Happy 58th Birthday, Jeff.
Thursday, December 29, 2005
Well, 2005 turned out to be a dud for ELO and related fans. Other than 20 re-packaged songs, one honest to goodness remaster, and a decent Harvest Records sampler, it's been pretty quiet. OK, it's nice that ELO songs appeared in numerous TV commercials in the past year and now a UK Tour is on with a band whose name could only have been conceived by lawyers. But at least, ELOPTFM will keep the torch going.
Now we look ahead to 2006, which is the 35th Anniversary of ELO's first LP release, and hopefully that will be reason enough to jumpstart the long overdue sound restoration of ELO's CD catalog. Projects like these tend to get released because of an occasion, not because they're "done." An enormous chunk of the 70's and 80's biggest bands have remastered catalogs now. And for a band that was all about the sound, you'd think this would be completely obvious. Instead, 8 of the bands' 14 original LPs are still left in the dust... and one is even unavailable. Yes, Zoom will turn 5 this year.
And remember, some people were willing to fork over more than $6,000 for a Secret Messages double album acetate (which by the way wasn't even the whole album)... clearly illustrating how popular a restored 18 track original Secret Messages line-up CD would be for fans. What if it was released as a limited fan-club edition? I wonder who won that auction anyway...
iTunes is currently offering 4 ELO videos to buy and download... great news. But if we can buy videos from the later years easily, plus with Discovery videos in wide circulation, and earlier videos previously available on a Telstar VHS collection, why isn't a DVD release of ELO videos on the table? But hey, if I can buy and download videos even for a two-inch screen, I'll take my little 2-inch victories where I can get them.
Without question, though, the biggest 2006 excitement for me (so far) will be the new Tom Petty album, Highway Companion, in which one of its songs is already in a position to win a Grammy even before the album comes out.
There are seemingly so many projects waiting in line for a green light, I'm keeping my fingers crossed something will. I don't know about you, but I've taken a break from ELO listening for the most part (current CD playing being the exception) but if and when the ELO remasters get unleashed, it will rejuve my excitement for this music again... it's been 5 years since the last ignition.
So, what's on your 2006 wish list?
Sunday, December 11, 2005
Saturday, November 26, 2005
Wednesday, November 2, 2005
Tuesday, November 1, 2005
Conversations With Tom Petty has landed in bookstores today. There are a few Jeff-related surprises in the book, but at the risk of spoiling them, I'll tell you it's probably better for you to just pick up a copy and thumb through. There's actually a great deal of Jeff Lynne related material in the book.
What's more interesting is that the book's epilogue has (from what I can tell) a track by track discussion of his new Highway Companion album. The track list is practically laid out. So, the album must not be too far behind.
Friday, October 28, 2005
This could very well be my obession only, but I'm still deciding the best way to gather all of my ELO and related videos and keep them handy to watch, well, whenever.
For those of you who plan to use iPod (and/or iTunes) to watch videos and keep video files on your PC in mpeg2 format, you can convert those files to iPod friendly formats by using Videora. It's free, but you can also send a donation. I suggest even a small donation because the program does a brilliant job.
On the subject of videos and iTunes, the video for ELOs Rock'n'Roll Is King is available for purchase on iTunes. It's never been available for purchase on any format, but here it is. I wonder if there's more on the way?
Sunday, October 16, 2005
I can't help but to think what could be.
Sony/BMG, which is currently home to our Electric Light Orchestra, is ready to unleash what they call their most extentive album reissue campaign to date. In what looks to be a rather incredible set, eight Eurythmics albums are being upgraded and expanded to be sold as separate CDs or as a deluxe boxed set. The soundtrack to 1984 is not among them though. The albums are remastered by Dave Stewart and now include at least 4 bonus tracks each... Touch has 7.
So, an 8 album set is Sony BMG's most extentive reissue campaign to date?? A similar ELO set would probably involve 12 albums, 13 if you include Long Beach.
I can't help but to think of what could be.
Friday, October 7, 2005
I don't want to be planting any rumors or anything, but I was reading more items on Tompetty.com's message boards. This one concerning "It'll All Work Out" which appears on the new Elizabethtown soundtrack. It's a remix from the original version on Let Me Up (I've Had Enough). There's less echo on the track, some instruments shine through a little more and the end is extended a bit.
