Zoom (2001)


 
1. Alright 2. Moment in Paradise 3. State of Mind 4. Just for Love 5. Stranger on a Quiet Street 6. In My Own Time 7. Easy Money 8. Really Doesn't Matter at All 9. Ordinary Dream 10.A Long Time Gone 11.Melting in the Sun 12.All She Wanted 13.Lonesome Lullaby

 

After Jeff Lynne retired the Electric Light Orchestra 15 years prior, he kept himself pretty busy. Not only did he become a very high in-demand producer from the likes of George Harrison, Paul McCartney and Tom Petty amongst others, but he also performed in the alter-ego supergroup The Traveling Wilburys. Ironically, the only thing he did that was not greeted with any form of even mediocre success was his one and only solo album released in 1990, Armchair Theatre. Because of this failure, one almost has to assume that Lynne probably approached his record company with the notion of doing a second solo album, and they replied with "Er...uh....How 'bout another E.L.O. album instead!??".

If this had, in fact, been the case, it wouldn't be too difficult to imagine. After all, E.L.O. essentially was Jeff Lynne, with various support members thrown in from time to time. Not surprisingly, when you look at the credits of this album, the only other former E.L.O. member featured is keyboardist Richard Tandy - and even he is used sparingly. Then you add the fact that this album really doesn't sound much like the Electric Light Orchestra that everyone remembers. That may have been deliberate regardless of who was in the band at this point. Tastes change, and it's probably difficult to imagine too many people buying a record in 2001 that sounded like it belongs in 1977.

So it's a bit difficult not to be overly critical of this one since the "orchestra" is mainly non-existent. It almost seems more appropriate to review this piece of work as a Jeff Lynne solo album instead. In that aspect, things sound pretty good. Lynne hasn't lost his flair for writing catchy hooks, nor replicating the Beatleish songs that earlier incarnations of this band managed to do so well. Songs such as State of Mind , Lonesome Lullaby and, especially Moment in Paradise showcase Lynne's talents quite well even if they don't quite sound as one might expect.

Much of the album, though, suffers not from lack of quality (or even listenability) but the fact that Lynne strays a bit too far from the E.L.O. formula. The first single Alright for example, has all the punch that a single should have, but never quite sounds like hardcore fans of this band would expect it to sound. And let's be honest, who else but hardcore fans would buy an E.L.O. album released in 2001? Part of the "problem" may have been that other longtime members of the "classic" E.L.O. had already been touring under the monicker "Electric Light Orchestra Part II" for over a decade (they were ready to reform in 1990, but Lynne balked, hence the addendum to the band name). This "other" E.L.O. actually sounded more like E.L.O. then this record did. Maybe there was a bit of animosity, but none of those guys were part of this project (ironically Richard Tandy was just about the only other E.L.O. guy that was not part of "Part II").

The real sadness was that Lynne actually planned a massive tour, complete with a new spaceship to promote the album. The tour was cancelled before it started due to lackluster ticket sales. The "new" band did manage to at least record a kick off show that, fortunately, was recorded and later released on video. As far as I know, this was the only show that was played in support of this album. That was too bad, but as someone who owns a copy of the show, I can honestly say that it wasn't really anything that special. Oh well, at least Jeff tried.....

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