Saturday, 31 December 2011

Yours Truly 2011: A Year in Review

 #288: Hello ... Hello ... my old friends ... It's great to see you once again! This is the third time in which I have attempted to write up my exploits with ELO Beatles Forever (ELOBF) in 2011. I simply didn't realise the amount of output this year. This is the 115th ELOBF blog of the year and first of all I would like to thank each and every visitor for taking the time to check out my writings and musings. 2011 was a year of many varied activities including interviews, reviews, introductions, recommendations and (of course) gigs! Hence I've decided that the best way to cover the year is to simply list some of the highlights.

Mark Stanway (Magnum) ~ The BeatBack Brothers ~ Rick Price (The Move/Wizzard) ~ Bob Lawton (The Rockin' Berries) ~ Andy Louis (The ELO Experience) ~ Mel Gale (ELO) ~ The Electric Live Orchestra ~ Sean Mack Page (Imaginos/Fragile X) ~ Michael Laine Hildebrandt (Bubble Gum Orchestra) ~ WelshMansHill (Phil Hatton/Steve Turner/Phil Ridden)

"Live In London 1976" (ELO) ~ "The View From Here" (Fay & Latta) ~ "Another Good Reason" (Groucutt & Haynes) ~ "EarthRise" (Morgan Tandy) ~ "Out Of This World" (Bubble Gum Orchestra) ~ "Tape Recorders Changed Everything" (Cult of Wedge) ~ "The Olympus Sound" (Pugwash) ~ "The Classic Albums Collection" (ELO) ~ "Music Book" (Roy Wood) ~ "Welcome To Soonville"/"The Neglected Gambit" (Maxi Dunn)

"LovePower and Peace" ~ Band On The Runn ~ "It's Only Rock 'n' Roll" ~ Debra Dee's Exhibition of Roy Wood Art ~ David & Mandy Scott-Morgan ~ "The Move: Live At The Fillmore 1969" ~ "Hooked On Classics - Live" (Louis Clark) ~ WelshMansHill ~ Bubble Gum Orchestra ~ Band On The Runn

Caught Live
Electric Live Orchestra ~ Beatles Blues and Blue Violin ~ Bev Bevan's "Walk of Stars" ~ The ELO Experience ~ Band On The Runn ~ The Trevor Burton Band ~ Paul Parker & All The Right Friends ~ "It's Only Rock 'n' Roll" ~ Roy Wood ~ Phil Bates & Tina McBain ~ The Lemuns

Many thanx go to my concert cohort Chris 'Joyride' Evans. I've so enjoyed meeting up with such great folks as Andy Wood, Paul Richardson, Geoff Cook, Martin Kinch, Jeff Cooper, Ken Latta, Phil Hatton, Steve Turner, Phil Ridden, Graham Struggles and Bernie Toner!

So as you can see; it has been a great year and 2012 looks like being busy too. More interviews; more Reviews; more Introductions and even more gigs! Once again I truly thank you for your support and wish you a Happy, Peaceful and Prosperous if not ELOtastic New Year!

Until next "Time" in the ELO (and related) Universe ... KJS ... 31-Dec-2011

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Recommended: Hooked On Classics - Live (Louis Clark)

#287: Hello ... Hello ... my old friends ... It's great to see you once again! When Louis Clark isn't pulling the strings (literally!) in The Orchestra (former members of ELO and ELO Part II), he is out and about either conducting other orchestras or he is involved with Hooked On Classics - the musical phenomenon he created some three decades ago which has sold over 13 million copies worldwide and has now returned to the live format.

In fact, Yours Truly KJS is reliably informed that the concert at the BIC in Bournemouth on Thursday 22nd December was sold out and very well received by press, public and critics alike with a set list that included "Hey Jude" and Louis' fantastic string arrangements on the classic ELO track "Eldorado Overture". You'll therefore be pleased to hear that a new four date Spring 2012 tour has been announced between Friday 25th and Monday 28th May next year wherein Sir Lou Clark will again conduct the English Pops Orchestra and take us through those classical classics via Hooked On Classics - LIVE in his own unique style. You can visit the Hooked On Classics web site or view the official advert by clicking on these links thus:

ELO Beatles Forever (ELOBF) recommends Louis Clark and Hooked On Classics - LIVE to those enlightened folks who enjoy the music of ELO/Jeff Lynne, Roy Wood, The Move, 'Brum Beat', The Beatles and related artistes.

Until next "Time" in the ELO (and related) Universe ... KJS ... 25-Dec-2011

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Caught Live: The Lemuns @ The Royal Oak 23/12/11

#286: Hello ... Hello ... my old friends ... It's great to see you once again! It was great to sneak in another gig just before Christmas yesterday (Friday 23rd December) just down the proverbial road at The Royal Oak when local rock and blues trio The Lemuns played out an impressive set of covers in a packed festive house. Featuring familiar fruity friend Ian Hammond from fellow ELOBF recommended artiste Band On the Runn, bassist Gary Knight and guest BOTR drummist Dave Cottle on drums, this writer was most impressed with their live renditions of classics including "Whiskey In The Jar", "Sultans Of Swing", "Get It On" and "Sweet Home Alabama" and not a few others. Yours Truly KJS wanted to give these talented local musicians a mention whilst adding them to our growing roster of recommended local bands! So if The Lemuns are playing near you ... go see 'em! You can find out more about them via this link thus:

ELO Beatles Forever (ELOBF) recommend The Lemuns to those enlightened folks who enjoy the music of ELO/Jeff LynneRoy WoodThe Move'Brum Beat'The Beatles and related artistes.

Until next "Time" in the ELO (and related) Universe ... KJS ... 24-Dec-2011

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Recommended: The Move: Live At The Fillmore 1969

#285: Hello ... Hello ... my old friends ... It's great to see you once again! Here is news of an exciting new release for fans of the predecessors of ELO: The Move. Although only just released as a MP3 download this week on Monday 19th December, the whole of their legendary set at The Fillmore West, San Francisco in October 1969 appears to now be set for release in 2CD format next year on Monday 5th March according to (three weeks later than the originally stated date of Monday 13th February).

"The Move: Live At The Fillmore 1969" (#RIGHT116) is being released by  with the full backing of Sue Wayne, widow of the late, great Carl Wayne. The 2CD edition has significantly greater content than the download edition including a 10:30 long version of "I Can Hear The Grass Grow" as well as a near 11 minute recollection of that US tour by Bev Bevan. Here is the text of the official press release from thus:

"The Move were one of the 60’s most controversial and legendary groups and one of the most contradictory. A string of memorable hit singles, all written by pop genius Roy Wood, were set against a musically thrilling and often brutal live act, centred around lead singer Carl Wayne. The band achieved major recording success with UK and European hits including: "Blackberry Way"; "Fire Brigade"; "Curly"; "Night Of Fear"; "I Can Hear The Grass Grow" and "Flowers In The Rain" - the first ever record played on BBC Radio 1 ... Thought lost for over 30 years, the master tapes from The Move’s shows at the Fillmore West were saved by Carl Wayne but suffered technical problems and could not be released. Thanks to advances in studio technology, Carl began restoring the tapes in 2003. Sadly Carl died in 2004 and was never able to complete the live album he believed would show how incredible The Move was as a live band. Now, with the full co-operation and permission of his wife - Sue Wayne - the tapes have been painstakingly restored, remastered and released in memory of The Move’s dynamic front man and lead singer."

