Well this is an unfortunate day for me to be writing my opinion of the new
"ELO" album. But I am at the end of my endurance of the disc and I
promised to comment to a couple of friends. If I remove the disc from my carousel
I will never get to the review so here goes. Feel free to skip this.
I would like to say I am really sorry for the ELO fans that the ELO North American
Tour has been cancelled. I know people have booked flights and hotels and they
will lose a lot of money because of this. What a shame. A lot of ELO fans are
clearly very dedicated I was stunned to hear that tickets prices were $75 dollars
and that Ticket agency were taking 20-30% of that. I hope Ticket refunds include
the Ticket Agency Fee!
My history of liking ELO goes back to the late 70’s. The first non-compilation
album I bought was by Queen. I liked it a lot and my Addiction to blowing money
on albums clearly started back then. I went through the whole Queen catalogue
and then took the brave step of trying a new band. ELO’s A New World Record
being my choice. I still get a strong memory of being off school Sick and playing
Monopoly by myself every time I hear this record. As this was how I got to hear
it the first time and it clearly made a strong impression on my mind.’ I then
bought the rest of the ELO collection and ventured back into the Wizzard and
Move despite having tried early Pink Floyd and Status Quo albums and finding
them too 60’s for my taste. But by about 1980 ELO released Discovery and I was
disgusted. My tastes and moved more to harder Rocker and I was probably at my
Heaviest phase by then. So for some reason or other I sold all my ELO collection.
Within a few years I had got back to the level of heaviness I like now and re
bought all ELO I had sold. I got the Four Light Years box set so I even ended
up with the awful Discovery again. I have never sold an album 2nd hand again
since. I also find it important to keep the albums I dislike most a) to see
if I change but b) to see what it is I dislike. The other thing of note is that
although I started with a New World Record I actually preferred the older albums.
Almost exactly in order of their release. For some Reason I don’t get of with
Eldorado though So that comes down there with parts of Out Of The Blue I suspect.
I am currently waiting for the Remastered ELO collection to come out before
I upgrade my ELO collection again.
Also worth mentioning from a "where is this guy coming from" point
of is I borrowed ELO Part II’s first album from the library and didn’t think
it sounded ELO enough. But around 1997 I heard they were playing Ipswich and
I went to see them and really enjoyed the show. I have subsequently seen them
several times since and even like the 2nd album Moment of Truth more than anything
The ELO Part II live set broke me into a lot of the later singles and they
are OK. I have subsequently heard most of the later ELO albums but they don’t
really interest me. They are better and more interesting than Discovery though.
I have also never really forgiven Jeff Lynn for dumping the Strings section
on Discovery. I was also appalled when they were then bought back in on the
ELO to me are definitely about strings (and other classical instruments) and
Rock combining. In fact at this very moment I am currently enjoying the Wombles
Mike Batt’s Tarot Suite album because it is a good combination of Orchestra
So finally I come to Zoom. I was initially excited to hear ELO were to reform
and make and album and then I heard it would only really be Jeff Lynne with
studio guests. This didn’t inspire my to go out and get the album so I waited
and heard clips on a radio broadcast. The more on Vh-1’s Storytellers and all
this didn’t help at all.
Then two friends both said they had it and liked it a lot one offered to lend
me a copy. I was certainly curious but not going to pay full price to hear something
I expected to be a let down so I accepted.
The artwork certainly looked promising. The clips I heard on the radio hadn’t
sounded ELO to me so on the first listen I was rather impressed that a couple
of songs did sound recognisably ELO like. After that I thought the album OK
but I have soon grown tired of playing it. It just doesn’t have anything that
interests me in it I don’t think. Doing a track by Track review normally
focuses my mind a bit more so now I will see what I really think of the individual
Alright – This one is one that I had heard on the Radio and wasn’t impressed
by. It sounded too Travelling Wilbury’s, Tom Pretty type 1990’s AOR radio friendly
rock to me. It is obviously a style that is popular but it is not original and
ELO used to be original. Having said this this is probably one of my preferred
tracks on the album. The Drums are very monotonous and it seems there is a lot
of Guitar for an ELO track. There are no strings (that I noticed anyway)
Moment In Paradise – This is probably my favourite on the album. I like the
backing line in the chorus. There are a New World Record type effects here
too. Sometimes Jeff’s high voice on the line "Moment In Paradise"
grates on me. The guitar solo also feels very much like another band to me too.
