Today is a special day for those of us who are fans of the Electric Light Orchestra. Jeff Lynne (the founder and songwriter for E.L.O.) has released a new song. A new album (Alone In The Universe) is due on November 15th. This will be the first album of all original material from Jeff Lynne since 2001’s Zoom. Jeff did release a solo album (Long Wave) in 2012 but it consisted of cover tunes. It’s not as if Lynne has been sitting idle. He most recently produced Bryan Adams’ Get Up! and has made several live appearances over the last two or three years. In February of 2014 he performed at a tribute to The Beatles. He performed at the 2015 Grammy Awards with Ed Sheeran. He also headlined the Radio 2 festival in Hyde Park. That performance generated a lot of buzz because it was around that same time he dropped hints that a new album and tour were being planned. For those of us who are fans, the recent buzz of activity was long overdue.
I woke up this morning and the first thing in my e-mail was an announcement of the new song, When I Was A Boy. I immediately clicked the link and was taken to YouTube, where a temporary video is up. It has a photo of a boy sitting in a field staring up at the E.L.O. Spaceship. I assume this is the cover for the new album. I have now listened to the song four times. I have already read a lot of negative comments from people and the majority of them lament the fact that this doesn’t sound like E.L.O. from the Seventies. Granted, that is true, but you have to take a lot of things into consideration. When I first heard E.L.O. I wasn’t even a teenager. I was in sixth grade and just discovering who I was. I am now a grandfather. If my life and perspective have changed that much, how can I expect Jeff Lynne to be the exact same person he was then? He’s 67 years old. His outlook can’t be the same as it was when he was 23 (his age when the first E.L.O. album came out) or even when he was 53 (his age when the last E.L.O. came out).
It is true that sonically speaking, this doesn’t sound like the stuff from the Seventies. My response to that is, “Well…duh.” The technology used now is different. Digital recordings don’t sound like analog recordings. That’s nothing more than a fact. Jeff Lynne actually says that he doesn’t like the sound of a lot of the older recordings. He claims that he has learned and evolved as a producer since forming E.L.O. It makes sense that the stuff he does now (whether for him or for others) is going to sound different. He’s changed. However, if you have heard anything that he’s produced since the late Eighties (George Harrison, Tom Petty, Traveling Wilburys, etc…) you will recognize the “Jeff Lynne” sound on this. In many ways, it sounds like the two new tracks that he co-produced for The Beatles back in 1994 and I’m okay with that.
I know that there are always going to be people who want to fight and argue about things and I just don’t have time for that. I don’t know what happened with the band at the end. I don’t know why things between Jeff Lynne and Bev Bevan (the founding drummer) went south. I don’t know why Kelly Groucutt left the band. Some have suggested that Jeff and their manager took over so they could make all the money. I just don’t know. What I do know is that when you look at every album after the departure of Roy Wood in 1973, every song (excluding a couple of cover songs) is credited to Jeff Lynne. He wrote every song. In my opinion, He IS Electric Light Orchestra and whatever he releases deserves to have that name. I can honestly say that when I listened to this song for the very first time this morning, it took me back to the first time I heard E.L.O. when I was a boy. Thank you Jeff Lynne for bringing back the magic.