ELO was a band I fell hard for back when I was 19 or 20. The first album I bought of theirs was Time. I immediately bought everything else. Time still holds a special place in my heart. ‘Rain Is Falling’ still gives me chills, like the first time I played it through my crappy little cd player, and when ‘Hold On Tight’ came on I immediately was a little kid again watching Bruce Jenner in the Wheaties commercials that used this song to sell Olympic dreams and wheat goodness to America. But what pushed me to buy and ELO album in the first place was buying a $5 copy of Jeff Lynne’s Armchair Theatre. Within that album was held the secret of the universe. At least the universe of a 19 year old living at home with his parents and girlfriend.
I’d realized that Jeff Lynne was a genius. Hell, he was more than a genius. He was a wizard. This mythical being that entered a studio and walked out with tapes filled with everlasting happiness. Eldorado, Face The Music, A New World Record, Out of the Blue, Discovery, Time…hell, even Balance of Power had a couple decent songs. Lynne created these amazing orchestral pop nuggets that were not only amazing, but they were radio hits(it was the 70s, those things happened back then). Then in the 80s Jeff started producing albums. Some guy named Ted, or maybe Tom Petty. Anyways, Lynne knew the studio, he knew pop songwriting and he knew how to grow a beard. He was also good friends with George Harrison, Bob Dylan and Roy Orbison to boot. I think they did some stuff together.
Well, the last time Jeff Lynne put anything out it was 2001 and ELOs Zoom. You know, the guy still had it. It wasn’t moving mountains(or even many volumes), but us diehards still heard that Jeff we love. As I was trolling the interweb yesterday I see there’s a new Jeff Lynne video. I checked it out, and in George Harrison fashion it’s Lynne playing all the instruments like a band of Jeff Lynnes. The song is a cover of an old soul song called ‘Mercy Mercy’. It’s damn good. He’s putting out an entire album of covers. He’s also going back and re-recording some classic ELO goodies, including ‘10538 Overture’ off of the first album. AND, he’s got a new solo album coming out next year. This makes me happy. I don’t even mind his over chorused and gated snare.
Welcome back, Jeff Lynne.