Thursday, 31 December 2020

Yours Truly 2020: A Year In Review

#1,555: Whilst for many the year 2020 will be remembered as the year of the plandemic, for Yours Truly KJS it will always be a year dominated by the goodbye bade to my mother Beryl Lilian Sinclair, who passed away unexpectedly in the early hours of Sunday 8th March. It was also a year in which elobeatlesforever (elobf) took another six (6) month break (as per 2019) yet over forty elobf articles were still published whilst we were active including a trio of exclusive interviews with music industry legends Mike StevensMike Batt and author James R Turner.

There were sadly no gig reviews or any elobf Gig Guides as the Jeff Lynne's ELO "From Out Of Nowhere" UK/EU tour was curtailed alongside planned dates by Roy Wood, Quill and Morganisation. Whereas Jeff Lynne was quiet this year, Roy Wood did twiddle the knobs behind the scenes as Chief Engineer for "A Royal Philharmonic Christmas" (expect more from Roy in 2021) and Bev Bevan launched Quill Connect with Joy Strachan-Brain whilst writing his autobiography. On a personal level, elobf celebrated their 11th birthday in February and a rare solid centre copy of "Telephone Line" (UP36254) was finally captured in October.

elobf Albums of the Year 2020
Six albums from Baby Scream, Morganisation, Rain, The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Iain Hornal and Paul McCartney were reviewed as elobf returned to its proverbial roots in 2020 and after much consideration, KJS reckons that Morganisation's excellent "Made In Britain" and Iain Hornal's classy "Fly Away Home" should share our Album of the Year accolade this year. Congrats to both artistes! Perhaps the best way to commemorate this somewhat abridged year is via the above montage and this selection of articles thus ...

Yours Truly KJS would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every visitor, contributor and interviewee to elobeatlesforever (elobf) during 2020 and to also wish you a better if not ELOtastic New Year! Looking ahead, there's much to look forward to, musically speaking, in 2021 so please consider bookmarking elobf and reading more new articles in this new decade!

*** Until next "Time" in the ELOBF Universe ... KJS ... 31-Dec-2020 ***

Sunday, 20 December 2020

Review: McCartney III

#1,554: Much water has passed under the bridge since McCartney II (1980) and McCartney (1970). Paul McCartney has given us many journeys in musical genre, public perception and (of course) a post-Beatles multi-media career festooned with hit singles, legendary albums, memorable tours and - unfortunately- personal tragedy. Coming two years on from Egypt Station and constructed during a time Macca terms as "rockdown", McCartney III (Capitol Records #00602435136592) completes a trilogy of albums featuring Paul's array of multi-instrumental talents and delivers (on the blue vinyl edition reviewed here) a hugely enjoyable eleven song opus from the opening chords of opener Long Tailed Winter Bird all the way through to its epilogue Winter Bird/When Winter Comes.
Yours Truly KJS found McCartney III immediately accessible with McCartney's vocals holding up well as he tackles folk, funk, pop and a little rock with his own imitable, familiar style. Lyrically there is much variety here with the exhortation of Women and Wives balanced with the Beatlesque fun of Lavatory Lil (surely a relative of Lovely Rita?) alongside the double emphases of Deep Down and Deep Deep Feeling. Considering that Paul is 78 years young, this record is absorbingly manic in places yet reflective elsewhere. It's hard to pick faves on such a great LP but the aforementioned Women And Wives (which has a Johnny Cash feel to it) stands out as does Slidin' (as prog as it gets reminding me much of She's So Heavy), Seize The Day (learning the lessons of life) and Deep Down not forgetting the artistry of Long Tailed Winter Bird. In many ways Paul McCartney has quite literally found his way with an album that is likely to please his fervent followers and casual fans alike. Certain to top the end of year charts and deservingly so. ★★★★★

ELO Beatles Foreber (ELOBF) recommends McCartney III by Paul McCartney 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 ELOBF Universe ... 20-Dec-2020 ***

Wednesday, 16 December 2020

Review: Fly Away Home (Iain Hornal)

#1,553: Three light years have passed since Iain Hornal's debut album "The Game Begins With The Lights Out" arrived with much critical acclaim and also ended up as elobf Album of the Year. His new album is therefore something to look forward to after what, in his own words, has been "such a challenging year" not only for Iain but the entire music industry. New album "Fly Away Home" arrives officially in early 2021 and again sees the 10cc frontman again teaming up with fellow Jeff Lynne's ELO touring member Jo Webb (who also produced and enjoyed Top 5 success in producing Rick Parfitt's posthumous album "Over And Out" in the meantime) to deliver another hugely enjoyable eleven song set sure to appeal to fans and followers of ELO, 10cc and their musical contemporaries.

