still trying to get our heads around the Mojo review (your
comments would be welcome via email to the Face The Music
address) but in the meantime, here are some more thoughts. Please
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Classic Rock (August
THE LIGHT FANTASTIC
Jeff Lynne comes out of the blue once more as he takes off with
a rejuvenated Electric Light Orchestra.
LIGHT ORCHESTRA - Zoom.
First Jeff Lynne fronted album for 15 years with George Harrison
and Ringo Starr along for the ride.
long been a stigma unfairly attached to ELO in the UK, even though
in the 70s the country was on the edge of a love affair with the
band. Even now (this is a surprisingly low-key release, with very
little press coverage), ELO still seem to the be the band that
everyone wants to ignore. This will come as no surprise to ELO
fans, and probably not Jeff Lynne either, yet the impact of this
Brummie outfit is more far-reaching than you might have thought.
Why else would Lynne have in the past been roped in to work with
such luminaries as George Harrison, Brian Wilson, Tom Petty and
even The Beatles.
15 years after laying ELO to rest after the rather good 'Balance
Of Power' (sadly Lynne's quite brilliant 'Armchair Theatre' solo
album met with a similarly ignorant fate in 1990), the mothership
has been resurrected. You may recognise the name of only Lynne's
long-serving keyboard player Richard Tandy from the line-up as
he was one of the few not to hook up with ex-drummer Bev Bevan
for a Lynne-less vehicle. And despite Lynne himself handling most
musical duties, AOR fans will delight in Rosie Vela (now his girlfriend)
singing backing vocals, and some chaps called George Harrison
and Ringo Starr have also come along for the ride.
the big question is what does it sound like after all these years?
The answer is that 'Zoom' sounds like a quite brilliant amalgam
of the absolute best of ELO over the years. Lynne hasn't attempted
to re-define the bands' sound in the way he may have done with
1979's disco-influenced 'Discovery', or grappled with new sounds,
as on 1983's 'Secret Messages' or 'Balance Of Power'. Instead
he's played to his many strengths, and conjured up an ELO album
that sits as happily in the present as it will with those that
first picked up on the band after their 1971 debut.
the opening guitar crash of 'Alright' to the uptempo rocker closer
'Lonesome Lullaby', Lynne flexes muscles to suggest he's a bit
miffed about the way ELO-related things have panned out. 'Moment
In Paradise' and 'Ordinary Dream' strongly evoke the band's classic
yet not necessarily most commercially successful era, and 'State
Of Mind' and 'Easy Money' display Lynne's ongoing affinity with
old time rock 'n' roll. 'Zoom' is an album that re-establishes
Lynne's position as one of the finest and most unheralded creators
of music in UK rock. It is the return of the master.
stars out of 5 (Excellent)
Mercury Birmingham (UK) June
like the 70's all over again
Jeff Lynne quit his Electric Light Orchestra back in 1986, disenchanted
by the band's slow fade into history and the legal wrangling that
surrounded its demise, it marked the end of an era.
ELO, they had produced polished pop singles that became the biggest
sellers of the 70s. When the Meriden mastermind decided to go
solo, there was no-one to carry on the tradition.
Lynne went on to work with The Travelling Wilburys, George Harrison,
Ringo Starr and Tom Petty, the well-intentioned ELO Part 2 spin-off
band led by Bev Bevan never really recaptured the magic.
for Lynne, now 53 and based in Los Angeles, neither did his solo
output. After the heyday of his former supergroup, his own albums
were commercially comparative flops.
answer? Don the ELO mantle once more, breathe new life into the
hallmark sound that once conquered the world and give it a contemporary
edge lest anyone accuse him of indulging in nostalgia.
released tomorrow, is very much a Jeff Lynne solo album whatever
the name may suggest. He wrote, recorded and produced the 13 songs,
and played most of the instruments himself, over a two and a half
are guest spots for pals George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Rosie Vela
and cellist Suzie Katayama, but Lynne's personality is stamped
on every short sweet piece of pop squeezed into the 43 minutes.
(and they are songs rather than just tracks) that recreate the
classic 70's sound abound. Just For Love, Ordinary Dream and Moment
In Paradise will delight diehard ELO fans with their string signatures
filches a Beatles riff for 60s-styled State Of Mind, goes rockabilly
with Ringo on Easy Money and turns in Brown Sugar boogie with
All She Wanted, a song which harks back to early Orchestra.
significantly, the most memorable moments have little to do with
A Long Time Gone, with Harrison's hallmark slide guitar, is a
pop classic in the making, and the rocky Lonesome Lullaby finale,
with its addictive chorus, all but steals the show.
welcome return to form for one of pop's greatest songwriters.
A shame, though, that Jeff Lynne couldn't have released such a
fine set of songs under his own name.
(c)2001 Mirror Regional Newspapers
Mail, Birmingham (UK), June 15, 2001
... again Zooming back with new album
has been 15 years since their last release but Electric Light
Orchestra are back with a brand new album, Zoom, and a concert
think the long-distance gap of 15 years gave me a very good perspective
of what I did earlier,' says mainman Jeff Lynne.
