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I look back on the 50s, 60s and 1970s with a sort of fake nostalgia and longing that can only come from a girl born in the 80s. I'd love to travel back to the 70s. Just give me a pair of bellbottoms and Farrah Fawcett flicks, transport me back and I'm quite sure I'd have a smashing time. Of course, my boyfriend, a wee boy growing up in the 70s tells me that this decade wasn't quite so fantastic as my own mind would imagine it. He's quick to point out its drawbacks and his dislike of those 'ridiculous' flared trousers every kid was forced to wear. Apparently, it wasn't all that good. Well, I refuse to believe that a decade which produced the likes of Queen and Electric Light Orchestra was nothing short of magical. Who cares if they had dodgy wallpaper and mad trousers?
I can't imagine that the Western world will ever experience a musical revolution quite so rich and explosive as that in the 50s and 60s. From Elvis Presley to the Beatles, both sides of the Atlantic presented us with the very best of rock 'n' roll. In my eyes, a musical golden age which carried on through to the 1970s...
Jeff Lynne, of the Electric Light Orchestra, grew up during this golden age, experiencing the rise of rock 'n' roll. The album is called 'Long Wave' as it uses songs which he would have heard on his dad's old transistor radio. The songs he sings are songs he had stuck in his head the past 50 years and he has stated that this album was a vehicle to get these songs out of his head.
*~SOUNDS OF HIS CHILDHOOD~*
Most people that come across this album should be familiar with at least a few of the songs covered in the album. These are not songs that have been plucked from obscurity but rather popular ones that seem to have been imprinted upon Jeff Lynne's brain...
The album opens with the song 'She'. The French original was by an artist called Charles Asvanour. If you're wondering what the song sounds like, trust me when I say, you will probably recognise it instantly when it starts playing. It was a song released in 1974, so I'm not sure I would classify it as a song Jeff heard growing up but I'm easy to forgive when it's a song as beautiful as this. His version is gorgeous and heart-warming without making the error of being schmaltzy as you may expect with some covers of this song. His vocals are silky smooth and, as with all of the songs of the album, it has a great sound...
'IF I LOVED YOU'
The second track on the album, I adore the fact that this is a cover of a Rodger and Hammerstein's song, taken from the musical 'Carousel'. The song is quite different as it has lost its traditional 1950s musical sound. This is not necessarily a bad thing, however, as there is still a real magic there in the warmth and soaring vocals of Lynne's voice. Rodgers and Hammerstein would be proud!
A song by the Everly Brothers, the general feel and tone of it isn't too different from the original, a song lamenting a love gone sour. The guitar sounds richer and we have the distinct standalone voice of Jeff Lynne rather than the perfect blend of harmonies of the Everly Brothers. Nevertheless, it is still very similar. That is definitely one of the prized characteristics of this album. In homage to his favourites, Lynne will in some ways make an effort to imitate the original artists in his songs whilst retaining a lot of his own distinct style. It works really well.
Moving on from the lamentations of 'So Sad' we have the soulful sound of 'Mercy, Mercy'. God, I love this one! I had never heard of it despite it being covered by the likes of the Rolling Stones. But what a great discovery. A song with great soul and a great beat...
I can thank this track for introducing me to the legendary Roy Orbison. What I love about this track is that Lynne does such a good job channelling the vocal style and charm of his late friend Orbison. It acts as a wonderful tribute...
'BEWITCHED, BOTHERED AND BEWILDERED'
Following 'Running Scared', this is a song I am familiar with, being a fan of Rufus Wainwright's rendition. The original song is apparently from a Rodgers and Hart musical 'Pal Joey' (no, I hadn't heard of it either). Lynne's version is gorgeous, enchanting and again, oozes warmth.
You may see this track on the playlist and think 'Really? Another cover of this? Well, that's original.' My view: It may not be original but there's always room in the world for a Jeff Lynne cover. Possibly one of the few songs in the world which can make me happy and want to cry all at the same time. If you need a song when everything is shit, this is a song to listen to. So, if you're feeling crap then stick this on. Somehow this song and Jeff's vocals make the world a better place...
An Etta James classic, I fell in love with this song when Beyonce sung it as Barack and Michelle Obama danced together as President and First Lady on the evening of his inauguration. I'm not going to lie and say that this is the best version of the song I have heard. It cannot hold a candle to Etta James's original or even Beyonce's cover which both burst with passion. Nevertheless, I still enjoyed hearing a version with male vocals. It has a class and a smoothness that transports me to another time.