And here is some really great news ... all pre-orders for the 2CD are being despatched (prior to the above 'official' release date) from Wednesday 1st February onwards (Ed: this date has obviously also slipped too!). The basic set is attractively priced at just £10.99 each and you can also have the release signed by The Move co-founder Bev Bevan (also supplied with a Collectors Edition Move postcard) at just £15 each. A special edition T-Shirt (normally priced at £25) is also on offer with the 2CD (if ordered together) for just £20. Fans of The Move should enter promotional code: Move1969 at the checkout stage for free worldwide postage. You can pre-order this excellent release directly here:

ELO Beatles Forever (ELOBF) recommends "Live At The Fillmore 1969" by The Move to those enlightened folks who enjoy the music of ELO/Jeff LynneBev BevanRoy WoodWizzard'Brum Beat'The Beatles and related artistes.

Until next "Time" in the ELO (and related) Universe ... KJS ... 21-Dec-2011

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Review: Welcome To Soonville/The Neglected Gambit (Maxi Dunn)

#284: Hello ... Hello ... my old friends ... It's great to see you once again! Regular visitors to ELO Beatles Forever (ELOBF) will (hopefully) remember my post on 9th November entitled Review: Tape Recorders Changed Everything where Yours Truly KJS took a look at the new album by Cult of Wedge (a.k.a. Pete Hackett), who is a local performer, songwriter and producer heavily influenced by Jeff Lynne and (naturally) by extension ELO - especially if you have a listen to his new seasonal release "Christmas On The Moon". One of the artistes that Pete Hackett produces is a superb singer songstress from Prescott near Liverpool whose name is Maxine 'Maxi' Dunn. Her first CD self-release in 2009 was the 14 track "Welcome To Soonville" which was followed in 2011 by 12 track offering "The Neglected Gambit".

"Welcome To Soonville" is a collection of songs from Maxi that is part-produced by Pete Hackett (nine songs) and it ably demonstrates the full remit of Maxi Dunn's crystal clear voice and impressive song construction. Tracks such as the strong opener: "How Was I To Know" and sure fire foot tapper: "Always Be My Friend" are held in tension by the title track and a fine collection of songs of differing styles with the same theme of introspective regret and tentative forward steps.

"The Neglected Gambit" is a progression from "Welcome To Soonville" which displays the same smouldering back glance, lyrically, of romantic angst but is a little more jolly and positive of yet future days. It is this second CD where the partnership between Maxine and Pete comes into its own. The 'big sound' of Hackett's ELO influenced production values and from the rock fuelled title track to musical gems such as "Why Do I Want You?", "Make It Better", "You Took The Sunshine From My Heart", "Weather Warning" and "Winter Ghost". On this CD you can hear flamenco in one song, blues on the next and then a Beatlesque ditty after that! The layered backing vocals, for me, give away the influences of the producer - and beautifully support the song construction.

Folks that know me know that besides ELO, I'm a huge fan of ABC and Martin Fry too. Some of the bittersweet lovelorn angst of the songs on this duo of Maxi Dunn albums really take me back to the heady days of "The Lexicon Of Love" in 1982 with their tales of heart wrenching broken promises. It's a tremendous piece of work in the opinion of this particular writer and listener.

The CD versions of "Welcome To Soonville" and "The Neglected Gamble" are available direct from the official Maxi Dunn website (see below). You can also download some or all of her albums from or thus:

ELO Beatles Forever (ELOBF) recommends independent artistes Maxi Dunn and Cult of Wedge to those enlightened folks who enjoy the music of ELO/Jeff LynneRoy WoodThe MoveThe Idle Race'Brum Beat'The Beatles and related artistes.

Until next "Time" in the ELO (and related) Universe ... KJS ... 18-Dec-2011

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Caught Live: Phil Bates & Tina McBain @ Middleton Hall 10/12/11

#283: Hello ... Hello ... my old friends ... It's great to see you once again! In many respects, Yours Truly KJS had many thoughts as I travelled over to Middleton Hall near Tamworth with ELO gig buddy Christian Evans last night (Saturday 10th December) to attend and witness the much anticipated Phil Bates & Tina McBain Christmas Show. I sensed that this seasonal gig signalled a kind of musical crossroads for Phil Bates, Tina McBain and the loyal fans there in attendance and so it was.

Not only was it confirmed by the former Trickster front man that his time with The Orchestra (former members of ELO & ELO Part II) was over for a second and final time, we were also further enlightened as to the formation of Phil's new project The Abbey Road Experience [with co-foundees Chris Brighton and Derek Holt] as he and Tina produced a show of immense musical variety and style which covered their past, present and yet future careers. We heard old favourites, new favourites and some nice surprises too. It was quite surreal to see Phil sat up there solo on stage for the first half of the show as he fiddled with his gadgets (as well as his plaster cast!) and treated us to some of his own compositions, some ELO and Beatles classics and even a Hollies cover. I couldn't help remembering that Carl Wayne was singing their material not so long ago. The second half of the show saw Tina link up with Phil for a great set of songs with the odd spot of humour. There were so many songs given special treatment during this concert. "Empty Rooms" was a new song Phil has written about a house where its children have flown from the nest. A superlative tribute to the late great Kelly Groucutt in "Midnight Blue" was also there to cherish again among the well over  twenty songs that were performed on the night. It was great to hear "Bus Stop" and even a nice rendition of "Time After Time" too. We also had the pleasure of hearing (amongst not a few others): "It Doesn't Get Any Better Than This", "While My Guitar Gently Weeps", "Can't Get It Out Of MyHead", "Rock 'n' Roll Is King", "If I Needed Someone" and "A Hard Days Night" during the evening. The gig ended with the strange sight of of one one half of the act leaving the stage to rapturous applause whilst the other half stayed put! But what an encore it was as we first listened to a great acoustic version of Roy Wood's iconic Move track "Blackberry Way" - with a glowing nod to both Roy and former band mate Bev Bevan by the former ELO Part II man. The real treat was revealed at the finale with a wonderful musical interpretation was of the John Lennon seasonal classic "Happy Christmas (War Is Over)". It rounded off a fantastic gig by these two supremely talented musicians of whom we should take the time to listen and support in the months and years to come.

ELO Beatles Forever (ELOBF) recommends both Phil Bates & Tina McBain to those enlightened folks who enjoy the music of ELO/Jeff LynneRoy WoodThe MoveThe Idle Race'Brum Beat'The Beatles and related artistes.

Until next "Time" in the ELO (and related) Universe ... KJS ... 11-Dec-2011

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Phil Bates Announces Abbey Road Experience Project

#282: Hello ... Hello ... my old friends ... It's great to see you once again! Here's some exciting news regarding former Trickster, ELO Part II and The Orchestra front man Phil Bates. Regular visitors to ELO Beatles Forever (ELOBF) will doubtless be aware of Phil's recent decision to continue with his German projects in 2012: ELO Klassik and The Music of ELO as well as (of course) The Beatles Blues and Blue Violin Project - but not as a member of The Orchestra (former members of ELO and ELO Part II) thus:

And here is that news. Phil Bates announced on Wednesday 7th December that he has a new project in the works with Chris Brighton for next year, named The Abbey Road Experience. The new band will cover live, note by note, the whole of The Beatles' final seminal 1969 album "Abbey Road" which (of course) includes classics such as "Come Together""Here Comes The Sun", "Something" and not a few others. Here is the text of Phil's announcement:

"I would like to tell you all about my new project - The Abbey Road Experience - which will seek to reproduce The Beatles Abbey Road album note for note, or as near as possible, on stage in a 'live' situation. Involved in this project are Chris Brighton and Steve James from Eagles tribute 'Desperado', and Derek Holt from Climax Blues Band. In fact, the whole thing was Chris' idea ... it came to him in a moment of madness, I think ... As yet we haven't decided on a keyboard player, but this will happen soon. Rehearsals are under way, and first gigs will be in March 2012. Our main focus will be October 2012 for a tour ... the March dates will be largely to assess whether we have an audience for this, and to make sure it all works musically. Look at my gig page for details! Suffice to say, I am very excited about this project. It is a BIG challenge, but one I am very excited about. I hope you will come and support us."

