Monday, September 26, 2016

I Call Do-Over!

I have had Jeff Lynne on heavy rotation since the release of his solo LP, "Long Wave." My initial reaction to that record of standards was not good. I thought it was a waste of time after not hearing any proper new music from the man since 2001's criminally ignored ELO record, "Zoom." But once I listened, I realized that I am a fan, through and through. I can't help it. I love his voice, his style, his harmonies. I love the guy and this was something new. What can I say? I love "Long Wave." Once the comeback was complete with last year's stellar "Alone In The Universe," I was lost for good.

During this spell of heavy rotation, I went back to some of the later, lesser ELO records, like "Secret Messages" and "Balance Of Power." They made me understand why so many are turned off by Jeff. It's one thing to create a band that mixed Beatle-esque pop with classical music. But by the 80s, Jeff Lynne was taking Beatle-esque pop and drowning it in synthesizers, plastic strings, phased vocals and crappy drum sounds. Those wonderful pop songs were still present, but you needed a HazMat suit to find them. Truth be told, I still love those records, but I understand why so many got off the spaceship. Those overblown records also add to my bewilderment over why "Zoom" was so ill-received. It's got both George & Ringo on it, the production was softer, and one song is better than the other. It was the record Jeff Lynne fans needed and somehow, no one cared.

But that's not why I am here.

The song "Confusion," from ELO's 1979 hit "Discovery," is my choice for a song that I would love to do-over. Its gorgeous melody did not need background vocals sung by a choir of robot eunuchs. I am hearing this song with two acoustic guitars, two voices and a nice organic rhythm section. Actually, I hear all of Jeff Lynne's songs post-1976 this way, but once again, I am a fan. Plus, I think if given the opportunity in some fantasy world, to actually redo this song with Jeff, he'd grow tired of me after one session, so I will have to be satisfied with just one.

Is there one song by your favorite artist, you wish you could do-over? I might have done this before, so apologies for


buzzbabyjesus said...

I was suspicious of Jeff as he joined Roy's band and hijacked it. I stuck with "Boulders", and "Introducing Edddie and the Falcons".
I liked the Move better than ELO. As a non fan, I wrote off "Discovery" as "Very Disco".

I couldn't help noticing the vocal line in "Confusion" thinks it wants to be Steely Dan's "Reelin' In The Years".

The aural crimes you list, including "a choir of robot eunuchs", are what made ELO turn from a hit making machine, to a "schtick".
Most of the time, "Beatle-esque" isn't really a compliment. Another word for "Ersatz".

I'm going to have to get back to you on the song I'd "Do over". Great idea.

Chris Collins said...

"Real World" on Human Touch, by Bruce. Of course.

The original, solo acoustic piano version he debuted live at the Christic Benefit show in 1990 was spine-tingling. The version on the album was a mess.

Dr Wu said...

Great topic, Sal. (Again!) Hearing 'Confusion' as a Wilburys tune. From the first note, for me, it's there.

buzzbabyjesus said...

After spending so much time with Sir John Johns, XTC's "Big Express" comes to mind.

It's an album I can't listen to because of the drum sound and production.
I fell in love with Sir John's "Shake You Donkey Up", not realizing it's on that XTC album, until I Googled. I've have the cd for decades, and at first I didn't recognize it.

I'd like to remove all the rhythm tracks, and hire a real drummer. Dave Mattacks (Nonsuch, Fairport Convention), or The Prairie Prince (Skylarking, etc) would do just fine. Or the guy on "Pure McCartney".

After fixing the drums, I'd have to see what else could disappear.

mauijim said...

Any of Joni's 80s lps come to mind due to the electronic drums. Would love to hear the demos. I know it was the thing to have back then but she seems to be the artist most hurt by that sound. That or use the tracks and let Peter Gabriel sing over them

buzzbabyjesus said...

Good call on both counts.

buzzbabyjesus said...

"Manifesto" by Roxy Music.