Friday, 30 November 2018

Roy Wood: Rockmas 2019 Revealed + Tickets

#1,470: The date for Roy Wood's Rockmas 2019 has been set for Saturday 14th December with tickets already on sale for Dr. Wood's annual festive spectacular which will again be held in Birmingham's iconic Symphony Hall. A weekend slot in mid-December makes Rockmas 2019 all the more attractive and likely to follow Rockmas 2018 in packing out the 2,262 capacity venue. Woody's special guests will undoubtedly be announced soon.

Tickets are priced at £32.50 each (*plus ticket commission) with a 10% discount offered for bookings before 31st December and can be bought via this link thus:

elobeatlesforever (elobf) recommends Roy Wood's Rockmas 2019 to those enlightened folks who enjoy the music of ELO/Jeff LynneWizzardThe MoveThe Idle Race'Brum Beat'The Beatles and related artistes.

Until next "Time" in the ELO (and related) Universe ... KJS ... 30-Nov-2018

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Review: The Patchwork Green (Julie Gunn)

#1,469: One of the great pleasures of running elobeatlesforever (elobf) is to occasionally be able to feature indie artistes - be they local, national or international - because Yours Truly KJS can! Julie Gunn is one such musician who shares my love for all things ELO and Roy Wood and lives just down the proverbial Birmingham New Road. I finally got to meet Julie at the recent Morganisation gig in Hockley Heath and during our chat she kindly handed me a copy of her debut solo album "The Patchwork Green", released originally in late 2014.

And what a remarkable album "The Patchwork Green" is! Hugely influenced by her love of all things Pink Floyd, this is a set of songs that you instantly warm to with excursions into rock ("When Can I Play?"), prog rock ("Spread Our Wings""Deja Vu") and quirky power pop ("How Long?", "Rocked My World") with a nod to Woody thrown in for good measure thanx to "Spirit Your Way (Saudade)", a track undoubtedly influenced by Roy's early ELO classic "Whisper In the Night"Julie's vocals at times are reminiscent of the late, great Kirsty MacColl yet the overriding theme of this album is her amazing guitar prowess and all round musicianship, examples being (but not limited to) the instrumental "Jeanne D'Arc", the epic "So Far Away" (with a phenomenal guitar solo) and the magnificent "Temple Of The Gods". The aforementioned "Spirit Your Way (Saudade)" remains a fave alongside the elevating, iconic "Can You Feel?". My only regret is that it's taken me four years to hear and subsequently review this gem. ★★

Trax: "Spread Our Wings" ~ "Deja Vu" ~ "How Long?" ~ "Love's Not A Competition (But I'm Winning)" ~ "Time Is The Great Healer" ~ "So Far Away" ~ "Jeanne D'Arc" ~ "Can You Feel?" ~ "When Can I Play?" ~ "Temple Of The Gods" ~ "Your Girl" ~ "Spirit Your Way (Saudade)" ~ "Rocked My World" ~ "Cymbaline"

"The Patchwork Green" by Julie Gunn can be obtained directly in CD format here &/or in digital format via these links thus:

elobeatlesforever (elobf) recommends "The Patchwork Green" by Julie Gunn to those enlightened folks who enjoy the music of ELO/Jeff LynneThe MoveRoy WoodThe Idle Race'Brum Beat'The Beatles and related artistes.

Until next "Time" in the ELO (and related) Universe ... KJS ... 28-Nov-2018

Saturday, 24 November 2018

Review: Unchained Melodies (Roy Orbison with The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra)

#1,468: When Yours Truly KJS broke the news in October via elobeatlesforever (elobf) that a second Roy Orbison album with The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra was on the cards, the only question in this writers mind was what songs would be stripped down and reassembled this time around following on from the impressive commercial success of "A Love So Beautiful" last year.