The new band will include two members of the superb Eagles tribute band Desperado in Chris Brighton and Steve James plus ex-Climax Blues Band founder Derek Holt. A keyboard player will be announced in the near future. The band are planning to commence gigging in March looking towards an October tour. To this writer, it's an exciting new band to look forward to seeing and hearing! Yours Truly KJS/ELOBF will (naturally) recommend and endorse The Abbey Road Experience.

Note also those ever increasing and strengthening links between The Beatles and ELO universes in that we have a new Beatles flavoured project that features current BBBV and ex-ELO Part II member Phil Bates in tandem with former CBB member Derek Holt - who was himself also a former band mate of ELO Part II co-founder Pete Haycock. Watch this space!

Until next "Time" in the ELO (and related) Universe ... KJS ... 10-Dec-2011

Thursday, 8 December 2011

New Developments in Mike Edwards Case #3

#281: Hello ... Hello ... my old friends ... It's great to see you once again! Yours Truly KJS received another telephone call this evening from my good friend and erstwhile ELOBF roving reporter down in South Devon - Pete Reynolds - informing me that there has been another interesting development in the sad story of the unlucky and tragic demise of former ELO cellist Mike Edwards last year:

The news is that farmer Brian Burden and agricultural contractor Russell Williams, have been given unconditional bail and the case has now been committed to Plymouth Crown Court on Monday 23rd January 2012. Both defendants have been charged with Health and Safety offences relating to operations on farmland at Halwell, near Totnes in September 2010. The case continues.

Until next "Time" in the ELO (and related) Universe ... KJS ... 08-Dec-2011

Monday, 5 December 2011

Caught Live (2): Band On The Runn @ The River Rooms 04/12/11

#280: Hello ... Hello ... my old friends ... It's great to see you once again! Yours Truly KJS travelled the ten miles or so to nearby Stourbridge last night (Sunday 4th December) in order to attend what was only my second ever Band On The Runn gig at the marvellous River Rooms venue. Band On The Runn are a relatively new West Midlands based act who perform a wide-ranging set covering most (if not all) of the musical career of Sir Paul McCartney and have been previously featured on ELO Beatles Forever (ELOBF) thus:

As mentioned before; it is a great pleasure of mine to be able to able to go out and about to hear, see and support local bands in the ELO and Beatles universe doing their thing. During the unbroken two hour set last night, Band On The Runn demonstrated a noticeable increase in maturity and looked a lot more comfortable in front of the appreciative audience. In short, I would say that the band graduated last night onto the next level of their musical journey.

The fine keyboard work of Adam Willetts ably supported the driving percussion of Dave Cottle whilst the sublime guitar work of Ian Hammond was a marvellous foil to lead vocalist, guitarist and piano tinkler Craig Whale as the band re-interpreted those classic compositions of Paul McCartney from the very first Beatles album right through his Wings career and beyond. All the familiar songs were there and the set hinged nicely around most of the "Band On The Run" album.

It was a successful gig in this writers opinion but a band like this should be headlining venues on a Friday or Saturday night to maximize their potential and that of their potential fan base. A tight, accomplished performance produced great live versions of "Jet", "Flaming Pie", "Hey Jude""Coming Up", "Back In The USSR", "Hey Jude", "Let 'Em In", "My Love", "Live And Let Die", "1985", "Let It Be" and "Drive My Car" amongst not a few others. But for me - once again - my fave song of the night was "The Long And Winding Road".

ELO Beatles Forever (ELOBF) recommends Band On The Runn to those enlightened folks who enjoy the music of ELO/Jeff Lynne, Roy Wood, The Move, The Idle Race, The Beatles, 'Brum Beat' and related artistes.

Until next "Time" in the ELO (and related) Universe ... KJS ... 05-Dec-2011

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Recommended: Debra Dee's Exhibition of Roy Wood Art

#279: Hello ... Hello ... my old friends ... It's great to see you once again! Debra Dee is a supremely talented Australian artist who has produced some excellent portraits of The Move and ELO co-founder Roy Wood amongst others. You can catch a glimpse of her work if you visit Woody's Bar at The Robin 2 in Bilston near Wolverhampton because you will find one of her wonderful Roy Wood portraits proudly displayed just inside the front door (unveiled back in June 2011) thus:

Yours Truly KJS has been talking to Debra about her portfolio and have some exciting news pertaining to her work dedicated to Roy Wood. An exhibition of many of Debra's interpretive paintings of Roy Wood will open next year on Thursday 2nd February and run until Thursday 23rd February at St. Pauls Gallery in Birmingham in a three week run. And with painting titles such as "Reflections", "The Muse" and "White Magic" - one can only count down the days until the exhibition begins.

The opening night will see a host of 1960's and 1970's music personalities in attendance and hopefully Roy will be in attendance too. This whole three week event is a must for fans of Roy Wood, ELO, The Move and Wizzard to see not only these great paintings of Roy but also appreciate the talent and artistic licence of Debra. I hope to attend the premiere with Martin Kinch of Cherry Blossom Clinic. You can visit their web sites and/or Facebook pages via these links thus:

ELO Beatles Forever (ELOBF) recommends Debra Dee's Exhibition Of Roy Wood Art to those enlightened folks who also like ELO/Jeff LynneRoy Wood'Brum Beat'The Idle RaceThe MoveThe Beatles and related artistes.

Until next "Time" in the ELO (and related) Universe ... KJS ... 03-Dec-2011

Friday, 2 December 2011

Recommended: Dave & Mandy Scott-Morgan

#278: Hello again folks! A thoroughly enjoyable video is doing the rounds on YouTube featuring Dave Scott-Morgan (former member of ELO between 1981-86) in an interview which covers his musical career to date and his gospel concert presentation with wife Mandy. It's interesting to hear excerpts of the interview as Dave talks about his musical roots in Birmingham including his time with Danny King, the formation of The Move and, of course, his time with ELO. Dave also mentions in the abridged interview that he covers "Mr. Blue Sky" and "Livin' Thing" during his concerts and also talks about his conversion to Christianity in 1988. Visitors to ELOBF will be aware that Dave and ELO keyboard maestro Richard Tandy re-released their excellent "Earthrise" concept album earlier this year to rave reviews thus:

Yours Truly KJS is also pleased to announce that I hope to interview both Dave and former ELO sound engineer Colin Owen about their music careers, testimonies and Christian ministry for ELOBF in days yet future. Find out more via these links thus:

ELO Beatles Forever (ELOBF) recommends Dave & Mandy Scott-Morgan to those enlightened folks who enjoy the music of ELO/Jeff LynneRoy WoodThe MoveThe Idle Race'Brum Beat'The Beatles and related artistes.

