I always liked a bit of ELO. Jeff Lynne`s often melancholy songs appeal to me. One of their albums, the fantastic concept album “Time” is one of my 10 favourite albums of all time. So, naturally, I give you this article from those golden days of the 70s.
All`s well that ends up sliding down a wall
Resident wino Rob Mackie reports
I had seen Jeff Lynne the night before or possibly not. I recall going to the bar and asking for a glass of wine. “Ah, you`ll have to go to the wine bar for that, Sir”, he shrieked above the din that Heinz and assorted musicians were making onstage.
I strode manfully to the wine bar. “`Fraid we haven`t got any glasses, Sir”, he shouted above John Baldry`s stage vocalising (strange, I could have sworn it was Heinz). “I haven`t got a glass”, I re-shouted. “You`d better take this bottle, then”.
It was some time later that I looked up from me bottle and realised that it must have had hallucinatory substances in it. Because there, on the stage, was the Move. No really, I know they broke up years ago. But there they were, resurrected in their final pre-incarceration incarnation, playing… well I can`t quite remember what but it sounded fine, fine.
I took the remaining half of my wine bottle to safer climes, and went to get some food (they confiscated the bottle but that`s another story). It was no good, though. I kept waking up in a cold sweat expecting to see Brummy ghosts pounding out “Blackberry Way” at the bottom of my bed and putting axes through my TV set. Was this the beginning of my final disintegration? Would my future nights be punctuated with small, dead pop groups climbing out of the wallpaper to be interviewed?
Pacing up and down amid endless cups of coffee, I decided there was only one thing for it. The only way out was to confront in the sober light of day a genuine quarter of the Move, and get him to confirm or deny the meaning of this strange vision.
I wrote the four names out on four pieces of paper and threw them to the winds. The one with `Jeff Lynne` on it fell to earth on my left toe. That settled it. Bright and early the next day, I took my left toe off to see Jeff Lynne.
Well, I`m still not sure. Jeff couldn`t tell whether he`d been having a strange hallucination as well, or whether it had all happened. He muttered something about playing “some rock`n`roll and “Sliding Down A Wall”. The Old Elmore James classic popularised by John Mayall? I asked, not having heard of it.
“Well, no. I started playing this number and I was leaning up against this wall, and I found I was gradually sliding down it.” “It, er, it sounded very good to me, although I wasn`t in a very fit state to judge…” “You were in the right state to be there then, because nobody was in a fit state to play. Great party.”
I think I`m OK, I think it really happened, at any rate, the Wood-Lynne base, upon which the original ELO was erected, is definitely set to get together for a one-off single. “We never did co-write before, but we got together the other evening and got drunk and ended up writing a bit. At least it`ll put a stop to all these silly press stories about a feud between us.”
But there was a fairly long period when the mere mention of the name of R. Wood or J. Lynne in an interview with the other would bring forth `no comments` worthy of someone about to run for President, was there not? “Yeh, I s`pose it did get a bit silly at the time but we`re better pals now than ever.” But the Brummies have come over all chummy again, and all`s well that ends up sliding down a wall.
A 100-piece ELO sounds like a winos gutter-dream too, but I`m assured that it`s happening. “It`s quite a big venture for me”, says Jeff with characteristic undersell. “Lot of blokes, but I`ve been working up to this for a long time, it`s like a whole symphony. I`ve been dying to do it for such a long time, it`s just the drag of having to write all the parts out.”
But help was at hand from the Birmingham grapevine: “I got somebody in to do it. Lou Clark who used to be with Raymond Froggatt years ago, he was his bass player, went to college and all that. It`s worked out really well, I`m pretty thrilled about it, because this is the sort of thing I always wanted for the ELO. I`ve got that depth and weight that we could never get with just two cellos and a violin.”
The new improved vaster ELO, album variety, is not going to be possible for all the live gigs, of course. But, having seen ELO on stage a few times in the past, I don`t doubt they`ll manage to make the band sound a lot bigger than it is.
The groups plans for the next few months required some regional clarification: first there`s a six-week tour of the States coming up in a couple of months, which will coincide with the new album`s release there.
But in Britain, the plan is to tour early next year, and not release the album until then, with a single coming off it as a preview to plug the gap. There`s no decision as to what the single will be yet, but you have Mr. Lynne`s word for it that “there`s no cheap, nasty rock stuff at all”, so it will be heavily orchestrated.
“Actually”, he confides, “I`d rather not put singles out at all, but in England, you have to. The record company says so.” As ELO`s four singles thus far have all been quite sizeable hits, without having startlingly huge publicity beforehand, the record company would appear to be well vindicated.
For Europe, there`s a different plan again, with a live album set to come out (not for Britain and the States) and a single of “Day Tripper” to be taken from it. Which could cause a lot of confusion and record importing between various continents, I would have thought. Still we`ll have to see.
Well, it`s a bit confusing to say the least, but as long as Jeff manages to remember what`s going on where… chances are pretty good that the next album might be the band`s first gold album: the sales have been building steadily, and the last, “On The Third Day” reaped the tour benefits, with 220,000 sales in the States, and 30,000 here.
How long did he take preparing this somewhat mammoth task? “I did it more or less in a week when I was at home, working more or less day and night. Drove me wife mad. The result of which is enough material to fill the album three times over, and a choice to three different themes, which is going to be the next problem.
But if all this sounds as if the Electric Fellows are becoming extremely serious and forsaking the silly symphony stage act of yore, it sounds wrong. “You`ve got to have the silliness on stage to balance things out with”, says Jeff emphatically.
At times, things get even sillier than he intends. “Mike Edwards got into a way of playing his cello on this bloke`s shoulders, and one day, he just sort of toppled off and landed straight on top of his cello – crack. It was right in the middle of a number, and every one just fell about laughing, because there he was with just this pile of rubble left in his hands.
“That`s the only time we actually smashed anything, but the trouble is, he`s also a phantom lead-puller. He stamps on everybody`s lead, and of course, the plug goes `Zoonk`, and shoots off somewhere behind the drums. You get something like that.
“He`s really good, and it makes it a laugh, but there was one night, he came round and pulled everybody`s lead out one by one. We were playing at the time. I think he must have been drunk or something, but he pulled all of them out, and we got backstage at the end, we said `What did you do that for?` He said `Oh, well, I fancied hearing a drum solo from Bev`.”
My, these irresponsible pop stars. What will they get up to next? Well, probably, they`ll have to go and put some vocals on. Jeff`s still got a whole collection of vocals to add to the painstakingly laid down huge orchestra, which he refers to disparagingly as `my crap vocals`. The eclectic plight of a giant mutated orchestra!
I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!
This number of Sounds also contains articles/interviews with these people: Tim Hardin, Joan Baez, Mike Garson, Mike Oldfield, Russ Ballard, Pink Floyd, Herbie Hancock, Queen, Wendy Waldman, Alan Stivell, Contraband.
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