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Jeff Lynne's ELO - Alone in the Universe
LP (12" album, 33 rpm)
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Jeff Lynne's ELO - Alone in the Universe
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Known as one of the most iconic forces in music history, ELO delivers the new album, 'Jeff Lynne s ELO Alone In The Universe', which will be the first new ELO music in a decade. As with ELO's previous chart-topping albums, Jeff Lynne continues to serve as ELO's producer, songwriter, arranger, lead singer and guitarist. Jeff Lynne was the creative genius behind ELO which sold more than 50 million albums worldwide, had more than 20 Top 40 Hits across the U.S. and the U.K. and received countless awards and accolades. At the time of ELO's formation, Lynne had said the goal was to create modern rock and pop songs. A goal that remains true some 30 years later with the creation of this new material.
"Music is such a powerful force in our lives. A good song can make people feel much less alone in this universe. And trying to create one of those songs somehow makes me feel less alone too. My whole life from being that kid with a dream in Birmingham right until today proves how much music can do, said Lynne. The lead single from this album is the beautiful song, When I Was A Boy".
Lynne is among the most storied names in music history having created the hit group ELO, and serving as a founding member of the Grammy Award winning supergroup The Traveling Wilburys. He has produced and collaborated with The Beatles, Roy Orbison, George Harrison, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Tom Petty and Joe Walsh. In 2015, he was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and is an active philanthropist for organizations such as St. Jude Research Hospital, MUSICARES and H.E.A.R.T. (Helping Ease Abuse Related Trauma). In September 2014, for the first time in 30 years, Jeff Lynne's ELO headlined BBC Radio 2's "Festival In A Day" in London's famous Hyde Park to a sold-out crowd of 50,000 fans in attendance and nearly a million people tuned in to watch.
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Anyway, from my very first listen I fell in love with this album. There are no tracks on this album that I’d classify as lower than 4 out of 5 stars. Pretty impressive for a guy who’s been writing music for several decades now! Jeff Lynne shows he’s still got the musical genius that made ELO such a success back in the 1970s.
For the casual ELO fans out there, don’t expect Out of the Blue, Part 2 with Alone in the Universe. To my ear, this album is a solid mix of 1980s ELO with Traveling Wilburys. The songs, to me, have an ELO feel to them (as opposed to a Jeff Lynne solo album feel) with a healthy dose of influence from Jeff Lynne’s Traveling Wilburys bandmates.
I would recommend this album to anyone looking for some short pop-rock songs and ballads with catchy melodies that only someone like Jeff Lynne could think up. Of course, anyone who is a fan of ELO or Jeff Lynne should add this album to their collection. Unlike many other artists Jeff Lynne’s age, I feel Alone in the Universe could be ranked in the mid-to-upper tiers of the ELO catalog, even amongst some of their mega albums of the 70s and 80s.
I have only had this album for a day now, but I’ll provide a very quick track-by-track review based on my impressions so far.
1. When I Was a Boy – the album kicks off with a solid 10/10 autobiographical ballad about Jeff Lynne’s musical roots. The chorus provides an incredibly infectious melody that I fell in love with immediately. This is one of those songs I could play on repeat over and over and not get tired of it. I absolutely love the content of the song (it’s so heartfelt) and the melody is one of my favorites out of ELO’s entire catalog! You can definitely hear the ELO influence on this song.
2. Love and Rain – another solid track. Not quite as infectious as the opening track, but still great nonetheless. This song sounds like it would have fit on ELO’s 2001 album Zoom. The change of pace about two-thirds of the way through the song keeps the song sounding fresh. Honestly, this song would begin to plod along if it weren’t for that little change-up partway through.
3. Dirty to the Bone – this song is a bit more of a rocker than the last two. Very catchy and probably one of my favorite songs on the album. Comparing to previous albums, this song would fit in well on Secret Messages or Balance of Power.
4. When the Night Comes – for me, this is the first song on the album that would only garner 4 out of 5 stars. While most songs written by Jeff Lynne are catchy to some extent, this song is probably one of the least catchy songs on the album. It almost has a reggae feel with an ELO twist. Throw this song on Balance of Power and it would fit in well.