Until next "Time" in the ELO (and related) Universe ... KJS ... 02-Dec-2011

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Support Your Local Music Venue!

#277: Hello ... Hello ... my old friends ... It's great to see you once again! Whilst driving to work today, I was reflecting upon the numbers of gigs that I have been to in the last calendar year. I then got to thinking on how many local music venues that Yours Truly KJS has visited too.

In these days of easy downloads and (so called) TV talent shows, it has been a real pleasure to have been able to not only promote ELO Beatles Forever (ELOBF) featured artistes on the road - but also to support those local music venues that provide a platform for live music here in the Midlands of England and beyond. Here's a selection of those local venues that I've frequented (with various personages) in the last twelve months on the ELOBF trail:

The Tackeroo @ Hednesford (now closed)
The Roadhouse @ Birmingham (now closed)

Here's an idea for you to consider:
Why not try and make sure that you get out and support your local live music venue at least once in the next year so as to keep music live in your area too?

Until next "Time" in the ELO (and related) Universe ... KJS ... 29-Nov-2011

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Caught Live (2): Roy Wood @ The Robin 26/11/11

#276: Hello ... Hello ... my old friends ... It's great to see you once again! Yours Truly KJS made a last gasp decision last night to travel solo downtown Bilston to go and see the aptly entitled Roy Wood Rock 'n' Roll Band 'I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday' Midlands Extravaganza. And the full house at The Robin 2 were treated to another sixty minute trawl through Roy's (The) Move, Wizzard and solo "Music Book" - to coin a phrase and quote his latest release thus:

When you attend a Roy Wood gig, your memory is reignited about his legendary song writing treasure chest and the sheer magical, musical instrumental prowess of the co-founder of The Move and the Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) as well as being the founder of Wizzard et al.

It really is superb to hear his four-piece brass section supplement his other musical troops as they plough through those well-known songs we all know and love like: "Blackberry Way", "Flowers In The Rain", "I Can Hear The Grass Grow", "See My Baby Jive", "Ball Park Incident", "Angel Fingers" and - naturally - "I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day" as well as more recent Woody compositions "Big Girl Blues",  "Boadicea" and "New York City". It was also great to see Roy get those bagpipes out again during "Are You Ready To Rock?". Another highlight of the night was after telling the buzzing crowd that he had slipped two discs and might utilize his stool ... until a member of his band asked if they were two of his golden ones! It was also nice to bump into Martin Kinch (of Cherry Blossom Clinic fame) as well as Robin 2 regulars Paul Richardson, Andy 'Fruity Buckfoot' Wood and his wife Sue. I have to say it was a great night and well worth the wait for such a relatively short set.

Don't forget that there is plenty of time for you to catch Roy live in the coming days! Roy Wood is touring with Status Quo as part of their Quofestive 2011 tour, with Kim Wilde, during December:
ELO Beatles Forever (ELOBF) recommends Roy Wood to those enlightened folks who enjoy the music of ELO/Jeff Lynne, Wizzard, The Move, The Idle Race, 'Brum Beat', The Beatles and related artistes.

Until next "Time" in the ELO (and related) Universe ... KJS ... 27-Nov-2011

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Review: The Classic Albums Collection (ELO)

#275: Hello ... Hello ... my old friends ... It's great to see you once again! In a year when that long awaited new ELO/Jeff Lynne album (or albums) apparently did not see the light of day - but much hearsay and many rumours did - we did see an Autumn outbreak of more ELO compilations. And I am not complaining because the staple diet of any ELO fan and collector is the plethora of collections that have been released: Here Is The News (6)

Back on Monday 10th October, Sony released "The Essential Electric Light Orchestra" - a 37 track, 2CD compilation that featured nearly all of the ELO UK single releases from "10538 Overture" to "Latitude 88 North". It included "Do Ya", "It's Over" and "Surrender" but not "Here Is The News" and "Getting To The Point" yet it was a tidy and attractive package for ELO fans new and old. Last Thursday (14th November) then saw the release of "Music Book" by Roy Wood (reviewed yesterday by Yours Truly KJS/ELOBF here) and now we have the second of Sony Legacy's 2011 ELO back catalogue resurrections with "The Classic Albums Collection" (#88697873262).

This neatly and attractively packaged compact boxed set contains all eleven ELO albums from 1971's self-titled release (a.k.a. "No Answer") to 1986's "Balance Of Power". However, you will not find 1980's "Xanadu" or 2001's "Zoom" here. Not bad at all for around £30! There's a nice 28 page booklet summarizing all the remastered editions inside. As well as that, all the original single, gatefold and double album sleeves are replicated. Yes, you not only get all the original albums and their artwork, you get a full set of all the remastered, expanded editions we saw released between 2001 and 2006.

This release is a great way to get associated with the full ELO brand and journey from their first French Horn blasts to their synthesized encore. "The Classic Albums Collection" is available from all reputable music outlets including, at the time of writing. And with Christmas around the corner, need I say any more?

Until next "Time" in the ELO (and related) Universe ... KJS ... 22-Nov-2011

Monday, 21 November 2011

Review: Music Book (Roy Wood)

#274: Hello ... Hello ... my old friends ... It's great to see you once again! Where I do I start with this review? I say this because listening to this new all-encompassing compilation a couple of times has reminded me (a) just how much of a musical song writing legacy Roy Wood has and (b) how much of his output I absolutely love!

Doubtless you are aware that Roy is the co-founder of The Move and ELO as well as being the founder of Wizzard and not a few other bands too! The 36 track 2CD Roy Wood musical biography "Music Book" just released by EMI/Harvest (#50999 73122128) on Monday 14th November covers all the bases that you would expect in a two disc set - and more!

Yes, you will find the Roy Wood and Wizzard back catalogue standards on here including "Angel Fingers", "See My Baby Jive""Ball Park Incident" and "Forever" et al. But there is so much of his other work crammed on here that the whole set comes over as a refreshing set of songs that do justice to Roy's near five decade of multi-instrumentalism and song creation. The classic Rock 'n' Roll back beat influence is there as is that of the Phil Spector 'Wall Of Sound'.

The album commences with a live recording of Roy with his Rock 'n' Roll Band playing their live brassed-up version of "California Man" but with an initial "Brontosaurus" flavour which heralds this superb 'Greatest Hits and more' collection. Included in this set are two covers of The Move classics: "I Can Hear The Grass Grow" and "Flowers In The Rain" by none other than Roy's touring buddies Status Quo and (believe it or not) Nancy Sinatra!
It's also interesting that the class Move track "Beautiful Daughter" is listed on this CD as being by 'Roy Wood with Carl Wayne vocals (String arrangement and Bass: Tony Visconti)'. I wonder whether this is a token of the rift that appears to exist between Roy and that of his former band mates Bev Bevan and Trevor Burton as they continue perform and tour as The Move? On the other hand there is much evidence of Dr. Wood's sense of humour with "Are You Ready To Rock" listed as "R U RED E 2 ROCK". A 2011 'Shed' version of "Fire Brigade" is here as well as his superb contribution from the debut ELO album: "First Movement" sub-listed as 'Roy playing Acoustic Guitar and Cello' - a real bonus track if ever there was one.