"Fly Away Home" not only picks up where "The Game Begins With The Lights Out" left off, it takes the listener on a journey through heartfelt lyrics, homely melodies and a perfect mixture of thoughtful ballads ("How Much It Means", "Let The Dove Fly", "I Can't Tell You" and "Drop This Sing" are truly beautiful) balanced with pure, catchy, anthemic pop (the title track, "The One To Blame", "Try A Little Love", "Everybody Else" and "Welcome To the World" greatly evidence this). Whilst this collection of songs shows that Iain has absorbed much of the polished songwriting craft of his live performances of classic ELO and 10cc tunes, it would be true to say that there is a depth and maturity here with this record alongside the rich range in his vocals. There's also a little Billy Joel hidden here and there and underpinning it all is the high degree of production values, thanx to the complimentary efforts of Jo Webb.

Fave trax are difficult to isolate because this album is so classy as a whole yet I love the nod to "Livin' Thing" within "The One To Blame" if not the personal exhortation of "Welcome To The World" with its wise words to a new life arriving on the earthly scene. The string laden, pensive "Let The Dove Fly" and atmospheric, sheer honesty of "I Can't Tell You" are also to be experienced. "Fly Away Home" is certainly an album not to be missed and an absolute pleasure to run the proverbial rule over! ★★★★★
Related KJS/ELOBF articles
elo beatles forever (elobf) recommends "Fly Away Home" by Iain Hornal to those enlightened folks who enjoy the music of ELO/Jeff LynneRoy WoodWizzardThe Move10ccThe Idle Race'Brum Beat'The Beatles and related artistes.

*** Until next "Time" in the ELOBF Universe ... KJS ... 16-Dec-2020 ***

Thursday, 10 December 2020

Interview: Author James R Turner discusses Roy Wood: The Move, ELO & Wizzard

#1,552: It would be true to say that elo beatles forever (elobf) has been waiting for James R Turner's new book "Roy Wood: The Move, ELO & Wizzard" (Sonicbond Publishing ISBN 978-1789520088) to arrive for quite some time and the good news is that it will finally be published on Friday 18th December. Yours Truly KJS caught up with the author recently and asked some searching questions about James himself and the development of the book in this latest addition to my exclusive series of interviews for elobf. It was great for this particular fan to interview a fellow fan on familiar subject matter! Here's hoping that you enjoy reading it as much as I did putting it together!

KJS: First things first, James! Tell me about yourself?
JRT: Hi Keith! I'm 43 and live in North Somerset with my fiancée Charlotte, our three cats and two dogs (Dilys the West Highland White Terrier and Freja the Rhodesian Ridgeback) and have been a music fan since my early teens. I've been writing album reviews, interviews, features for various places like the (now sadly defunct) Classic Rock Society, BBC online, Albion Online (exploring English culture), various progressive rock websites over the past 20 years and also for We Are Cult. I'm a fan of cult TV and a huge Doctor Who fan and, whilst I spend a lot of time writing about Prog rock, my tastes are far wider and deeper than that and I have everything from Abba to Zappa (and all points in between!) in my record collection. I also do the social media for the Bad Elephant Music record label and enjoy reading in my spare time!

KJS: Is this your first book?
JRT: It is! I've contributed over the years to anthologies including poetry and short stories, as well as to non-fiction anthologies about Doctor Who, Cult TV & David Bowie but this is the first time that I've ever flown solo.

KJS: What sparked your interest in Roy Wood?
JRT: It started, as with most people, by diving into their parents record collection. The first musical band that I got heavily into was The Beatles, which led me on to Jeff Lynne and ELO, and then through collecting ELO and related albums I discovered Roy Wood, Wizzard and the Move, and of course, like a lot of people, I was astonished by the sound of that debut ELO album which sounded like nothing else I'd ever heard at the time.

KJS: How did you approach writing "Roy Wood: The Move, ELO & Wizzard"?
JRT: I started by putting the albums and singles into chronological order before I even started writing about them, so I had a timeline and structure to work to and, of course, I then listened to the albums in chronological order to get a feel as to how the book was going to develop following how Roy's career developed. As we all know, some of Roy's work is still unavailable on CD and when I was writing it, I was lucky that Esoteric had just finished their remastering of the entire Move back catalogue complete with additional bonus tracks, some of which were covered more in depth than others. At the time of writing Introducing Eddy & The Falcons, Mustard, Main Street, Super Active Wizzo and Starting Up were unavailable (luckily I had copies of Eddy, Mustard & Main St. – the 1999 Edsel editions and Starting Up) and Boulders, Wizzard Brew and On The Road Again were only available in the Original Album Series. As I already had Boulders, Wizzard Brew (the 2005 remaster), Message From The Country and The Electric Light Orchestra, it seemed pointless to pay £14 for the box to get On The Road Again – when I could pick up a copy of the Wounded Bird CD edition for just £6. For the rest of the material, YouTube and various compilation albums helped filled the gaps, as did Discogs again for Super Active Wizzo on vinyl! Luckily, since then Esoteric Records have remastered and reissued Mustard, Eddy & The Falcons and Main Street (with the same track listing as the Edsel editions) so when people read the book, there's more out there for them to get. I hope Esoteric continue and mop up Wizzo, Starting Up & On The Road Again – complete with the singles released during that period. As for the actual writing of the book, I took two weeks off work, and treated the writing as if it were my day job – I would start at nine in the morning, break for lunch and finish at five. I found that the easiest way to approach it and I dealt with it album by album as close to chronologically as possible. Of course some albums had to wait due to waiting for them to be delivered, but overall it was written from start to finish as close to release order as possible.