Since Jeff Lynne has been working with Tom on his new album (one of Tom's new tracks Square One is on Elizabethtown)... the possibility is open that Jeff may have helped remix It'll All Work Out. This wouldn't be unprecidented. Jeff has remixed tracks for George Harrison.
Again, I'm just raising the possibility of that being the case. Nobody besides the remixers know for sure because the credits don't give any hint.
Monday, October 3, 2005
I'm reading bits and pieces on Tom Petty.com's Message Board about Tom Petty vs. Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers in the context of Tom's new album being a solo one.
I supposed I was a bit surprised to find that many people don't view Into The Great Wide Open as favorable as other later Heartbreaker albums, mostly because of Jeff's involvement. At the same time though, Full Moon Fever gets high marks from the same people (by in large) for being a Tom Petty solo disc.
Full Moon Fever is a classic album... that's pretty much without debate. But, it's shame most people didn't recognize that Into The Great Wide Open was (in my opinion) a step-up in Tom Petty's songwriting/poetry, and about 2 steps up on Jeff Lynne's production. Jeff's producing hit such a stride on this record and should have won more fans over. Go back and listen to the absolutely amazing musicianship on that record. From everyone. It was a good direction for Tom, the Heartbreakers and for Jeff, even if it was temporary.
So, now we're coming up to Highway Companion, a third Tom Petty/Jeff Lynne collab. Square One is out and may be a hint of what we're in for. I hope they blow the lid off convention like they did the last two times... because they can.
Thursday, September 29, 2005
Using the same standard to judge the First Light edition of Electric Light Orchestra (No Answer) and ELO II, look at the new remaster of Message From The Country as probably the most definitive we'll ever get. That said, I don't think they'll be much disappointment to go around.
The best we've had of these tracks before this remaster was the similar Great Move collection from 1995. You'll hear the sound improvement on the new remaster right from the opening notes of the disc. That will be this set's biggest attribute, the clarity of the sound. If you load it into an iPod (with better headphones than they give you) you'll hear what I mean.
After adding the Move's A & B sides from around this time, there wasn't a huge amount of room for bonus material, but the selections are pretty cool. Don't Mess Me Up is a nice variation. Of course, I always thought putting the Move's take 1 version of 10538 Overture (no vocals or cello) would make a nice final track for this remaster as a proper segue to Electric Light Orchestra (No Answer), but that's a wish more than it is a complaint.
Somehow, someway, I had the impression the FTM 20 page booklet was suppsoed to be full color, but besides the front cover and centerfold, it is not. I don't know about you, but what's strange about my pressing is that all of the songs start two seconds in. In other words, there's 2 seconds of silence at the beginning of each track.
Thursday, September 22, 2005
To nobody's surprise probably, ELO isn't on the list of Rock'n'Roll Hall Of Fame inductees this year. And while I don't put a great deal of stock into this, I have to wonder about the mentality when it comes to making up the list. ELO put 19 songs into the American Top 40, several of them in the Top 10. This feat is not nearly achieved by several of the artists in the Hall... much less on this year's short list. Unless the music is about sex or making a political statement, they may never get the recognition they deserve as musicians.
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
I swear I usually know what I'm talking about, but when I heard the short clip of Tom Petty's Square One on the Elizabethtown website, I swore it sounded more like something that would have fit on Petty's Wildflowers album. But indeed, Square One was recorded in Petty's new sessions with Jeff Lynne and it's now released on the new Elizabethtown soundtrack.
Square One: written by Tom Petty. Produced by Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty and Michael Campbell.
Hearing the entire song now, the only hallmark of a Jeff Lynne production is maybe the upfront slide guitar solo and the subtle string or keyboard part. But it's a nice little tune by Tom. It's one of those songs that grows on you quickly, having all the sensibility you'd expect from these guys.
Is this a preview of Highway Companion? Sure, Square One will be one less song to enjoy when the CD comes out, but it's too good to leave off.
Wednesday, September 7, 2005
When you stand back and see this Harvest compilation is geared towards a larger audience, you'll appreciate it a little more. While I long for releases that cater to us fans, Harvest Showdown is the next best thing. It's a rather nice cross-section of tracks from the late-Move, Early-ELO era.
While I don't particularly do back-flips over edited versions, I can appreciate Do Ya and Tonight especially for the sound it's delivering on this set. But, my intital impression of the USA radio mono mix of 10538 Overture was different. In reality, it's the LP version in mono and after hearing it, I fail to see why this was fit for inclusion.
