Musician: Jeff Lynne  (Oct 9, 2012)


ASIN: B008Y5OW20

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the founding of Electric Light Orchestra, Jeff Lynne is issuing two albums simultaneously. One is Mr. Blue Sky: The Very Best of Electric Light Orchestra in which Lynne uses new technology to redo and tweek many of his band’s classic hits. The other is Long Wave, a solo album containing songs that come from even further back in time.

According to Lynne, the title of his solo project comes from the music he heard on “long wave radio” on the crystal set he listened to as a kid in Birmingham, England. This results in a collection in the growing tradition of singers like Rod Stewart and Joe Jackson who’ve been recording new renditions of songs they heard in their formative years. Unlike such performers, however, Lynne is perhaps more noted for his studio wizardry than his vocals. This means Long Wave has a more distinctive sound than releases where the singers are making every attempt to replicate the spirit, styles, and arrangements of the original recordings.

While the melodies on Long Wave are more than familiar, most sound like they could easily fit on any late-70s ELo album. Old standards include “Smile,” “At Last,” “Love Is A Many Splendored Thing” and a very snappy rendition of Bobby  Darin’s “Beyond The Sea.” The most rockin’ tune on this set is Chuck Berry’s 1960 “Let It Rock.” Roy Orbison’s 1961’s “Running Scared” is included, a song from a man little Jeff Lynne would grow up to work with in the Traveling Wilburys. As the song was covered so much, it’s difficult to know which version of “Mercy, Mercy” Lynne heard first, perhaps the single by the song’s co-writer, Don Covay. Whatever the case, it cooks once again in this new production.

While the one man orchestra called Jeff Lynne plays all these songs pretty much straight, the multi-tracking of his voice and the instruments are unmistakably not of the ‘50s or ‘60s. Neither is the cleanness and precision of the guitar sounds in rockabilly numbers like “So Sad.” Sure, we get string sweeps and choral harmonies that take you back in time on tracks like “Running Scared,” but we also get the watery ELO guitar sounds on “Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered.” “She” has a dreamy Beatle quality that reminds us ELO was once described as a band that picked up where “I Am The Walrus” left off. In short, these songs may be old dogs, but they’ve been given some new studio tricks.

The only matter to complain about is the length. Long Wave is on the short side with only 11 songs, and all clock in about the same time as the original 3 minutes or less singles. So the program is just about 30 minutes worth of music which is even shorter than old style vinyl albums.

So Long Wave may not be essential listening, but it is enjoyable. It has, it seems to me, Lynne’s best vocal work ever framed in his trademark lush settings. How can you go wrong? Now, to explore Mr. Blue Sky . . .

Follow Here To Purchase Long Wave