Jeff Lynne’s ELO Live In Hyde Park (DVD REVIEW)

eloThere is a moment during the excellent bonus documentary, Mr Blue Sky, that comes with the new DVD, Jeff Lynne’s ELO: Live In Hyde Park, where Lynne talks about the glory days of pop music. Back then, before it was given the cooler, tougher-sounding moniker of rock & roll, pop music was The Beatles, it was the Stones, it was Buddy Holly. It was what everyone loved and gravitated to. It didn’t have the odorous stigma it has now. So to Jeff Lynne, the brains and musical genius behind the Electric Light Orchestra, the Traveling Wilburys and numerous other pop/rock hits of the last several decades, pop music is and will always be where his heart lies.

If you grew up in the creamsicle days of the 1970’s, then ELO is part of the soundtrack of your youth and this new live DVD captures Lynne and his longtime musical partner Richard Tandy in perfect synch, the songs still seemingly fresh and pop-y. Two days after watching Live In Hyde Park for the first time, the songs were still wafting through my sensory cells coming out in an unforced hum as I went about my daily business: “Telephone Line,” “Evil Woman,” “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head,” “Sweet Talkin’ Woman,” “Turn To Stone,” “Livin’ Thing” and “Mr Blue Sky.” Once you hear them, they don’t go away anytime soon.

And that is the genius of Jeff Lynne. It’s why for years he has been sought out by the likes of Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, George Harrison and Joe Walsh to produce their music, to help them write songs. He has that knack of coaxing out catchy lyric lines and a melody with a swing.

Born and raised in the industrialized city of Birmingham, England, it’s funny to think that this same area also reared the likes of Ozzy Osbourne and Tony Iommi, who went on to rage with dark heavy metal. Played alongside the sunny embellishments of Lynne’s music, it’s definitely a case of night and day. But in those days, you could hear an ELO song played back-to-back with a Black Sabbath song and it never seemed out of place. It’s the way radio was becoming, with singles breaking the barriers of three minutes, and albums taking precedence over 45’s. But Lynne eventually grew tired of the touring cycle and found his peace inside of a studio. “I never thought I would be playing in front of 50,000 people again,” he acknowledges in the booklet that accompanies the DVD’s release. With the help of the BBC Concert Orchestra, Lynne, Tandy and a slew of other talented musicians, easily conjured up the vibes of what once was, sixteen fabulous petit fours of music.

Beautifully captured in vivid color, the light show and big screen spacey scenes add the va-va-voom to a stage where Lynne stays pretty well parked in front of his microphone. Showy, he himself is not, dressed in a nice suit and ever-present dark shades. But switch over to the bonus Mr Blue Sky documentary and you will see a man come alive with creative spark, giddy to turn knobs and fiddle with interesting instruments in attempts to fine-tune what is playing in his brain. This is where his life force beams most bright.

Also included is an interview segment featuring stories behind ELO’s biggest hits, how Lynne was influenced by his father and why he prefers producing over touring. It’s a nice little tied-up-in-a-bow package for those of us who can remember turning on the radio and having those synth-pop lullabies come flying out, as well as for those just discovering this talented musician.

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4 Responses

  1. Bob Dylan never sought out Jeff Lynne to produce anything. He happened to be the producer of the Travelling Wilburys.

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