Saturday, 31 January 2015

BEATLES & SON: THE ELO CONNECTION

George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr in 1995 ...
Hello ... Hello ... my old friends ... It's great to see you once again! Fans of ELO and Jeff Lynne are invariably drawn to the works of The Beatles. My recent articles for ELO Beatles Forever [ELOBF] about the forthcoming King's Heath Beatles Fest and the limited edition 2CD re-release of  the "All This And World II" OST are reminders of that powerful connection.

With the enigmatic ELO rarity "Beatles Forever" adorning the name of this my blog and it also being the original inspiration for the launch of ELO Beatles Forever [ELOBF] nearly six [6] years ago as well as the widely accepted fact that The Beatles' "I Am The Walrus" was the spark that gave birth to the idea of The Electric Light Orchestra [ELO], those connections have remained via ELO and Jeff Lynne, in particular, to this very day.

It therefore seems quite apt to me on the weekend of the 46th anniversary of The Beatles' final live performance on the roof of the Apple HQ to attempt to list some of the collaborations, performances and tributes that have drawn The Beatles, Jeff Lynne and ELO together through the years thus:

  • 1972: ELO record and release "Roll Over Beethoven", a song also recorded by The Beatles which featured heavily in early Beatles set lists and is performed by ELO to this day.
  • 1973: "Daytripper" is an integral part of the live ELO set list and is included on their debut live album "The Night The Light Went On [In Long Beach]".
  • 1974: John Lennon famously labels ELO the "Son of [The] Beatles" on NYC radio.
  • 1976: Jeff Lynne sings an arrangement "With A Little Help From My Friends/Nowhere Man" on the "All This And World II" OST. He is joined by ELO co-founder Roy Wood on the album, who also contributes "Lovely Rita" and "Polythene Pam".
  • 1981: The Jeff Lynne composition "21st Century Man" is a highlight of the ELO's "Time" album, written in honour of John Lennon, murdered a few months earlier in December 1980.
  • 1982: ELO perform a medley of songs in tribute to John Lennon during their "Time" tour including "Across The Universe", "Nowhere Man" and "Imagine".
  • 1983: The legendary "Beatles Forever" is recorded during the "Secret Messages" sessions at Hilversum in Holland but tragically fails to make the abridged single LP release.
  • 1987: Jeff Lynne co-produces George Harrison's comeback album "Cloud Nine".
  • 1988: Jeff Lynne, George HarrisonRoy Orbison, Bob Dylan and Tom Petty combine in the ultimate supergroup to produce their timeless debut release "Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1".
  • 1990: Jeff Lynne and George Harrison rejoin Bob Dylan and Tom Petty, following the passing of Roy Orbison, and release second LP "Traveling Wilburys Vol. 3".
  • 1995: Jeff Lynne produces the hit single "Free As A Bird" with remaining Beatles Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr using a John Lennon demo tape as source material.
  • 1996: Jeff Lynne produces a second hit single "Real Love" with the remaining Beatles.
  • 1997: Jeff Lynne co-produces Paul McCartney's acclaimed album "Flaming Pie".
  • 2001: Jeff Lynne relaunches the ELO spaceship with comeback album "Zoom" featuring guest performances by Ringo Starr and George Harrison.
  • 2002: Following the death of George Harrison in November 2001, Jeff Lynne oversees the release of "Brainwashed" and features heavily in the "Concert For George" concert later that year.
  • 2004: Jeff Lynne performs at the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony for the late George Harrison alongside fellow Wilbury Tom Petty and Dhani Harrison.
  • 2012: Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr feature in "Mr. Blue Sky: The Story Of Jeff Lynne and ELO", a documentary of the career of Jeff Lynne.
  • 2014: Jeff Lynne performs "Hey Bulldog!" with Dave Grohl and "Something" with Dhani Harrison during "TheNight That Changed America", a US telecast celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first Beatles live TV performance on The Ed Sullivan Show. The ELO maestro also contributes "Junk" to "The Art Of McCartney" tribute album by various artistes.

