The THIRD new album – "Alone In The Universe"

Hailing frequencies open… Forums Media Music Mr. Blue Sky The THIRD new album – "Alone In The Universe"

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  • #4322
    ubikuberalles
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    @earl wrote:

    Hey Ubik, remember the days when “NASA ELO Doctor Who” would lead to this site? Perhaps it’s no coincidence.

    Now you get this page when your use the above string: Don’t Bring Me Down – The ELO song

    We all know the Doctor Who connection to the song but, here’s the NASA connection:

    The song was dedicated to the NASA Skylab space station…

    So there you go: it took the writers of Doctor Who, NASA and Jeff Lynne combined to topple your site from the top rankings. They must have thought you were a major threat to require that kind of coordination. 😉

    BTW, I read the article earlier when you posted it on FaceBook. I thought it was very interesting the way Jeff danced around the breakup of ELO and his legal entanglements with ELO part II. He states that he was “roped into” legal disputes with them and he had to sue them every time a promoter would mention ELO instead of the Orchestra when promoting a concert. Uh huh. Right.

    Another thing I thought interesting was when the promoters of the Zoom concerts told Jeff of the poor ticket sales, they decided to cancel the tour instead of restructuring it. I’m sure the tour could have gone on – and stimulated album sales a bit – if they changed the venues to something smaller like Indian Casinos (like the Orchestra did) or old movie houses (like TMBG does). Then again, maybe they did but Jeff rejected the idea.The cynic in me says Jeff would have rejected it due to his inflated ego. However, I also have the impression that Jeff is not a big fan of performing in concert. He appears to me to prefer playing his music in the studio. There’s no real basis for my conjecture, just an impression that I get which is, basically, that Lynne went Hollywood a long time ago.

    #4323

    He is most definitely a studio rat. Mr. Parsons has mellowed in middle age and has turned his not-inconsiderable talents toward figuring out how good he can make a live show sound. Lynne has never been one to leave the studio if he can help it.

    As far as he “had” to sue, that could be something that his manager/attorney, Craig Fruin, pushes him to rubber-stamp when necessary (read: when Mr. Fruin sees an opportunity to sue). Fruin has been Lynne’s manager since the ’80s, and you can bet he looks at every stinkin’ poster promoting the Orchestra as an opportunity to sue. Which is why the band rarely plays live, and never records, anymore (and as sure as the world’s turning, you can bet that the Orchestra’s tour management begs promoters not to mention ELO in any way, and gets ignored/screwed over every time).

    #4324
    ubikuberalles
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    You and I paint different but grim pictures of Mr. Lynne. Me: Egotistic money grubbing control freak who is willing to sue anybody who uses the name ELO in their concert promotions. Indian Casinos are not big enough for his music so he drops the whole Zoom tour instead of adjusting to more realistic venues. Not willing to depart with even a small fraction of his money, Jeff re-records ELO hits for movies (and commercials, TV shows, etc.) so none of the residuals of the original recordings go to his former band members. No tour dates in the U.S.A. yet because he is unable to get the ticket sales to fill huge arenas like he did at this peak with ELO. He only likes concerts when they are big big big arenas with tens of thousands of adoring fans. Movie house venues are for losers. /Donald Trump.

    Earl: James Thurbish-like character (i.e. a nebbish) who is a driven music genius who’d prefer to sit in his studio all day and make music (his own or for some other band in which he is the engineer or producer). Occasionally his blissful existence is disrupted by his controlling manager/lawyer who forces him to sign documents to authorize lawsuits against former band members and others who dare to copy his work or misrepresent themselves. Not caring about the business side of things, he lets his manager make those decisions: Zoom tour is not making the hoped numbers so cancel it instead of resizing the tour since the revised venues won’t bring in the big bucks. Jeff: “OK, I hate performing in public anyway and I prefer to hide in the studio.” Occasionally he nerds out at nasa.gov.

    Hopefully the truth is kinder to Jeff then I am. I’d like to think of Jeff only as the guy who created that great music in the past and, hopefully, more great music in the future. Hearing about the personal life and beliefs of an artist distracts and annoys me. I was in ignorant bliss when I first listened to ELO music as a teenager. Hard to be ignorant now with the internet blasting out all sorts of articles, forum threads, Facebook posts and so on.

    The only thing we actually agreed on is that Jeff prefer to spend his time in the studio instead of the concert stage. I can dig that. No criticisms from me. If I were a musician, my preferred mode would be in the studio. More time to focus on the music, less time worrying over the logistics of a concert (which can be considerable even for a small venue).

    Anyway, what were we talking about? Oh yes! The album! I pre-ordered the CD. Didn’t order the vinyl although I am thinking about it. One thing I’d like to get to is ripping LPs to MP3 (I inherited a considerable stack of LPs from my mom) but occasionally I just like listening to the records…until the popping and scratching gets to me. Nostalgia only goes so far with me.