'LOVE IS A MANY SPLENDORED THING'
This is the one song which Jeff Lynne has reworked that sounds most like the b-side on an ELO single. It still retains a lot of the original but it is the warmth and tinkling of the instrumentals which scream out: 'Jeff Lynne sung and produced me!' And like a true ELO song it sends me off to somewhere otherworldly. Quite a splendored thing...
He really couldn't have revisited the tunes of his past without including a little Chuck Berry. This track is a real footing tapping song with the signature Chuck Berry beat and sound that reminds me of his other classic 'Johnny B Goode' and many other rock n' roll tracks of the 50s. If anything I can applaud Jeff Lynne for not choosing Johnny B Goode. That would be too obvious! It was nice to hear a Chuck Berry track I'd never heard before....
After 'Lets Rock' the albums big finale is bonus track 'Beyond the Sea'. Quite a charming song, the instrumentals have a sort of seaside jingle which reminds me of Queen's 'Seaside Rendezvous' and it makes it quite a fun track to end the album on...
*~A DIFFERENT TYPE OF COVER ALBUM~*
Now, I'm not normally that favourable of cover albums. I see most of them as a lazy attempt to avoid a bit of song writing, like the generic, soul-less tripe X factor keep churning out every Christmas. However, this is an album which is an absolute exception. I have always been a fan of ELO. I find much of their material exuberant and uplifting, with a mood-changing talent to provide me with an instant burst of 'happy.' It also helps that Jeff Lynne is a masterful producer working on countless songs and albums like The Beatles 'Free as a Bird'. With his production skills and sheer musical talent, Jeff Lynne has produced beautiful re-workings of very well-known songs with flavours of ELO. The only possible criticism that comes to mind is that it is an album that, in places, sounds a little over-produced. The rawness and edge you can hear in the originals of the songs he performs have been smoothed out in favour of perfection.
However, even if parts of it do sound over-produced, I am an absolute sucker for his vocals and instrumentals and could listen to this album on a loop. If you want to hear an album which celebrates old classics sung by one of the greatest talents of 20th century rock, I can't recommend it enough!
Highlights: I could say the whole album but if I am to choose a few - 'She', 'Running Scared' and 'Mercy'.
You'll like this if: You are a fan of golden oldies like Roy Orbison and some of rocks greatest of the 50s, 60s and 70s.
*~Thank you for reading my review. Nice to be back! Going to try for at least a review a fortnight! :-) x~*
*~Also published on Ciao under username Renza - January 2013~*
Jeff Lynne is back after a decade of producing rock music royalty, with his own effort, an album of covers that inspired him as a child.
There can be no arguing with his back catalogue. He really has lived the dream whilst somehow managing to keep a low profile as befitting of his shy, almost reclusive nature.
Not exactly a household name, Lynne was the founder member of ELO back in the early seventies achieving incredible success writing, performing and producing the whole shebang. He also played in The Move alongside Roy Wood,as well as The Idle Race and was also a founder member of supergroup The Travelling Wilburys, (Harrison, Orbison, Petty, Dylan).
"Long Wave", opens with Charles Aznevoir's classic "She", performed in a beatlesque, nowhere man style three part harmony. As a listener, you are drawn in immediately. The warmth and quality of the production sets the standard for the rest of the album. "If i loved you, "so sad" and "mercy, mercy fair equally well, each track, showcasing Lynne's ear for perfect harmony and attention to the finest detail. "Running scared" is a fitting tribute to Roy Orbison, (his friend from the wiburys days) .
The album rolls on very nicely indeed with, bewitched, bothered and bewildered, smile and the Etta James classic "at last", (a strange choice, but he makes it his own in admirable style).
After a rousing rendition of "love is a many splendoured thing", there follows probably the weakest track on the album, a version of the Rolling Stones stale rocker, "let it rock", which just doesn't seem to sit right amongst the other cosier renditions. All is forgiven though when we get to hear what Lynne has done with Bobby Darin's "beyond the Sea". An intricate, bouncy affair with the trade mark Lynne vocal and almost Brian May like harmony guitars.
It's worth also pointing out that Lynne played all the instruments himself, apart from the odd cello.
All in all, it's a very welcome return for one of the UKs most underrated (and most talented) singers.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
2 If I Loved You
3 So Sad
4 Mercy, Mercy
5 Running Scared
6 Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered
8 At Last
9 Love is a Many Splendored Thing
10 Let it Rock
11 Beyond the Sea