Sunday, December 30, 2007
Monday, December 24, 2007
Barring any major breakthroughs, I'll be laying low during this holiday week.
But I do want to say "thanks!" to all of you, especially you regulars (you know who you are!) for another great year!
Happy Holidays to you all and all the best in 2008!
Sunday, December 16, 2007
I was just doing a short roundup of web site browsing and saw that Rossif Sutherland has updated his MySpace page. In short, the album is coming along and should be out soon. He's financing and selling the CD himself, no record company.
He also writes that the songs he did with Jeff Lynne were done two years ago, so we can only assume These Words is a final mix, which I think is a good thing. He writes that all three of his produced by Jeff Lynne songs will be on the album, thankfully.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Well, bang my bongos and call me Desi. It appears Xanadu is a hit on the Great White Way. One symbol of its success, Xanadu On Broadway is being released on CD on January 8, 2008. CD Universe and Barnes & Noble among other retailers have preorders up for it.
Now I guess I have to see it.
Pause & Play.com is reporting that ELO's Ticket To The Moon: The Very Best of Electric Light Orchestra Volume 2 will be released in the states on February 12, 2008. One can only assume at this point that the CD will be exactly like the UK version, only with an FBI warning on it.
Sunday, December 9, 2007
I have to say, it has been a really nice 18 months (or so) for ELO and/or Wilbury fans. We now have a rather nice collection of new and refreshed music to savor... and believe me, I have been! The Rossif Sutherland surprise was the perfect cherry on top to 2007.
Personally, my favorites: A New World Record, Balance Of Power, Highway Companion, Maxine, Idle Race Japanese remasters and the complete set of ELO Mini-LP CDs.
But now, look ahead at some of the many projects which are currently rumored or waiting for a green light:
The Move - we should be beginning the year with a Looking On remaster and an all-out box set; Rossif Sutherland's album should be finished soon with a reported 3 tracks produced by Jeff Lynne; Roy Orbison's Mystery Girl and King Of Hearts should be remastered and released in 2008; An Idle Race Box set; an expanded and remastered edition of Jeff Lynne's Armchair Theatre; a re-release of ELO's Zoom; an ELO singles box (which should flush out remastered versions of Buildings Have Eyes and two versions of A Matter Of Fact); ELO Zoom Greatest Hits Live; Into The Mysterious, a collection of solo ELO and closely related tracks.
As for my wish list, that includes remasters of the Long Beach concert, Xanadu and a re-do of Secret Messages with remastered versions of Mandalay, Buildings Have Eyes, Hello My Old Friend and *gulp* a full-on, untampered with and unedited Beatles Forever; a CD collection of unreleased session material from ELO post-1973; a 70s box set of unreleased material from Del Shannon; and of course, a new album from Jeff.
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
It’s not exactly hard to see why the Traveling Wilburys Collection on vinyl was priced as high as it was. In a nutshell, it’s the deluxe CD/DVD edition, only larger… and without video.
The contents of the box, though, are pretty impressive. Both LP covers and labels are faithfully reproduced, the inner sleeves are now just one sheet inserts while the albums themselves are held in a more storage-friendly paper/poly sleeve. With the poster and postcards included, the set works. It may not be the biggest value for your dollar, but it makes for an excellent collector’s piece.
But any vinyl pressing is only as good as the source music. While Volume One and Volume 3 are pretty solid sound wise, some of the bonus tracks have detectible tape flaws. The extended version of Handle With Care is particularly bad. Whatever the case, the bonus tracks are worth the price. There’s a sizable improvement in the extended version of End of the Line.
The main exclusive here (for me anyway) is the remix of Not Alone Any More. Will most people shell out $75 for that feature? Probably not. But it’s a nice soon-to-be rarity using different vocal takes from Roy Orbison while uncovering some nice instrumental parts.
I never really weighed in on the debate over vinyl vs. CD. And frankly, I’m holding off on it until I have the ability to rent a high-end turntable and capture these tracks in 24-bit digital on this PC. But, after I spent a considerable amount of time using my (not high-end premium nor bottom of the line) consumer turntable, running the audio thru a small professional-grade mixer/amp, digitizing it into a consumer (but not cheap) audio restoration program, then creating uncompressed audio files for the iPod, I still can’t get satisfactory results sound-wise. So, for now, my stance on preferring remastered CDs stands. I'll hold out hope there will be some CD of these bonus tracks (whether promo or not) eventually.