'I've learned a lot during that time.'
is thirty years since ELO emerged from the ashes of Brum-beat
legends The Move. When Roy Wood left to form Wizzard, former Move
and Idle Race member Lynne guided the band through a stream of
chart singles, including Mr Blue Sky, The Diary of Horace Wimp
by their melding of Beatlesque pop and lush classical arrangements,
the group splintered in the late '80s leaving co-founder Bev Bevan
to helm ELO II and Lynne to branch out as a solo artist and producer
with a CV which includes The Beatles Anthology, George Harrison,
Paul McCartney and supergroup The Travelling Wilburys with Harrison,
Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison and Tom Petty.
it was working alongside his musical heroes that gave him the
impetus to record Zoom.
with them broadened my mind and I thought, 'What if I applied
this new knowledge to a new ELO album?' I'd probably see it differently
and do it differently," says
Lynne of his Wilburys experience.
have learned a lot working with all those guys, all my favourite
guys. It was a total pleasure."
suppose bits of them rubbed off on me and it opened me up more.
I was always locked away, working on stuff."
latest incarnation of ELO has been shaped by Lynne who played
virtually every instrument, although it does feature guest appearances
from Harrison, Ringo Starr and singer Rosie Vela while keyboard
player Richard Tandy has also rejoined the ranks in preparation
for a soon to be announced US and European tour later in the year.
over two and a half years in his LA home the entire house has
been converted into a studio to enable Lynne to record in any
room he wants.
interesting in that respect,"
says. "You actually get different
sounds than you probably would in a studio. I prefer natural-sounding
wood and the echo of different rooms."
does this mean he can knock out a few tunes in the shower if the
urge takes him?
- in the bathroom I've got an acoustic guitar," he
13 songs on Zoom, which rest neatly between classic ELO and Lynne's
solo work, draw on "life's ups and
the pressure of deadlines, the songwriter and multi- instrumentalist
found that the words came far quicker than usual.
words actually came to me much faster than they used to in the
old days because I was basing them more on things that have happened
to me. These lyrics are more heartfelt than ones in the past."
(c)2001 Mirror Regional Newspapers
Classic E.L.O. music has always been stuck in its own retro-futuristic
time warp of recombinant pop. Inside that image of E.L.O.'s spaceship
(here updated without the 8-track docking bay), one imagines a ye
olde discotheque stuffed with Beatles mannequins and powered by
pump organ synthesizers. The genius of Jeff Lynne is to fuse kindergarten
rock & roll, ultra-Liverpudlian choruses, and faux-symphonic
instrumentation with a pop that's both sappy and supple.
only a few duff tracks, this timeless, invigorating disc is a
rocking, left-field surprise. Talk about a comeback--Zoom is nothing
short of a revelation for fans of this critically underappreciated
group. Lynne sings on the opening cut, "Alright," that
"You've got to hold onto something that you believe / Hold
onto something that makes you feel alright," and the entire
album bears this out with grace and wit.
LIGHT ORCHESTRA - ZOOM (Epic)
If ELO once seemed hopelessly beyond the pale, then time has been
kind to their big pomp rock sound. Zoom tones things down a little
from the old days (there are string quartets instead of 30-piece
orchestras) but the formula is much the same. Thumping rockers
mix with cinematic ballads, and only one ingredient is missing
` most of ELO themselves. For despite its branding, this is essentially
a Jeff Lynne solo project.
Sat 09 June
LIGHT ORCHESTRA - ZOOM (Epic)
Jeff Lynne's abiding Beatles obsession is still evident in the
minor chord twists of Ordinary Dream. And long-time pals and collaborators
George and Ringo are among the guests. Lynne's production work
is as pristine as ever, and his song-writing skills remain finely
tuned throughout. But a look at the cover (yes, it's that space
ship again) tells you all you need to know. This is one big nostalgia
trip, and not ashamed to admit it.
by Nigel Packer
First new album in 15 years and 11 new Jeff Lynne songs by the
'70s band who pioneered orchestrated rock music. Guest artists
include old chums like George Harrison and Ringo Starr and Lynne
the producer still knows how to knock out a decent tune and smother
a track in layered studio wizardry. But it all suggests he never
did quite get Sgt Pepper out of his system and this isn't so much
retro as rooted in the ice age.
by Colin Irwin - 4/10
News Service, Washington, June
on Board for Electric Light Orchestra's 'Zoom'
Light Orchestra, "Zoom" (Epic) THREE AND A HALF STARS
(out of 5)
Lennon liked Electric Light Orchestra so much that he once called
the band "Son of Beatles."
Harrison was such a fan that he brought ELO frontman Jeff Lynne
with him when he started the Traveling Wilburys with Bob Dylan,
Tom Petty and Roy Orbison. And even the ever-particular Paul McCartney
chose Lynne to produce the majority of tracks for his "Flaming
in a sense it's not a surprise that Lynne has Harrison and fellow
Beatles bandmate Ringo Starr on board for this, the first new
ELO album in 15 years. But what may come as a shock for those
who considered much of Lynne's previous work a bit overblown is
how thoroughly enjoyable this album is.
is primarily a solo showcase for Lynne, who wrote, sang and produced
all the songs, while accompanying himself on guitars, keyboards,
cello, bass and drums. Besides the contributions from Starr and
Harrison, who each play on two songs, there are a handful of other
guests here, but their input is minimal.
