Back in the hazy-dazy days of 2001, I had put together a feature on one of my favourite bands, the Electric Light Orchestra, which included reviews of then-new album Zoom and the Eldorado re-issue and Flashback boxset.
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.
Honestly, have never been a fan of Canuck heartland rocker Bryan Adams but on his latest album, producer Jeff Lynne (ELO) is the only reason I am recommending Get Up! And of course, Lynne’s fingerprints are all over this ode to rock ’n’ roll, even though Lynne has only one co-writing credit here – the mid-tempo 80s pop sheen of “Do What Ya Gotta Do” which smacks of Lynne’s collaborations with Tom Petty and Roger McGuinn. Ironically, the most ELO-channeling track of all – the gorgeous ballad “We Did It All” was written by Adams and songwriter partner Jim Vallance.
There’s no denying that Adams sounds invigorated by Lynne’s influence, keeping the songwriting simple, yet allowing the sophisticated arrangements to elevate the basic pop-rock material. That’s no hiding the agenda behind feel good rockers like “Go Down Rockin’” and “That’s Rock and Roll” & the years peel away with ease. Who cares whether the hipster generation will Get Up or not. That’s their problem.
And if you’d like a free CD of Get Up! (and why wouldn’t you?!), Universal Music Singapore are giving away 5 copies if you can answer this question.
Who is the producer of Bryan Adams’ Get Up!?
Send your answers to firstname.lastname@example.org with your full name, NRIC No., mobile number and of course, home address and a Get Up! CD is yours! First come, first served. Power of Pop’s decision on who is or isn’t a winner is final and conclusive. (For Singapore residents only)
The problem with critics in general is that quite often, a band’s commercial success may adversely impact the critics’ opinions about that band’s artistic credentials. Which is strange in itself, when you consider the immense popularity of The Beatles, for example.
But such was the case for Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) who in their heyday (1970-1986) sold over 50 millions records!
Formed initially as a side-project of 60s psych-rock outfit The Move by Bev Bevan, Roy Wood and Jeff Lynne to ‘continue where the Beatles left off” (as Wood put it) – this lineup released the project’s debut album (No Answer – which contained the hit “10538 Overture”) before Wood defected leaving Lynne to be sole creative force behind ELO.
It would take ELO six albums before becoming a force in pop music and New World Record was the LP that truly broke ELO into the pantheon of pop gods, attaining #5 in the Billboard Album Charts and platinum album sales in the USA and native UK.
Singles like “Telephone Line”, “Livin’ Thing”, “Rockaria” and “Do Ya” (originally recorded by The Move) established ELO’s signature sound – orchestral pop-rock with sophisticated arrangements and infectious melodies. However, New World Record is much more than its singles and it is arguably one of the purest pop masterpieces ever recorded, fulfilling the legacy of The Beatles and The Beach Boys, and even Roy Orbison (in the epic closer “Shangri-la”).
It’s no exaggeration to suggest that Jeff Lynne was the main man behind ELO’s success. Even though at this time, the band had seven members, Lynne was the singer, songwriter, producer, arranger and even lead guitarist! There would be no ELO without Jeff Lynne.
Yet, ELO never quite gets the credit or acclaim for the wondrous pop music they made and critics often deride both ELO and Jeff Lynne for the very thing that made them click – orchestral pop magic!
PoP visitors will no doubt be aware of my love for all things Jeff Lynne/ELO and New World Record is an excellent starting point to find out why.
… still there’s more …