Now, anyone is welcome to change my mind about vinyl. But when I hear the Traveling Wilburys on vinyl, I hear these songs as good quality recordings. But, whenI hear the remastered CDs, I hear these songs like they’re happening in front of me. I understand the Vinyl + Analog = warmer, fuller & better versus the CD + Digital = thinner, weaker & shittier argument. But, making uncompressed audio files (stressing uncompressed here) from remastered CDs and listening to those files on an iPod is currently blowing the doors off of any vinyl I’ve ever heard. Again, if you have any suggestions on the right way to hear vinyl records properly, I’m all ears.
I tried to get some opening thoughts on the Wilburys Vinyl box set on here this morning, but I flat out ran out of time. Been trying to capture a good quality version of the bonus 12" before I start writing. I will get to that this evening after work.
The box set in one word (so far): impressive.
Monday, December 3, 2007
A few readers of this site have sent e-mails about their music. They're fans of Jeff and ELO and many times their music reflects it. So, when you get a moment check out:
From Dom: http://cdbaby.com/cd/domnk and
And spread the word if you like them!
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
How many ways can you recycle and remarket ELO CDs? From Sony/BMG's Custom Marketing Group comes this: a 2CD collection of previously released budget compilations smartly titled 2CD Collection (A 712251). They're the same discs released in the early 90s: ELO Classics and Burning Bright. They're not remastered and retail for about $10.
Friday, November 9, 2007
After giving it a day to soak in, a thumbs up for Rossif Sutherland's These Words. A nice and understated little tune. The uh-huh's in the verses grow on you. Funny, some of his new songs have been up on his MySpace page since at least September. Hopefully, the wait for the entire CD won't be long now.
It just kinda occurred to me, this is the first Jeff-related studio track that didn't involve ELO, Wilburys or Beatles in ages. His stuff with Rosie Vela was never released and probably won't be.
Thursday, November 8, 2007
Showdown, The Official ELO Mailing List has taken the wraps off this rather exciting news tidbit. Rossif Sutherland, the brother of 24 star Kiefer Sutherland, is releasing an album (perhaps by the end of the year) with three songs produced by Jeff Lynne. A rough mix of one, These Words, is available to hear on his MySpace page.
It's a nice simple little tune and as with many Jeff Lynne productions, the devil's in the little details: a laid-back style with some nice sounds. A cleaner version will flush those details out. As awlays, it's great to hear something new coming from Jeff's corner.
Makes me wonder how far (if at all) Jeff is working towards an album of his own songs again.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Hold On Tight ha a pretty high profile airing on a Honda commerical under its belt. Now it has press as well. And while channel surfing, I stopped on Countdown with Keith Olbermann, where he said something to the effect of... "to invoke the words of a song that comes to mind, 'hold on tight to your dreams'..."
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Not including box sets and special editions, Ticket To The Moon is the 36th compilation title in my (and probably many other's) private collection. With its companion CD, All Over The World, this would be the current definitive 2-disc retrospective of the band's works for the masses. In an overall sense, it'll do. But for my money, there is no career retrospective unless it starts with Fire On High and finishes with Hello My Old Friend. I still compile the ELO retrospectives for friends who want them... and they get it.
Ticket To The Moon had a lot going for it quality-wise since it was being companioned with All Over The World. But, it fell to the cheap side.
Right out the gate, Twilight barges in with no fade and ends with the intro to Yours Truly, just as it's indexed on the Time CD. To me, that says no effort was put into this. Can't Get It Out Of My Head still starts with a rough edit. I thought that's what Pro-Tools was for! These are easy fixes!
Secret Messages and Eldorado had fast (and rather thoughtless) fades at the end when a more prolonged fade could have made a better dramatic statement. Again, we're dealing with the masses, the hardcore fans already know what's going to happen next. I figured this would be a good time to smooth over the tape flaws on Calling America and It's Over. I figured incorrectly.
I try not to nickpick at the track list too much. It may be an ideal track list for someone out there. But Starlight? If we're going to highlight album tracks from Out Of The Blue, why not put something a little more daring and edgy, like Jungle or Birmingham Blues. Starlight is just more light pop.