KJS: We recommended the book to elobf patrons almost two years ago back in December 2018. Why has the book taken so long to arrive?
JRT: It is my first book, and so I have gone from writing pieces no more than 500-2,000 words to putting down a piece of work of around 60,000 words so it did need editing and tidying up by Stephen Lambe at Sonicbond – who has done a great job on it! The manuscript I submitted probably needed tidying up before submission. That, I guess, was naivety on my part – but all the pieces were there, just not necessarily in the right order. In the interim, of course, there have been three reissues of core Woody albums – so I was able to add a few amendments about those, and The Idle Race debut album got a double disc set reissue with the mono album on CD for the first time, so it gave me opportunity and time to revisit that as well. I hope the readers think it was worth the wait!

KJS: What can readers expect to find in the book?
JRT: It's not a biography as such, so don't expect any revelations! However it is, as far as I'm aware, the first book that covers all aspects of Roy's musical releases in one place – including the ELO debut as well – and as so much of Roy's later career is unavailable (which is absolutely criminal to my mind). I hope it shines a light into areas that don't normally get covered. Plus, of course, in the appendix you'll find a complete overview album by album of The Idle Race – which hasn't been done anywhere before. I think The Idle Race are such an important aspect of The Move/ELO story that they had to be included as they demonstrate how Jeff's songwriting influenced the latter day Move and why Roy felt Jeff was the perfect foil for launching the ELO concept.

KJS: Were there any particular difficulties with your research?
JRT: The lack of availability of the latter day albums was frustrating, as trying to get hold of Super Active Wizzo on second hand CD is a nightmare. I did approach Roy through mutual friends to see if he'd like to be interviewed but sadly it didn't happen. It would have been nice to have his perspective. However, I know he's keen on his privacy which I fully respect and hope I've done his work justice.

KJS: Did you uncover any surprises along the way?
JRT: Not too many surprises, although when you look at Roy's lyrics and songs throughout his career, Rain appears as a lyrical theme throughout from Flowers In The Rain, of course, to The Rain Came Down On Everything from Mustard, Way Beyond The Rain from On The Road Again and Raining In The City from Starting Up.

KJS: What are your hopes for "Roy Wood: The Move, ELO & Wizzard"?
JRT: I hope people enjoy the book and that it is received in the way it's intended, as a critical appreciation of the great man.

KJS: Have you any further writing adventures planned?
JRT: I'm still contributing album reviews to several websites and I've had an idea for something totally different but it's only in the genesis stage at the moment so I would say "Watch this space!"

KJS: What are your three fave Woody tunes and why?
JRT: What a question! #1: Feel Too Good (from Looking On) – Looking On is my favourite Move album, I just love the big sounds they get on here, and Feel Too Good has everything (and the kitchen sink). That pounding beat on the drums played by Jeff Lynne, Roy's full-on rock vocals which blend nicely with the soulful sound of PP Arnold and Doris Troy. It's a full-on stomp rocker and leaves you with a great big smile on your face. #2: Way Beyond The Rain (from On The Road Again) is another lush Woody ballad, with some sublime strings that echo his emotive lyrics. His heartfelt performance is fantastic and it astonishes me that more people aren't aware of this song. It's fantastic! #3: Meet Me At The Jailhouse (Wizzard Brew) is again an absolute belter of a Woody number that bounces around so many genres that you lose track and, to me, it just sums up Roy Wood! There are so many brilliant ideas here that show – freed from the constraints of an Electric Light Orchestra – that Roy could write and perform whatever he liked. He did and this was the result.

KJS: How can folks order "Roy Wood: The Move, ELO & Wizzard"?
JRT: It's available from Amazon, WHSmith online and it'll also be available from Burning Shed who are the home of the Sonicbond shop.

Click on the links below for info and/or to buy "Roy Wood: The Move, ELO & Wizzard" thus:

elo beatles forever (elobf) recommends "Roy Wood: The Move, ELO & Wizzard" by James R Turner to those enlightened folks who enjoy the music of ELO/Jeff LynneRoy WoodThe MoveWizzardThe Idle Race'Brum Beat'The Beatles and related artistes.

