Reviews roundup – Jeff Lynne’s ELO vs. Craig Erickson vs. Charlie Wheeler Trio
JEFF LYNNE’S ELO
Live At Hyde Park – DVD
So it’s now officially Jeff Lynne’s ELO. Well, he always did have an ego, hence the amount of time he seems to spend with this lawyers issuing cease and desist notices and re-recording his hits. But whatever side of the ELO fence you fall on, there is no doubting the amazing songs he’s written over the years.
And. live, it’s his voice that counts, so this show, which was broadcast on the BBC last year, is a tremendous showcase for his history. He’s put together a tremendous backing band to accompany him and last man standing, pianist Richard Tandy, and it sounds tremendous. It’s a hit packed set, although it must be hard to choose a setlist.
But whatever tunes are missing, it’s wall to wall hits, with seventeen classics to enjoy, ranging from the opening ‘All Over The World’ through my favourite ‘Ma-Ma-Ma Belle’ and ranging through , ‘Strange Magic’, ‘Don t Bring Me Down’ and many more on to a closing ‘Roll Over Beethoven’. With a string enhanced show, courtesy of the BBC Concert Orchestra, it’s the fullest sound you could wish for, and even if there are a few too many shots of the audience, there is nothing here that an ELO fan won’t lap up.
It also comes with a Jeff Lynne interview and “Mr Blue Sky The Story Of Jeff Lynne and ELO”, the documentary that was also broadcast on the BBC last year.
Sky Train Galaxy
I must admit to not being familiar with the work of Craig Erickson, although I did remember his name from the “L.A. Blues Authority Volume II” album, recorded by Glenn Hughes. given that, I wasn’t surprised to discover that this is a blues rock album. But I was surprised at just how good it is.
He’s got a lengthy solo discography, and if this is anything to by, it’s one that needs to be checked out. He’s basically dealing in seventies styled blues rock, the kind of thing Robin Trower used to do back in the day, but it’s not just about the licks. He’s got some really good songs to go with it.
There are plenty of highlights with the duet featuring Alicia Strong on ‘Mercy’ probably my favourite at first listening. There’s a southern rock styled gem in the shape of ‘Mojo in Memphis’, and in amongst the self penned material, there’s a surprising cover, where he gives us his take on the Deep Purple Mark IV gem, ‘Gettin’ Tighter’, here supplemented with the tag ‘Ode to T’. And anyone who pays tribute to Tommy Bolin is alright by me.
It’s an excellent release that fans of hard-hitting blues rock should be checking out immediately.
CHARLIE WHEELER TRIO
Rising from the ashes of the Charlie Wheeler band, a long-standing Pennsylvania blues rock band, the Charlie Wheeler Trio is, wait for it, a blues rock band. It seems personal reasons were behind the rejig, but it’s certainly worked out well, because this is a really enjoyable release.
Their band of blues rock, also throws in some jam band influences, taking in Widespread Panic and their ilk, all the way back to the granddaddys, the Allman Brothers Band. And that’s just dandy by me. Luckily, they also remember to write songs, something the lesser lights on the jam band scene seemed to forget. But they’ve also got that gritty blues rock edge that keeps the music grounded.
Charlie Wheeler, alongside Rad Akers on drums and Dave Fink on bass, has put together an excellent third album, where the stripped back trio sound really brings out the best in songs like ‘Love Letter’, ‘Semi Good Lookin’ and ‘The Ghost Of Who You Were’. But there are no real misses here, and they’re a band definitely worth turning an ear to.