Heaven Only Knows. Two words: alternate version.
Eldorado. Wonderful track, but very out of place here.
In My Own Time. Good. I'm glad this made it on here. Of all the songs on Zoom, this was the one that really brings out the qualities in Jeff's voice. And it's an airtight pop song. I've always loved this one.
Besides the sleeve notes which help, the bare minimum was done for the packaging as well. A dinky tri-fold computer graphics cover, with a spaceship (naturally) and a generic and rather artifical-looking backside and inlays.
How possible is it in the next go-around to have a dignified-looking career retrospective? I mean, Flashback is great, but come on. Come back to Earth once in a while and appear to try.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
The Traveling Wilburys website is updated in antcipation of next month's Deluxe Edition re-release. They're confirming that the vinyl edition will be released December 4. And it looks like the new deluxe edition may be in a blue box.
But the website is also advertising something on the Sundance Channel, most likely an airing of the True History of the Traveling Wilburys. The dates are:
11/5 @ 10:15pm EST/PST
11/10 @ 6:30pm EST/PST
11/23 @ 1:50pm EST/PST
11/25 @ 11:35pm EST/PST
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Here's a little red carpet stuff from Tom Petty's premiere screening of Running Down A Dream in LA. Jeff does his best to give this poor humorously clueless Hollywood reporter a soundbite. Regardless of how much she knows, this was an incredibly strange line of questioning.
Saturday, October 20, 2007
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
A few opening thoughts on the new Tom Petty documentary just released to DVD by Best Buy. I'll keep to the Jeff Lynne-relevent parts.
The story of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers needed the four full hours to tell. The pace of the documentary is nice and even, but I can't imagine being in a theatre for that long regardless of the topic. Anyway, of course, my main interest in this documentary is when Jeff entered the picture.
I suppose I expected to see some new raw footage from the Roy Orbison, Wilburys, Full Moon Fever sessions because there seems to have a been a good deal of videotape rolled around this time.
Instead, they (and by they I mean Bagdanovich) lifted the exact part of recording You Got It from a previous documentary, Going Home. When it got to the Wilburys, all of the video was essentially lifted from the recently released True History of the Traveling Wilburys documentary... even down to the May 1988 date stamp used on the DVD! I shit you not.
The filmmakers apparently had nothing to b-roll the Highway Companion part of the documentary. They ended up using those horrendous music videos made for a few of the songs, plus some b-roll shot after Jeff gave his (recent) interview for the film.
One thing I was glad to see was Jeff's role as a producer put in perspective. Tom Petty draws the difference between making a record and playing live. Some people just can't separate the two, which may partially explain the visceral response Jeff Lynne gets by some critics.
More thoughts to follow...
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
We knew it was going to happen eventually, just not so soon. Much of George Harrison's catalog (mainly the recently remastered stuff) has become available on iTunes. George is the last of the Fab Four to enter the digital realm, but sadly, nothing yet from the Fab Four.
One thing that may not sit well with fans: several of the new digitial editons contain an additional bonus track from their 2004 remastered editions, but only available if you buy the whole album. Further proof that there's a long way to go before record companies stop being clueless about how to deal with digital music.
Cloud Nine's bonus bonus track is Got My Mind Set On You (Extended Version) which was previously only available on vinyl. I wish I can purchase just that. Oh well, another lost sale for them.
I hope Radiohead blows the doors off the current digital music industry with their new album. I'm buying it and paying them for it, too.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Thumbs down on the new Del Shannon Rock On! re-issue. Unless you want the extra bonus tracks (which may or may not feature a few Wilburys) there's not much reason to own this. It's not remastered and I'm told the booklet is nothing to write home about.
Del's official website promotes the bonus tracks (sans the end demo) as having three of the five Wilburys playing. But that has long been a matter of dispute, namely with one of his former stuido musicians who claims to have played on them.
What I'm waiting for is a 70s era boxed set like the one they put out for his 60s material.
Sunday, September 23, 2007
You know, if someone told me 10 years ago that our music collections will be on one device with artwork and all sorts of other things incorporated, the wait would have killed me. If this sounds like a shameless plug for Apple, sorry. But yesterday, I found myself at the Apple Store in SoHo and impractically and without much thought, purchased an iPod Touch. For the record, my sixth overall. I've re-sold my previous models to friends.
