Jeff Lynne
Armchair Theatre

1. Every Little Thing
2. Don’t Let Go
3. Lift Me Up
4. Nobody Home
5. September Song
6. Now You’re Gone
7. Don’t Say Goodbye
8. What Would It Take
9. Stormy Weather
10. Blown Away
11. Save Me Now
12. Borderline (Bonus track)
13. Forecast (Bonus track)

Jeff Lynne – Guitars, bass guitar, piano, keyboards, synthesizer, percussion, vocals.

Discography (ELO):
The Electric Light Orchestra (1971)
ELO 2 (1973)
On the Third Day (1973)
Eldorado (1974)
Face the Music (1975)
A New World Record (1976)
Out of the Blue (1977)
Discovery (1979)
Xanadu (1980)
Time (1981)
Secret Messages (1983)
Balance of Power (1986)
Zoom (2001)
Mr Blue Sky (best of) (2012)

Zoom (2013)
Live (2013)

Richard Tandy – Keyboards, organ, piano, electric guitar, vocals.
George Harrison – Guitars, vocals.
Ringo Starr – Drums on "Blown Away"
Mette Mathiesen – Drums except on "Blown Away", percussion.
Jim Horn – Saxophones.
Jake Commander – Backing vocals.
Phil Hatton – Backing vocals.
Dave Morgan – Backing vocals.
Del Shannon – Backing vocals.
Michael Kamen – String arrangements.

All songs except DON’T LET GO, SEPTEMBER SONG, STORMY WEATHER and BLOWN AWAY written and produced by JEFF LYNNE

Released 2013-04-19
Reviewed 2013-04-11



Jeff Lynne, I think might be one of the worst con artists in the musical world, at least if you look at his record for the last 25 years. If you count his part in supergroup Travelling Wilburys, he has created or been part in four albums of original material in these 25 years of which three were 1988-1990 (two with Travelling Wilburys and this one which is 40% covers). The latest whim of new material from Lynne was the ELO album Zoom which was rereleased for ELO’s 40 year celebrations which happens to be now, 43 years after the band was founded and 42 years after the debut album. This album is also part of those celebrations, it was first released in 1990 but now, 23 years later it is released again in remastered form with two bonus tracks.

Am I the only one seeing a problem in this? take ELO for instance with their 13 albums and so far 37 compilations and five live album and god only knows how many remasters and rereleases. 13 albums and 42 live-/or compilation albums, anyone but me seeing something wrong here? There should be more original albums than compilations and live albums, what is the point in another album of already released material?

Musically it is a melting pot of different influences where the common denominator seems to be a tad lost at times (but it is quite soft rock music), maybe due to the album having a few covers that adds diversity but also incoherency to the album. No denying that Lynne and his guests knows their thing and the production is top notch as well but all that we here feels old and like it has been done before and that would have been the case back in the day it was released as well. It feels as Lynne is borrowing heavily from others and not really bringing much of excitement to the table in the release, at least not if you are looking for fresh and exciting music.

Let me just conclude that this album may not be bad, in fact it has two tracks I really like in the opener Every Little Thing and September Song while the rest are a decent listen as background, like in a lift. But I cannot shake the feeling of this being just another pointless release by Lynne and at the same time I cannot understand how labels can be convinced (or conned into) to release the same stuff over and over again. I can say (and no one would be surprised if it was true) that I have just “heard” rumours that Lynne will keep celebrating ELO’s 40 years next year with a rerelease of the -71 debut with one bonus track that is an alternate version of a track on the album, as well as another live album called simply Live II and a new compilation album of the greatest hits. There are also indications that Lynne’s 2012 cover album (which I didn’t review thanks to not being able to download it but also due to the fact that it sounded extremely boring) will be rereleased next year with one acoustic version of the opening track as bonus. “Oh, you are rude and offensive to Lynne” perhaps some fans would say, but I am a fan of ELO, or rather I was and will not be one of either ELO or Lynne until he actually manages to get his head out of his ass and write some new material. It is twelve years since Zoom now but I’ll guess that I will have to replay that one again and have a look at the spinoff bands to ELO where Lynne didn’t take part.

Did you know that in 1988 Bev Bevan of ELO wanted to do another ELO album but Lynne declined this which led to ELO part II and later a band called The Orchestra which both has been more or as productive as Lynne and the “real” ELO during the same time (even though I think they are both disbanded now), I guess it is much easier to just cash in on royalties from old stuff than to do any actual work creating music. How very fortunate for Lynne that he made himself a name when music still sold in millions, he would be nothing if he tried today.

I am sorry that a band (and artist) I grew up with and have always loved has turned to a compilation machine that releases the same thing over and over again just to earn some more money on something already established. I suppose it would be best if everyone stole this album from some download site, or streamed it from one of those places that gives nothing to the artists when their music is played, because if his music no longer sells he might try to come up with something new. We all know he can as his works in the past has been magical at times but with this latest 40th anniversary stuff I have lost all respect for Jeff Lynne (but not for what he did long ago). I hope he stops exploiting the past and writes something new but I seriously doubt he will release any new original material before he dies, I don’t think he is capable of writing music worth anything anymore.



Label: Frontiers Records
Three similar bands: ELO/Boston/Yes
Rating: HHHHHHH (3/7)
Reviewer: Daniel Källmalm

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