the disc is faithful to ELO's richly melodic sound, and fans who
loved their early hits like "Can't Get It Out of My Head,"
"Telephone Line" and "Strange Magic" should
be able to lock into this comeback right from the start.
kicks in impressively with the infectious lead single "Alright,"
which slides into the beautiful, harmony-graced "Moment in
Paradise." The latter song, which has a feel similar to that
found on several tracks from Lynne's vastly underrated 1990 solo
album ("Armchair Theatre"), finds the songwriter singing
better than ever, slipping easily into falsetto, against Starr's
especially refreshing is that a lot of Lynne's more pretentious
production techniques are low-keyed. Oh, they're there, as one
can hear in the vocal layers of songs like "Stranger on a
Quiet Street." But he smartly holds back from laying it on
too thick, letting songs like the rockin' riff-ridin' "State
of Mind" and the '50s flavored balladry of "In My Own
Time" shine on their own.
contrast to most new albums, the back half of "Zoom"
holds up nearly as well as the front, buoyed by the guitar-sizzling
"Really Doesn't Matter at All," the Beatle-esque "Melting
in the Sun" and "A Long Time Gone," which features
some of Harrison's deeply expressive, trademark slide guitar work.
note: Several of ELO's classic albums, including "Eldorado,"
"Discovery," "Time" and "Secret Messages"
complete with bonus tracks are being reissued simultaneously with
the release of "Zoom."
by Kevin O'Hare
Newhouse News Service
Light Orchestra - Zoom (Epic) Even in a world where mimicry is
considered the sincerest form of flattery, Jeff Lynne's trademark
brand of lyric and riff coppery qualifies as downright cheeky.
But even so, you'd be foolish -- or tone deaf -- to argue the
merits of the ELO mastermind's sense of pop melody. Though his
layered, Beatles-inspired production stamp is arguably played-out,
Lynne has added enough Tom Petty rumble and twang to his repertoire
-- see the disc-closing "Lonesome Lullaby" -- to keep
you on your toes.
he sticks to his formula -- the perpetual reproduction of the
"I Am The Walrus"/"Strawberry Fields" groove
here, a little old-time rock & roll there -- for most of Zoom's
songs, all of which could just as easily have materialized during
ELO's mid-Seventies heyday. The swingin' "All Right,"
the Roy Orbison-derived "State of Mind" and the string-a-ling
faux-soul of "In My Own Time" are all written, sung,
played and produced entirely by Lynne -- well, except when he's
being accompanied by George Harrison and Ringo Starr, among a
tiny coterie of outsiders.
something comfortable about Lynne's immaculately groomed, thoroughly
British habitat -- it's hardly challenging, but always flawless
in execution. Call me a deaf old fool, but three decades on, it's
nice to hear some things haven't changed.
by Denise Sullivan
Arts and Lifestyle | Music |
Sunday, June 10, 2001 - Cellos are back in rock 'n' roll.
Switches on Electric Light Orchestra
Electric Light Orchestra, one of the more unusual rock groups
to emerge in the 1970s, has recharged after a 15-year layoff with
a new album and plans for a North American tour.
is actually one man, uberproducer Jeff Lynne, who plays virtually
all the instruments on the new album, "Zoom" (Epic).
He got a little help in the past from his famous pals, George
Harrison and Ringo Starr, who popped into his Beverly Hills home
recording studio to play (separately) on a few songs. On stage,
ELO is a regular band with a small string section.
ELO's run from 1971 to 1986, the group formed in Birmingham, England
scored such top 10 hits as "Telephone Line," "Evil
Woman" and "Don't Bring Me Down" and toured constantly
with Lynne, drummer Bev Bevan and keyboardist Richard Tandy the
only constant members.
who wrote and produced the songs, folded the band in 1986 and
later allowed Bevan and cronies to tour under the name "ELO
Part II," while he became one of the most-sought-after producers
in the music industry. Most famously, he was one of the Traveling
Wilburys, the Grammy-winning grouping of Harrison, Tom Petty,
the late Roy Orbison and Bob Dylan.
rock 'n' roll nostalgia bigger then ever, Lynne has overcome his
natural shyness to resurrect ELO for several generations of fans
who have grown up listening to its lushly produced orchestral
pop hits on the radio.
slimmed down the production a bit,"
the soft-spoken Lynne said in a recent interview in his
living room. "I've gone through
the bollocks of 10,000 cellos and how many can you get on there?
You can do as many as you like but it all turns to harmonic distortion."
Indeed, "Zoom" features a solo cellist on just four
tracks, while the touring lineup this fall will include two comely
female cellists. In the good old days, ELO used to record with
a 40-piece orchestra and a 30-piece choir, although the live version
was similarly minimalist, using taped backing tracks.
managers are in talks for ELO to tour about 30 North American
shows beginning in September. Details such as cities and venues
are still being worked out but, with a bit of luck, ELO will become
a touring fixture.
"If it goes well and everybody's
happy, then I see no reason why we can't just go around playing,"
would not mind throwing a Traveling Wilburys song like "Handle
With Care" into the 90-minute set, or even the song he wrote
for Orbison's comeback, "You Got It." But it will be
tough fitting in all the classics: ELO had 17 top-40 hits in America
and was even bigger internationally.
lineup also features Tandy, and Lynne's girlfriend Rosie Vela
on backing vocals, but not Bev Bevan. Lynne refers to Bevan as
"him, the drummer."
