Mr. Blue Sky extends his antenna to pick up a gentle blast from from the past.
Visually and melodically timeless, Jeff Lynne knows the value of nostalgia too well but, the latest jumper on the oldies bandwagon, he wins hands down over the likes of Macca. The second album under veteran’s own name, “Long Wave” is as different from 1990’s "Armchair Theatre" as minor is from major, although there’s a lot of ELO-esque effervescence to the classics selection running from ’40s to ’70s and spanning show tunes and groovers alike. Some of these graced the rock domain before – on their respective solo debuts, Ringo Starr covered “Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing” and Annie Haslam did "If I Loved You", while Chuck Berry’s “Let It Rock” lies at the root of the genre – yet Lynne found a new, electric light to shed on the patinated chestnuts.
This singular vision is revealed in the choice of the album’s bookending songs, Charles Aznavour’s “She” and Charles Trenet’s “Beyond The Sea,” both of a French origins but given, accordingly, a languid English slant and an American swing, to slowly unfold their slightly psychedelic wonders which glow in the crunchy core of Charlie Chaplin’s “Smile” and pass the guitar twang to “So Sad” where Lynne harnesses the harmonies of both Phil and Don Everly. Jeff even harks back to his IDLE RACE days and spikes Don Covay’s “Mercy Mercy” with an infectious dose of soul jive before paying sparsely solemn homage to Roy Orbison in the finely orchestrated “Running Scared” – without imitating his fellow Wilbury’s warble.
Waxing even more lyrical in “”Bewitched, Bothered And Bewildered” and “At Last,” Jeff succeeds in transcending the oldies’ temporal stance and makes them if not modern then as timeless as his own looks and music are. Unexpectedly enjoyable, sensual work.