"Unchained Melodies" was finally unveiled on Friday 23rd November replete with a significant promotional fanfare across most media platforms whilst I looked forward to receiving a copy of the CD to review. A cursory glance at the fifteen tracks on offer revealed an interesting mix of covers and original Big O classics including a quartet of songs from 1989's "Mystery Girl" and Roy's unique take on the likes of "Unchained Melody", "The Great Pretender" and (surprisingly) "Danny Boy". The result is a much more sedate affair overall than its predecessor but one which manages to highlight that amazing voice all the more. The new arrangements for the familiar "She's A Mystery To Me", "Careless Heart" and Elvis Costello's "The Comedians" work well, as does the whole package. The Jeff Lynne connection is here again with the wonderful Orbison/Lynne/Petty penned "California Blue" sounding majestic with its new stringed backdrop. My fave moment has to be "Heartbreak Radio", a rockabilly rocker originally reconstructed by Jeff for the "King Of Hearts" album but revelling in its new orchestral surroundings and given a new lease of life with a real ELO feel to it. The alternate version featuring a duet with Cam also rocks! In summary, "Unchained Melodies" is the perfect sequel to "A Love So Beautiful" in that it manages to avoid being a collection of other Orbisongs with added strings hiding in the shadow of its predecessor. Much kudos to Nick Patrick, Don Reedman and the Orbison clan for another enjoyable production. If you love Roy Orbison and/or you bought "A Love So Beautiful", you will love this! ★★

Trax: "Unchained Melody" ~ "Blue Bayou" ~ "She's A Mystery To Me" ~ "Heartbreak Radio" ~ "Falling" ~ "Walk On" ~ "The Great Pretender" ~ "The Crowd" ~ "The Comedians" ~ "Crawling Back" ~ "Danny Boy" ~ "Too Soon To Know" ~ "Careless Heart" ~ "California Blue" ~ "Heartbreak Radio" (Duet with Cam)

Find out more about Roy Orbison and "Unchained Melodies" via these links thus:

Related KJS/ELOBF articles
Roy Orbison: New Album with Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Soon
Review: A Love So Beautiful (Roy Orbison with The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra)

elobeatlesforever (elobf) recommends "Unchained Melodies" by Roy Orbison with The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra to those enlightened folks who enjoy the music of ELO/Jeff LynneThe Traveling WilburysRoy WoodThe MoveThe Idle Race'Brum Beat'The Beatles and related artistes.

Until next "Time" in the ELO (and related) Universe ... KJS ... 24-Nov-2018

Thursday, 22 November 2018

Review: Sky Blue (Apology None)

#1,467: Both The Beatles and The Move delved into the psychedelic during their Sixties journey, as did not a few other bands trying to find their feet as the decade came to an end. It should therefore come as no surprise that, of all things, there should be artistes in the here and now who are still exploring that territory. Apology None, who are no strangers to long time readers of elobeatlesforever (elobf), are a group with a difference in that they also double up as a cartoon! As if to underline that fact, the inner inlay of the CD tray states: "Hear our tunes and watch our toons!" ... and so you should.

Their latest album "Sky Blue", the third offering from Apology None maestro Tim Ross, has just been released and carries on where 2014's "Satur-delia" left off to an extent. Aided and abetted on this occasion by the drums of Sean Mack Page (Fragile X, Imaginos), this album does need a couple of plays to get into the groove. Having said that, there is lot going on here as this sometimes manic, multi-instrumental work unwinds and starts to dip its proverbial toes into progressive rock territory at its conclusion. Certainly, Yours Truly KJS found the second half of this record from "River Dragon" onward more expansive and likely to appeal to intrigued listeners with tracks such as "Journey Jeannie", "Calling Cathy Hollingsworth", "Here We Are" and title track "Sky Blue" of note. If you are still seeking an new audio trip in the digital age, this might just be it. ★★

Trax: "Trust Me" ~ "Lost In Your Sunshine" ~ "La La Remember It" ~ "Real" ~ "Higher High" ~ "River Dragon" ~ "Anchor Me" ~ "Journey Jeannie" ~ "Jesus Fly Me Like A Kite" ~ "Calling Cathy Hollingsworth" ~ "Here We Are" ~ "Sky Blue"

Review: Satur-delia (Apology None)
Review: High Society (Apology None)

You can read up on all things Apology None via their official web sites thus:

"Sky Blue" by Apology None is available in CD and/or download formats via these links thus:

elobeatlesforever (elobf) recommends "Sky Blue" by Apology None to those enlightened folks who enjoy the music of ELO/Jeff LynneThe MoveRoy WoodThe Idle Race'Brum Beat'The Beatles and related artistes.