The two are not talking because of Bevan's rival ELO
outfit, and Lynne appears to be firing a hostile glare from behind
his dark glasses.
can also hide behind his trademark big hair and big beard, and
extracting lengthy answers is not easy.
feels more comfortable behind a mixing board than behind a microphone
in front of adoring fans. He appeared nervous last month when
he taped two concerts for an upcoming PBS special.
singing the hits and new material and playing the 1975 song "One
Summer Dream" for the very first time, Lynne's banter usually
consisted of self-effacing plugs for "Zoom," which was
released June 12. In addition, Lynne has also overseen the imminent
re-release of four old ELO CDs with bonus tracks "Eldorado,"
"Discovery," "Time" and "Secret Messages."
Some fans joke that ELO really stands for Electric Lynne Orchestra
and wonder why he does not promote "Zoom" as a solo
album, a follow-up to his 1990 outing "Armchair Theater."
Lynne is evasive. Yes, there is a difference between an ELO album
and a Lynne album, but "it's
hard to define."
area where he thinks he has advanced over the years is lyrics,
which he calls more open and honest now. One new tune, "Stranger
On A Quiet Street," is a love song about Vela, whom he first
met when the Wilburys recorded their second album.
in the old days, it was just me closeted away in a room writing
songs and recording. But having done so much work with all those
other guys, it's one thing I realized, that they actually did
write about personal experiences and made up stories too."
"other guys" recently included Paul McCartney, for whom
Lynne produced eight tracks on the former Beatle's recent album
"Flaming Pie." His other credits include Harrison's
"Cloud Nine" (1987) and Petty's "Full Moon Fever"
(1989). Axl Rose of Guns N' Roses wanted him to work on the band's
1991 song "November Rain," but Lynne was too busy to
his commercial success, the music industry has been slow to honor
his achievements -- not that that bothers him. His sole Grammy
Award was for the Traveling Wilburys and even that was a short-lived
fell to bits about a week later,"
said. "It all just fell, it's like
a load of rubbish. It was plastic and it just all smashed to bits."
A Livin' Thing Once More
- Jeff Lynne relaunches ELO minus the spaceship
excess has its limits. Ask the Electric Light Orchestra's Jeff Lynne.
the peak of ELO's success in the mid-to-late '70s, Lynne augmented
the basic rock band setup with a 40-member orchestra, a 30-person
choir and a live show that featured a spaceship huge enough to
make the one in "Close Encounters" look downright dinky.
think I'd gone about as far as I could go in that direction,"
Lynne recalls with a laugh. "Everything got bigger and bigger.
Back at that time, I had to find out what it was like to have
the most of everything."
it's a very different time. Fifteen years have passed since ELO
blew its fuse. This week, Lynne returns with his first ELO album
since 1986's "Balance of Power," but it sounds little
like his productions of old.
as the new album is called, features the kinds of Beatles-like
melodies and multi-tracked vocals we expect from Lynne, but its
instrumentation is Spartan by the band's old standard.
says he learned the less-is-more lesson through his experiences
as a producer of commercially successful "smaller records"
for stars like George Harrison ("Cloud Nine," 1987),
Tom Petty ("Full Moon Fever," 1989) and Roy Orbison
(the 1989 single hit "You Got It"). Lynne also oversaw
the two Traveling Wilburys records, on which he performed with
Dylan, Petty, Harrison and Orbison.
is modest about his role as a renovator of classic rock talent.
Of Petty's "Fever," he says, "They were just simple
songs, nicely sung by Tom, with tight little arrangements. I never
meant to re-create Tom, I just meant to let Tom be himself."
had the same goal for his own career when he helped form ELO at
the end of the '60s. He cooked up the idea for the band with Roy
Wood after joining Wood's band, the Move, as it was winding down.
The two musicians experimented with an orchestral approach on
the last Move LP, "Message From the Country." Then they
revealed the full ELO treatment on the group's self-titled 1970
plan was to match the progressive art-rock experimentation of
the era with a harder rock sound. The album's muddy production
didn't help sales in the U.S. There was also friction between
the leaders, and Wood soon ditched the group to head up his orchestrated
glitter-rock band, Wizzard.
was a strange time,"
says the tight-lipped Lynne.
Lynne's control, ELO focused its sound. In 1973, it had an international
hit with a wry version of "Roll Over Beethoven," And
between 1975 and 1981 it racked up another 16 Top 40 hits, including
such ten-layer-cake productions as "Evil Woman," "Strange
Magic," "Livin' Thing" and "Telephone Line."
hung on for five years after their major hits dried up.
"I was under a peculiar contract where I had to write
three albums in three years," Lynne explains. "When
they were done, I was free to say 'That's the end.'"
began to toy with the idea of bringing back ELO two years ago,
after his production work slowed down. Also, he says,
"I realized I hadn't written any new stuff for me to sing
and play for a long time."
the meantime, the band's original drummer, Bev Bevan, recorded
and went on the road with a band he won the legal right to call
"ELO Part 2."
was a bit embarrassing at times,"
the most Lynne will say on the subject.
recorded "Zoom" virtually alone, with a little help
from his friends, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. He will take
his revamped, eight-piece ELO on the road this summer with just
one other former member, multi-instrumentalist Richard Tandy,
joining him. He reveals his new sound on a VH1 "Storytellers"
installment running this Friday at 9 p.m., and a PBS "In
the Spotlight" episode coming in August.
to how this newfangled ELO 2001 will fit into the current scene,
rife with crooning boy bands and snarling rappers, Lynne says,
"It can't compete with those people. But maybe this could
have a place with listeners who don't hear things they like on
the radio right now."
anyone who just likes a well turned-tune.
tunes up his orchestra
- Electric Light Orchestra (Epic-Sony)
come and go, but this one is a genuine surprise.
first album from ELO in 15 years hits stores Tuesday after last
year's three-CD box set, Flashback, which spanned the orchestral
rock group's career from 1970-1986.