    #4325

    I will have to go digging, but there was an interview from back before Jeff resurfaced with Long Wave and his album of ELO remakes where my main takeaway from it was that the whole Zoom tour rose and fell in his manager’s office without him lifting a finger or issuing an order. He’d worked up the gumption to hit the road, gathered a band around him he was comfortable with (as seen in the Zoom Tour DVD – what, two nights in LA is a tour? – and the still-never-officially-released-since-broadcast VH1 Storytellers show)…and then it all fell apart, followed immediately by 9/11…yeah, I’m pretty sure he didn’t raise a fuss about the tour being cancelled.

    I’ve raised the possibility of more mercenary Jeff in the past (i.e. re-recording ELO hits to cut Bev & co. out of performance royalties), and I hope that’s not the case, but I don’t completely discount the possibility. I really do want to believe that he’s just this bloke who’d rather be holed up making music somewhere than being comfortable that “those beautiful days when there was no money” are a distant memory.

    #4326

    Speaking of which, here’s the rather lovely actual video (not just an animation) for “When I Was A Boy”.

    EDIT: New song incoming! So we’ve heard nearly half the album now, right? 😆

    #4327
    ubikuberalles
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    The video is OK, I guess. I don’t mind it since the song is pretty decent.

    The other song? Meh. Sounds too much like it belongs in the Zoom album. No, I don’t hate Zoom, I just find it…boring…uninspired. I listened to it not too long ago and I was just waiting for it to end. Same goes with “One Step at a Time”. I hope the rest of his album isn’t like that.

    BTW, I found this article and thought this quote was interesting:

    As with Twitter, Lynne is unsparing about his lack of enthusiasm for the road. “I hated it when we were playing arenas,” he said. “You wake up at 9 o’clock, have a horrible hot dog at the airport for breakfast, then do three flights to get where you’re going. As soon as I was able to stop, I said, ‘That’s it.'”

    That goes along with the narrative that Jeff is a studio rat. Also, it sounds like Jeff hated – and still hates – travel, especially by plane. This also supports the theory that he and his band were under the heel of management: if Jeff asserted himself more he could have gotten a schedule that would have lessened the strain of travel considerably. Or maybe take a different form of travel: train or tour bus. But, then again, most of his concert experience was in the 1970s and 1980s: tour buses then were not the luxurious experience they are now.

    EDIT: The irony of Jeff not liking social media is I discovered the above article from Jeff’s Facebook page. In light of him not using social media, it’s clear his management manages the page.

    #4328

    In the ’70s ELO was under the thumb of Don Arden (i.e. Sharon Arden’s dad, i.e. Sharon Arden Osborne, i.e. Mrs. Ozzy), who was a ball-buster of a manager. (Black Sabbath was also under Arden’s thumb, and you can see what kind of excesses they indulged in to survive their touring schedule.) There’s no doubt that Arden helped increase ELO’s visibility, but where Black Sabbath simply lived like the rock stars they were to get through it all, an introvert like Jeff retreats within and resents the circumstance that put him there.

    I liked “One Step At A Time” – the recurring “talk to me” lyric gives it kind of a straight throughline back to “Lift Me Up” on Armchair Theatre. And I like the chords – even though the song has a go at being fast moving, there’s something kind of Hawaiian about the chord progression that fights against the tempo and makes it seem oddly languid. It’s an interesting structure.

    Also! Just found out that Jeff produced Bryan Adams’ most recent album, and listened to some stuff from it. The whole album is kind of a love letter to being a rock musician, so who better? It’s identifiably Jeff-produced, and he appears to have co-written at least one of the songs. Oddly enough, both appeared on the “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves” soundtrack way back when, though Adams’ “Everything I Do” song was such a monster hit that you could be forgiven for forgetting that Jeff had a post-Armchair-Theatre tune on there as well.

    #4329

    Pretty good interview here. Man, how do I get invited to these shindigs?

    #4330

    NPR streamed the basic 10-track release of the entire album tonight.

    That title track… holy crap. That’s just about everything I listen to ELO for right there.

    It’s a bit of a shock to the system that the whole thing’s over in a little over half an hour though.

    #4331

    @ubikuberalles wrote:

    Egotistic money grubbing control freak who is willing to sue anybody who uses the name ELO in their concert promotions. Indian Casinos are not big enough for his music so he drops the whole Zoom tour instead of adjusting to more realistic venues.

    To muddy things further, here’s an article from 2014 about Jeff suing Phil Bates of ELO Part II/The Orchestra fame. [LINK]

    Phil Bates, 60, from Tamworth, Staffordshire has been playing songs including Mr Blue Sky and Sweet Talking Woman during gigs in Europe and South Africa under names such as The Music Of ELO.

    Bur promoters invariably bill him simply as ELO, one even describing him as the group’s ‘legendary frontman’.

    And that has not gone down well with Lynne, who recently received a star on Birmingham’s Broad Street Walk of Stars amid much fanfare, and who owns the rights to the ELO and Electric Light Orchestra brands.

    “It’s illegal,” said Lynne, 66. “He’s not supposed to be using the name. All we can do is keep serving notice to desist.