Until next "Time" in the ELO (and related) Universe ... KJS ... 22-Nov-2018

Monday, 19 November 2018

Review: Legs & Luggage (Vegas With Randolph)

#1,466: Five years have passed since Yours Truly KJS reviewed Washington DC outfit Vegas With Randolph's third studio album "Rings Around The Sun" for elobeatlesforever (elobf) so it was rather nice to discover that a new album "Legs & Luggage" was due out in Autumn 2018.

A lot has happened in that time - including the passing of founding member and bassist Dan Aylestock - yet Vegas With Randolph have managed to produce and construct another set of attention grabbing Power Pop songs oozing with their trademark zip, commentary and effervescence during their half a decade hiatus. The nett result is a record packed with catchy guitar riffs, anthemic lyrics and electrified energy as evidenced by opener "You Could Say Yes", continued by "Jacob" and underlined by "The Girl Holding Out For Me". Punctuated by the classy keys led "I Could Be The One" and one of my fave tracks, the observational "Women In Airports", this album never lets up until you reach closing track "I Have You", a string laden ballad with a nod to both ELO and The Beatles in their prime and another fave of mine! Make no mistake about it, "Legs & Luggage" rocks. And so do Vegas With Randolph. Best you partake of your allowance soon. ★★

Trax: "You Could Say Yes" ~ "Jacob" ~ "The Girl Holding Out For Me" ~ "I Could Be The One" ~ "Free Your Soul" ~ "She's An Intellectual" ~ "Women In Airports" ~ "Chick Fighter" ~ "Three Red Hooks" ~ "The Weekend's Coming" ~ "The Comeback Kid" ~ "Ain't So Complicated" ~ "I Have You"

Review: Rings Around The Sun (Vegas With Randolph)
Review: Above The Blue (Vegas With Randolph)

Vegas With Randolph are: Dan Aylestock (Bass) ~ Brock Harris (Lead/Rhythm Guitars) ~ Eric Kern (Vox/Keys/Guitar) ~ Andy Hamburger (Drums/Percussion) ~ John Ratts (Vox/Guitars). You can read up on all things Vegas With Randolph via their official web sites thus:

"Legs & Luggage" by Vegas With Randolph is available in CD and/or download formats via these links thus:

elobeatlesforever (elobf) recommends "Legs & Luggage" by Vegas With Randolph to those enlightened folks who enjoy the music of ELO/Jeff LynneThe MoveRoy WoodThe Idle Race'Brum Beat'The Beatles and related artistes.

Until next "Time" in the ELO (and related) Universe ... KJS ... 19-Nov-2018

Thursday, 15 November 2018

Chart Tragedy: What Went Wrong with Zoom?

#1,465: When Jeff Lynne abruptly purchased Bev Bevan's share of the ELO brand, name and rights in November 1999, it opened the door for the ELO maestro to embark on another electric light fantastic journey with a band not only underpinned by his acclaimed songs, production and musicianship but now his 100% ownership. It also put fans on notice of the potential recommencement of new Electric Light Orchestra material whilst also signalling the eventual transition of ELO Part II into The Orchestra. Within a year "Flashback" - a 3CD career anthology - had been released to rave reviews with hints of a new album circulating in fanzines and a world largely devoid of Facebook, Twitter and other social media.