Also included is a fantastic 20 page CD booklet that includes Roy with his collaborators through the years including Jeff Lynne, Jimi Hendrix, Paul McCartney, George Martin and daughter Holly amongst not a few others. What I really like about this album is this: I've been reacquainted also with Roy's post-Wizzard material. Songs long ignored by (so called) 'major' record labels to their absolute shame. I was thrilled to listen to "Oh What A Shame" and "Any Old Time Will Do" again on this album from his "Mustard" period on Jet Records.

But if Yours Truly KJS had to select a fave track on this CD it would have to be the new version of "Blackberry Way" that Roy has produced and enhanced with extra strings (played by himself, of course). This track alone is worth the experience. It makes me wonder what ELO with Roy Wood and Jeff Lynne in tandem might have developed into beyond "No Answer". It's a tremendous adaption (in this writers humble opinion) and oddly enough, it is followed by Roy's classic Christmas anthem. And with Yuletide'just a month away, it makes this release even more appealing to buy as a gift either to treat yourself or to assist someone you love who is in dire need of a musical re-education. "Music Book" by Roy Wood is available to purchase in CD and download formats from all reputable music outlets including

ELO Beatles Forever (ELOBF) recommends "Music Book" by Roy Wood to those enlightened folks who enjoy the music of ELO/Jeff Lynne, The Move, Wizzard, The Idle Race, 'Brum Beat', The Beatles and related artistes.

Until next "Time" in the ELO (and related) Universe ... KJS ... 21-Nov-2011

Friday, 18 November 2011

An Appreciation of Phil Bates

#273: Hello ... Hello ... my old friends ... It's great to see you once again! It was today - Friday 18th November - that Phil Bates announced that he would no longer be touring with The Orchestra (former members of ELO & ELO Part II) on his website with these words:

"Many of you will be aware that I fell and broke my fibula and did ankle ligament damage a few weeks ago when I was with 'The Orchestra' in Uruguay. Trust me to do something like that 6,000 miles and a 14-hour flight away from home ... but I have always been an awkward sod. Anyway, I just wanted to give anyone interested an update. I have been in plaster now for 5 weeks and have 3 weeks more before I am free of this thing and able to scratch my leg. A long slow recuperation will follow, but I am hoping to be back to my fighting best in 2012 ... as early in the year as possible, though there will be no stage somersaults for a while! Just wanted to apologize to anyone expecting to see me in eastern Europe with 'The Orchestra'. I had planned to be with the boys over there, but my doctor and consultant refused to give me permission to fly, and in truth, it would have been impossibly difficult for me with the schedule and travel arrangements the band has. I am gutted to have not been able to be with the guys, especially as this was to be my last tour as part of 'The Orchestra'. I will miss all the guys in the band a tremendous amount. I love them all like brothers and wish them every success in the future ... but circumstances have forced me to concentrate on my German projects from 2012 onwards. OK ... love and best wishes to everyone and have a great Christmas and New Year. Hope to see a few of you at Middleton Hall on December 10th."

Having witnessed a number of gigs with the original ELO Part II line-up that included Neil Lockwood and Pete Haycock back in 1991 and 1992, Yours Truly KJS did not know what to expect when Phil Bates joined the band and took over lead guitar duties from the two previous incumbents for the bands 1993 UK tour. It was at Wolverhampton Civic Hall on Saturday 12th June 1993 that we first witnessed Phil's guitar wizardry and vocal work. And we were not to be disappointed.

From 1993 to 2009 - during two separate spells with both ELO Part II and The Orchestra in countless gigs at places including Chester, Birmingham, Derby, Colchester, Telford and many more, we saw Phil grow and excel in the challenge of translating the ELO back catalogue to the live arena through his accurate guitar and vocal contribution. It was the toughest of assignments to replicate the sonic genius of Jeff Lynne - but Phil pulled it off. In addition to that, we were also blessed to taste the song writing prowess of Phil with his contributions to the 1994 studio album "Moment Of Truth" and the 1995 live album "One Night - Live In Australia".

Doubtless we can all look forward to partaking in Phil's musical journey going forward starting with The Phil Bates and Tina McBain Christmas Show on Saturday 10th December. Phil will be busy in 2012 with his other projects including the Beatles Blues and Blue Violin Project (BBBV) and his German outfits ELO Klassik - The Music of ELO performed by Phil Bates and the Berlin String Ensemble and The Music of ELO - performed by Phil Bates and band. Maybe we could also see the return of the fantastic Wheels Of Fire again too - if interest and time permit.

Whilst I am tremendously sad to see Phil Bates' second spell with ELO Part II and The Orchestra come to an end, I wish to take the opportunity to wish Phil (and his wife Joanna) all the very best in their ongoing musical projects thereafter. Without a doubt Phil was a major player in both bands for the best part of two decades and it is for that role I am truly thankful to Phil. For his significant contribution in keeping the ELO sound live when others would not.

ELO Beatles Forever (ELOBF) recommends Phil Bates to those enlightened folks who enjoy the music of ELO/Jeff LynneRoy WoodThe MoveThe Idle Race'Brum Beat'The Beatles and related artistes.

Until next "Time" in the ELO (and related) Universe ... KJS ... 18-Nov-2011

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Review: The Olympus Sound (Pugwash)

#272: Hello ... Hello ... my old friends ... It's great to see you once again! Without doubt I owe my knowledge and appreciation of the eclectic but brilliant Dublin based Irish quartet Pugwash to my good friend Mark Burrows. It was Mark who suggested that I take a somewhat belated listen to their fifth album, the August 2011 release "The Olympus Sound" as well as their previous set "Eleven Modern Antiquities" - being acutely aware of my interest in all things ELO and related.

I had heard the musical talents of Thomas Walsh from his close association with fellow ELO inspired musical partner Neil Hannon (The Divine Comedy) in their Ivor Novello nominated and ingenious collaboration The Duckworth Lewis Method plus some YouTube footage from their ELO cover of "Mr. Blue Sky" et al. I contacted Thomas direct and he kindly emailed me the album as a download but I was more comfortable with actually buying and supporting the band before I set about reviewing it in this particular case.

"The Olympus Sound" is truly a superb set of twelve well-crafted examples of the real and true art of songwriting. Almost all of those songs come from the pen of Mr. Walsh. I can honestly say that there is not a weak track on this album. To quote the late, great Kelly Groucutt: "It's blummin' marvellous!". Add to that one song co-written with former XTC front man Andy Partridge and some very slick co-production by Tom and fellow Pugwashian Tosh Flood and you have something approaching the perfect pop album.

Trax: "Answers On A Postcard" ~ "There You Are" ~ "To The Warmth Of You" ~ "Fall Down" ~ "Be My Friend Awhile" ~ "Dear Belinda" ~ "15 Kilocycle Tone" ~ "I Don't Like It But I Gotta Do It" ~ "Here We Go 'Round Again" ~ "Such Beauty Thrown Away" ~ "See You Mine (Coda)" ~ "Four Days"

I'm struggling to name a fave track but if I had to it would be the witty and uplifting guitar driven composition "I Don't Like It But I Gotta Do It". When you listen to the album a few times over - and you will do that! - you not only recognize the influence of the ELO sound; song construction and arrangements of one Jeff Lynne. You also hear and feel The Beatles and The Beach Boys throughout the recording too. It really is like a kind of musical journey through the songsmithery of all those classic sixties and seventies artistes that we all cherish and their output of 'feel good' songs. I honestly believe that it would be better for you to listen to this CD yourselves rather than read my track-by-track commentary!

