 10538 Overture. He may have been away from us for long periods but it’s clear that time has not changed Jeff Lynne at all (he even looks the same!). Moreover, it’s obvious that he’s enjoying ELO again as can be heard in the music and lyrics of Time Of Our Life:

As we played on, it came to me

This could be the best night I’ve ever seen
The whole of Wembley is singing along

To every little song

 

We missed you Jeff, welcome back.

 

                            From Out Of Nowhere

                            Help Yourself

                            All My Love

                            Down Came The Rain

                            Losing You

 

Summary

Over the last few years, Sony Music have garnered a reputation amongst music writers of releasing quality rather than quantity. They have a huge catalogue of Classic Rock songs and albums and rather than just re-release them on a regular basis as most labels do, are now putting a lot of thought into any re-releases, considering not only what fans of the band would like but also their own image as a company. The recent series of ‘Japanese Singles Collection’ releases that marries a greatest hits album with a DVD of all the promotional videos is a case in point: this is exactly what fans of those great 80’s artists have wanted for years and this set of ELO releases has had the same line of consideration put into it. The music sounds better, the packaging looks better and the albums are as they were originally intended by Jeff Lynne, sans bonus tracks. To anyone wishing to update their collection or a younger generation wishing to explore ELO for the first time, you can do no better than start with these editions.

Don’t Say Goodbye   

What Would It Take   

Stormy Weather   

Blown Away     

Save Me Now

Easy Money

It Really Doesn’t Matter   

Ordinary Dream   

A Long Time Gone   

Melting In The Sun   

All She Wanted   

Smile 

At Last   

Love Is A Many Splendored Thing   

Let It Rock   

Beyond The Sea

Telephone Line

Livin’ Thing   

Do Ya   

Can’t Get It Out Of My Head   

10538 Overture   

Point Of No Return

Can’t Get It Out Of My Head   

Twilight   

Confusion   

Don’t Bring Me Down   

Roll Over Beethoven

Ain’t It A Drag   

All My Life   

I’m Leaving You   

One Step At A Time   

Alone In The Universe

When I Was A Boy

Handle With Care

Last Train To London

Xanadu

Rockaria!

Can’t Get It Out Of My Head

10538 Overture

Twilight

Ma-Ma-Ma Belle

Shine A Little Love

Wild West Hero

Sweet Talkin’ Woman

Telephone Line

Turn To Stone

Don’t Bring Me Down

Mr Blue Sky

Roll Over Beethoven

One More Time

Sci-Fi Woman

Goin’ Out On Me

Time Of Our Life

Songbird

ELO Armchair Theatre.jpg
ELO Zoom.jpg
ELO Long Wave.jpg
ELO Mr Blue Sky.jpg
ELO Live.jpg
ELO Alone In The Universe.jpg
ELO Wembley Or Bust.jpg

Lonesome Lullaby

ELO From Out Of Nowhere.jpg