Here we are with the final Music Monday of 2015 and, since it’s a time for reflection – not just on the year that was, but also in general – I’m feeling nostalgic. Enter ELO, or Jeff Lynne’s ELO and the album Alone In The Universe. What makes this nostalgic? I’ll start with my childhood listening habits. While my friends were listening to whatever top 40 one-hit wonders were popular, I was discovering (thanks to my parents) my tastes lead me to British Invasion artists like The Stones, The Who, The Kinks, and The Beatles (thanks to some friends). This lead me into my strongest musical influences like David Bowie, Queen, and (you guessed it) ELO. This lead to many blank stares when the “favorite musical group” discussion came up. Clearly, I didn’t fit in with the rest of west-central IL at the time. I felt ostracized when at a friend’s house or while driving around with friends as no one ever wanted to listen to anything I liked. It took years, but I finally reconciled it as their loss for missing out.
Jeff Lynne’s ELO takes us back to the mid/late 70s (and a fair bit of late 80s) with Alone In The Universe. Missing from the album is much of the orchestration that made me fall in love with the band in the first place. Granted, this is far from that original band. Keyboardist Richard Tandy is the only long-time band member still performing with Lynne (although not actually on this album). Other founding and long-time band members reformed as ELO Part II to play gigs in the early 90s and some have since continued on as The Orchestra. This all came about because Lynne declined rejoining the band because he favored playing with The Traveling Wilburys (an influence you can easily hear on the album). It wasn’t until founding drummer Bev Bevan retired and sold his stake in the ELO name back to Lynne that he took an interest in a comeback.