5. The Sun Will Shine on You – my first impression of this song was somewhat unfavorable as well. However, after multiple listens it has definitely grown on me. I think what this song is missing is some of Jeff Lynne’s signature wall-of-sound filler. Throw some strings in between his words (he pauses a lot between the words of this song) and this song would feel more complete.
6. Ain’t it a Drag – ok, here comes the Traveling Wilburys influence. I can’t quite pinpoint who, but this definitely sounds like something that could’ve been co-written by another Traveling Wilbury (Dylan or Harrison maybe?) in another musical universe. The influence is a good thing – this song is more of a rocker and of course is catchy as well.
7. All My Life – wow, what a love song! Emotions run high for me with this one – I love it! The chorus (starting at “I’m so glad…”) is probably the second-best on the album after When I Was a Boy. Another solid 10/10 song.
8. I’m Leaving You – you can’t miss the influence of Roy Orbison (another Wilbury) on this song. If Roy Orbison were still alive today, this song would be perfect for him. It’s a shame we’ll never get to hear him cover this song. As much as I love Jeff Lynne’s voice, this song was made for Roy Orbison.
9. One Step at Time – this song is on the fence between 4 and 5 stars for me. Sometimes when I listen to it I love it; other times it sort of plods along. For what it’s worth, a lot of reviews rate this track very highly.
10. Alone in the Universe – the title track of the album is a transplant from the Time album, I swear. And that’s a good thing! Not only musically, but the lyrical content of the song could fit on Time. This is definitely one of my favorite tracks on the album so far.
11. Fault Line (bonus track) – this is a fun, simple little track. I’m glad it’s a bonus track though, as I don’t think it would’ve really fit to well on the album proper. It almost feels like a demo or incomplete song.
12. Blue (bonus track) – if I had to pick one color that would be on this album, blue would be it (Out of the Blue, Midnight Blue, Mr. Blue Sky, etc…). This is a nice track that I think would’ve fit well on Jeff Lynne’s solo album, Armchair Theatre.
Alone in the Universe was an unusual ELO album for me. On first listen, I was bummed that it didn’t grab me immediately like Zoom, its predecessor, or Out of the Blue back in the 70s, or Time, or Balance of Power, or really, any of the former ELO albums. The Beatles-esque “When I was a Boy” was the only song that stuck in my head. But a few days passed and I put the album on again…and a strange thing happened. I loved it. I think my initial expectations were Y and “Alone” gave me Q. But on that second—and subsequent—listens, I realized that every single track is special. Each stays with me after I finish the album. In fact, each time the album ends I want to play it again.
“Alone” is different from past ELO albums because, well, Jeff Lynne is different in that he continues to grow and evolve as an artist. Some reviewers have noted that there’s a blend of old ELO with Wilburys on this album—and that’s true, without question—but there’s more: R&B, blues, reggae. I also hear influence from the “Long Wave” covers album Jeff did a couple of years ago (as a rule, I hate cover albums, but this was excellent). He remarked at the time that the musical composition was so stellar that he could only aspire to such quality. I think consciously or subconsciously he was influenced by that body of work and integrated it into his creative neurons.
“Alone” is ongoing proof that Jeff Lynne is among the most talented songwriters in the history of music. It’s a sham, and a shame, that the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame has not recognized Jeff and ELO. It baffles me. Like all awards organizations, winners are not always based on merit but on the “who you know and how you play the game” criteria. I suspect that the R&R HOF is one of those organizations—because there’s otherwise no good explanation for excluding Jeff Lynne and ELO.
I recommend getting the bonus edition because the two extra tracks, Fault Line and Blue, are as good as any on the album. I hope Jeff continues writing and recording because the gift he gives millions of people is something few other musicians are capable of giving.
Music-wise this is his BEST solo album, quality could be better, One can tell that The songs are ELO music after first few seconds. The opening tune
"When I was Boy" is one of his best tunes, Alone in the world is pure ELO, there are 2 songs that are very SoCalish. Living on the "St Andreas" fault and "Dirty to the Bone". For all of you fellow ELO fans it's a must have. BUY THE CD, HAS BETTER QUALITY AND YOU GET mp3's FOR FREE.
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