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Lynne, Jeff: Armchair Theatre (reissue)

Electric Light Orchestra mastermind Jeff Lynne broke up that band in 1986, but it wasn't until 1990 that he would resurface with his first solo effort, titled Armchair Theatre. Working with George Harrison, Tom Petty, and the rest of the Traveling Wilburys definitely rubbed off on him, as Armchair Theatre has much more in common with the albums he was involved in (both playing on as well as writing & producing on) at that time as opposed to the stuff he was doing previously with ELO. Out of print for many years, Frontiers Records is now reissuing this somewhat charming little album on CD for any of you that missed it the first time around.

As a huge ELO fan for many years, by 1990 I'd given up hope on Mr. Lynne, as he abandoned my beloved ELO for the chance to work with Harrison, Petty, and Orbison...I mean, how dare he? All kidding aside, ELO by 1986 were a shadow of what they once were, and it was apparent that Lynne wanted to move onto something different. Armchair Theatre certainly has it's moments, like the catchy pop of "Every Little Thing" which kicks off the album in grand fashion. Easily the best tune here, this one features Lynne's penchant for creating killer hooks within a pop-rock framework, and he gets support from Harrison, Richard Tandy, and many others to make it all happen. Unfortunately, this first track is the highlight and it kind of goes downhill for me from there. Yeah, "Don't Let Go" is a decent enough tune with a nice hook, but from that point there's just too many schmaltzy roots rockers which follow, too many lounge ballads & Elvis styled crooning for my money. I do dig the Middle Eastern influenced "Now You're Gone", and George Harrison does contribute some of his tasty trademark slide guitar licks to a number of songs, but so much of Armchair Theatre just seems stuck in first gear and never really gets going. So many of these songs just follow a similar tone and tempo that they almost bleed into each other.

Vocally, it's all pretty spectacular as always, as Lynne is one of the most underrated vocalists of all time, but the album could have used some material that was more upbeat in nature which I think could have saved it. There are a few bonus tracks here, but they are just as bland and uninteresting as the rest of the original album. Though I always 'wanted' to like this album, it just never really clicked with me, and 23 years later the verdict is sadly still the same.


Track Listing
1. Every Little Thing 3:42
2. Don't Let Go 3:01
3. Lift Me Up 3:37
4. Nobody Home 3:53
5. September Song 2:59
6. Now You're Gone 3:57
7. Don't Say Goodbye 3:10
8. What Would It Take 2:41
9. Stormy Weather 3:42
10. Blown Away 3:30
11. Save Me Now 1:54
12. Borderline (Bonus Track) 2:24
13. Forecast (Bonus Track) 3:53

Added: May 10th 2013
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Score:
Related Link: ELO Website
Hits: 1830
Language: english

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