ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA / JEFF LYNNE Reissues – CD reviews

ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA / JEFF LYNNE
Reissues
Frontiers 2013

Electric Light Orchestra Zoom reissue

Hot(tish) on the heels of Jeff Lynnes odd reworking of the Electric Light Orchestras greatest hits, and his cover versions album, here comes a hodge podge of reissues from the Jeff Lynne / ELO back pages. First up is the ELO album that isn’t really an ELO album.

ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA
Zoom

This was the last ELO album aka the contractual obligation / legally required album that set out to stop assorted ex-members from calling themselves ELO. As such, it’s more of a Jeff Lynne solo album, with assorted celeb friends, with the only other ELO member appearing on the album, Richard Tandy, appears on only one track. You get a couple of Beatles band fellas thrown in for good measure, although they never meet up on the tunes with George Harrison on ‘A Long Time Gone’ and ‘All She Wanted’, and Ringo Starr appearing on ‘Moment In Paradise’ and ‘Easy Money’.

Sadly, it falls into the mundane world that Lynne was inhabiting in the nineties (and yes I know this was recorded in 2000), which means the songs could have just as easily slotted into a Tom Petty / George Harrison / Wilburys session, without anyone spotting the join. To be fair, there were some real strings on offer, but it just lacks the peculiarities of classic ELO, although it is miles better than “Balance Of Power”. This version comes with a couple of bonus tracks in the shape of ‘One Day’, which was recorded in 2004 and a live version of ‘Turn to Stone’ recorded at CBS Television City in 2001 as part of the Zoom promotional activity.

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Which leads us on to;

JEFF LYNNE
Armchair Theatre

This was Jeff Lynne’s first solo album, and it’s a right old mixter maxter of styles. None of them original. It’s almost a precursor to his covers album that was to follow over 20 years later, with the best of the songs being other peoples. In this case Jesses Stones ‘Don’t Let Go’, Harold Arlens ‘Stormy Weather’ and Kurt Weils ‘September Song’. It’s another of his records to drag in Beatles band fellas Harrison and Starr, but there isn’t a single killer tune on offer. Again, you’re thinking, ooh, Dylan would have liked that, Orbison would have sung that better, which isn’t a good thing.

To its credit, the synths have been banked down a wee bit, but you wouldn’t go out of your way to hear this. Bonuses are ‘Borderline’, which was on the ‘Lift Me Up’ 12″ and CD single, and the previously unreleased ‘Forecast’.

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And then it’s on to (hurrah!);

ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA
Live

Except, it’s the full show from the CBS Television City in 2001, mentioned in the “Zoom” review. So bar the ubiquitious Richard Tandy, there’s nary an ELO bod to be seen. So, it’s really Jeff Lynne doing his own tribute act. Session man Mark Mann takes care of the lead guitar, and the Bissonette brothers form the rhythm section. To be fair, you can’t go wrong with songs like ‘Evil Woman’, ‘Showdown’, ‘Livin’ Thing’ and ‘Can’t Get It Out Of My Head’, but it is lacking in excitement.

This has been out on DVD, but this record showcases the entire concert as well as two unreleased studio tracks, ‘Out Of Luck’ and ‘Cold Feet’. It’s not essential, but it’s the best of the reissues on offer.

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