Heading for a showdown....
A fair few artists have recently decided to issue re-recordings/new interpretations of some of their well-known songs. Here it is the turn of Jeff Lynne and his Electric Light Orchestra material. Of course, as with all these projects, it hasn’t gone down well. Nobody seems to be happy with the new versions, except for Lynne himself, who has said that he is delighted with them and that they are now as he intended them to be. He claimed never to have been happy with the originals and he feels he has now out things right. He wrote the songs after all, so fair enough.
I have to say that in many ways I agree with him. The sound on the originals was always very tinny and over-trebly, for me. It is only the fact that I am so familiar with every note and nuance of the originals that I have a bit of a problem accepting the new versions. Taken in isolation and viewed objectively, they are much better. They have a full, warm bass on them and that is the main difference. As a bass lover that is fine by me.
Where there is a bit of problem is that it is not clear on the cover that this is an album of new interpretations. It is titled as “The Very Best Of The Electric Light Orchestra”. Mind you, I wonder whether many of the “greatest hits” type of customers who bought this will have noticed the difference. Possibly not. I’m sure it can still be sung along to in the car.
1. Mr Blue Sky
2. Evil Woman
3. Strange Magic
4. Don’t Bring Me Down
5. Turn To Stone
7. Telephone Line
8. Livin’ Thing
9. Do Ya
10. Can’t Get It Out Of My Head
11. 10538 Overture
12. Point Of No Return (previously unreleased)
Mr Blue Sky is shorter, without the extended fade out and is far more bassy and thumping in a contemporary style. The original was always quite tinny, so this is not a bad makeover. It has a great new rumbling bass sound on it, which I love. Dare I say it, yes, I prefer this one. The white funk of Evil Woman is highlighted as again is the bass on a muscular rendition. The clavinet riff is warm and deep and the string parts far less tinny. The sonorous Beatles-esque sound is much enhanced in the haunting Strange Magic. Don’t Bring Me Down rocks with a huge thump. I love the instrumental bit near the end.
Turn To Stone, while not sounding too different in places, has a great new rubbery bass line behind the chorus. Funnily enough, though, Showdown has lost some its funkiness in that the clavinet doesn’t feature nearly as much. This is one where I definitely prefer the original. Telephone Line is still a bit muffled on the verses but it has more depth to the overall sound. In many ways, though, it is not too different other than there is a clearer percussion sound.
Livin’ Thing is much improved as far as I am concerned. It always suffered from tinniness and now it is much warmer and consequently more attractive. The rocking, riffy Do Ya, perversely, is a bit of a mess and considerably inferior to its original, which was always solidly powerful. The glorious Can’t Get It Out Of My Head is hugely robust now, making it even better. It was always one of my favourites. 10538 Overture now has a massive new oomph lacking from the Roy Wood-influenced original. The previously unreleased track, Point Of No Return has a vague feel of Chris Rea about its verse structure. It is a catchy enough number.
Contrary to most people, I like these versions a lot. That doesn’t mean I don’t still listen to the originals as well.