The above list is not exhaustive but, hopefully, it demonstrates the powerful ties between The BeatlesJeff Lynne and The Electric Light Orchestra [ELO].

Until next "Time" in the ELO [and related] Universe ... KJS ... 31-Jan-2015

Friday, 30 January 2015

MR. BLUE SKY TOPS MUSIC CHARITY FEEL GOOD TOP 10

It's official! "Mr. Blue Sky" is the ultimate feel good anthem!
Hello ... Hello ... my old friends ... It's great to see you once again! A recent survey carried out by One Poll and commissioned by youth music charity Rhythmix - carried amongst 2,000 respondents across the UK back in December 2014 - has named ELO's seminal 1977 classic "Mr. Blue Sky" as the UK's #1 'feel good' song. Here's that Top Ten for you to peruse thus:

#1 "Mr. Blue Sky" - Electric Light Orchestra
#2 "Happy" - Pharrell Williams
#3 "Good Vibrations" - The Beach Boys
#4 "Walking On Sunshine" - Katrina and The Waves
#5 "Come On Eileen" - Dexy's Midnight Runners
#6 "A Town Called Malice" - The Jam
#7 "I Wanna Dance With Somebody [Who Loves Me]" - Whitney Houston
#8 "Groove Is In The Heart" - Deee-Lite
#9 "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" - Cyndi Lauper
#10 "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" - Wham!

Rhythmix is the youth music charity that faced closure back in 2011 following a legal battle with Simon Cowell [who later relented and paid all legal costs] over his X Factor band formerly called Rhythmix - now known as Little Mix. One of their important music programmes called Wishing Well - an organisation that takes music into hospitals to brighten the day of poorly children - is now under threat due to government funding cuts and now relies heavily on public donations. To help raise awareness of their plight and show the power that music has to make people feel better, they commissioned the above poll to find out what songs make the British public feel better.

www.rhythmixmusic.org.uk
www.wishingwellmusic.org.uk

Rhythmix is urging people to help them keep the music programme alive. To donate, you can text WELL15 and the amount you’d like to donate [£5/£10/£50] to 70070 or you can head to Just Giving at: www.justgiving.com/Rhythmix/Donate.

ELO Beatles Forever [ELOBF] recommends Rhythmix and Wishing Well to those enlightened folks who enjoy the music of ELOJeff LynneRoy WoodThe MoveThe Idle Race'Brum Beat'The Beatles and related artistes.

Until next "Time" in the ELO [and related] Universe ... KJS ... 30-Jan-2015

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

RECOMMENDED: KING'S HEATH WALK OF FAME BEATLES FEST 2015

Hello ... Hello ... my old friends ... It's great to see you once again! You are doubtless well aware that The Beatles were a major influence for both Jeff Lynne and Roy Wood and a major factor in the formation of The Electric Light Orchestra [ELO] whom John Lennon later candidly stated were "the son of Beatles". But did you also know that Sunday 15th February marks the 52nd anniversary of The Beatles' maiden [if not belated] performance in Birmingham, the birthplace of 'Brum Beat'?

Bob Prew and Ken Whittaker from King's Heath Walk Of Fame have kindly sent me the official press release for their special Valentines Weekend Treat during Beatles Fest 2015 featuring an afternoon acoustic session and an evening concert by The Born Again Beatles thus:

Press Release ~ For immediate release
Beatles Lovers set for a Valentines Weekend Treat
King's Heath Celebrates Birmingham Debut on 15th February

"Lovers of Beatles music are being urged to bring their Valentines to King's Heath's for Beatles Fest 2015 on Sunday 15th February. Starting with their first hit single “Love Me Do”, The Beatles wrote many classic love songs including “I Want To Hold Your Hand”, “She Loves You”, “All My Loving” and “All You Need Is Love”. And all of these songs will be sung at the two concerts that make up Beatles Fest 2015 commemorating the Fab Four's Birmingham debut on 15th February 1963 at the old Ritz Ballroom on York Road which was sadly destroyed by fire two years ago.