ELO's British braintrust, Jeff Lynne, who has acted as a producer
for such A-listers as Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Tom Petty
and Roy Orbison, and as a member of The Traveling Wilburys with
Harrison, Petty, Orbison and Bob Dylan, missed being a frontman
after all this time.
Lynne back to guide the group -- he essentially is the group as
lead and backing vocalist, lead and rhythm guitarist, cellist,
pianist, keyboardist, bassist and drummer -- ELO's layered, often
melodramatic sound is intact.
there's nothing here that ranks along the lines of such ELO classics
as Can't Get It Out Of My Head, Evil Woman or Strange Magic.
include the memorable ballads Moment In Paradise, featuring Ringo
Starr on drums, and A Long Time Gone, with Harrison on slide guitar;
the orchestral and bluesy In My Own Time and the mid-tempo Ordinary
Dream, Melting In The Sun and All She Wanted, the latter with
Harrison back on slide guitar.
successful are middle-of-the-road rockers like Alright, State
Of Mind, Stranger On A Quiet Street, Easy Money (with Starr back
on drums) and Really Doesn't Matter At All, or the ballad Just
For Love, which begins pleasantly enough before derailing about
halfway through due to Lynne's overindulgences.
by Jane Stevenson
Plain Dealer, Cleveland, Ohio,
June 17, 2001
fan's shocking confession - Arrival of band's first album in 15
years has critic reliving good old days
I told a colleague that I was a closet ELO fan, he shot back:
"Is there any other kind?"
no. But I'm ready to out myself right here and now.
I wasn't whiling away countless adolescent afternoons practicing
air-guitar to the tune of "Turn to Stone" and "Do
Ya," I used to fantasize about living on board the giant
spaceship on the cover of the Electric Light Orchestra's double
album "Out of the Blue." I'm still ready to hitch a
ride in a heartbeat if they ever offer to beam me up.
the meantime, I'm content to listen to "Zoom," ELO's
first new studio effort in 15 years. It arrived last week amid
a flurry of other ELO activity, including last year's "Flashback"
boxed set, television specials on VH1 and PBS, reissues of classic
albums and talk of a fall tour.
and co-workers look at me funny when I tell them the good news.
Then again, ELO never did command much respect.
nostalgic hindsight, it has become socially acceptable if not
downright hip to cop a soft spot for, say, ABBA. But mention the
finer points of "Strange Magic," "Don't Bring Me
Down" and other ELO hits and the reactions tend to range
from uneasy laughter to utter contempt.
to be ashamed of, anyway? In the annals of post-Beatles rock 'n'
roll, you'd be hard-pressed to find many other acts that could
match the meticulously catchy pop concoctions that ELO created
on a grand scale in the '70s and '80s. The melodramatic strings!
The celestial choirs! The robotic voice chiming: "Mr. Blue
don't even get me started on the joys of the "Xanadu"
soundtrack. That's a whole other column.
marks the long-overdue return of Jeff Lynne, the 53-year-old musical
mastermind behind ELO. While some of his ex-bandmates carried
on in the '90s as ELO Part II, Lynne released a solo effort ("Armchair
Theatre") and made a couple of albums with Bob Dylan, George
Harrison, Tom Petty and Roy Orbison in the guise of the Traveling
Wilburys. He collaborated on other studio projects with various
Wilburys, as well as Paul McCartney. Lynne also got the call when
the surviving Beatles needed a producer to oversee "Free
as a Bird" and "Real Love," the new tunes recorded
for the Fab Four's "Anthology" series.
and Ringo Starr make cameo appearances on "Zoom," although
Lynne is essentially a one-man band who plays almost all of the
instruments on the album and handles the lion's share of vocals.
The single "Alright" comes out swinging, literally,
before drifting in and out of waltz time.
told, there are fewer quasi-classical flourishes than in the past,
although uptempo rockers such as "State of Mind" and
"Melting in the Sun" evoke ELO's signature sound with
crisp production, clever melodic twists and 300-watt harmonies
galore. Ditto a couple of elegant ballads, "Just for Love"
and "Moment in Paradise."
latter tune and a fetching rendition of "Alright" fit
nicely alongside a handful of old favorites on the ELO episode
of VH1's "Storytellers," which premiered last Friday.