Until next "Time" in the ELO (and related) Universe ... KJS ... 10-Dec-2020

Tuesday, 8 December 2020

Review: A Royal Philharmonic Christmas

#1,551: Considering that the project was conceived and executed in October in the most trying of circumstances, "A Royal Philharmonic Christmas" is most assuredly a testament to the talents of not only the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra but also the man responsible for a fair chunk of the production responsibilities: Daniel McCormack who - ably assisted by long time musical cohort and Chief Engineer Dr. Roy Wood - has managed to deliver a most enjoyable album with familiar festive classics intertwined with some clever reinterpretations of more recent Christmas anthems from the 70's, 80's and 90's - plus a rather inspired addition.

There's a rich, organic feel to the sound with this album likely due to the fact that the assembled players were positioned two metres apart within the acclaimed acoustic chamber of St. John Smith Square in central London. Of the thirteen tracks on offer, aside from the excellence of Wizzard's "I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day", the arrangements for Slade's "Merry Xmas Everybody" as well as "Stop the Cavalry" and "All I Want For Christmas Is You" also sound at home in their new symphonic surroundings.

For Yours Truly KJS and ELOBF, the icing on the cake is the inclusion of the relatively unknown "Christmas You, Christmas Me" - an earworm of a tune written for charity by Iain Kerr that's an ideal choice as the album closer. "A Royal Philharmonic Christmas" is an agreeable and relaxing record, easy on the ears and perfect for the time of year. ★★★★★
"A Royal Philharmonic Christmas" by The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra is now out and be obtained either as a limited edition CD or digital download via these links thus:

Related KJS/ELOBF articles
elobeatlesforever (elobf) recommends "A Royal Philharmonic Christmas" by The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra to those enlightened folks who enjoy the music of Roy Wood, Wizzard, ELO/Jeff LynneThe MoveThe Idle Race'Brum Beat'The Beatles and related artistes.

*** Until next "Time" in the ELOBF Universe ... KJS ... 08-Dec-2020 ***

Sunday, 6 December 2020

Interview: Mike Batt talks Wombles, Roy Wood and their Christmas Collaboration

#1,550: Believe it or not it's twenty years since Roy Wood teamed up with Mike Batt to combine their iconic Christmas classics "I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day" (#4 in 1973) and "Wombling Merry Christmas" (#2 in 1974) to produce "I Wish It Could Be A Wombling Merry Christmas Every Day" hence Yours Truly KJS thought it a good idea to talk with acclaimed singer/songwriter Mike Batt about the history of the project, The Wombles (naturally!), his new career retrospective album and much more in the latest addition to my exclusive series of interviews for elo beatles forever (elobf). Here's hoping that you enjoy reading it!

KJS: Thank you Mike for taking part in this interview with me for elobf! Let's start at the relative beginning. For many people of my generation, The Wombles remain a fond memory of a time when things seemed a little more innocent than they are today. How did your involvement with the musical entity that is The Wombles come about?
MB: I had left my job as a A&R man at Liberty Records because I didn't think it sat well with being an artist on the label (which I was) – and also because I wanted to do freelance arranging and production and learn my craft – arranging, conducting and producing. I had an agent for commercials and she sent me to these people at the production company, Filmfair, who were making The Wombles for the BBC. They asked for a tune but I suggested a song might be a good way to introduce some of the characters. So that’'s how I wrote the first song, "The Wombling Song" – Underground, Overground – and part of my deal with them was that I could take the character rights to promote records and write about the other characters.

KJS: Looking at the Official Chart Archive, The Wombles enjoyed a phenomenal career with eleven Top 40 singles and five Top 30 albums between 1974 and 2000. This must have been tremendously satisfying for you. What was it like being the mastermind behind the mask, so to speak, of such commercial success?
MB: As they were my first hits, it was exhilarating. I was 23 and had been in the business for 5 years, since I was 18, without having a hit, but building a good reputation in the industry. I had vowed that if ever I was lucky enough to have a hit, I would follow it up successfully. So I studied the art of "following up". Coincidentally, instead of all the prog rock and other stuff I did, my first hit was with The Wombles. I followed "The Wombling Song" with "Remember You're A Womble" – and we were off! Of course it was a joyous time because I have an overdeveloped sense of humour but it also presented an obstacle when I wanted my solo albums to be taken seriously afterwards. That happened outside of the UK where I became well known as a serious artist - but in the UK I’ll always be "Mr. Womble". Even now, answering this question!

