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Armchair Theatre is the first solo album by the Electric Light Orchestra's bearded wonderman Jeff Lynne. Released in 1990 it follows his involvement in producing George Harrison's comeback album Cloud Nine (three years previously), The Travelling Wilbury's (two years previous) and Roy Orbison's big comeback Mystery Girl (1989, the year before).
The album's sound is extremely polished and you could be forgiven for mistaking the album to be yet another ELO release. Then again, Lynne by the end *WAS* ELO and you'd hardly expect him to go all 'indie' on us. Here he is, take it or leave it.
1. "Every Little Thing"
Things get off to a cracking start with this ELO-esque piece. Very polished, lots of horns and a catchy chorus make this a brilliant song to start the album.
2. "Don't Let Go"
A cracking track this. Its rockabilly and Elvis all thrown together with a great chorus, pause refrain with some clever lyrics. One for the dancefloor at a barn dance - if they still have them!
3. "Lift Me Up"
One of the best songs on the album by a long shot. With its catchy chorus and constantly changing melody, it's a song that I was singing along with most evenings on the way home from work this week.
4. "Nobody Home"
The Beatles theme continues with this standout track with some clever vocal harmonies and a driving guitar riff.
5. "September Song"
When I first heard this song I was shocked to hear Jeff Lynne singing the 'May To December' theme song, however, far from it being the same version from that Anton Rogers sitcom it is a very bouncy ELO-esque version. Oddly enough it fits in with this album like fish and chips.
6. "Now You're Gone"
I can't really say I like this song. I don't like the Eastern sound and Lynne's attempt to out 'Within Without You' Harrison. The album's only miss-step.
7. "Don't Say Goodbye"
A bit of schmaltz Lynne style. Good, but not up to the same standard as the rest of the album.
8. "What Would It Take"
This song could have gone on for eight minutes and you wouldn't get fed up with it, unfortunately it goes away too soon. A clever riff drives the song along. Very catchy.
9. "Stormy Weather"
Another show tune given the Lynne makeover.
10. "Blown Away"
A great tune this, very reminiscent of Macca and Lennon - Lynne's heroes. If theres one classic piece of songwriting on this album, then Blown Away is it. Classic.
11. "Save Me Now"
Save Me Now is a Bob Dylan / Peter, Paul and Mary style anthem to global warming and the environment and a good album closer.
This a great album to listen to whilst driving, its been my album so choice on my memory stick this week and its an album more people need to listen to.
The whole album fits in really well with the brace of albums that Lynne was involved in around this time. Listening to Harrison's Cloud Nine and The Travelling Wilbury's Volume One, you may as well be listening to the same album.
Its a fantastic album, each track is memorable and different in its own way. Its just a shame that the majority of the albums I've been reviewing recently are for sale at such expensive prices! This one retails at £25.95!
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Every Little Thing
2 Lift Me Up
3 September Song
4 Don't Say Goodbye
5 Stormy Weather
6 Save Me Now
7 Don't Let Go
8 Nobody Home
9 Now You're Gone
10 What Would It Take
11 Blown Away