You can catch it again at 1 p.m. Tuesday or 11:30 p.m. Wednesday.
stories behind the songs aren't very illuminating - we learn that
"Evil Woman," for example, was inspired by a premonition
about, uh, an evil woman. Nevertheless, it does the heart good
to see "Can't Get It Out of My Head," "Livin' Thing,"
"Telephone Line" and other ELO gems reclaimed by Lynne
and his new touring troupe, which includes his significant other
Rosie Vela on backing vocals and longtime sidekick Richard Tandy
group also filmed a couple of concerts last month in Los Angeles
that PBS will broadcast as a pledge-drive TV special in August.
coincide with the comeback, four vintage ELO albums have been
reissued: "Eldorado," the disco-informed "Discovery,"
my personal fave "Time" and "Secret Messages,"
a tongue-in-cheek response to crackpots who swore they heard satanic
incantations on the band's old vinyl. (Too bad you can't play
a CD backward.) The digitally remastered discs include bonus tracks
and spruced-up booklets. Due in September are similarly enhanced
reissues of "Electric Light Orchestra II," "Out
of the Blue" and "Balance of Power."
then, the recharged ELO could be en route to a venue near us.
A North American tour is in the works, although the itinerary
has not been finalized.
one aboard the mothership is a rotten egg.
by John Soeder; Plain Dealer Pop Music Critic
The Plain Dealer 2001
Orange County Register June 1,
After 15 years, Jeff Lynne and company are back with a new album
it had something to do with a new generation's fascination with
the Beatles. After all, Jeff Lynne always intended his band's
sound to pick up where "I Am the Walrus" left off, though
with melodies and motifs that were more Paul than John.
be all those "Xanadu" nuts simply were fed up with having
their fave music lampooned. Whatever the case, a curious thing
happened just after Thanksgiving: Electric Light Orchestra became
cool again - or perhaps for the first time.
"Telephone Line," "Turn to Stone," "Evil
Woman," "Strange Magic" - the British group's often
infectious but bombastic tunes were staples of '70s radio, massively
popular with fans but considered (at best) a guilty pleasure among
critics and snobs. The songs have endured; you'll probably hear
"Don't Bring Me Down" on Arrow 93.1 FM sometime today,
and if you skip to the, um, revealing ending of your copy of "Boogie
Nights," you'll discover "Livin' Thing" put to
after the pooh-poohing of "Xanadu" (now regarded, with
considerable irony, as a camp classic) and the failure of the
band's '80s material to connect with its changing audience, ELO
crumbled. Lynne's career, however, merely mutated, his auteurism
reconfigured in ace productions, first with George Harrison's
latest studio album, "Cloud Nine" (1987), and Roy Orbison's
final effort, "Mystery Girl" (1989).
sleek, hollowed-out thump of drums (always played with Ringo-like
simplicity and precision), the filtered, almost computerized,
choir-like backing vocals, the shiny gloss of the guitars - it's
unmistakably Jeff Lynne. From his contributions to the supergroup
the Traveling Wilburys to his solo album "Armchair Theatre"
(1990), his approach is as recognizable as Phil Spector's famous
"wall of sound."
late last year, with the release of the Lynne-compiled box set
"Flashback," that style began to get its due, reflected
in a wave of praise from younger critics who had grown up with
ELO and couldn't have cared less that the band wasn't hip in its
we never really fit in - never have, in fact,"
Lynne said recently by phone from his Los Angeles home.
"When ELO was at its height in the '70s, punk was all
the rage. We were popular in spite of what was going on."
despite revisionist history, the group is no more suited to the
pop scene of 2001 than it was to the new wave of 1981. Thus now
is as good a time as any for ELO to return, as it does Tuesday
with the release of "Zoom", its first album since "Balance
of Power" in 1986.
will be bolstered by a June 15 "Storytellers" episode
on VH1 and a coming PBS documentary as well as a tour.
Still, this reunion - which isn't exactly a reunion - begs a few
spent so much time over the last several years producing other
people that I suddenly felt like I hadn't done any of me own music
for years. It started just after I finished working with McCartney
on 'Flaming Pie' (in 1997). I was just in the process of building
me studio anyway - it took about a year, having the house remodeled.
It all started to happen about then - just writing some new songs."
wonderfully catchy though it is - and sporting typical trademarks,
from retrofitted '50s rock ("Easy Money" or "State
of Mind," which echoes "Don't Bring Me Down") to
sweet strings ("Ordinary Dream") to those otherworldly
harmonies (like the Queen-like coda for "A Long Time Gone")
- it just as easily could have been another Lynne solo album.
call it ELO then? Because Lynne is to ELO what Chrissie Hynde
is to the Pretenders?
it's a bit of that," he
said. "But it's more that the idea
of getting a regular group to play with became very high on me
list. I think basically I wanted to take it on the road, you know?
And this is an ELO record. This was made the same way."
almost. The only other ELO holdover is keyboardist Richard Tandy,
because tensions between Lynne and drummer Bev Bevan haven't been
Lynne left in '88, Bevan formed a new ELO with a new vocalist.
(Think Creedence Clearwater Revisited.) Lynne sued - and got "Part
II" added to the group's name. But when pressed about what
happened, Lynne clams up. "I'm not
at liberty to speak about it," he says.
"Flashback" and "Zoom," however, has brought
been a good exercise, having gone all this time without ELO. When
I went back, I got to hear everything we did in all its whatever-it-is.
Some of it inspired me. Some of it didn't - a couple of the disco
ones, they're just OK."
effect did that have on making "Zoom"?