Pugwash are: Thomas Walsh + Tosh Flood + Shaun McGee + Joey Fitzgerald

You can find out more about them, their discography and/or buy their albums in either CD or download format from these reputable sites:

I'm also pleased to announce that Yours Truly KJS will be interviewing Thomas Walsh for ELOBF soon! ELO Beatles Forever (ELOBF) recommends "The Olympus Sound" by Pugwash to those enlightened folks who also like ELO/Jeff LynneRoy Wood'Brum Beat'The Idle RaceThe MoveThe Beatles and related artistes.

Until next "Time" in the ELO (and related) Universe ... KJS ... 17-Nov-2011

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Interview: WelshMansHill (Phil Hatton/Steve Turner/Phil Ridden)

#271: Hello ... Hello ... my old friends ... It's great to see you once again! This article and interview has been in the works for quite a time and comes to you after many long hours of research and effort! Back in May this year, I travelled down to the suburbs of northern Birmingham to meet up with the threesome of extraordinary musicians who are also known as WelshMansHill (WMH):

Recommended: WelshMansHill

Phil Hatton, Steve Turner and Phil Ridden are WelshMansHill and when I made the return journey to the Birmingham heartland of ELO in October, an interview with the band on the then imminent release of their debut album "Poparama" on 11.11.11 was recorded for ELO Beatles Forever (ELOBF) which (hopefully) will be broadcast soon (in full or in part) by Hamilton Radio, Radio BackTrack as well as the legendary Beatles & Beyond radio show hosted by Pete Dicks. My interview with WMH comprised fifteen questions and is now available on CD from ELO Beatles Forever (ELOBF) upon request. Yours Truly KJS has paraphrased those interview questions and answers below for your perusal thus:

