Something Else! sneak peek: Jeff Lynne – Mr. Blue Sky: The Very Best of Electric Light Orchestra (2012)

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All 12 tracks of Jeff Lynne’s forthcoming solo redo of the Electric Light Orchestra’s greatest hits are available for preview at elo.biz. Are they imaginative new takes or simply redundant covers? You decide.

When announcing the new project, set for release along with a songbook tribute album called Long Wave on October 9, 2012 via Frontiers Records, Lynne said he wanted to make use of the knowledge he had gained in the interim as a producer to give these classic recordings a new feel. (Beginning in the 1980s, Lynne has overseen hit albums with George Harrison, Tom Petty, Roy Orbison, Paul McCartney, Joe Walsh and others.) The results, Lynne said, are new versions of ELO tracks that are “much more solid and tight.”

[SOMETHING ELSE! SNEAK PEEK: Click here to preview all 12 tracks from Jeff Lynne’s forthcoming Fronters Records release ‘Mr. Blue Sky: The Very Best of Electric Light Orchestra’ at elo.biz.]

Recorded at Lynne’s Los Angeles home studio, Mr. Blue Sky includes remakes of the title song, “Livin’ Thing,” “Showdown,” “Evil Woman,” “Do Ya,” “Telephone Line,” “10538 Overture” and “Don’t Bring Me Down,” among others. The set will also include “The Point of No Return,” a newly recorded bonus track.

These new albums are arriving as ELO reaches its 40th anniversary. Lynne said he will also oversee expanded reissues of both Zoom, the Electric Light Orchestra’s 2001 release and his debut solo effort, Armchair Theater from 1990.

ELO, with Lynne serving as lead singer and creative mastermind, has sold more than 50 million albums. Lynne wrote and produced more than two dozen Top 40 UK singles between 1972-86 alone. The hits compilation All Over The World then returned the band to the UK Top 10 in 2005.

“There was a big reason I wanted to re-record these ELO songs,” Lynne said. “When I listen to the old versions they don’t sound the way I thought they did when I first wrote and recorded them. I wanted to use the experience I’ve gained producing records ever since and have a completely new try at them. I’m not saying the old versions aren’t good; I like them very much. We were doing our best, but experience and technology also play a big a big part, and these new ones sound much more solid and tight.”

Complete track listings are below, with highlights from Long Wave including “Let It Rock,” “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered,” “Smile,” “So Sad,” “Love Is A Many Splendored Many Thing” and “Mercy, Mercy,” which will be the project’s lead single.

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Here’s a look back at our recent thoughts on Jeff Lynne and the Electric Light Orchestra. Click through the titles for complete reviews …

SNEAK PEEK: JEFF LYNNE, “POINT OF NO RETURN” (2012): The track sounds, at least in the early going, like the typical solo Lynne production, dominated by his now familiar drum signature, propelled by a Byrdsy guitar, enveloped with a double-tracked vocal. Add in Roy Orbison, and it might have been a Traveling Wilburys outtake. Then, just as you’re getting comfy with it all, “Point of No Return” begins to elevate, as Lynne stirs in some billowing strings and a fabulously smeared, echoing guitar solo. Something starts to happen, something very 1970s. And I mean that in a good way.

ONE TRACK MIND: JEFF LYNNE, “AT LAST” (2012): At last! Jeff Lynne, having most recently issued a solo album in 1990 with Armchair Theatre, will be returning with two new studio recordings. But … “At Last”? The Etta James number? At first, I couldn’t get past the first two words on this advance track from Lynne’s Long Wave, the two words that James so completely owns — the two words that she has come to personify. I heard Lynne sing “at last,” and I turned it off. Careful readers will remember my enthusiasm in this space for “Point of No Return” — a new song on a set of ELO remakes that will be released in tandem with Long Wave. But this is different.

SOMETHING ELSE! FEATURED ARTIST: JEFF LYNNE AND THE ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA: News that Jeff Lynne is making a long-awaited return with both a studio album and a fresh examination of ELO’s greatest hits had us recalling some old favorites. Lynne will release both albums, titled Long Wave and Mr. Blue Sky: The Very Best of Electric Light Orchestra respectively, on October 9, 2012 through Frontiers Records. To get you ready, we took a spin through some of our favorite cuts from the Electric Light Orchestra.

JEFF LYNNE REUNITES WITH FORMER ELO BANDMATE RICHARD TANDY: Even as Jeff Lynne is set to issue new solo versions of his greatest hits with the Electric Light Orchestra, he has reunited with former ELO member Richard Tandy. Videos of the pair performing “Showdown” and “Evil Woman” have been posted to elo.biz. “Showdown” was originally a No. 12 hit single in the UK in 1973, while “Evil Woman” was went Top 10 both in America and in England in 1975. It’s unclear whether a full-length recorded reunion with Tandy is in the offing, or if the longtime ELO keyboardist is to be part of Lynne’s planned Mr. Blue Sky: The Very Best of Electric Light Orchestra, though these new videos are posted under a heading that reads “sneak peeks.”

Complete track listings for ‘Long Wave’ and ‘Mr. Blue Sky: The Very Best of Electric Light Orchestra’:

LONG WAVE
1. She
2. If I Loved You
3. So Sad
4. Mercy, Mercy
5. Running Scared
6. Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered
7. Smile
8. At Last
9. Love Is A Many Splendored Thing
10. Let It Rock
11. Beyond The Sea

MR. BLUE SKY-THE VERY BEST OF ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA:
1. Mr. Blue Sky
2. Evil Woman
3. Strange Magic
4. Don’t Bring Me Down
5. Turn To Stone
6. Showdown
7. Telephone Line
8. Livin’ Thing
9. Do Ya
10. Can’t Get It Out Of My Head
11. 10538 Overture
12. The Point Of No Return

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The Something Else! webzine, an accredited Google News affiliate, has been featured in The New York Times and NPR.com's A Blog Supreme, while our writers have also been published by USA Today, Jazz.com and UltimateClassicRock.com, among others. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
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