One of the greatest things about being a music journalist (and a great reason to stay in school, kids) is that you sometimes get to hear new albums long before their release date. And sometimes, just sometimes, you hear something so special, so magical, that it kills you to keep it bottled up inside. That happened this week with an advance preview of Mr. Blue Sky - The Very Best of Electric Light Orchestra.
This is no mere greatest hits album: mastermind Jeff Lynne has gone into the studio and re-recorded a stack of classic ELO tracks. And while re-recordings are rarely anything to write home about, this one is pure magic. As my better half (and a longtime ELO fan) put it when she heard it blaring in the living room: "It's like its been filtered through crystal."
Lynne has captured the sounds and spirit of the original recordings, but everything sounds bigger, fuller, clearer, more symphonic … just more. And in true Jeff Lynne style, he plays everything. Lead vocals, background vocals, lead guitar, rhythm guitar, piano, bass, drums, keyboards, vocoder, cowbell. All Lynne.
Just look at this track list: "Mr. Blue Sky," "Evil Woman," "Strange Magic," "Don’t Bring Me Down," "Turn to Stone," "Showdown," "Telephone Line," "Livin’ Thing," "Do Ya," "Can’t Get It Out of My Head," "10538 Overture (40th Anniversary Edition)," "Point of No Return (Bonus)."
Mr. Blue Sky - The Very Best of Electric Light Orchestra is released on October 5 in Europe, October 8 in the UK and October 9 in the USA. Lynne is simultaneously releasing Long Wave, an album which pays tribute to some of the songs he first fell in love with as a kid. And again, he plays everything. Because he's just that cool.