I've found is that I leave spaces now. I leave holes where the
song can breathe, where before I would fill it in with as much
cement as possible. In the past, I felt like I could do whatever
I wanted just because I could. No need to have just one piano
- I can have six of them! It was innocently done, but not particularly
clever. And I've since found out that recording six pianos is
a really bad thing to do.
that, experiencing that, getting older - it just changes everything.
I've always tried to make music that sounds somewhat old-fashioned,
that sounds timeless, whatever that is. But in the past that could
lead to trying too hard. Now, the song just happens, and then
it's finished - and it sounds like one of mine. There's no plan
anymore. I just make records to please meself."
The Orange County Register
Denver Post Sunday, June 10,
zooms back with new album
are rock fans who have dismissed Electric Light Orchestra's highfalutin
art-rock as gleefully overproduced, one of '70s rock's most commercial,
empty pop sounds.
should entertain revisionist second thoughts.
their relatively minimalist, cello-heavy beginning, ELO appeared
intended to recreate "I Am the Walrus." Then, between
1975 and 1981, the group enjoyed a remarkable 17 Top 40 hits -
among them, "Evil Woman," "Strange Magic,"
"Telephone Line" and "Livin' Thing." The elements
of the catchy pop singles? A witty web full of layered voices
and sound effects distilled through rocking guitars and string
went through many personnel changes, but a mainstay of classically
trained players furnished the crisp string presence required by
sonic architect Jeff Lynne behind many of his compositions.
never did stuff that was going on at the time,"
the British singer, songwriter, guitarist and producer
said recently. "I tried to get a
"timeless old-fashioned' sound. It didn't have to be the
latest thing, or somewhere in-between."
the mid-'80s, ELO took a back seat to Lynne's other projects as
a producer. He brought shimmering sonic touches to albums by George
Harrison and Tom Petty (with and without the Heartbreakers), and
he helped restart Roy Orbison's career. With them and Bob Dylan,
he was a member of Traveling Wilburys.
playing, it's arranging, it's co-writing. It's getting everybody
in the right place," Lynne
working with all those guys, I'd more or less run out of heroes.
I realized I hadn't done any of my own music for a long time.
So that's what I did."
Electric Light Orchestra's first album of new material in 15 years,
is in stores Tuesday. It was recorded at Lynne's Los Angeles home
musical relationships affected the sound. At times, it's as much
Traveling Wilburys as ELO.
used to always mix my voice really quiet. When I was working with
the other guys, I liked to put them up as loud as I possibly could,
because they're the singers. So I hope I gave myself the same
devotees have the chance to see ELO live?
only had I not worked on my own music, but I hadn't done live
shows since about 1985,"
the notoriously stage-shy Lynne said.
"But I've just done three live television shows in two weeks.
I'd never played a television show in my life! I've even enjoyed
performance on VH1's "Storytellers" series will premiere
Friday. An upcoming PBS special will air during the late-August
sets the stage for a major tour to start in September. In the
old days, the group's stage productions were visual spectacles,
including the massive ELO spaceship.
we have a new spaceship - you'll see it on TV," Lynne said.
"It's a lot more advanced than the last one. And, of course,
much lower running costs, two gallons to the light year. It's
unleaded, much better for the atmosphere."
recently released "Flashback," a three-CD box set complied
by Lynne that spans ELO's career, is evidence of a heckuva singles
band. But new expanded editions of albums are also being issued.
Four titles - "Eldorado," "Discovery," "Time"
and "Secret Messages" - will arrive in stores Tuesday.
out "Eldorado." ELO really hit its stride with this
cohesive, consistent album in 1974. It included the wonderful
"Can't Get It Out of My Head" and was also the first
time the group had been augmented in the studio with a full orchestra,
giving Lynne's songs a fuller, dimensional sound - "a
little mini-symphony job," he said.
Denver Post Popular Music Writer
(c)2001 The Denver Post
Post Wednesday, June 13, 2001
Lynne Says ELO Again
or not, here comes Jeff Lynne. Remember him? The shaggy maestro
behind the Electric Light Orchestra is poised for a multimedia,
multi-city assault on your senses -- and there is nothing you
can do about it.
first new ELO album in 15 years lands this week, along with four
"classic" ELO albums, spruced up of course, with liner
notes by Mr. Lynne himself, as well as previously unreleased tracks.
VH1's career fixer-upper, "Storytellers," will feature
Lynne on an episode to air Friday, with endless repeats to follow.
PBS jumps onboard in August, when the network will broadcast a
new ELO concert during pledge week. (Get those checkbooks ready,
people.) A tour is slated for some time in the fall.
those violins, all those pre-sweetened lyrics, all those swooping
layers of faux-Beethoven -- we're heading straight back into the
thick of it. We're revisiting the mechanized bombast of "Can't
Get It Out of My Head," we're reconnecting with the symphonic
hustle of "Don't Bring Me Down." Our nostalgia for all
things '70s is about to be sorely tested.
some free advice: Just give in. Surrender to the anaphylactic
schlock of the Jeff Lynne experience, because eventually, everyone
does. That includes not just fans of his 17 Top 40 hits, but some
of the great rockers of our age -- including George Harrison,
Paul McCartney and Tom Petty -- all of whom decided in the '80s
and '90s that Lynne was just the guy to produce their albums and
resuscitate their careers. He repaid the compliment by making
them all sound like ELO.
knew what they were getting into. Before he became an all-star
producer, Lynne and ELO had provided the soundtrack to "Xanadu,"
the Olivia Newton-John rollerblading movie that all but crushed
the remaining embers of Gene Kelly's movie career. Before that,
there was the allegation by a Detroit promoter in 1978 that ELO
had lip synched a pair of live shows. Suspicions were aroused,
the promoter said, when both shows clocked in at exactly 82 minutes
and the viola player spun across the stage without impeding his
play. (The band denied the allegation, but eventually dropped
a lawsuit brought against the promoter.)
despite ELO's success at creating unshakable melodies, it was
always blindingly obvious that the band had raided the Beatles
and then run off with the ill-gotten booty for an entire career.
