ALBUM REVIEW: JEFF LYNNE’S ELO – ALONE IN THE UNIVERSE

Jeff Lynne ELO

For most of its first run, Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) operated as a band. However, in effect the success of ELO was really down to one person viz. singer-songwriter-musician-producer Jeff Lynne. Thus, this album of new material — the first since 2001’s Zoom — is credited to “Jeff Lynne’s ELO” and perhaps rightly so. Though personally, ELO would have done it for me — I mean ELO fans know who is the force behind those wonderful songs.

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7 AND 7 IS: WHY YOU SHOULD BE LISTENING TO R.E.M.

R.E.M.

Yet another new feature at the bi-polar webzine, “7 and 7 is” in honour of Love’s seminal proto-punk masterpiece. Basically seven reasons why you should be listening to a band/artist that I am intent on recommending to you, dear reader. Well, actually seven of my favourite tracks of that particular band/artist – you get the general idea. This week: R.E.M.

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ROCK HISTORY: PHIL COLLINS/GENESIS – ESSENTIAL LISTENING

Phil Collins

At a time where there are millions of causes to get behind, some pretentious music-hating moron starts a petition to ‘stop’ Phil Collins from coming out of retirement. Over 2,000 people have signed the petition and of course, the music press gleefully reports about this juicy bit of ‘news’.

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ROCK HISTORY: LOVE – REEL TO REAL (1974)

ArthurLeeLove74

The late Arthur Lee and Love (the band Lee led & fronted) remains one of the most under-rated bands from the 60s/70s. Well, at least compared to their peers. Already well-documented is the fact that the likes of Jim Morrison (The Doors), Jimi Hendrix and Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin) were massive fans of this ground-breaking iconoclastic band. Certainly, the backward gazing bands of the 90s British indie scene owed a thing or two to Love.

One of the most freewheeling eclectic 60s bands, Love (which also included guitarist-songwriter Bryan Maclean, lead guitarist Johnny Echols, bassist Ken Forssi & drummer Michael Stuart) were never constrained by genres or styles and dabbled in folk, baroque pop, psychedelia, acid rock and even proto-punk (check out “7 and 7 Is” is below).

Not only that but the band can lay claim to producing one of the bona fide rock masterpieces of all time – the magnificent Love Changes.

However, due to drug problems and internal disagreements, the band’s commercial success dissipated in the late 60s, with Lee fronting a new set of musicians, but this incarnation of Love never garnered the widespread acceptance or acclaim of the original group.

Reel to Real was Love’s final official album and until now, has never been issued on CD! By the recording and release of this album, Love was essentially Lee with an assortment of session musicians but despite its marginalisation in rock history, deserves serious re-examination.

Not least for its daring coverage of a multitude of styles, despite its primary focus being on soul, R&B and blues-rock, one could imagine the young Prince, Lenny Kravitz or Terence Trent D’Arby listening to Reel to Real and copping one or two musical ideas.

Whilst modern pop fans would probably find themselves grooving to soulful gems like “Time is Like a River” and “Stop the Music”, alternative rockers might take a shine to off-beat numbers like “Singing Cowboy” and “You Said You Would”, which sound like Hendrix channeling Buck Owens! And that last song – “Everybody’s Gotta Live” – is the Lennonesque anthem Noel Gallagher wished he was smart enough to rip off!

The new reissue has rather illuminating outtakes which on occasion outshine the original tracks with their spontaneity and raw energy. There’s also a sloppy studio rehearsal of that classic Forever Changes outtake “Wonder People” for all your Love completists out there.

A hidden treasure re-discovered. Essential!

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PoP RECOMMENDS: BABY SCREAM

Hailing from Bueno Aires, Argentina, Baby Scream has been flying the power pop flag for the past decade or so, delivering premier Beatlesque goodness that fans of the 90s Pop Underground would have no problem appreciating. The sardonically-titled Greatest Failures compiles some of Baby Scream’s finer moments (“Slut”, “Mars” and “Morning Light” amongst them) and provides a good starting point. Deeper exploration of the Baby Scream discography is available at Bandcamp. Led by vocalist/guitarist Juan Pablo Mazzola – who himself sings with a Lennonesque authority – Baby Scream is a safe haven for the power pop purists out there who are pining for the good ol’ days of the 90s Pop Underground. Check ’em out!

… still there’s more …

THE DOORS: R-EVOLUTION [DVD REVIEW]

Suffice to say that The Doors is one of the most important rock bands ever and if you’re a rock lover/scholar then one just cannot get enough of this seminal outfit. This DVD strings together The Doors’ use of the visual medium to convey not only commercial messages but also the core values of the band. From its earliest music with awkward TV appearances (John Densmore has hardly enough time to get behind his drums when “Light My Fire” kicks in on American Bandstand!) and innovative music film, The Doors quickly realize the potential of the visual medium as an additional promotional and creative avenue – Jim Morrison and Ray Manzarek were film students after all. Bonus material include outtakes and a documentary recounting how The Doors began to use film to highlight their talents. Essential.

HISTORY OF THE EAGLES: THE STORY OF AN AMERICAN BAND [DVD REVIEW]

There can be no doubt about The Eagles‘ place in rock history. Biggest selling album of the 20th century, inducted into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame, a comeback album that sold in excess of 5 million in these troubled times for the music industry and a best-selling live show that continues to run and run.

Not to mention, a sideshow of controversy that has dogged the band despite the absolute highs. The high profile suit by former member Don Felder against The Eagles and the publication of Felder’s ‘tell-all’ book, Heaven and Hell: My Life in the Eagles (1974 – 2001) has tarnished somewhat the reputations of Don Henley and Glenn Frey (the co-leaders of the band) but that has not stopped the musical juggernaut from continuing to pull in the big bucks.

This documentary – as you might imagined – tells the story from Henley and Frey’s perspective. Both men are rather dismissive about Felder in the interviews and Frey evens gets in some descriptive expletives for good measure. The fact that the duo come across smug and self-righteous leaves a very bad taste in the mouth.

The first DVD recounts the band’s rise to fame and implosion in 1980 with rare footage and incisive comments from the key players. The second DVD recounts the band’s even more impressive comeback beginning the Hell Freezes Over tour in 1990.

Of the two DVDs, the first one is the most exciting as one gets to witness the making of iconic songs (“Take It Easy”, “One of These Nights”) and albums (Hotel California) and how Henley and Frey went from backing Linda Ronstadt to having the best-selling album of the 20th Century – Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975). The second DVD, well, is simply too sanctimonious at times with the unwelcome sight of Henley and Frey justifying their arrogance – rather unwatchable at times. Overall, the excellent first DVD is worth the price of admission though.

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