KJS: For me, "Wombling Merry Christmas" remains one of the festive hits that still gets the foot tapping and brings a smile to the face even now here in 2020. Coming a year after Roy's epic hit with Wizzard, how did you approach writing and producing it?
MB: It was the year after Roy's hit. I loved the pseudo-Phil Spector OTT flavour of Roy's record and there are things in my record that are deliberately inspired by his. The shuffle rhythm for example, and the low saxes – which were in turn echoes of the Phil Spector Christmas album. It was written very quickly, I think they (CBS – now Sony) gave me 6 weeks to write and produce the whole album. I have always worked quickly anyway, but I remember this being particularly adrenaline fuelled!
Photograph used by permission (Mike Batt/Republic Media/Claire Williams)
KJS: You're ­an acclaimed singer/songwriter/producer/composer/author/director and you've "conducted more orchestras than you can shake a stick at". You've crafted such beautiful songs as "Bright Eyes" for Art Garfunkel and "The Closest Thing To Crazy" for Katie Melua amongst many, many others. Where do you rank your work with The Wombles within your career?
MB: I'm as proud of "Wombling Merry Christmas" as I am of "Bright Eyes". I would have liked to have had more hits as a solo artist (without my Womble head on!) – but the older I get and the more I hear it said by others, the more I believe that The Wombles weren't far away from The Beatles in terms of quality of work. I know that's a big claim, and it's stretching it a bit. But there was only one of me, – and 5 of them, including George Martin!

KJS: Fast forwarding a few years, when did you start considering that "Wombling Merry Christmas" could be combined with "I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day" into a new song encompassing both identities? Was it your idea or that of Roy or was it a mutually inspired decision?
MB: It just came to me as a suitably silly idea, and I rang Roy and Noddy Holder to see if they'd like to do a three-way mash-up. Noddy wasn't having any of it, but Roy came down to my place and we got on with making it!

KJS: How did you and Roy go about merging the songs together? I'm guessing that you had to make difficult decisions as to which portions were retained and which were set aside. How long did the recording take to complete?
MB: On the first day of the time down at my house in Farnham, we just sat together and butchered the two songs together. "What about keeping this bit of mine, and then going into that bit of yours?". Roy was great to write with. He was quite prepared to jump from one chord to a totally unexpected other chord, against all the rules, which I sort of like anyway, but he was "who cares? If we do it, they’ll believe it".

KJS: What was it like working with Roy in the studio?
MB: Such fun. He brought his own stash of vodka and Red Bull (no drugs!) – to lubricate the sessions! We just "made" the record. We were both very confident producers, and respectful of each other. Just two pals, no inhibitions. I remember him saying "I think it needs some tambourines, – grabbing two tambourines and gaffer-taping newspapers to his legs so he could go in and do a take, smashing the tambourines against his legs. He smashed them so hard I realised why he'd used wads of newspaper! We decided it needed strings so I wrote them overnight and the players came to my house the next morning.

KJS: Had you crossed paths with Dr. Wood before this project?
MB: He was a member of the "Society of Distinguished Songwriters" which still exists but we hardly ever see him at our dinners these days. That's how I first met him. The first time I actually saw him in the flesh was when The Move played Southampton Civic Centre and I was just a teen audience member. (He was young for a band member and I was old for a schoolboy!). They were brilliant!
CLICK HERE to view the official music video for "I Wish It Could Be A Wombling Merry Christmas Every Day"
KJS: "I Wish It Could be A Wombling Merry Christmas Every Day" came out just before Christmas 2000. It was Dramatico's first CD single release and reached a respectable #22. Were you happy that it nestled so nicely in the UK Top 30 at the time?
MB: I was happy that it was a hit but the Greatest Hits – that we spent a lot of money advertising – bombed so I lost a LOT of money. It was quite frightening. I nearly had to sell my house. But I've been there a few times in my life. Luckily, I managed to survive via creating my band The Planets, (who went to #1 in the classical charts for 3 months) and then Katie Melua. Never on the ropes for long!

KJS: The music video looked like fun! Did you enjoying filming and participating in it?
MB: It was fun. We did it at the local TA Hall. I got a big green screen background and edited it all together afterwards.

KJS: As someone who considers "I Wish It Could be Christmas Every Day" as perhaps the finest festive song ever constructed, I must admit that I also find "I Wish It Could be A Wombling Merry Christmas Every Day" similarly pleasing to the ear for obvious reasons! Did you intend the string arrangements to add the almost ELOesque feel to the song – quite apt considering Roy's pivotal role in the creation of ELO?
MB: No – I always just write just what I want for strings. ELO never came into the conversation. To be honest I love Jeff Lynne's ELO but I think the string writing is a bit "obvious" (maybe because Roy and Jeff didn't arrange for strings themselves) – and nothing like my own style. #Just saying. He and Roy are still brilliant, and both heroes of mine.

KJS: Here's a tough question: What would be your favourite Beatles, ELO and Roy Wood tunes?
MB: Beatles, – probably things like "Things We Said Today" and "I'll Follow The Sun". But I love 90% of what they did. ELO, – "Wild West Hero" is a favourite. Roy, – so many, but I love the freshness of the early work like "I Can Hear The Grass Grow" and "Fire Brigade".