KJS: WelshMansHill are Phil Hatton, Steve Turner and Phil Ridden (ably assisted by Graham Struggles). First things first ... why the name “WelshMansHill”?
PH: It's a place where I parked my old 'Commer' camper van once and the name just came to me! It's a lovely place in Sutton Coldfield where we all live and it's a place that has inspired people for hundreds of years.
KJS: Phil Ridden and Steve worked with the late great Brian Connolly of ‘The Sweet’; Graham goes back a long way with ‘Heavyboots’ et al and Phil Hatton has worked with some of the true greats of music including Roy Orbison, most of the Beatles and, of course, Jeff Lynne. But how did Phil, Steve, Phil and Graham get together as WMH?
PR: We've been involved together for 33 years since our first sojourn together as a band to Jersey. We met up again at Phil's dad's funeral three or four years ago, got back in touch with each other, decided to get back into doing music and it's just taken off from there!
ST: Phil Hatton and I have been working together, writing songs and doing bits and pieces for fifteen years or so. We lost touch with Phil (Ridden) for a while, met him at the funeral and just continued from there really! We worked on some of the tracks that we'd got, developed them, got new tracks in and put proper drums on and it materialized into what it is now - the CD!
PH: Some of the ideas for a couple of the songs on "Poparama" were thought of 33 years ago! Yes, some of the early stuff we did, just a couple of guitar riffs, we put them into a couple of these songs. It's taken a long time! Back then, we were on the ferry going over to Jersey in October to work there for a few months. While we were over there, we were offered a tour supporting 'Tavares' who were a big soul band who we had played with at the 'Top Rank Suite' in Birmingham. And they really liked us. That would have been good but unfortunately we were over in Jersey!
KJS: Who and what are your musical influences and/or heroes?
ST: Mine would be Jimi Hendrix; Led Zeppelin, Free, The Police but there are too many to mention really - but in terms of all-time heroes it has to be Hendrix and probably The Beatles.
PR: Definitely the early Beatles/McCartney interest for me, later on in that period The Traveling Wilburys, the Jeff Lynne sort of stuff and the spin-offs with Bob Dylan - that's a big influence. And then up to people like John Hyatt - songwriter - I'm really quite appreciative of that. And even from the early stuff, anything from Black Sabbath onwards really. So really quite an eclectic mix!
PH: I think for me you've got Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett. Then you've got the old big bands, some of them were fantastic like Duke Ellington. What a great dancer and singer was Fred Astaire too! Buddy Rich was great too. All those greats like Nat King Cole - fantastic! Then you go into the Rock 'n' Roll era: Elvis, Buddy Holly ... then you've got The Beatles of course in the sixties and then there's Hendrix and ground breaking bands like Led Zeppelin, The Eagles - another great band, Roy Orbison of course. There such an amalgam of all these guys. You couldn't really pick one because without one, there wouldn't be the others - like dominoes I suppose. Any stuff that's good you can listen to! (Ed: but not Cliff Richard!)
KJS: So how long has “Poparama” been in the making?
WMH: As mentioned earlier, a couple of the riffs go back thirty years but most of the songs go back four or five years. It's a long time ... enough ... there's 'new' material there too!
PH: When you listen to the CD, you can see a lot of work has gone into it. You learn a lot from the best (Jeff Lynne) so you've got to try and make it sound like the best too.
ST: We wanted to be happy with it ourselves before we released it. Consequently that's why there's probably 10 versions of each song on this old computer 'ere! It's a case of fine tuning them week by week until we got to where we are now which is the best we can do!
PR: We've got to let the babies go now!
PH: Yes, we're happy with them all now and I think they all fit nicely with each other. I hope and feel sure that people will like them.
KJS: What then are your hopes for “Poparama”?
PH: We want listeners to like our music because it's something that is different and lasts - because all good tunes do that, really. The good ones last! We've got a load more songs that we're working on. We've got a couple of projects. One is 'The Himalayan Pilots' and the other, of course, is "Poparama II". We are working on those "Poparama II" songs right now - knocking them in to shape for release hopefully in twelve months. We've got some good tunes there.
ST: Basically we want to sell lots and lots of product to get us onto the next level of going around promoting "Poparama" and touring with it, based upon the reaction we get when it's available on November 11th.
PR: It'll be available to buy as a CD or a download via iTunes or amazon MP3.
PH: Yes, something to look forward to!
ST: Christmas number one - that's what we want!
KJS: The 11 songs that make up “Poparama” are "In Tomorrow's World", "Alaska", "Not Really A ...", "Sunset In The Morning", "Postmodernist Bluesman", "Nobody Came", "Catch A Train", "When It Rains", Wendy's Farm", "Endorphic" and "Getcha". Can you tell us what lies beneath each track?
PH: "Tomorrow's World" is a song of hope and of having things to look forward to. It's a good intro to the album. It's a song to pick people up.
ST: And this is one of the songs where the main riff was stolen from one of those old 'Apathetics' tracks which went back 30 years. As we were working on it, I realized that that riff would fit and we kinda encompassed that as well. It was probably one of the first tracks we did.
PH: It was one of the first songs that we all wrote together. Original - getting away from all the funk stuff back in 1982. A good one to dance to!
ST: "Alaska" came from one of Phil's ideas when he had his camper van! It started as a basic four track thing that Phil put down with the words - I love the words in this song, they're especially good. This is another one of Phil's many songs written in his camper van that he brought to the studio where we developed it.
PH: It's about 'X Factor' and shows like that where you can be a star in a few weeks. And it's not always a good thing as many of them find out later.
PH: "Not Really A ..." is for all the chaps who have been on holiday to Thailand and found out that the girl that they have been talking to is "not really a" girl at all. A lady boy.
ST: It's pretty much tongue-in-cheek. "You're Not Really A Girl" is the full title.
PH: It rocks a long does this song. It's a good one to bang your head to ... especially if you've just been in the company of one of those 'ladies'.
PH: "Sunset In The Morning" ... me and Steve did most of the lyrics with this one. It's about rolling home at 8 'o clock in the morning with the bird song 'full on' and wishing you hadn't been out that night doing what you were doing. A song of regret.
PH: "Postmodernist Bluesman" ... funnily enough the title for that is from a chap I know from years ago from Birmingham when I used to play in a band called 'Heavyboots' with Graham Struggles at 'The Alambra'. I hadn't seen this chap for 40 years or something until I saw him in Erdington where "Mothers" used to be, a really famous nightclub where a lot of top groups played before they became famous. Led Zeppelin, Elton John, Black Sabbath, The Moody Blues, ELO - lots of groups. Pink Floyd recorded an album there. This fellow was now a busker and had just come back from France. He gave me this tape recording and the name of this cassette was "Postmodernist Bluesman". We talked about where he had been and "Mothers" so this song is about that chap!
PH: "Nobody Came" is similar to the story about Van Gogh. It's about having a talent - in this case an artist who didn't sell a painting. Nobody got to seeing it. There were no red dots on the frame to show that it was sold and that's part of the song. It's about trying to do something and finding out that even if you've got lots of talent, nobody wants it. Maybe in years to come you'll be appreciated - but not now. But you've got to keep trying.
ST: "Catch A Train" ... another one of Phil's!
PH: It's actually quite a dark song because it's about being addicted to Class A drugs. I always say to stay away from them. because if you get amongst that stuff, it's going to kill you. I've worked with people over the last few years -when I'm not doing music - supporting and counselling people with addiction and mental health problems and I've seen what it does to people so this song tries to warn them off because there isn't a dock leaf to help take away that sting if you get involved with this stuff. So this is a song that will hopefully make people think before using that stuff. That's "Catch A Train".
WMH: So don't catch it!
PH: "When It Rains" ... we got the idea for this - funnily enough - when it was raining ... in Wales! - I was inside a tent at Shell Island ... beautiful place Mochras ... and I got the idea from listening to the rain coming down. "When It Rains" is really about remembering a loved one who isn't there any more and it's about time spent reflecting on that person. If a tear drop goes into a river and that river flows into the sea, that's all part of the rain that one day will fall down on you. And if it's the tear drop of that person, it's something to remind you and refresh your memory. It's a very spiritual song, Keith.
ST: "Wendy's Farm" ... Wendy is the sister of a friend who used to be a roadie with 'The Sweet'. there's no great depth to it - it's just that she had a farm over in Middleton and we went over there three or four years ago. There were some outbuildings that we thought could be a studio hence the name: "Wendy's Farm".
PH: We also thought that it could be a priory type place for people to come to and escape their demons. And that's where we got the idea of people going to "Wendy's Farm" from! "She's the only one that can help".
PH: "Endorphic" is another song that says don't go chasing that thing that you wish you hadn't gone chasing for because it doesn't always turn out right in the end. Whether it's money or love or whatever.
ST: I seem to remember that it was about chasing endorphins ...
PH: Yes ... the things that you get a buzz out of life. Once you've got that 'one', you'll never find it again.
ST: We think Phil has invented his own word in 'endorphic'!
PR: It's a little enjoyable ditty for the end of the album.
PH: The playing on the whole album by Phil and Steve is absolutely top notch. The last song is about lifting your spirits right up, just like the first song: "In Tomorrow's World" ... it's what we wanted to finish the album off with. Quite a few friends have been lifted when they've heard it.
ST: It's a bit of a ditty really ... we were unsure that we were going to include it originally as it didn't fit in with the other tracks but we thought it would be a good song to stick at the end of the album so that it finished on a high note after the 'heavy' tracks.
KJS: If you had to pick a favourite track - what would it be?
ST: I'll say "Sunset In The Morning".
PH: I'd say that as well.
PR: I'd go for "Wendy's Farm" because at the moment I like that production. Steve did a good job on the guitars on that one. Nice simple drumming but it's got a nice spacey, echoey kinda thing on the back end of the guitars ... there's just something else there! Whether it's your own imagination or not - that's my take!
KJS: It's a toss up for me between "Nobody Came" and "When It Rains".
KJS: In my personal opinion, this CD is one of the best I have heard for a very long time. The whole album hangs together very nicely. There is a depth to “Poparama”, a wide range of musical styles and song construction to be found here. I have received much positive feedback as to the songs. WMH appear to be building up a healthy fan base out there on Facebook and internet radio; especially at Hamilton Radio ... what responses have you received to your music?
PR: We've been fortunate in that we've had the same sort of response, people saying the same thing. They like it, they think it's a good album.