After a few hours of sorting through, scanning and saving artwork (yes, it was a leisurely Saturday) and submitting to mp3 exclusivity (would rather full wav's) for this player, I started surfing through my ELO, Move, etc. collection on the iPod Touch and almost literally, the world stopped for about 2 solid hours. The artwork pops like I've never seen and in cases where a collectible comes in, I inserted other appropriate picture sleeves. Here are examples:
The Surrender artwork came from FTM and because it's practically from the source, the picture is stunning on the display. Maybe more artwork, FTM? It's very time consuming work to get all of these images right on iTunes, but it's worth it. That's been the only downside to their Cover Flow feature, some of the artwork is old, wrong, or non-existent in their database. In those cases, you'll have to create it yourself.
I don't think Apple has figured out how to show multiple pages or lyrics on these yet. But this is huge next step. If you're going to jump on board the digital music bandwagon, this is where to do it. Expensive for now, yes, but worth every penny.
Anyone interested an old(ish) 60GB photo iPod? :-)
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
During my last schlep around New York last week, I wondered into the Virgin Megastore in Times Square. I found at least 7 copies of the Traveling Wilburys deluxe edition in stock. If you missed getting one and are close to New York, you can grab one there.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Clips from the new Fats Domino tribute CD are up at Amazon.com. Included in that is I'm Walkin' from Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. Hard to say whether it's Jeff production work... it had shades of it, but again, not sure.
Anyone know for sure?
Don't forget, Tom Petty's new documentary film is out in a few weeks.
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
Friday, August 24, 2007
Sorry the updates and posts have been slow the last few weeks, I'm still scaling back, enjoying the summer and traveling, etc. But it's been rather active in the BrumBeat world recently and slowly, I'm getting a chance to hear all of the new Move releases and the Roy Wood Boulders remaster (when it arrives... it hasn't yet), so I'll have more here in the coming weeks.
I'm also working to spruce up the site a little. Some of these pages haven't been touched in years and it shows. I'll get to that and embed some music videos on the first rainy day or first opoortunity I get after Labor Day, whichever comes first.
Thursday, August 2, 2007
Been taking a break from the ELO and related world to take vacation and enjoy the rest of the summer. But, as soon as I get a moment, I'll write more about the Idle Race CDs that were just issued on mini-LP CDs in Japan.
Turns out, they're digitally remastered by Peter Mew. And sound amazing.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Friday, June 22, 2007
I got an interesting e-mail telling me to check out the Rolling Stone review of the Traveling Wilburys Collection. Rob Sheffield gave it two stars and started tearing into Jeff Lynne's production.
Mind you, I don't know Rob Sheffield from Adam, but I suspect he's an old school rock 'n' roll kind of guy. Clearly, he'll never let Jeff Lynne off the hook for using synthesizers in ELO. He didn't quite grasp that the Wilbury records were made much more organically than he's led himself to believe.
What can I say?? Some people hear a keyboard sound on a rock record and that's all they hear. Others, on the other hand, hear the keyboard/synthesizer or whatever as one element among many others in a song. Call me crazy, but...
But, "...Lynne got work because he was a nice bloke with zero ego..."?? Mind you, I don't know Jeff Lynne from Adam, but I strongly suspect that in 1988, after just having a Top 20 record with ELO, and a successful collaboration with George Harrison (a #1 hit single included), his ego was anything but zero. He may want to re-research his legends.
So, Mr. Sheffield is, of course, entitled to his opinions, however misguided and boneheaded they are. It's just a shame such an unfair assessment of the Wilburys set is in a such a high-profile place.
But as far as the rest of us are concerned, we can take comfort in knowing that Rob Sheffield is clearly in the minority on this one.
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Well, it wasn't the number many of us were hoping for, but the Traveling Wilburys Collection enters the US Billboard Top 200 Albums chart at #9.
Still, given the artist make-up of charts, this is quite an achievement, especially for sets that retailed for $20-$45 a piece.
Hopefully, everyone sees this as a rousing success.
The Wilburys will keep on rolling into the fall with a new book from Genesis Publications.
For those who are not familiar with Genesis Publications books, they are highly elaborate, very collectible books, but with prices way out of reach for most people. Most of their books start at $350 with deluxe editions starting at about $600. And it goes way up from there.