Showdown, just like the Early Years CD from ELO, is hard to listen to. Much more so here just because it is so overwrought with the ADT effect.
"King Henry VIII's Bollocks" was fine, and again like the Early Years CD from ELO, the hidden track is by far the winner as far as fan content is concerned.
It's nice to hear all these tracks in such grand sound quality sans Showdown, although I think the previously unreleased tag is used way too freely.
Saturday, August 27, 2005
A follow-up about the new Tom Petty material which is expected to be released end of this year or early next: Cameron Crowe's new movie Elizabethtown is being release in October, so says tompetty.com.
Apparently, the movie will feature two new Petty tracks, "Jack" and "Square One" but there's no indictaion yet that these are part of his new sessions with Jeff Lynne. Also in the movie is Tom Petty/Jeff Lynne collab Learning To Fly from 1991's Into The Great Wide Open. A soundtrack is scheduled to be out September 13.
Thursday, August 18, 2005
There are very informative write-up's about Message From The Country and Harvest Showdown from Spin CDs.com. The hidden track on Harvest Showdown is revealed, so don't read it if you don't want to spoil the surprise. Is it a surprise? You be the judge.
All of the vendors selling the CDs are still listing a September 5 release day, but with just over two weeks to go, FTM Online and The Move's official web sites have nothing on it. I won't read anything into it like I always do, but then again...
The question raised on the Showdown List is whether we want the CDs by the September 5 release day or if we wait a little longer, we can get them with an autograph... most likely just from Bev Bevan. I voted to get them on time. I can always work on the autograph later. After reading the responses on the list, I found myself clearly in the minority on this.
Friday, August 12, 2005
It could mean something. It could mean nothing at all. Sony Music's official ELO website is now offline with a promise that a new one is coming soon. It's just as well, elomusic.com hasn't been updated with any content since Essential ELO was released over two years ago... and that was the first edit to that site in two years. Much of the info and design was centered around ELO's Zoom, which is apparently no longer in Sony/Epic's jurisdiction. It all raises the questions: What will this new site contain and what ever became of plans for elo.biz?
Sunday, August 7, 2005
It's completely unrelated to anything Jeff Lynne-oriented, but while reading through some entertainment news, I came across something quite refreshing. Carly Simon's new CD, Moonlight Serenade is in the Top 20 (#17 this week after debuting at #7) on the Billboard album charts. You go, girl.
Thursday, August 4, 2005
Now that the All Over The World CD has seen release in America, I can say for certain that since other countries have track alterations, I don't find this USA collection definitive at all. Horace Wimp and Wild West Hero were singles in the UK, so their presence on the UK edition is warranted. Leaving Can't Get It Out Of My Head (arguably the band's most compelling performace) off of a definitive ELO collection is almost bewildering. AOTW's biggest atribute, though, is the remastered sound. Nice and clear with the tape flaws taken out of Evil Woman and Hold On Tight.
So when Mr. Blue Sky: The Ultimate Electric Light Orchestra Collection or something like that gets released in two or three years... (you laugh, but there will be another comp... watch...) I'd like to propose the track list based on the tracks that have had a big impact in the USA and resembling a good cross section of the band's catalog: I'll even use AOTW as a model.
FIRE ON HIGH - CAN'T GET IT OUT OF MY HEAD - LIVIN' THING (I'd even start this with the last note of So Fine, just to be different) - MR. BLUE SKY - EVIL WOMAN - DON'T BRING ME DOWN - SWEET TALKIN' WOMAN - SHINE A LITTLE LOVE - TURN TO STONE - DO YA (my version would have the unedited alternative mix) - HOLD ON TIGHT - TELEPHONE LINE - ALL OVER THE WORLD - SHOWDOWN - MA-MA-MA BELLE - XANADU (Olivia version) - ROCKARIA! - STRANGE MAGIC - ALRIGHT - ROCK'N'ROLL IS KING
Running Time 79:58. I think it flows rather well.
Tuesday, August 2, 2005
Well, Day one of the US release of the new All Over The World comp CD didn't exactly leave me encouraged.
For one, It was difficult to find. OK, it's a comp CD on its release day. There are higher priorities. But, Best Buy had none... and after more traveling, I end up at our three story Tower Records which gets a lot of traffic. They had just one copy.