    “Hopefully, he will take notice.”

    Bates, who now lives in Berlin and celebrates his 61st birthday next Sunday, was unrepentant and, in a statement on his website, pledged to carry on playing the ELO hallmark hits.

    “I have been thinking about my situation, my position, my status – whatever you want to call it – in relation to Jeff Lynne and ELO,” he said. “I play the music of Jeff Lynne and ELO for very clear reasons.

    “Of course, I need to earn a living, and this has proven to be the best way for me to do this. I am like pretty much everyone else in the world – I have a mortgage, I have bills, I have had kids to feed, clothe, support and educate.

    “The other key reason I do this because I love the music. I have the utmost respect and admiration for what Jeff Lynne has achieved, and I have been made very aware that there are thousands of fans of ELO music, and they want to hear it played ‘live’.

    “If this were not the case, we wouldn’t play to large and very appreciative audiences all over Europe. And I have to say that these fans have probably not been served as well as they could have been over the years.”

    Whichever side of the fence one comes down on – I can see valid points in both arguments – this further explains why we’re now listening to “Jeff Lynne’s ELO” (as if it was every anyone else’s – Roy Wood’s maybe?).

    What’s really ironic is that, a few years back, Bev Bevan revived the Move under the name “Bev Bevan’s Move”. One should really open for the other. Awkward! 😆 A bit of further digging turned up another interesting nugget… which… upon further reflection… will be its own thread so as not to completely derail this one.

    #4332
    ubikuberalles
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    Based on the above as well as Bev Bevan’s interview on a different thread, I would remove the phrase “money grubbing” from my description earlier on. It’s all about owning ELO for Jeff. Since he felt he created it, it is his baby and no one else is allowed to use it. Hence the reason he sues the Orchestra and other bands when they use ELO in their promotions.

    I’m under the impression that Jeff joined the Move with the ultimate goal of creating his own band, which is what he did. Except for Roy Wood’s contribution in the first album, a couple covers they did (“Roll Over Beethoven”, “Hall of the Mountain King” etc) and perhaps one or two other songs, Jeff pretty much wrote all the music for ELO. The guy who wrote the music for the band is the guy who owns the band is his logic and I can’t find fault with it. If ELO formed in the 1950’s instead of the 1970’s, the band would have been called “Jeff Lynne and his Electric Light Orchestra” (maybe that’s more of a 1940’s name).

    So, instead of “Egotistic money grubbing control freak who is willing to sue anybody who uses the name ELO in their concert promotions.” it would be “Egotistical owner of ELO who thinks of it as his baby and is willing to sue anybody who uses the name ELO in their concert promotions.” The “control freak” probably belongs to his manager, who has been managing Jeff since day one of ELO (and a little bit of the Move).

    I’ve never really studied the history of ELO or Jeff’s background so I’m not sure how well the above fits in but that’s my current impression (but with less implied anger in the prose).

    #4333
    ubikuberalles
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    Got an e-mail from Amazon this afternoon: The CD has shipped! It will arrive at my house on Friday.

    W00t!

    #4334

    @ubikuberalles wrote:

    “Jeff Lynne and his Electric Light Orchestra”

    For some reason, I’d find this far classier than “Jeff Lynne’s ELO”.

    My CD and LP have both shipped. I look forward to hearing the exclusive-to-CD bonus tracks.

    #4335
    ubikuberalles
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    If you have an Amazon Prime account, you can listen to the album NOW. It looks like they released it yesterday, November 12. It has two bonus tracks: Fault Line and Blue. The same as the CD. Hmmph. I’m a little miffed that Prime users got it before the CD (and vinyl) people got theirs. Actually I’m more miffed that my former office mate was able to listen to it for (kinda) free. He’s braggin’.

    I have Amazon Prime so I am listening to the album and bonus tracks as I type. I really like Blue. Fault Line? Meh.

    It occurred to me that the big reason I was so critical of Zoom (and, frankly, not as enthusiastic about Alone in the Universe as I should be) is that it was lot more mellow than the previous albums. Much more melancholy too. I expect my ELO to lift me up and get me energetic (big reason why I play Out of the Blue whenever I’m down) and Zoom didn’t do that. Alone in the Universe does get me a little energetic so I would give it “recommend” rating for ELO fans.

    #4336

    My LP arrived. I highly recommend it. The interior gatefold artwork is probably on the CD as well, but smaller – tons of Easter eggs. It’s like a hallway from the Liberator (remember the old “hexagonal sci-fi corridors” thread?), but it ends in the cupola from the ISS, and the Voyager golden record is leaned up against the wall next to Jeff’s guitar…

    …more than ever, I’m firmly convinced that, in addition to being a slightly reclusive studio rat, the man’s got to be a giant nerd. [chants] ONE OF US! ONE OF US! ONE OF US!

    P.S. I just realized that I’m pretty much obligated, at this point, to double back and get Zoom on vinyl. 😯 Holy crap. Good thing I really, really liked “Moment In Paradise” and “State Of Mind”…

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