Electric Light Orchestra - Secret Messages as originally intended

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by peterpyser, Feb 24, 2015.

  1. simon1966

    simon1966 Senior Member

  2. I don’t know, it’s not a very good song and would bring down the quality. Here’s hoping this doesn’t share the digital download mastering which had some distortion on a couple of tracks.
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2019
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  3. plugmeintosomething

    plugmeintosomething Forum Resident

    Seems you don't care for the new tunes and that's your right. I'm just having a hard time believing people are comparing Jeff Lynne to Mike Love. One is one of the most talented songwriters/producers ever, the other not so much.
  4. Chazzbo13

    Chazzbo13 Forum Resident

    Johnstown, PA
    Honestly, I've posted a number of times about this, but perhaps not been as clear as I thought I was.

    The comparison to Mike Love, IMO, is more about the notion of taking a series of established elements/gimmicks (descending chord lines, acres of strumming acoustic guitars, a "naughty" chord transition, the word "blue", etc) and regurgitating them all, time and time again, in an attempt to produce new music/product. I've been accused (multiple times) of wanting to "stay in 1977", when nothing could be further from the truth. I consider Jeff to be an enormous talent, and a skilled producer (though I'm beginning to believe that part of it less and less), and consider most of the work he's done post-2012 to be flat, dull and uninspiring; hence the Love comparisons.

    Armchair Theatre, again IMO, was creatively expansive, and sounded stunningly vibrant. Yes, some of those familiar elements were there, but it wasn't solely driven by them, ultimately rendering a truly great album, perhaps Jeff's last great work. With both AITU and the two tracks I've heard so far from the new album, I feel like Jeff is trying to write ELO songs, instead of writing great music, much the way Love wants to keep making hot rod and girl-in-bikini music. It's become very limiting and has descended into self-parody. With regards to his production, it all sounds like mid-EQ mush...and please don't suggest my hearing or my equipment aren't up to snuff, that's just moronic. There are way too many other artists and bands creating vibrant sounding music with crystal clear highs, resonant low end, and prominent vocals for this to simply be good creative choices.

    I urge you to listen to tracks like Tightrope, or New World Rising, or even Now You're Gone...then listen to these new tracks and tell me honestly you think they're just as good, just as well-produced. Clearly, they're not. The frustration for me is having to decide if this is the best he's capable of now (which is truly insulting to Jeff, and I have a hard time grasping), or if he's just content to coast on his past and make piles of money on the oldies tour circuit. We each have our choices to make.
  5. TrekkiELO

    TrekkiELO Forum Resident

    Indeed, plus with Armchair Theatre, then also Zoom, there were more than a couple of musicians who either contributed or were guests on multiple tracks! :cool:
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2019
  6. Chazzbo13

    Chazzbo13 Forum Resident

    Johnstown, PA
    I'll leave that up to others to decide if "band" members or other musos make or break his end results...ultimately, Jeff is responsible for the final product (his choice), and that's really the only thing that we can judge...
  7. plugmeintosomething

    plugmeintosomething Forum Resident

    Tightrope might be my favorite ELO song, so no, these new songs don't touch that mark. But they don't have to for me to enjoy them. To me a song either stands or falls on it's own. And these stand for me. Are these great songs? Probably not, but are people really expecting Jeff Lynne in 2019 to be as good as he was in 1976?

    Also, I love Jeff's signature elements/gimmicks, so hearing it is like welcoming an old friend. So these new songs are my new friends:)
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  8. TrekkiELO

    TrekkiELO Forum Resident

    Well, that being said, I do like Alone in the Universe much more than From Out of Nowhere!

    Chazzbo13 likes this.
  9. lawrev

    lawrev Forum Resident

    For me, the mark of an excellent album is whether it is played after the first month of purchase (when the newness has worn off).
  10. Gordon Lynne

    Gordon Lynne Forum Resident

    United Kingdom
    I like a lot of Jeff's material on From Out of Nowhere and will post my thoughts soon. However, I have to disagree with most fans regarding the new single.

    Time Of Our Life, while awash with gorgeous harmonies and an upbeat chugging quality, ultimately doesn't work for me. Unlike the recent reviews, I don't see it as a love letter to ELO fans; to me, it's a love letter to just 60,000 fans who were privileged to attend the Wembley gig, and no one else. This means that it could never be performed in a live setting without seeming a little odd. Imagine going to a tour date on the From Out Of Nowhere 2020 tour, having paid a small fortune, only for Jeff to sing about a previous gig that was far superior in his eyes ("This could be the best night I've ever seen"). Strange choice of subject material...

