Electric Light Orchestra frontman Jeff Lynne releases not one but two brand new albums Tuesday. Long Wave features versions of 12 songs that inspired and influenced the multi-talented musician when he was growing up, while Mr. Blue Sky: The Very Best of Electric Light Orchestra includes updated renditions of many classic tunes by his old group.
In recently interview with The Montreal Gazette, Lynne discussed the concept behind Long Wave, which offers his take on standards such as "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered," "Love Is a Many Splendored Many Thing" and "Smile," as well as early rock-era tunes his late Traveling Wilburys band mate Roy Orbison's "Running Scared," Chuck Berry's "Let It Rock" and The Everly Brothers' "So Sad."
"The old arrangements of them were busy and grand," he notes. "[The chords] were obscured by the arrangements. I wanted to get them really simplified down, so I just studied them."
Lynne admits that in order "to really get hold of" the tunes featured on Long Wave, he listened to each original version "100 times" before recording his renditions.
As for "Running Scared," he tells The Gazette that his friendship with Orbison, who died from a heart attack at age 52 in 1988, was in his thoughts as he worked on the song.
"I got to know him really well, and what a sweet guy he was," says Lynne. "He was a lovely man."
Mr. Blue Sky, meanwhile, is the first studio album Lynne has issued under the Electric Light Orchestra moniker since 2001's Zoom.
Fans wondering why Jeff felt the need to rerecord some of the band's best-known and best-loved songs, he tells The Gazette, "When I used to listen to them on the radio or play a record of my old ELO stuff, they never really sounded like I wanted them to sound."
Adds Lynne, "They tended to sound, to me, a little bit woolly and not too focused in some ways."
He says that his experience as a producer, along with technological advances, have allowed him to create better-quality versions of those ELO classics.
"I was able to make things cleaner and clearer and get a better sound on guitar and piano," Lynne notes.
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