I was raised on the radio sound of Jeff Lynne’s magnificent Electric Light Orchestra.  ELO was the sound of my life emanating from car dashboards and bouncing from handheld boxes on street corners.  ELO melodies were always immediately identifiable and haunting and awe-inspiring.

When I learned Jeff Lynne was re-making “The Very Best” of ELO in a new album called “Mr. Blue Sky” I was intrigued and enthralled by the idea.  In a television interview, I heard Jeff say he wanted to remake his best ELO songs in 2012 because, after 30 years as a producer, he better knew how to create sound now than he did when the iconic songs were originally recorded:

Featuring ELO’s biggest and most memorable hits, Mr. Blue Sky The Very Best of Electric Light Orchestra is a brand new album featuring fresh re-recordings by Jeff Lynne, which sound much sharper and clearer than the old versions. It includes a never before heard bonus track, “Point of No Return”. In a nod to ELO’s 40th anniversary, a very special edition of “10538 Overture” is also featured.

It is both risky and rewarding to remake your songs and re-release them — normally, playing the same moment twice doesn’t work — but I am pleased to report Jeff Lynne found tremendous success in the Mr. Blue Sky effort.  All the songs have a brightness and a crisp clarity compared to the originals.

We also know Jeff must still have a lot of juice as a producer, because convincing any record company to remake what is already popular — just because you think you can make it better — is a massive task indeed.  Sure, record companies like to re-release songs — but only under new packaging as “Best Of” sets — I can’t think of many examples where entire songs are re-recorded as a whole effort and then re-released on an album as updated versions of the originals.

I especially enjoyed the new interpretations of “Telephone Line” and “Can’t Get It Out Of My Head” and “Do Ya.”  I was immediately propelled back to a younger, and much more naive time in my life, but hearing these “do over” versions of the classics brought some maturity and insight back to the modern mind.

Mr. Blue Sky is a winner of an album and even if you’ve never heard an ELO song before, you won’t forget what you get to hear — fresher, and more disturbing — this year from Jeff Lynne.

3 Comments

    1. The new version of “Point of No Return” is much more poignant and emotionally powerful than the original — there’s a new cry in his voice that wasn’t evident in the first version. Jeff’s life experience and wisdom are in high evidence and it’s such a delight to compare how we’ve grown and how Jeff has grown, and we’re meeting again in the middle of his sound.

      I’d love to see him do this project all over again in another 30 years. It would be a keen thing to measure if the third time is actually the ultimate charm.

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