    As for One More Time, this works much better as a reflection of JL's increased activity in recent years and a signalling for all fans, Wembley or not, to be part of the journey ("Everyone come along with me...").
    Paul Getsey likes this.
  11. Pelo

    Pelo Forum Resident

    Well, the album hasn't even been released!

    Zoom, for example, was a real grower for me. I liked it when it came out, but funnily enough, like some of you now, I missed the old ELO sound, even more so because I had listened a lot to the "new" songs on the Flashback boxset before - which were much more in the style of the ELO of old. So it took me about a year to really appreciate ELO's comeback album. I think it is something you call EXPECTATION OF CONSONANCE in English. Zoom was quite a departure from Eighties ELO, whereas I had hoped for a return to the classic bombastic or electronic sound at first.
  12. lawrev

    lawrev Forum Resident

    Speaking of past ELO concert dates, for years I heard that a December 1981 gig at the Birmingham NEC was very meaningful to Jeff because the weather was quite poor, it was a sold out show, and his Mother was attendance. I don't know the exact date as I also know that ELO played several nights at the NEC.

    In the years since, though, I've never heard Jeff talk about that particular night. Has anyone else?
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2019
  13. Pelo

    Pelo Forum Resident

    I agree that AT was an attempt to bring in more musicians and people, but Zoom showed basically the same one-man-band approach as FOON or AITU, with a couple more guests, maybe.
  14. lawrev

    lawrev Forum Resident

    I thought Zoom was a good album and was excited about the upcoming concert tour. But the cancellation of the tour took away most of my excitement - in fact, the entire tour was cancelled a day or two before tickets for the Chicago show went on sale. A shame. I had hoped that the tour could have stayed on, but in smaller venues. As we now know, Craig Fruin never told Jeff (and Jeff didn't ask) how much money was lost on that tour.
  15. TrekkiELO

    TrekkiELO Forum Resident

    I wouldn't call these ten musicians on Zoom only "with a couple more guests, maybe" than From Out of Nowhere and Alone in the Universe combined! :cool:

    Richard Tandy – Keyboards ("Alright")
    George Harrison – Slide guitar ("A Long Time Gone" and "All She Wanted")
    Ringo Starr – Drums ("Moment in Paradise" and "Easy Money")
    Marc Mann – Rhythm Guitar ("Moment in Paradise"), String arrangements ("In My Own Time" and "Melting in the Sun")
    Suzie Katayama – Cello ("Just for Love", "Stranger on a Quiet Street" and "All She Wanted")
    Roger Lebow – Cello ("Lonesome Lullaby")
    Dave Boruff – Saxophone ("A Long Time Gone")
    Laura Lynne – Backing Vocals ("All She Wanted")
    Rosie Vela – Backing Vocals ("Alright", "All She Wanted"), Spoken Parts and Tap dancing ("In My Own Time")
    Kris Wilkinson – String arrangements ("Ordinary Dream")
  16. Pelo

    Pelo Forum Resident

    Claiming that Jeff's latest works are "clearly ... not as good" and not "as well produced" as his classic tracks sounds a bit arrogant to me, for this statement implies that you believe that all these fans that consider Alone In The Universe one of Jeff's finest albums must be pretty stupid. Maybe, you just don't get it as we get it?

    When criticising this album, people often say that they feel there should be more strings or sound effects or that there are only soft 3 minute pop songs instead of the more adventurous stuff of the old days.

    What those people seem to forget is that from the beginning this album wasn't supposed to be a loud one. It's a very personal record focusing on the themes of introspection and melancholy. I love Jeff's bombastic, gimmicky stuff but seriously this wouldn't have been the right approach for a song like When I Was A Boy - especially for someone like Jeff who wants to come across as a humble person. He is British, a master of understatement after all!

    To me, the album sounds a little bit like Jeff revisiting the various phases of his (musical) past and I would even argue that it is more reminiscent of classic ELO (Eighties ELO) than Zoom, but the concept obviously was "ELO minus the excesses", as someone put it.
    Darren Richardson likes this.
  17. Pelo

    Pelo Forum Resident

    Lynne played about ninety percent of the music. He had been working on the album for years. For example, the session with Richard Tandy lasted about one hour.
  18. TrekkiELO

    TrekkiELO Forum Resident

    Yeah, because Richard Tandy was added at the very last minute, Zoom's promo copy from April 2001 didn't even have him on "Alright" yet!
  19. TrekkiELO

    TrekkiELO Forum Resident

    Well, I've already heard From Out of Nowhere through various channels from my own sources, Zoom grew on me right away in April 2001! :cool:
  20. Pelo

    Pelo Forum Resident

    I know that the album has leaked.
    Personally I have only listened to the title track so far. To my ears it's quite different from the AITU sound, and more up-tempo and powerful. Don't know about the other songs but I really enjoy reading all those descriptions and first impressions.
  21. Chazzbo13

    Chazzbo13 Forum Resident

    Johnstown, PA
    Oh...I don't "get" it...okay, we'll go with that...
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  22. GeorgK

    GeorgK Well-Known Member

    As I wrote earlier, it's not the EQing, but the arrangement. Arranging a song is a craft, and the task is best left to people with proper musical education and a good background in music theory. Unfortunatly, Jeff lacks both, and he is also quite ignorant in that respect. Even the best need help. and George Martin did a little bit more in the studio than just starting the tape and operating the mixer for the Fab4.