KJS: Here in Yours Truly 2020, you've just released "Mike Batt: The Penultimate Collection", a 36 track overview of your career. Please tell us about it and how folks can get hold of a copy?
MB: It's a collection of tracks from throughout. My life, a couple of tracks from each of my solo albums, three Wombles tracks, some newly recorded tracks and also hits that were hits in other countries but not here (like "The Ride To Agadir" and "Lady Of The Dawn" which were massive overseas but because of The Wombles, never got played here. There are versions of me singing "Bright Eyes", "A Winter's Tale", "I Feel Like Buddy Holly", "Please Don't Fall In Love", "Nine Million Bicycles" etc. – in other words, the hits! It's available from Amazon and any other stores, and a signed one can be obtained from
KJS: And finally ... what's next for Mike Batt going forward?
MB: I'm involved in a project with a French artist. Top Secret. He's unknown, but we are devising a strategy to launch him with "other media" as well as an album, because relying on record sales and streaming is a mug's game these days! It’s quite exciting work and I think I've written some of my best ever songs for it. I'll be doing some touring next year – here in the UK if restrictions are lifted and definitely in Germany between the 22nd and 27th November.

elo beatles forever (elobf) recommends Mike Batt and "The Penultimate Collection" to those enlightened folks who enjoy the music of Roy WoodWizzardELO/Jeff LynneThe MoveThe Idle Race'Brum Beat'The Beatles and related artistes.

*** Until next "Time" in the ELOBF Universe ... KJS ... 06-Dec-2020 ***

Wednesday, 2 December 2020

Interview: Daniel McCormack (A Royal Philharmonic Christmas ft. Chief Engineer Roy Wood)

#1,549: Further to our recent article "Roy Wood Returns with Orchestral Take on Christmas Classic", elobeatlesforever (elobf) are pleased to confirm that aside from the usual digital download options to buy the forthcoming album "A Royal Philharmonic Christmas" by The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra featuring (naturally) a beautiful symphonic interpretation of Wizzard's "I Wish It Could be Christmas Every Day", a limited edition run of 950 CD's will be available to purchase for fans of Chief Engineer Dr. Roy Wood from and/or Swan Music via these links thus:

Producer, Musical Arranger, Musical Director, Conductor and Mix Engineer Daniel McCormack (also to be found playing keys in the Roy Wood Rock & Roll Band) outlined the story of the project to Yours Truly KJS recently:

"During this time of musical famine and with no live performances to enjoy this festive season, we really wanted to bring everyone a world class live recorded instrumental album of the songs we associate with being together as a family at Christmas that also bring us fond memories of times gone by. This, however, meant that we had to write and produce the entire project in just 30 days!

Having an elite team consisting of the Royal Philharmonic, Swan Music and Dr. Roy Wood as Chief Engineer to boot is a dream come true for me but it also meant that I had to work to the highest standards I can imagine despite time being against us so, whilst scoring the music for this album, I felt the weight of the pandemic and the resulting struggle of my musician friends and music fans very firmly in my heart. I felt that I really needed to evoke memories of family Christmas gatherings but also remind people of the beauty of a live performance with sonorous instrumental versions of the nation's most memorable and melodic Christmas songs.

There are currently only three recording studios in the UK that can accommodate a live orchestral recording, however, due to restrictions we weren’t allowed to have brass and strings in the same studio together and it just had to be live. After scratching our heads, we decided to create this live recording by socially distancing a fifty piece ensemble of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in a concert hall in Westminster which was literally filled from top to bottom with some of the UK's finest classical musicians, each two metres apart and, as it wasn’t a recording studio, we had to use a specialist outside broadcast truck ‘Floating Earth’ to record the live session with Dr. Roy Wood commanding operations from the booth as Chief Engineer!

Overall, I think that this project is unique because all of the players, myself and all involved were overwhelmed to be together performing as one unit with everyone playing out of their skin. The reality of this album is that we have brought everyone a recording which invokes happy memories of Christmas past, present and future. A Royal Philharmonic Christmas lets people from all generations listen together and talk about happier times. Something fresh for Christmas!"
"A Royal Philharmonic Christmas" by The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra is released on Friday 4th December. For further information, please visit and/or join the A Royal Philharmonic Christmas Facebook and Twitter pages thus ...

Related KJS/ELOBF articles
elobeatlesforever (elobf) recommends "I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day" and "A Royal Philharmonic Christmas" by The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra to those enlightened folks who enjoy the music of Roy WoodWizzardELOThe MoveThe Idle Race'Brum Beat'The Beatles and related artistes.