Thinking that Jeff's ELO career was over, many fans had been expecting a second solo album to follow up the modest chart success of "Armchair Theatre" in 1990 but his various production projects during the nineties with the likes of Tom Petty, Julianna Raye, the late Roy Orbison, Paul McCartney and (of course) The Beatles likely meant that it remained incomplete and shelved. So when news of a new ELO album - the first since "Balance Of Power" in 1986 - surfaced in the early part of 2001, the ELO fan base got excited. Who would it feature? What would it sound like?

Yours Truly KJS still remembers when Sir Terry Wogan aired "Alright" as announced it as "the new ELO single" on his then BBC Radio 2 Breakfast Show in May 2001. New album "Zoom" followed in June. My initial reaction upon first play was that "Zoom" sounded more like a Jeff Lynne solo effort that an ELO record. In fact, I still recall renaming it "Armchair Theatre Part II". "Zoom" sported the familiar ELO logo and the artwork was appealing and impressive. The familiarity of Lynne compositions and arrangements gave it an ELO feel in places but one could not escape the fact that this was Jeff plus a few famous friends, even though Richard Tandy appeared on one track. Essentially, that is what most reviewers said at the time too. It had the name of ELO but the sound of Jeff Lynne - an observation, not a criticism.

Perhaps the strangest thing about the release of "Zoom" was the lack of promotion by both artist, management and record company - almost as if it had been presumed that it would pick up commercially where "Balance Of Power" left off. The casual record buying public in 2001 were very much different than that in 1986 and some ELO fans had long since moved on. I remember struggling to find a copy in my local HMV store. There was no attention grabbing display, like those that were found for the debut Electric Light Orchestra Part Two album in 1991 or the frequent TV adverts that elevated the "Very Best of ELO" compilation put out by Dino in 1994 to #4 on the Official UK Album Chart, their highest chart placing of the nineties. The tide was out at that time for ELO with a number of greatest hits packages permeated by the aforementioned "Armchair Theatre" (#24) and "Electric Light Orchestra Part Two" (#34). It was therefore ironic that "Zoom" peaked at the same chart position as ELO Part II's debut LP ten years earlier.
Fast forwarding to a rainy night in November 2018 and writing this article for elobeatlesforever (elobf), my view and opinion of "Zoom" has softened somewhat over the years, especially with the 2013 reissue via Frontiers, its arrival on 2LP vinyl via Let Them Eat Vinyl in the same year and a new lease of life this year via Sony Legacy. In fact, I am now of the opinion that "Zoom" resembles more of an ELO album as a whole than 2015's "Alone In The Universe", released under the different moniker of Jeff Lynne's ELO but essentially the same formula. So what went wrong with "Zoom"? The answer is that it was perhaps the right album at the wrong time or a mixture of both.

Until next "Time" in the ELO (and related) Universe ... KJS ... 15-Nov-2018

Saturday, 10 November 2018

Roy Wood: The Cheap Trick Connection

#1,464: Being as both Roy Wood and Cheap Trick will be touring the UK this December, Yours Truly KJS and elobeatlesforever (elobf) reckoned that it's an opportune time to look and the connections between Woody and the legendary rockers with a nod, of course, to ELO.

As far as this writer is aware, Cheap Trick have covered four Roy Wood penned songs to date. The Move's "California Man" in 1978, "Rock 'n' Roll Tonight" in 1990 (a version of "We're Gonna Rock 'n' Roll Tonight" from "Introducing Eddy and the Falcons" found on the album "Busted"), "Brontosaurus" in 1997 (the flip side to their "Baby Talk" single) and their 2017 cover of Wizzard's "I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday" (as found on their "Christmas Christmas" album - see elobf review below). Roy also sang on "Money Is the Route Of All Fun", a demo found on the fourth disc of the 1996 box set "Sex, America, Cheap Trick" but recorded in sessions for "The Doctor" (1986).

