Reviews of Electric Light Orchestra’s ‘Live’ and ‘Zoom,’ plus Jeff Lynne’s ‘Armchair Theatre’

Electric Light Orchestra
“Live”
Frontiers Records (CD)
****

Electric Light Orchestra
“Zoom”
Frontiers Records (CD)
****

Jeff Lynne
“Armchair Theatre”
Frontiers Records (CD)
***

By Mike Greenblatt

Jeff Lynne’s on a roll. On the heels of last year’s “Long Wave” solo album and his newly recorded “Mr. Blue Sky: The Very Best Of Electric Light Orchestra,” come three more dandies.

Electric Light Orchestra LiveLynne, in keeping that Beatlesque flair alive for the ages, has made himself into something of a Renaissance man. Whether it’s revitalizing songs from his childhood, revamping his own material from decades past, producing others or penning new classics, Lynne’s singular essence is still stunningly delicious. This is as sweet a confectionery triumvirate as you’re ever going to taste.

Electric Light Orchestra ZoomELO’s “Live” is from a 2001 PBS special originally released as a DVD. “Secret Messages,” “Sweet Talkin’ Woman,” “Twilight” and “Confusion” never made the DVD and sound great. Plus, two never-before-released studio tracks (2010’s “Out Of Luck” and 1992’s “Cold Feet”) are the disc’s absolute highlight.

“Zoom” hasn’t seen the light of CD for more than a decade. It has been beautifully remastered with one new song (“One Day”) and a live version of “Turn To Stone” from 2001.

Jeff Lynne Armchair TheatreCriminally overlooked upon release, “Zoom” seems to have gained in stature with the passing of time. Some beloved rock albums sound dated today. This one sounds better than ever.

“Armchair Theater” is Lynne’s debut solo work (1990). Musically, it’s all over the map. The liner notes are by Eric Idle. The band includes George Harrison and saxman Jim Horn. Some tracks are all Lynne on drums, guitar, bass, keyboard and vocals. Consider this one a musical variety show.

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