*** Until next "Time" in the ELOBF Universe ... KJS ... 02-Dec-2020 ***

Thursday, 26 November 2020

Review: Singularity (Rain)

#1,548: elobeatlesforever couldn't let local prog rockers Rain release their debut album " Singularity" (Giant Electric Pea #GEPCD1067) without running the proverbial elobf rule over it. Many ELO fans forget that they were considered to be a progressive outfit themselves thanx to their early LP's "ELO II" and "On The Third Day" and this enjoyable five track, 47 minute journey by Rain, who include Rob Groucutt (yes, Kelly's son) and Mirron Webb alongside current Quill members Andy Edwards and John Jowitt in their ranks, will likely tick the box for those searching for new prog talent with an experimental aspect.

"Singularity" is ironically an album of differing streams starting with the excellent (and my fave) "Devils Will Reign". It's classic prog with apt if not prophetic lyrical observation of current societal machinations. "Population will reduce, Innocence is now". Indeed. Without doubt there are elements here of Yes in their prime. Vocals are solid throughout hence with its prominent pulsing bass, wonderful guitar craft, articulate percussion and inventive keys, the whole recording hangs together quite nicely closing, as it does, with a surprising twist of industrial jazz vibe for the title track. I have a feeling that this album will suit vinyl quite nicely. Water great debut for Rain! ★★★★
Trax: "Devils Will Reign" ~ "Dandelion" ~ "Walk Away" ~ "The Magician" ~ "Singularity"
"Singularity" by Rain (CD) is currently available to purchase by clicking this link. Vinyl edition to follow soon!

elobeatlesforever (elobf) recommends "Singularity" by Rain to those enlightened folks who enjoy the music of ELO/Jeff LynneRoy WoodThe Move, The Idle RaceQuillThe Beatles and related artistes. With thanx to author James R Turner for his timely nudge.

*** Until next "Time" in the ELOBF Universe ... KJS ... 26-Nov-2020 ***

Friday, 20 November 2020

Roy Wood Returns with Orchestral Take on Christmas Classic

#1,547: elobeatlesforever (elobf) are pleased to announce that after a period of radio silence, Roy Wood has been working closely in the studio with Daniel McCormackThe Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Swan Music in recording a stunning new orchestrated version of his perennial Wizzard festive classic "I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day" as part of the forthcoming new album: "A Royal Philharmonic Christmas".

Having heard a sample of this lush interpretation, Yours Truly KJS can confirm that the end result is a triumph! This is no ordinary cover as Roy has been instrumental in the arrangement and production of this version. It's also been chosen as the lead single with Roy's permission. You can find out more about the new single and album by joining the A Royal Philharmonic Christmas Facebook group wherein you can expect to see brand new interviews with Roy and be first in the queue for pre-order info. A limited number of CD's will also be exclusively available to order for group members.

"I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day" by The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra will be released on Friday 4th December with pre-orders available via iTunes, amazon and Google Play from Friday 27th November. Click on the links below for further info and to visit/join the A Royal Philharmonic Christmas official web site, Facebook and Twitter pages thus ...

Related KJS/ELOBF articles
elobeatlesforever (elobf) recommends "I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day" and "A Royal Philharmonic Christmas" by The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra to those enlightened folks who enjoy the music of Roy WoodWizzardELO/Jeff LynneThe MoveThe Idle Race'Brum Beat'The Beatles and related artistes.

*** Until next "Time" in the ELOBF Universe ... KJS ... 20-Nov-2020 ***

Friday, 13 November 2020

Five Years On: Alone In The Universe

#1,546: Today is Friday 13th November and -  not unluckily for fans and followers of Electric Light Orchestra maestro Jeff Lynne - it's the fifth anniversary of the release the Jeff Lynne's ELO album "Alone In The Universe" on this day and date back in 2015! AITU was a huge commercial success "Down Home Town" in the UK peaking at #4 and staying in the Official UK Top 100 Album Chart for an impressive 17 weeks whilst also enjoying significant chart success "All Over The World" - as detailed here.
The standard CD and vinyl issue of "Alone In The Universe" comprised ten new Lynne penned songs (including the title track) with two bonus trax ("Fault Line" and "Blue") offered in a lenticular sleeved deluxe edition and "On My Mind" included in the Japanese release. Lead single "When I Was A Boy" preceded AITU in most territories with another three songs promoted as singles for ongoing radio promotion. In the UK, a limited quantity of single track CDR singles were also produced and distributed (see above montage).

Thanx to a strong promotional campaign by Jeff himself and his then new deal and laid the foundation for with Sony's well known Columbia Records label (via their UK imprint RCA), "Alone In The Universe" surpassed the earlier Top 10 attainments of "Long Wave" (#7) and "Mr. Blue Sky" (#8) in 2012, laying the foundations for several high grossing stadium tours in the UK, Europe and the States as well as an iconic appearance at Glastonbury in 2016 and a packed house at Wembley Stadium in 2017.
In the opinion of Yours Truly KJS and elobeatlesforever, the release of "Alone In the Universe" ensured that an ELO with Jeff Lynne firmly in the spotlight returned to the fore not only in the eyes of home fans and the Great British public but also their many admirers across the Atlantic and English Channel as both a recording and touring legend. Happy 5th Birthday AITU!

