Just wanted to post a series of songs reflecting the long, highly accomplished career of Jeff Lynne. Perhaps best known as ELO’s frontman and ringmaster, or rather most commonly criticized as the least qualified member of the Traveling Wilburys (an attitude with which I heartily disagree), Lynne has been producing top-rate pop music for over 40 years, in addition to producing a library of outstanding records by legends including the Beatles and Tom Petty.
“I Like My Toys” is from the Idle Race’s 1968 The Birthday Party. Twee and fay in abundance, it is nevertheless a tightly recorded and charming track. Lynne’s proclivity for inventive production and unorthodox mentalities is apparent here as on the rest of the album.
Lynne moved on to the, er, Move soon after the Idle Race’s second album and immediately started changing the Birmingham band’s sound into a more conceptual venture. The band evolved into Lynne and bandmate Roy Woods’s brainchild ELO within a few years, with Jeff slowly taking firm control of the artistic direction and the curious blend of rock and orchestral music to follow. “Do Ya?”, recorded in the Move’s waning days, is a plodding, almost abrasive song that would appear in a slicker, sweeter form on ELO’s 1976 A New World Record. (The version here is an edit version from 2008’s Move Anthology.)
The Electric Light Orchestra reached the zenith of its original conceptual form with 1974’s Eldorado. ELO had released impressive albums before but were slipping into a dangerously umarketable, indulgently progressive formula. It was reeled in slightly on 1973’s On The Third Day, but Lynne’s ambitious reach took the band into a full-blown orchestral overdrive with purity and fidelity of form that would make the album highly progressive but still another creature altogether. Which is to say, Lynne got his rocks off and from thereon would set about crafting impeccable pop songs mindful of the ELO concept but broad in appeal all the same. Posted here is an orchestral medley from Eldorado, a sweeping eight minutes of moods from one of the finest concept albums yet recorded.
ELO would take Jeff Lynne through the early ’80s, but toward the end the musician was itching to do something else. He was in high demand as a producer and did quite well for himself with a string of production credits for Roy Orbison, George Harrison, Aerosmith and more. In 1988 he and cohorts Harrison, Bob Dylan, Orbison and Tom Petty formed the Traveling Wilburys, a rotating, weird old guy jamboree superband to beat all superbands. Shared here is “Handle With Care” from their first album The Traveling Wilburys, Volume I.
And finally, reluctantly, “Every Little Thing”, a track from Lynne’s 1990 solo album Armchair Theatre. Um…it’s good? Okay, it’s tolerable, but when held up to the music that got him there, it’s fairly weak and not at all what I would have expected. But they can’t all be winners.