ST: Yes, we've had some great responses from people who have heard it at various stages. Also, people on a comparable basis to us who have had more success like Dave Morgan and Richard Tandy really like it.
PH: Richard Tandy phoned me up to say he really liked "Sunset In The Morning". I'm really chuffed that the people in America are 'getting' the music as well. They're not quite sure whether it's an American band or an English band so that's a good thing that maybe we can cross over. People are listening to it and then they are listening to it again and hearing something different every time! I've had a lot of people say that through Facebook and ... the interesting thing is that what we meant to do was to make the songs interesting and that's the feedback we are getting. Every time that they listen they are finding another guitar or a keyboard! Also the tunes are sticking in their heads. When you get feedback like that, you think to yourself: "Maybe it's working!"
PR: Yes, we're getting good feedback from other musicians. That's good.
KJS: Phil, I was moved to hear how so very proud you are of your father and “Poparama” is dedicated to him. Can you fill us in with the story of this special man?
PH: My dad passed away five years ago and during the Second World War he was a Royal Naval Commando. And very brave men they were. Only six of them got back from Elbe. My dad was injured and one of the lucky six who got back. Over the years he never used to speak about his time in the war but over the last ten or fifteen years of his life he got back together with the six that returned and they had an association that's finished now because unfortunately they've all passed away. We thought we'd put another song up this November 11th on our web site in support of the Poppy Appeal as last year we got some good coverage in the media here in Birmingham for what we were doing for the appeal. Which is trying to raise money for these brave men who've sacrificed so much.
PR: The guys in those situations don't actually talk about it much. My dad didn't speak about it much at all. He was in the RAF in India during the war. One of my uncles came back ... he was at Arnhem and on the beaches at Dunkerque. Again, it was very rare they spoke about such things. We forget they were a lot younger than we are now. They went through an awful lot. The guys still are.
PH: We're just helping and remembering them.
KJS: Steve and Phil: For me, Brian Connolly was a much under-rated musician and lacked the confidence his talent deserved. Please do tell me about your time working with BC on the road?
ST: How long have you got! It was a great experience because we were relatively young then. It was an eye opener to what it's like at the top level of fame, for the music business really!
PR: Yeah, and what a tough gruel touring can be - as well as fun! But there's lot of hard work there, people don't see what's behind the scenes.
ST: And of course everybody knows that Brian wasn't in the greatest of health when he started 'The New Sweet' or 'BC Sweet' . And of course Phil was the first drummer he had after the demise of the original 'The Sweet' and then we got involved about three months later - that's me and Gary Farmer, the bass player - and it was totally up and down. We'd be having great times one day and the next day would be absolutely dreadful either because of Brian's health or his moods or whatever.
PR: Yeah, and at the same time you tend to remember mainly the good times. Then you can remember we had some great fun! Like the one time in that Berlin hotel we told you about when we last met. We were moving things from one room to another for whatever reason. The roadie was going to sleep on a mattress in my room. Brian saw us all moving stuff about and the next thing we know, he's bringing in lampshades and he's dancing up and down the corridor and then he came in the room wearing the lampshade as a hat! When he joined in doing stuff like that, it was brilliant.
ST: And then there was the time he decided to become the chef when we were in a restaurant in Germany. It was his birthday. I think he was 44 or something like that. He decided to go into the kitchen and came out with the chef's hat on and the whole white gown and everything! He then started serving meals to everyone - that was that kind of guy when he was on form. He could be absolutely hilarious. And then the next day he could be in the absolute depths of depression. But I think what you started the question off with Keith was that underneath it all he was quite an insecure guy. Because of the fame and notoriety he'd experienced, he sort of put on a shell ... a mask ... but underneath I think he was a really nice guy, when you actually got through to the real man. He was a very talented bloke and a nice bloke as well. There's a taste of 'The Sweet' on some of the quicker tracks for sure that will interest all those 'Sweet' fans out there.
KJS: The inevitable question that always surrounds the release of an album is when are you guys touring or playing live? – so what are the gigging plans for WMH?
PR: We're looking at getting other guys involved to actually do it but we've just got to work out in our way who is going to play what. Steve has obviously done a lot of the keyboards and guitars and he can't physically play both!
ST: I could try. I've done it before - very badly! Yes, I think what we're going to do at the moment is gauge what is going to happen when people start buying the album. Obviously then, If there is a demand or need for us to go out and actually start gigging, then we'll go through all the rigours of rehearsing and get other people involved. It's got to be a six piece band to reproduce "Poparama" to anywhere near to the standard of the recording s or anywhere close to it. We've got to do it justice!
PR: We wouldn't want to do it exactly the same as that will be the whole point of doing a live show.
PH: It would take a few weeks to knock a live band into shape but we could go out there and do it for them. If they want us to do it live, we'll be doing it for them. We've done loads of live gigs in our time - myself not for a few years - but Steve and Phil have. Yes, we look forward to going out and playing to people. If they ask us to, we're more than willing to come and play for them in their living rooms!
KJS: Regular visitors to ELO Beatles Forever (ELOBF) will doubtless expect a question or two in relation to your work with Jeff Lynne. Has Jeff provided any influence or guidance in the construction of the production or songs for the album - has he heard it?
PH: Yes, Jeff has heard a few of the tracks. He has mentioned that he like a couple of the tracks on there. You're bound to be influenced in some ways when you are working with and for someone like Jeff Lynne. I was Jeff's P.A. for quite a few years and I worked on a lot of recordings that Jeff made. George Harrison's "Cloud Nine", Roy Orbison's "Mystery Girl", both Traveling Wilburys albums, Del Shannon and Julianna Raye. Then again at the end there was The Beatles "Anthology" when Jeff produced "Free As A Bird" and "Real Love". The more recording you do and wherever you work, in a factory for instance, and you are working with the best tool maker, you're bound to pick something up from them. And hopefully we've learned something from Jeff. So when you are together doing your own recordings, you try and make it as good as people who are listening to it would like. As all the greats do, they keep working at it until it's just right. Whether it's the melody or it's the instrumentals - it has got to be just right before they let it out. And you learn all these things as you go along. And of course, when you're working with Jeff Lynne - who is one of the greatest, gifted musicians, producers, arrangers and vocalists - you've got to be very lucky; and a lovely bloke he is too.
KJS: You all go back quite a way in your lives before 'WelshMansHill' with the likes of Jeff Lynne, Brian Connolly and not a few others! But what was the absolute highlight of your music careers - if you had to pick one?
ST: Mine was when we did an album with a band called 'Blackfoot Sue' and we rehearsed for eight or ten weeks to showcase this album. We did a gig at 'The Astoria' in London in 1996 or 1997 and it was probably the best gig I ever did in terms of just the playing and the overall feeling when you come off stage. The buzz. I suppose the second one was a couple of festivals we did with 'BC Sweet' including over in Denmark at the Esbjerg festival, which was superb. A beautiful Summers day with about 40,000 people which was absolutely amazing ... better than sex!
PR: I can't actually think of just the one. Certainly some of the gigs with Brian. I did a couple of things working with some guys doing a David Bowie tribute band called 'Jean Genie'. We did a couple of great gigs at 'The Point' and the 'Olympia Theatre' in Dublin. I did a gig in Gibraltar with a band I was involved with called 'Ghost' - that was a great gig!
PH: I'd say there were a couple actually ... singing backing vocals with George Harrison and Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison, Del Shannon, all these greats. That to me has been the highlight. I was very lucky to be able to do that and that is a real highlight for me.
KJS: Next - a question I always ask next when interviewing for ELOBF: What are your personal favourite ELO tracks?
PR: There's a lot to choose from! Probably two that stand out for me personally. I like "Wild West Hero" because the arrangement, the orchestration and the thing that are going on in that song production wise and I think also the 'B' side to "Livin' Thing" which was "Fire On High" - which when it came out, I was young and thought it was stand alone at that time. It's hard! Not forgetting some of the later stuff with the Wilburys too.
ST: In terms of ELO material, I've got to go with "Mr. Blue Sky" even though I'm an Aston Vanilla fan! A great production and great song.
PH: It's a really difficult one for me, Keith! Going back from Jeff's first ELO album right up to his solo albums, but if you're talking about just ELO then "Midnight Blue" is a beautiful song - no doubt about that. And you've also got "Can't Get It Out Of My Head" - another great song - and I suppose "Strange Magic" has got to be up there - one of the best. But Jeff has done so many I couldn't really say! I could change my mind. And you know the great thing about it all? He writes it all; he produces it all and he arranges it all until he gets it just right. All that music. He's one of the best in the world - no doubt about it.
Graham Struggles: "Wild West Hero". Everybody wants to be a wild west hero. A good story song as much as anything.
KJS: I love "Can't Get It Out Of My Head" ... I love the imagery of "Eldorado" and "Time". But that and "21st Century Man" - just fantastic imagery and mood. On another day you could pick another album and many other ELO songs as your fave!
PH: And not forgetting "Lift Me Up" from "Armchair Theatre"!
KJS: You have kindly made some tracks on “Poparama” available for free download; and this has raised the bands profile somewhat. But please tell us about the ‘official’ release of “Poparama”. When can we expect to purchase the CD?
PR: It's available from our web site at - so by the time this interview goes out; folks will be able to buy a copy as a CD or as a download via iTunes or amazon MP3.
KJS: I would just like to thank all four of you now for participating in this interview for ELO Beatles Forever - a little known blog in deepest, darkest Wolverhampton - signing off!
To summarize, you can buy "Poparama" by WelshMansHill as a CD from their web site or as a download from or Here are the appropriate links for you to peruse and shop at your leisure and sonic pleasure thus:

ELO Beatles Forever (ELOBF) recommends "Poparama" by WelshMansHill to those enlightened folks who enjoy the music of ELO/Jeff Lynne, The Move, Roy Wood, The Idle Race, 'Brum Beat', The Beatles and related artistes.

Until next "Time" in the ELO (and related) Universe ... KJS ... 13-Nov-2011