State Of Mind – Another one sounding very like my limited knowledge of the
Wilbury’s. The guitar riff feels so wrong to me. This seems to follow Jeff’s
interest in Rock’N’Roll is king type music. I like people like Dave Edmunds
so in theory this should work for me but it just leaves me cold.
Just Of Love – This one has a kind of Eldorado feel to it. It also has some
strings at last. This would be a weak take on a 70’s album to me. More of an
album filler mood changer type piece. It is OK but nothing really grabs me about
Stranger On A Quiet Street – The boring drums on these tracks really annoy
me. It is rare I notice drums in either a good or bad way so this is disappointing.
Another guitar driven song but with a little strings on it. Like on State of
Mind I am not too keen on the use of the guitars. It is too sterile or plodding
or something. Basically it just isn’t the sort of thing I would listen
too and it sounds like the sort of stuff I have heard other Radio friendly rock
establishment figure do on the radio.
In My Own Time – This one has strings on it and I can imagine it being a quiet
track on an Out Of The Blue or New World Record type album. The old sounding
tracks are in the style I like least and not a Mr Blues sky or Evil Woman type
Easy Money – Another Dave Edmunds style tunes that doesn’t work for me in this
Environment. And certainly not for something claiming to be ELO.
It Really Doesn’t Matter – This track is like the rest of the album Ok but
not really to my taste. I just don’t see the point of calling this ELO. If you
are going to bring back a name after 15 years surely there should be more continuity
between style and players than this. Especially when there has been a band with
3 or 4 recognised ELO player going round keeping the bands name alive all these
Ordinary Dream – This one has strings but this just sounds like a John Lennon
tribute to me. This one is my least favourite on the album.
A Long Time Gone – Again I get the impression of a quiet song from say a New
world Record. It’s OK but it is too dreary especially with so many others like
this on the album
Melting In The Sun – Back to a Wibury type song. Jeff has clearly spent too
long working for others and he has lost all interest in being original or playing
to his own classic era. He does use some ELO backing vocal arrangements on this.
Perhaps this is why the later era ELO fans seem to really go for the album.
All She Wanted – This one is OK. Much like the rest of the album but probably
one of the better tracks.
Lonesome Lullaby – This one makes me take notice. The guitar at the front is
interesting. I can’t really decide if I like or dislike this one. At least
it made notice it.
To me Jeff is playing for himself. That is fine. He and I clearly have different
tastes and I have no problem with that. What I do have a problem with is him
effectively killing ELO Part II and then pretending this is ELO. As a Jeff Lynne
album I could quite happily ignore this album. As an ELO album he tests me as
a fan. Will I buy the album? Yes if I see if for ‘5-7 pounds sometime but mainly
There is of course still hope that I will like it if I play it at a future
time but overall this is such a disappointment to me.
Looking at the official statement as to why the American tour was cancelled
it says, "ELO wanted to put on a grand Spectacle with massive stage and
light show". If this was the case why have the "band" record
two TV specials all dressed in black with limited lights and effects? It is
not a very good advert is it? Taking this album and the specials into consideration
that is the last thing I would have expected from an ELO gig in 2001. This seems
to be a back to basics low budget ELO. To re-establish an old act like ELO I
suspect you need a strong image that plays on past glories to make people want
to attend for the nostalgia angle. I am very disappointed for people like Rob
and Lynn who has been putting their hearts into ELO and will feel really frustrated
for all the fans that were looking forward to ELO playing again.
I hope some good comes of all this. I even wish Zoom had been a success despite
my personal opinion of it. I do feel this album would be more readily accepted
after a strong ELO sounding comeback album and tour with lots of classic
ELO era members to get people fired up and excited again. You have to wonder
what has been going on between Jeff/The Management/ The record Label. It seems
surprising that some calculations could be so far off.