Guest Review: Christmas Christmas (Cheap Trick)

And those links between Cheap Trick and ELO? The obvious one is Rick Nielsen's tongue-in-cheek "ELO Kiddies", the 'B' side of the 1978 single "Ain't That A Shame". The not-so-obvious mutuality is that the aforementioned album "The Doctor" also included a cover of the Billy Steinberg/Tom Kelly song "Kiss Me Red", which was also to be found on the debut Electric Light Orchestra Part Two album in 1991. In terms of performing together, Cheap Trick and Roy Wood have gigged together on a number of occasions, the first being at Barbarella's in Birmingham on Friday 16th February 1979 with another occurring during a 1995 charity concert in New York. They were also pictured together backstage at Holmdel, NJ in September 2016. Their respect is mutual with Roy often lauded as a major musical hero and inspiration for the band.

Tickets are still available to see the Roy Wood Rock 'n' Roll Band and/or Cheap Trick supporting Def Leppard via these links thus:

Roy Wood: On The Road Again in 2018

Left: Cheap Trick press release portrait
Above right: Cheap Trick at the Hammersmith Odeon in 1979 (Source: ~It's_me! @ Flickr)
Bottom right: Cheap Trick with Roy at Holmdel, NJ (Source: Cheap Trick @ Facebook)
Find out more about Cheap Trick via these official links thus:

elobeatlesforever (elobf) recommend Cheap Trick to those enlightened folks who love ELO/Jeff LynneRoy Wood'Brum Beat'The Idle RaceThe MoveThe Beatles and related artistes.

Until next "Time" in the ELO (and related) Universe ... KJS ... 10-Nov-2018

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Remembering Hugh McDowell

#1,463: Fans of the Electric Light Orchestra and Wizzard were left stunned and saddened on Wednesday 7th November to hear the news that ELO's very own eclectic cellist Hugh McDowell had passed away in St. John's Hospice in London at the age of 65 years having been ill for some time.

London born Hugh was on stage when ELO's live career commenced in Croydon on 16th April 1972 and rejoined Jeff Lynne's orchestrated rockers in 1973 after a successful stint with Roy Wood's Wizzard during which he received a songwriting credit for "Bend Over Beethoven", the reverse side of "See My Baby Jive" and perhaps a backhanded nod to his then former band mates. Hugh developed a reputation for his energetic cello sorcery during ELO's live shows for the next five years and played on the albums "On The Third Day", "Eldorado", "Face The Music", "A New World Record" and "Out Of The Blue" as ELO approached their commercial peak. He was also to be found bearing his belly button on the revamped  front cover of OTTD as well as having his nose somewhat squashed on the rear cover of FTM!
The tongue-in-cheek flip side of Wizzard's #1 hit "See My Baby Jive" (HAR5070) was credited to Hugh ...
Hugh also appeared on the promo film for "Discovery" in 1979 although he did not participate in the recording sessions. Over a decade passed before Hugh returned to the ELO universe as he played alongside The Moscow Symphony Orchestra with Electric Light Orchestra Part Two in 1991 and also reconnected with Kelly Groucutt and Mik Kaminski for their OrKestra project. More recently in 2016, Hugh could be found contributing to The Ancient Order of Froth Blowers' "El Original Brew", the follow-up to another famed Wizzard 'B' side: "The Carlsberg Special" alongside Nick Pentelow and Bill Hunt.
Hugh McDowell: 31st July 1953 to 7th November 2018
As far as Yours Truly KJS and elobeatlesforever (elobf) are concerned, Hugh McDowell will forever be remembered as one of the Magnificent Seven, the classic ELO line up that adorned the album covers and inner sleeves of the first records I ever bought. ELO were a band like no other and Hugh was an integral part of their Seventies success as he cavorted across the stages of the world with white cello in hand whilst being immortalised in a certain poster found inside copies of the OOTB double album (see above). Our thoughts and commiserations go out to his daughter Adelise as we bid farewell to someone recently lauded as "the Jimi Hendrix of the cello".

The funeral for Hugh McDowell will take place on Friday 23rd November.

Until next "Time" in the ELO (and related) Universe ... KJS ... 07-Nov-2018