It gives the appearance to me that Legacy Recordings isn't even setting this up to succeed.
Although I support (and tell people to support) artists by buying their CDs, I can't seem to justify the huge ugly ass FBI warning on the back cover and disc. I'm afraid to play the damn thing much less rip it into my iPod.
Oh yes, the promo sticker on the front cover... says "20 Massive Hits including 'Evil Woman,' 'Can't Get It Out Of My Head,'..." Sitting next to that on the shelves is ELOs Greatest Hits, now adorned with a Sony/BMG slipcase with the phrase "Career-Spanning Hits From The Classical String Rockers!"
Does anybody at a record company check anything?
Friday, July 29, 2005
What a way to start a Friday: reading good news (Hat tip: Bryan Crain). Rolling Stone.com is reporting that Jeff Lynne is producing the new Tom Petty (solo) album due out later this year or early next. Of all of the incredible people Jeff has collaborated with over the years, his Tom Petty collaborations have yielded some of his strongest material. To me, it's always been a perfect blending of two great musical minds and I always hoped they would work together again.
Tom is enjoying a rather successful concert tour and playing one of his new songs, "Turn This Car Around." I missed the tour when it came to the Philly area, but a friend and co-worker who did go, loved it.
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
FTM is revealing that ELO's Zoom from 2001 may be re-released as an expanded edition. I haven't been able to find one in any (new) CD shop recently, nor is it available in the Sony Online Music Store along with every other ELO album. Apparently, Epic Records handed over ownership of Zoom back to Jeff Lynne.
Remember, Jeff said in his interviews for Zoom that finished 18 songs. We've seen 14 so far.
Monday, July 25, 2005
While browsing a CD store in Mexico, I saw Mexico's own pressing of All Over The World: The Very Best Of Electric Light Orchestra. Mexico generally has USA imports in their stores, but this was an exception. If you're building an All Over The World collection, here a link from Mixup.com.
It features the same 20 track listing from the UK version with some slightly different markings.
While on holiday in Mexico I was reading the Showdown List and saw the frustration and anger is showing on various topics. I added this last gripe about "Future ELO" on the Showdown List:
Subject: Radio 2 Doc - STOP MOANING!
Just to clarify (at least my) current frustration, I understand it's important to be patient. Really I do. And part of my anger may even be directed (dare I say) at Jeff. From what I've read or heard, my impression is he doesn't like releasing news about anything concerning his music or projects until it's absolutely necessary. Could that explain why any suggestion of ELO releases is re-written on the FTM site?
But after, say, 4 years of patience, The All Over The World CD (and subsequent Radio 2 doc) was presented as the beginning of ELO releases throughout 2005-2006, whatever that meant. I don't know about you, but I was ecstatic at whatever it is/was.
I have a great deal of respect for Rob and Lynn and Ken and everyone else we don't know behind the scenes. Their jobs certainly can't be a breeze. By that same token, though, I don't believe anyone is beyond a little constructive criticism… however well received it is.
We just have to keep playing nice in the sandbox. ;-)
As much as the words "coming soon" drive me crazy, my only real criticism of Rob here is his preview of the Radio 2 doc. You can't tease what's new for ELO in 2005 when the answer is "I'm not sure yet." When you couple that all suggestion of future ELO releases being erased from the FTM opening pages, news and bio sections, how else are we (as fans) supposed to interpret that?
That knee-jerk-worse-case-scenario reaction that we all know so well kicks in, so the fans reaction should not be surprising at all. It's much different when you're on the receiving end of ELO news and you don't have the inside info on that what's happening now.
So, after all this, I'll go back to be hopeful again. It helps when you're on holiday in Mexico. ;-)
Thursday, July 14, 2005
Was the BBC documentary a good overview of ELO? For argument sake, let's say yes. It was fine.
But why another Greatest Hits CD now? Why raise the band's public profile again now if there's nothing in it for the fans? The attention span of the record buying public is maybe a few weeks at best. The public will file the CD away with all the others once they've gotten their ELO fill. So unless there's an on-going campaign with further ELO releases for everyone to enjoy, what's the point to All Over The World? Why would the general public care enough to buy ELO comps over and over again? To the general public, the comp CDs out there now have done just fine. Again, precious time and energy seems wasted. Meanwhile, the fans who have always got enjoyment out of those songs for so many years, and hope rare or unreleased tracks or a new album get released, are left with essentially nothing. The real people who make the real investment into the band are stranded again.