Related KJS/ELOBF articles

Friday, 6 November 2020

Compilation Corner: ELO Part II

#1,545: When it comes to talking compilations, perhaps locating any collection including original songs by ELO Part II is noteworthy being as only two studio albums ("Electric Light Orchestra Part Two""Moment of Truth") and two live albums ("Performing ELO's Greatest Hits Live" & "One Night Live in Australia") were released during their decade long existence.

Aside from the many multiple budget cut and paste versions of the "One Night" album that continue to proliferate across Europe to this day, Yours Truly KJS and elobeatlesforever (elobf) have only identified a couple of various artistes CD compilations wherein ELO Part II trax are included. There may be more out there but these two come to mind for the purposes of this elobf article ...
1995: Nestled between Wendy & Lisa's "Waterfall" and Lou Reed's "Perfect Day", you'll find the excellent Eric Troyer penned "1000 Eyes" on "Precious Metal" (TEMPCD014), released by Temple (an imprint of Telstar Records) and later renamed "Precious Rock" due to a clash with a similarly entitled hits package. This writer remembers being surprised that that an ELO Part II song was included a full 4 years after Telstar released "Electric Light Orchestra Part Two" in 1991 and it's not out of place in such illustrious classic rock company.

1996: Rock ballad "One More Tomorrow" (written by Bev Bevan, Phil Bates and Mik Kaminski) can be found on budget CD "Summer Dance Party" (SP01654) issued in Germany by Mediahaus Productions in a rather eclectic mixture of trax including "Lola" by The Kinks and "It's A Heartache" by Bonnie Tyler. The 2CD live album "One Night Live in Australia" was initially put out by Mediahaus Strobel through SPV GmbH with "One More Tomorrow" also released as a single earlier that year, hence its inclusion.

Please contact KJS@elobf if you are aware of any other releases that include original ELO Part II songs excluding, of course, their live recordings of ELO hits ... 

Tuesday, 3 November 2020

Roy Wood: Live 2021 (Cancelled)

#1,544: It's great to see live dates starting to pop up in the 2021 calendar for Dr. Roy Wood and his accomplished Rock & Roll Band! So far the postponed Rockmas 2020 event at the Symphony Hall in Birmingham and a newly confirmed date at The Picturedome in Holmfirth are on the roster. Yours Truly KJS and elobeatlesforever (elobf) understand that more dates will be revealed soon. We'll do our best to collate and list any confirmed Roy Wood UK dates in 2021 replete with pricing and links to buy tickets. Please bookmark this elobf article in order to keep up to date with any Woody gig developments as we head towards the "Rock 'n' Roll Winter" and beyond!

Friday 19th November (now Friday 18th November 2022)
Roy Wood Rock & Roll Band @ The Opera House, Buxton
Tickets: from £30 each

Sunday 21st November (now Sunday 20th November 2022)
Roy Wood Rock & Roll Band @ Theatre Severn, Shrewsbury
Tickets: from £30 each

Tuesday 23rd November (now Thursday 10th November 2022)
Roy Wood Rock & Roll Band @ Royal & Derngate Theatre, Northampton
Tickets: from £31.50 each

Saturday 27th November (now Saturday 26th November 2022)
Roy Wood Rock & Roll Band @ Grand Pavilion, Porthcawl
Tickets: from £30 each

Thursday 2nd December (now Sunday 4th December 2022)
Roy Wood Rock & Roll Band @ Lyceum Theatre, Crewe
Tickets: from £32 each

Saturday 4th December (now Friday 2nd December 2022)
Roy Wood Rock & Roll Band @ Holmfirth Picturedome
Tickets: from £28 each

Tuesday 7th December (now Thursday 15th December 2022)
Roy Wood Rock & Roll Band @ Town Hall, Cheltenham
Tickets: from £30 each

Saturday 11th December (now Saturday 10th December 2022)
Roy Wood Rockmas 2022 @ Birmingham Symphony Hall
Tickets: from £35 each

Thursday 16th December (now Saturday 17th December 2022)
Roy Wood Rock & Roll Band @ Palace Theatre, Southend-on-Sea
Tickets: from £30 each

Wednesday 22nd December (now Thursday 22nd December 2022)
Roy Wood Rock & Roll Band @ St. George's Hall, Bradford
Tickets: from £31.50 each

Related elobf articles

elobeatlesforever (elobf) recommends Roy Wood Live to those enlightened folks who enjoy the music of ELOJeff LynneWizzardThe MoveThe Idle Race'Brum Beat'The Beatles and related artistes.

*** Until next "Time" in the ELOBF Universe ... KJS ... 03-Nov-2020 ***