In an interview with Rolling Stone years ago, John Lennon brutally
and casually thrashed the group as "son of 'I Am the Walrus,'
" which is an insult that Lynne couldn't exactly deflect.
His gimmick -- and that seems like the right word here -- was
to daub a layer of spaceship pop and violins on ideas that other
artists had already conceived. Listen to "Yours Truly, 2095,"
from the newly re-released "Time" album of 1981 and
it's suddenly obvious -- Lynne is doing an impersonation of the
Buggles, whose "Video Killed the Radio Star" was a No.
1 hit in England two years before. You can listen to the three
re-released albums either as nostalgia or the debris from a lifetime
fittingly enough, Lynne is stealing from himself. "Zoom"
wakes ELO up as though it had been asleep for 15 minutes, rather
than 15 years. Despite the packaging -- even the trademark spaceship
image is back on the cover -- this is actually a solo album, with
Lynne handling virtually all the instruments, including piano,
bass, guitar and drums. There are cameos by both George Harrison
and Ringo Starr, on guitar and drums, respectively, but once again
John Lennon is the Beatle that Lynne can't get out of his head.
"Ordinary Dream" is irresistible and is destined for
"ELO's Greatest Hits: Volume 2," though shamelessly
channeled from Lennon's Dakota years.
tracks later, the Liverpudlian accent has vanished for "Melting
in the Sun," which starts off with vocals so Dylanesque in
inflection that we can only hope it's intended as a tribute. There
is a foray back to the '50s, this time for "In My Own Time,"
which brings back the super-layered background vocals that made
songs like "Livin' Thing" such shameless fun.
if Lynne's life of violas and borrowing proves anything, it's
that in the world of pop there's nothing shameful about some shameless
hear a free Sound Bite from this album, call Post-Haste at 202-334-9000
and press 8173.
Washington Post Staff Writer
(c)2001 The Washington Post Company
Sunday Herald - Melbourne, Sun
got a sound," Paul McCartney told Jeff Lynne,
who was about to produce the Beatles' Free As A Bird. Lynne took
it as a compliment, but McCartney was apparently wary. He needn't
have been. As Ringo Starr observed later; "ELO
only broke up because they ran out of Beatles riffs."
is a one-man band -- lead vocals, backing vocals, lead guitar,
rhythm guitar, piano, keyboards, bass, drums and cello. On almost
every track. All of which he wrote.
has done this for years with the one obvious setback -- there's
no quality control. Which is how a band that can record Beatlesque
orchestral rock masterpieces such as Eldorado, Can't Get It Out
Of My Head and Laredo Tornado can embarrass themselves with the
unpardonable Hold On Tight, Xanadu and the execrable Rock and
Roll Is King.
on their first release in 15 years you get a CD with about a vinyl
album's worth of sometimes clever songs sounding very much like
the band of that golden period between 1973 and '79. Ringo pops
up here and there and George Harrison lends a memorable lick to
A Long Time Gone.
does Lennon on Just For Love and is his old self on Alright and
Moment in Time. McCartney was right.
Groove Magazine (New Zealand),
July 2001 (issue number 95)
been 30 years since the formation of the Electric Light Orchestra,
and 15 since their last studio album. Jeff Lynne is back as more
or less a one man band, writing and producing all of this album
and handling the majority of the vocals and instrumentation (adding
drums and cello to his repertoire). George and Ringo make an appearance
on a few tracks also, and while many might argue that this is
really another Jeff Lynne solo album, it sounds considerably more
ELO than Lynne's Armchair Theatre solo release from 1990.
heavily from past ELO arrangements and hooks, Lynne adds an appealing
Traveling Wilburys flavour to Zoom, resulting in 13 outstanding
tracks. 'Moment In Paradise', 'Ordinary Dream' and 'Lonesome Lullaby'
are bonafide Lynne masterpieces, concise and unforgettable hook
laden gems. 'Easy Money' and 'All She Wanted' find Lynne returning
to his rock 'n' roll roots, while 'State Of Mind', 'Stranger On
A Quiet Street' and 'Just For Love' echo the more traditional
softer ELO approach.
the past, Lynne has tended to treat lyrics as secondary to the
music, and often wrote them while in the studio. However, for
Zoom he has invested significant personal reflection into many
of these tracks, most notably on 'Lonesome Lullaby' (which reads
like a not so subtle dig at ex-ELO drummer Bev Bevan), 'Really
Doesn't Matter' and 'Easy Money'. With a tour, a DVD release,
and the remastering of the entire ELO back catalogue, 2001 looks
to be a good year for the fans.