Jeff Lynne and ELO
Jeff Lynne (born 30 December 1947) is about to turn 71 years of age. I just finished watching the documentary “JEFF LYNNE’S ELO: WEMBLEY OR BUST” and it was a reminder of why I loved (Electric Light Orchestra) ELO so much in the 1970/80’s and why I still do today.
First his voice is still amazing, second all the songs hold up and exceed most of what’s being produced today and lastly the doc’s a very well put together blend of concert footage, interviews and a look behind the scenes. So why does he need to call it Jeff Lynne’s ELO? There are past band members that have tried to capitalize on the name so he wanted people to know this was the real deal. For someone who does not read or write music, Lynne has produced some of the finest orchestral rock music ever, and it’s all in his head.
“Rock ‘n’ Roll is King” by Electric Light Orchestra (1983), written by Jeff Lynne and something upbeat to get things started.
“Rockaria!” by Electric Light Orchestra (1976), written by Jeff Lynne, featuring Welsh Soprano Mary Thomas. This song showcases Lynne’s groundbreaking creativity.
“Livin’ Thing” by Electric Light Orchestra (1976) written by Jeff Lynne. This demonstrates all of Lynne’s talents quite well as he is an accomplished guitarist (self taught) and vocalist as well. Here is Matthew Sweet (2006).
Once again I find myself talking about an artist that despite huge international success never charted a #1 hit on Billboard and in the UK, the only chart topper was “Xanadu“with Olivia Newton-John (1980). However, with ELO Lynne did sell over 50 million records, have 15 top tens and 27 top 40’s in the UK and chart 25 songs in the US, including 7 in the top 10. In fact they hold the record for the most charted hit songs without a #1. Seems a bit harder to find ELO chart data for Canada but I managed to find their music easily enough as I mentioned in the Chuck Berry issue I saw them play in Toronto in 1978. With these kinds of numbers it’s hard to say he is underrated but there, I said it!
“Don’t Bring Me Down” by Electric Light Orchestra (1979) written by Jeff Lynne; was their highest chart hit at #4. Here is the German Heavy Metal band Axxis with their version.
Before we move on from the ELO years here is my favorite. “Telephone Line” by Electric Light Orchestra (1976) written by Jeff Lynne. Jack And White with a great cover- “Telephone Line” (2012) feat. Fitz (Fitz and The Tantrums).
The ELO logo which was stylized into a spaceship is based on a model of Wurlitzer Jukebox.
Apart from the accomplishments with ELO Jeff Lynne has produced records for Paul McCartney, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty, Dave Edmunds, Bryan Adams and several others.
As part of the all-star/supergroup, nay ‘legend’ group the ‘Traveling Wilburys’ (also including; Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Roy Orbison and George Harrison) Lynne once again proved his genius. “Handle with Care” (1987) by the Traveling Wilburys, all song credits going to the whole band (but actually written by George Harrison and Jeff Lynne). Originally a song written by Lynne and Harrison for a bonus track on a George Harrison Album, the record company thought it ‘too good’ and the result was the formation of the new band. All production of the group’s two albums ‘Traveling Wilburys Vol 1’ and Traveling Wilburys Vol 3 (post Roy Orbison’s death) were handled by Lynne and Harrison (just to mess with people there is no Vol. 2). Here is a version by a well known pair of artists forming up for a duo, Judy Collins and Stephen Stills.
“Mr. Blue Sky” written by Jeff Lynne as were all of the ELO songs, he also produced virtually all their songs as well. Lynn was quoted as saying this about staying in a Swiss chalet trying to write a follow-up from their last album. “It was dark and misty for 2 weeks, and I didn’t come up with a thing. Suddenly the sun shone and it was, ‘Wow, look at those beautiful Alps.’ I wrote Mr. Blue Sky and 13 other songs in the next 2 weeks”. This song has been used in at least 10 movies including Guardians of the Galaxy 2. Brilliant!
References: https://www.ft.com/content/8a909cda-7cc8-11e5-98fb-5a6d4728f74e https://www.officialcharts.com/artist/30488/elo/
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