They claim to be pulling out all the stops for the Wilburys, so it may be best to start looking at payment options now if you're interested: saving your pennies, using a credit card, refinancing the house, etc.
Monday, June 18, 2007
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Depending on your standpoint, the new Wilburys Collection sets up a good news bad news scenario. If you have a deluxe edition already, good news. If you waited ‘til today to pick up one, bad news: you‘ll have a hard time finding one, although it is not impossible yet. For people who only want the music for their iPod, the standard edition will suit them. But for those who like to hold something physical in our hands, the deluxe edition lived up to its hype.
The hardbound book is a perfect balance between personal photos and notes, unused promotional photos, and design concepts from both Wilbury albums seamlessly meshed into one solid package. For a story that involves a lot of fun and silliness in the recording studio, putting together this collection was obviously taken very seriously.
Mixed feelings on the DVD, though. The documentary is, for me anyway, an unprecedented look at these guys just hanging out. It’s exciting to hear (especially) Jeff outside of sit-down interview talking points. The part where Roy finishes a take and Jeff says “That was brilliant…” was particularly refreshing.
The downside to the DVD: all of the promo videos (sans Handle With Care) were re-edited. Opening establishing shots, parts of Dylan riding a bike, most a scene where Dylan was singing something other than “don’t it make you want to twist and shout when you’re inside out” with George trying not to laugh, people dancing goofy to the Wilbury Twist, the entire wide shot of Wilbuys performing She’s My Baby, George pretending to slip in front of the microphone and Jeff’s reaction shot, I can go on and on. All of them are very good and funny moments, most of all them were cut out. That’s a huge disappointment, but so far, it’s the only disappointment.
As with any good remastering job, so much more detail is revealed. In a few places, there are hints that some tracks were ever so slightly remixed. Not so much on Volume One. The Devil’s Been Busy is the most obvious example, but many people won’t recognize the difference. Long story short, the music has powerful sound that still managed to uncover things we haven’t heard before.
The bonus tracks, as many of you know, have been out on bootlegs for years and we may have grown accustomed to hearing them intheir unfinished state, but…
Maxine: excellent excellent excellent.
Like A Ship: Again, mixed emotions here. I like hearing it fresh at last, but at times, there’s way too much happening at once.
Runaway: I love the count in, but found it to be an odd place to bring in the drum and bass line. That’s going to take getting used to. The clavioline pretty much clones this version to the Del Shannon original. I’m leaning towards preferring the Spanish guitar solo on the original and slightly more blunt Wilbury version from the She’s My Baby single. So don’t throw away your She’s My Baby singles, or any original promo videos or Wilburys CDs for that matter. They may still hold some of their value.
This is quite a collection to savor, though.
Tuesday, June 5, 2007
I'm not really a fan of digipacks, although I thought the original booklet for Highway Companion (being almost the size of a passport) was kind of clever. That's why I find this edition a reasonable improvement packaging wise.
But of course what really matters here are the bonus tracks.
Home: I haven't exactly connected with this yet. It holds the same "default" (for lack a better term) theme as the album's second half. No one highlight really sticking out here.
Around The Roses: Totally different story. And frankly, I get selfish and frustrated when I think this song could have sat unreleased for years. Great mood, gorgeous harmonies and beautiful guitar work.
Big Weekend (demo): Eh.
This Old Town (demo): I like this. The finished version isn't that much heavier, but if you enjoy it, the demo is a nice calmer alternative.
Is this the next (maybe last) trend in CD marketing? An expanded special edition of a year old album? Well, we have no singles anymore. So if this is what gets extra songs released these days, I'm in.
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Amazon.com is now featuring the new version of the Wilbury Twist video. I guess that's what happens when you have scores of celebrities (with fees) in the original. But, they even cut out the people on the floor dancing goofy at the end. That made the video quite amusing. Now, the Wilburys are just kinda hanging around on screen sometimes not knowing what to do. Oh well...
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Saturday, May 26, 2007
The BBC Radio 2 documentary on the Wilburys could have gone another hour. It felt like Nelson is still among us.
I bust out laughing when Jeff said he bought 2 clavs on eBay.
Anyway, a very enjoyable program. And we got to hear a little more Maxine. The wait's almost over.
