The Jeff Lynne Years, 1968-1973

A Message From The Country - The Jeff Lynne Years, 1968-1973This is a handy collection of some of the earliest recorded works by my favorite performer/songwriter in all of rock ‘n’ roll, Jeff Lynne of ELO fame. Even in the late 60’s tunes he wrote for his band Idle Race, it’s easy to hear the Lennon/McCartney influences – actually not so much easy to hear them, but impossible to miss them. In some cases, the quirky melodies and harmonies almost hit one over the head with their Beatle-ish-ness – at this early stage in his career, Lynne probably had yet to incorporate musical influences other than his beloved Fab Four into his work. Still, while much of the Move and ELO music on this album can be heard elsewhere (and, indeed, are reviewed elsewhere here), the 4 out of 4Idle Race songs are truly well-crafted for their time, and considering that Lynne was just venturing into songwriting. “Follow Me Follow”, “Girl At The Window” and especially “Come With Me” – the latter with more than a little George Harrison flavor – are exceptional, and “The Birthday Party”, which was Lynne’s first outing as a producer and also his first experience with a string section, is particularly interesting.

Order this CD

  1. Do Ya (4:05 – The Move, 1972)
  2. The Minister (4:30 – The Move, 1971)
  3. Girl at the Window (3:46 – Idle Race, 1969)
  4. Roll Over Beethoven (4:35 – ELO, 1972)
  5. Words of Aaron (5:28 – The Move, 1971)
  6. Mr. Radio (5:05 – ELO, 1971)
  7. The Skeleton and the Roundabout (2:21 – Idle Race, 1968)
  8. Message From the Country (4:48 – The Move, 1971)
  9. Come With Me (2:45 – Idle Race, 1969)
  10. Morning Sunshine (1:49 – Idle Race, 1968)
  11. 10538 Overture (5:42 – ELO, 1971)
  12. Happy Birthday/The Birthday (3:24 – Idle Race, 1968)
  13. No Time (3:42 – The Move, 1971)
  14. Showdown (4:11 – ELO, 1973)
  15. In Old England Town (6:53 – ELO, 1972)
  16. Big Chief Wooly Bosher (5:17 – Idle Race, 1969)
  17. Queen of the Hours (3:24 – ELO, 1971)
  18. Follow Me Follow (2:46 – Idle Race, 1968)

Released by: EMI
Release date: 1989
Total running time: 74:31

Electric Light Orchestra – Afterglow

Electric Light Orchestra - AfterglowThis wonderful three-disc set arrived at the height of my ELO-worship, but I only wish I’d had my CD player at the time. Very seldom in my music review pages will you hear me complain about the quality of anything other than the music itself, but here I have to offer you, the consumer, a strong warning: if you’re going to get Afterglow, get it on CD. Even if you don’t have a CD player, get the discs and have someone make you a copy of them on tape and then put the discs away. The cassettes on which Afterglow was duplicated were hideously cheap, and I went through two cassette copies of the third and most important volume of the set before I finally bought the CD box set. That’s the end of my consumer warning.

The reason the third CD is the most important is because it features several previously unavailable songs which were B-sides to singles from the 1980s, or were tracks deleted from Time and Secret Messages prior to pressing. The Time B-side “When Time Stood Still” is worth the cost of the entire set, being one of the best examples of what really made ELO great in the 80s. Other highlights of the “new” material include “Buildings Have Eyes”, the jazzy “No Way Out”, the dreamy “Mandalay”, and the epic-length and too-consciously-trying-to-be-Beatlesque “Hello My Old Friend”, all tracks which would have made 1983’s Secret Messages not only a double album, but a great double album, at least on a par with Out Of The Blue. The rest of the box set consists of usually well-chosen tracks from throughout the band’s history, though as always I like the album tracks better than the singles, so the box set’s emphasis 3 out of 4on ELO’s popular fare leaves me high and dry. Curious omissions from the set include the music from 1980’s Xanadu (removed from the set at the request of Jeff Lynne, according to Rolling Stone), and the beautiful instrumental B-side “After All”, which I only have as a scratched-up 45 and desperately want on CD. Perhaps someday…

Order this CD

    (Third disc only)

  1. Prologue (1:16)
  2. Twilight (3:33)
  3. Julie Don’t Live Here (3:40)
  4. Shine a Little Love (4:39)
  5. When Time Stood Still (3:33)
  6. Rain is Falling (2:57)
  7. Bouncer (3:13)
  8. Hello My Old Friend (7:51)
  9. Hold On Tight (3:06)
  10. Four Little Diamonds (4:08)
  11. Mandalay (5:19)
  12. Buildings Have Eyes (3:55)
  13. So Serious (2:39)
  14. A Matter of Fact (3:58)
  15. No Way Out (3:23)
  16. Getting to the Point (4:28)
  17. Destination Unknown (4:05)
  18. Rock ‘n’ Roll is King (3:07)

Released by: Epic
Release date: 1990
Total running time: 68:50