19 February 2008

[bloggage, design] Q Interviews Me, Question 5

1375. Time to bring discussion on one of my complete awesomes with the story of question 5 of the Great Interview Challenge, issued to me by Q of the blog http://650miles.com, which is now a a regular read.

It's pretty self-explanatory. But there's more, of course.

Jeff Lynne's life is a story of climb from local obscurity to world renown, though, even in the beginning, as part of the Brum music set, he showed acknowledgable talent. From his beginnings with the local band Idle Race (which rose to national note with a hit song) to his time in Roy Wood's enigmatic psychedelic band Move to the present day, where he's a rocker's rocker, a musicians' musician, and had garnered the height of working with the greats and his childhood heroes.

Lynne's time with Move was brief, but it gave him and Wood the inspiration to form the first Electric Light Orchestra. The band had three members at the start (including legendary drummer Bev Bevan) and the first self-titled album (incorrectly titled No Answer in the USA due to a famously-misunderstood phone message) was a unique beast indeed. While bands such as the Moody Blues made rock backed up by an orchestra, ELO made rock music with classical instruments – some of them almost seem to be straining under forces they were never meant to endure.

Roy Wood grew quickly bored with the concept of ELO after that first album and left Lynne to his own devices, and what devices they were. The journey to commercial success began with ELO2, reached incipience with Face The Music, and was complete with A New World Record, all of which defined the public face of ELO – style as well as subtance.

From ANWR on the most prolific and commercial time in ELO's career obtained. After this was the band's legendary double disc, Out Of The Blue, a group of songs reportedly written over a thirty day period in a Swiss chateau and engineered by Mack. Songs such as "Turn to Stone", "Sweet Talkin' Woman" and "Mr Blue Sky" became towers of ELO's career and are enjoyable on thier own but really need to be listened to in the context of the album to have thier true majesty appreciated.

From then on came the height of pop polish (Discovery, which was been nicknamed "Disco? Very!" even by Lynne himself) theme-album conceit (Time) and pop/AOR maturity (the ironically-meta-titled Secret Messages). Between the time of Time and Messages, ELO began to come apart as long-time bassist Kelly Groucutt left acrimoniously and Lynne began to tire of producing and touring (he famously loved the studio and hated the concert).

The last acknowledged ELO album from the heyday period, Balance of Power in 1986, was produced solely to satisfy contractual obligations; even the famous Wurlitzer-jukebox-inspired ELO logo was gone, replaced by an op-art collection of shapes. Despite this, the album remains a polished, listenable swansong, touches of sadness and despair showing through the power-pop showmanship.

After going separate ways, Lynne eventually found his dreams producing and performing his childhood idols: not only would he go on to produce George Harrison's comeback Cloud Nine but also work with all the then-survivng Beatles. He became a member of one of the most famous pickup supergroups ever, the Traveling Wilburys, working beside Orbison, Petty, Harrison, and Dylan.

By the time the album Zoom came out, in 2001, Jeff Lynne had cemented his place as fairly a rock god. The album Zoom itself was credited as an ELO album but save for Richard Tandy and an appearance by Mik Kaminski, included none of the old band; it was replete with appearances from famous aquaintances, and though ELO fans will ere debate whether or not it's a real ELO album I can attest, after having enjoyed the album ad nauseaum, that it does have that ELO something that only Jeff Lynne can provide.

For what it's worth, I enjoyed the ELO Part 2 works too. I highly recommend them.

Now who wouldn't want to talk with a person who's done all that? ELO was my first favorite band (as opposed to first favorite artist, who was Gerry Rafferty) and still is my first favorite band (same with Rafferty). And when all is said and done, in the welter of sound that is the tunes that pretty much constantly play through my nut, when inspiration is thin, I get out an ELO album – and it always come back to me.

Thank God for Jeff Lynne.

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Anonymous said...

I saw a very recent picture of Jeff Lynne here:
He is still young!!

Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis said...

Your' absolutely right - he's still lookin' good.

Eyes must be shot after wearing those dark glasses all those years tho' B-)

Seriously, readers, that's a good site. Shoud be visited. Navigation's a little unorthodox, tho ... look for the section titled "All Over The World" for the pix.

I'd probably try to set up my own ELO fan site, but I've tried setting up band fan sites and never got anywhere with them. And there are already waaaaay better ELO fan sites out there as it is.

Thanks, Anon!

swarlock said...

Very positive read on The Lynne man. ELO Part 2 are okay but Jeff's ELO is better but I digress.

Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis said...

Thanks for that comment. I have nothing but respect and admiration for Jeff; love his music, kind of envy his life, but what music he's given us.

ELO will never grow old.

I think Jeff's ELO is better too, but I find ELO Part 2 is incredibly enjoyable. That's just my take.

swine said...

the ELO logo rocks.

Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis said...

Goodgoshalmighty, old so, I can't add to that.

I've been in love with the ELO logo since I first got on that wavelength back in '81.