Thursday, May 24, 2007
Saturday, May 19, 2007
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Paul McCartney's entire solo catalog is finally joining the digital download world, but it appears, according to the press release, all of his solo albums will also be re-issued on CD. This will apparently include his 1997 album Flaming Pie, which Jeff Lynne co-produced eight album tracks and one outtake.
Oh my god, that album was ten years ago.
Pretty substantial news here because I know many of us are fans of this album. Pre-order links at Amazon and FYE are going up for Roy Wood's 1973 LP Boulders. Release date is apparently sliding to July 2 for the UK.
The remastered version will come from EMI, but at last check, the listings are not showing any bonus tracks.
Sunday, May 13, 2007
Thursday, May 10, 2007
Tuesday, May 1, 2007
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
An early word of caution about the new Wilburys collection sets. Make sure you know what you're ordering if you're buying these sets online. There have been Traveling Wilburys 2CD+1DVD collections on the bootleg market for years. eBay and even Amazon have been selling them, apparently in droves. The package quality is decent as far as bootlegs are concerned, but the audio/video will not nearly be that good.
I would use the press release about the upcoming official Traveling Wilburys Collection as a guide.
But in summary: If the CDs have 10 bonus tracks each, they are bootlegs
If the DVD has 2 hours of random footage, it's a bootleg.
If there's a cheesey (and misfitted) font over the original Volume One CD artwork, it's a bootleg.
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Face The Music Online put a link to George Lamb's radio show on BBC 6 Music, where the main event from last night was live music from ELO. Turns out to be nothing we haven't heard before. Evil Woman, Showdown, Can't Get It Out Of My Head and 10538 Overture/Do Ya from 1976. Anyone with a good collection of ELO radio shows probably have these already.
Wednesday, March 7, 2007
In a rare move, Jeff reveals the big picture on his upcoming projects to a Japanese magazine. Toshiki Komeda found the article in Japan’s Strange Days Magazine and shared it with the Showdown List. Here are the headlines:
The Traveling Wilburys upcoming remasters will be a box set with a documentary DVD. Four bonus tracks will be included, two are recently finished with Dhani Harrison playing on them. The other two are presumably the b-side Runaway, and Nobody’s Child from the Romanian Angel Appeal charity CD.
Some releases rumored to the first centered around Jeff Lynne’s own record label are still in the pipeline. Zoom Tour Live on 2CD and an expanded version of Armchair Theatre were rumored back in 2003. I’m assuming (and take my assumptions with a grain of salt) the 2001 ELO album Zoom might also be lumped into this bunch.
Nothing else in the immediate future for ELO. We got a remastered main catalog, that’s better than a lot of fans of other bands have gotten. (That doesn’t mean I still don’t have a wish list…) Sadly, the Long Beach concert from 1974 probably won’t be finished. Sad because it wasn’t that bad of a concert.
A solo album is not out of the question. But it sounds like he has nothing recorded for it.
Monday, February 26, 2007
The powers that be at Sony BMG gave the nod to a limited edition outside of a standard edition. So that makes the message clear: Out of the Blue is the album that defines Electric Light Orchestra. For the world outside of the fanbase, there doesn't seem to be much else to ELO other than this album. But ELO had everything you can ask for in 1977-8. 17 new songs spread out over 2LPs, posters and cut-out spaceship to promote the album stuffed inside (you don't see that anymore, do you?) and an enormous concert tour that fed wild hungry imaginations. As an absolutely riveted kid, the moment I played this album was the moment I latched on for good.
It's 30 years later and in that time, ELO became the one band which I enjoy exploring completely. I'm interested in hearing everything from the crude beginning to the bittersweet end and all the crumbs in between. And I mean everything. So, where does Out of the Blue stand in all of this. This album is so many things I hope for in an album with Jeff Lynne's name on it: some short little pop ditties, an even shorter segue track or two, but also some longer more in-depth tracks. I hear the unique places (for better or worse) where Jeff Lynne, the producer, takes his songs... and for a satisfying amount of time, I hear these guys play!! For those reasons, Out Of The Blue is strong, perhaps the strongest of their career. As a fan 30 years later, though, I'm stuck in a dilemma. No matter how many times I try to warm up to this album today, I find it so over the top, I just barely get through it. This album was a dream come true for me as a kid, but today...