    From 1971 to 1983, practically ANY ELO song hat a distinct sound signature, an acoustic fingerprint. The opening synth riff in "Twilight", the pizzicato strings in "Living Thing" - the songs would not be the same without. Since 25 years, almost EVERY Lynne production sounds the same. The last original and surprising production job he did was Julianna Raye's "I'll get you back". His deadlocked approach to production makes "Status Quo" sound like a creative powerhouse. Plus: his actual production style is not only repetitive, much worse: it's bad. His run-of-the-mill productions in the late 80's were at least not bad sounding.

    I do not expect everyone to hear the same things in a record. "ELO fans" are a very heterogenous group. If someone is perfectly happy if he can recognize Jeff's voice and some "JL/ELO schticks" in a nice tune, than this is fine with me. But I think that records like AITU, FOON, maybe even "Zoom" would not gain much interest without the ELO connection and the loyality of old fans. People are free to prefer a hamburger anytime over a eight-course menu in a top-class resturant, but if someone thinks that both represent the same level of sophistication in cuisine, I might disagree.

    The (missing) strings are not the problem. The use of strings (and brass etc.) in pop music was neccessary to expand the acoustic scope before synthesizers became evolved enough (around 1980). I do not miss a string section in tracks like "Secret Messages" or "Looser Gone Wild" - these are perfectly ELO-ish songs. Naturally, a well-recorded background orchestra is still unbeatable in some circumstances, but not essential. But I do not expect Jeff to ever use a string section is the studio, and that's the least problem.
  23. Pelo

    Pelo Forum Resident

    First of all, his production jobs should be considered separately. It's a different story. Bryan Adams for example wanted Jeff to use his typical late Eighties production sound because he's a big fan of it. But saying that every Lynne production sounds the same is a drastic simplification. Tom Petty's third Lynne produced album Highway Companion is totally different from Into The Great Wide Open. Then listen to Regina Spektor, Blue or Genius Next Door. Same sound? Not really. Another very surprising production: Fall Down At Your Feet for Take That. And don't forget the Joe Walsh stuff, the funky Spanish dancer or Fishbone.

    To stay in the picture, listening to AITU is not like eating a hamburger at all. In my opinion it's a very sophisticated record, just a slightly different approach.

    Did you know that Regina Spektor approached Jeff Lynne because she was so impressed by the work he did for Tom Petty on Highway Companion. She didn't even know who Jeff Lynne was at the time.
  24. Dave1965

    Dave1965 Well-Known Member

    It was Dec 12 1981 as this was my 16th Birthday. Two nights later we were back for the extra show
  25. balzac

    balzac Forum Resident

    Regarding Jeff and any Brian Wilson/Beach Boys influence, I think it’s quite reasonable to be surprised Jeff was a huge fan to the point of allegedly haranguing folks to make him “Smile” dubs. Certainly, as someone who is into 60s era music and production style/technique, it’s not surprising Jeff would have some interest in Brian Wilson’s work.

    But there is *very little* in the way of *overt* Brian/Beach Boys influences showing in Jeff’s work over the years. Even the examples often cited of “Across the Border” and “The Way Life’s Meant To Be” are cases where the actual full songs/recordings aren’t particularly evocative of the Beach Boys or “Heroes and Villains.” Rather, those songs (probably inadvertently) crib part of the very limited-range lead melody of “Heroes and Villains”, which is a slightly descending lead melody that could easily show up in a lot of other songs.

    One could certainly find more subtle potential BB influences on Jeff’s work. Certainly, his love of layered vocals, while not sounding like the Beach Boys or Brian, is something shared with all of those lush Brian/BB tracks.

    His production techniques at various stages have rarely mirrored much of the Beach Boys. I suppose some of the ornate, slightly psychedelic pop sounds of early Idle Race era stuff could be vaguely tied to Smile/Smiley Smile.

    But I look at Jeff being influenced by Brian and the Beach Boys in a broad creative sense. He certainly invoked a very different type of influence when it came to the Beatles, which is a much more direct stamp on Jeff’s music.
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