Oh, right. But, the general public is all that matters.
Does Jeff owe us anything? No and that's not the point. The point is we had clear and almost concise implications that ELO releases of some kind were eminent. That meant there was a plan in place. Did that mean remasters? Did that mean a new album? I don't know. I just can't imagine it could have been another greatest hits compilation. (or could it?)
I think at the very least having a remastered catalog (especially for a band whose sound provokes such a love/hate relationship) is basic record company obligation. They don't have to press a half million of each remaster. But now, there doesn't seem to be a plan anymore and that's what the fans are disappointed at. Sorry, that's the way it appears when you read there's a plan and then all of a sudden, you can't read about the plan anymore. And since worst case scenario has happened over and over again in the past, nobody can expect fans to just say "Oh well" this time.
To the dilemma of whether we should hear about "plans"... I love to hear about plans and I hope it continues. But this time, it was all in the presentation of AOTW. It sounded like a done deal.
Pick up an ICE magazine or surf pauseandplay.com and read the list of catalog re-issues coming out. The more you read, the more you'll be baffled at how ELO is (and always was) kicked to the curb.
Friday, July 8, 2005
Thursday, July 7, 2005
Wednesday, July 6, 2005
Having slept on it... and reading various reactions on the Showdown list, I'm holding my position on being extremely disappointed with the new BBC documentary about ELO.
#1- Mr. Blue Sky - The Jeff Lynne Story from 2001 (again BBC Radio 2) was far and away a superior show. Jeff showed much more of his personality and at times gave me a good chuckle especially when he talked about how an ELO member's hydrallic lift failed and left with the member's head was sticking out of the floor during a live show. Or Tom Petty talking about getting Roy Orbison to join the Wilburys.
#2 - We were given the distinct impression that we'd hear "some good news" concerning Jeff. Yes, plans change and maybe things aren't ready yet. That could be a factor of why the show was pushed back from June 25. But the impression I'm getting (as well as others) is one of outward frustration. Given Jeff's cryptic answer to "what's next" and the virtual re-writing of a few key FTM pages that erase any mention of ELO remasters and other 2005-2006 planned releases, you can't expect a fan to be optimistic. We only have future ELO surprises, which has historically meant nothing.
This isn't all meant to harshly criticize the people behind the scenes because their job can't be easy. The few things that have materialized in the last 5 years have been fine items for the most part. It's exciting to hear about what's actually going on behind the scenes, but this time it raised expectations too high. In return, fans helped send a compilation CD they didn't need into the charts and sit through a completely overhyped radio documentary.
Tuesday, July 5, 2005
Well, all of that excitement has built up for weeks following the release and chart success of the All Over The World comp CD. Many of us were waiting with bated breath for the end of Face The Music - The ELO Story to get some kind of update on what Jeff's up to now.
Turns out, the program's end could not have been any more anti-climatic. Despite what sounded like tons of news pending, Jeff's answer to ELO in 2005 was "I'm not sure yet." No talk of Greatest Hits Live, no talk of whatever became of his plans to launch a record label and new official web site elo.biz, no talk of remasters, no talk of producing others, no talk of anything (besides the story behind the name ELO) that was informally teased on the Showdown List and certainly no talk of a new album or tour. Nothing.
In fact, the only pleasant surprise was hearing "Hello My Old Friend." I honestly thought there'd be some shred of news coming from this program.
Unless there's news of a release an actual fan would enjoy, it sounds like all of us who have hung in there for this long are back at Square 1... again. What a complete and utter disappointment.
You'll notice that even the slightest suggestion of planned ELO releases or remasters has been taken off of Face The Music Online. That is not a good sign at all.
Wednesday, June 29, 2005
Certainly it's great news that the All Over The World CD compilation had a successful opening 2 weeks on the UK charts. The Japanese and US version are coming in July, but the Korean version is out already with a different track selection.
Horace Wimp, Wild West Hero and Showdown are cut from the Korean version and replaced with Midnight Blue, Getting To The Point and Ticket To The Moon. FTM says Twilight will be on the Japanese version... but no idea (yet) what, if any, changes there will be to the US version.
What track substitutions would you make?