Yes, I appreciate the hard work Jeff and the rest of the band and support staff did to create this. Yes, the remastered edition sounds excellent and reveals little details I never knew were there. It helps, believe me. Jeff's creative burst isn't going by unnoticed. But on the whole, Jeff Lynne and ELO were way more interesting before and after this album. I can’t help but to notice the remaster also reveals several tape flaws in some of the more quiet areas of the album.
Now, this doesn't mean there's nothing to celebrate. When I heard eco-book edition, though, I thought of the soundtrack to Six Feet Under and worried... a lot. It's bulky and a bit flimsy. But then you get a copy of Out Of The Blue's eco-bok in your hands. At first you think, how did they fit 24 pages, a cut-out spaceship and a CD in there. But they did, and it's fantastic. The liner notes here probably paint the clearest picture of what any of ELO's recording sessions were like, plus a pretty comprehensive rundown of why ELO was one of the biggest most successful bands in the world during 1978. For those reasons and the amazing remastering, there's plenty to celebrate. Only thing is, I'll probably be looking at it way more than I'll be playing it.
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
I was at an away swim meet at Penn State when I saw this crudely made sign at the front door of a record shop in 1986. It said, New ELO. That was highlight of that trip, not the swim meet. It’s more than 20 years later and at long last, Balance Of Power was brought up to today’s sound standards. The improvement helped other ELO remasters in the past and this really is no different. One of the things when you re-discover an album is re-evaluate the whole package. (note: I’m only talking about the downloaded songs, I don’t have the CD yet.)
Balance Of Power has a little more substance than I gave it in 1986. Years later we learned that it was album Jeff seemed to dread making, but had to. The lyrical content on the album and its outtakes is the obvious clue to his discontent. The most poignant moment being Send It, which when you go back and really listen to it, is more powerful than much of his 80s material. The dream is gone, the dream is just a memory, if you see my dream, send it back home to me. How didn’t I see how good (and sad) that was before.
So, here’s an album who’s own label thought so much of it, they considered releasing it as a download-only. Download-only should be an option when (and only when) full size waveform files are made available and feasible to download. Maybe I’m a rare audiophile, but mp3’s are complete rubbish and a huge step backward for music listeners. It might be convenient for some, but it sucks for the rest of us. A CD for this album is a no-brainer. Case closed on that.
Compared to the old CD, there’s a huge difference in every track. The indexing is fixed and one track doesn’t run into another. It hard to argue the improvement. In Calling America, though, the drum beat clips a few times, most noticeable at “Said she call when she’d been gone a while…” Again, I’m working off the download, not the CD. There could be a difference between them, we’ll see.
Now, the bonus tracks. As a disclaimer, I understand that I’m a very fortunate person to have my favorite band’s catalog remastered with bonus tracks and I’m grateful for all of them. Comparing one bonus track to a version I perhaps shouldn’t have doesn’t aid my cause, but here we go.
Opening: Nice. Makes a smooth segue for the next track.
Heaven Only Knows (Alternative Version): Let me put this in a way hopefully some may understand. When I’m pretty sure a pint of pale ale is in my future (an ale that I’ve heard, I mean, had before… just not as, ahem, clear) I really look forward to that pint. But then I get to the pub, and the bartender hands me a shot glass of pale ale instead of the pint. It’s nice and it tastes great, but the pint would have been dreamy. This version of Heaven Only Knows is a shot glass of pale ale. (Missing two bridges and a verse.) Please, Mr. Bartender, reconsider the pint! Before the bar closes!!
In For The Kill: Love this variation or early version of what ultimately became Caught In A Trap. Caught In A Trap has the edge, but this is great listening. The end gave me a good chuckle.
Secret Lives: This can’t possibly be one of the best outtakes from these sessions.
Sorrow About To Fall: Lots of different bits happening throughout this version that ended up on the cutting room floor. The LP version is ultimately the best, but nothing wrong with this one at all.
Caught In A Trap & Destination Unknown: Oh how I’ve waited years to replace my old vinyl dubs of these. These two end up on my personal compilations, but now they can sound like the rest of the songs. Totally refreshing to hear these remastered. But again, I don’t consider it complete until the physical CD of this is in my hand!!