Back in 1963, one Beatles fan's Valentine's wish really did come true when she was picking up her coat from the coat room after the concert and bumped into Paul McCartney. After giving her his autograph she followed him into the bar where he called her over to meet the rest of the band who gave her their autographs too. She then took up Paul's kind offer of a lift back into town in their van where she sat on his lap and shared a kiss! Yvonne's autographs of the four Beatles, signed at the Ritz Ballroom, were then auctioned at Christies on 24th June 2010.
The Fab Four at The Ritz Ballroom on 15th February 1963
From 3:00PM to 6:00PM top local musicians will play their favourite Beatles songs in an acoustic session at Fletcher's Bar on York Road directly opposite the former ballroom. Doors will then open at 7:00PM at the Hare & Hounds for a Special Concert by top Midlands tribute band The Born Again Beatles - who last year starred at Liverpool's Cavern Club where the Fab Four started out.

Bob Prew and Ken Whittaker, joint coordinators of the King's Heath Walk of Fame, said, “This year's Beatles Fest in King's Heath will be the biggest and best so far. We would urge fans to buy tickets for both events straightaway as last year's Anniversary event sold out very quickly with fans travelling from as far away as Lancashire, Yorkshire and Somerset”.

The Beatles appeared at the Ritz Ballroom - one of 4 venues run in the 1950′s and 60′s by the legendary Irish couple Ma and Pa Regan - on 15 February 1963 shortly after releasing their second single “Please Please Me”. Originally scheduled to appear on 11 January 1963, they had been prevented by blizzard like conditions from making the 11 mile journey to King’s Heath from one of the Regan's other venues - the Plaza in Old Hill.

When they did eventually make it on 15th February, Beatlemania had really started to take off and the Beatles were only able to enter the Ritz by climbing up a ladder from Milford Place at the rear of the ballroom. In fact, the Fab Four almost had to appear as the Fab Three after George Harrison arrived late by taxi and was trapped by screaming fans.

“Tell them to turn that racket down” is what Pa Regan is rumoured to have shouted while they were practising! But he was a very happy man really. He had persuaded their manager Brian Epstein to agree to them performing for their previously agreed fee even though they were now No. 1 in the charts! They performed the rescheduled gig at The Ritz during a break from The Helen Shapiro Tour on which they started off as only 4th out of the eleven acts on the bill!

Advance tickets for the afternoon Acoustic Session cost just £3.00 and are available from the Kitchen Garden Cafe on York Road, King’s Heath or on-line for £3.00 plus a booking fee from www.wegottickets.com. Any remaining tickets will cost £4.00 on the door. Advance tickets for the evening concert by The Born Again Beatles cost £5.00 and are available from the Kitchen Garden Cafe or on-line for £5.00 plus a booking fee from www.hareandhoundskingsheath.co.uk.

The Ritz Ballroom: The first ever Birmingham Civic Society Musical Heritage plate was unveiled by the Lord Mayor on 27th June 2012 to commemorate the really significant part played by the Ritz Ballroom in Birmingham's Musical Heritage. Most of the major artists of the 1960's played there at the start of their careers including The Rolling Stones, Robert Plant, The Kinks, Pink Floyd, Jimmy Cliff and The Move. The Ballroom closed down at the beginning of the 1970's when the Regan's converted it into a Bingo Hall. After Pa Regan died in 2004 and Ma Regan died in 2008, the building was vacant until it became a Cash Converters shop. On 28th March 2013 a fire destroyed the building. Local residents and businesses are currently trying to persuade the owner to sell them the site in order to create a new Ritz Arts Centre with a Pop History Museum and performance space for the next generation!

Further information please contact Bob Prew on [0121] 689 2360 or [07779] 782240 and/or Ken Whittaker on [0121] 443 3237 or [07748] 710996."

ELO Beatles Forever [ELOBF] recommends King's Heath Walk Of Fame Beatles Fest 2015 to those enlightened folks who enjoy the music of ELOJeff LynneRoy WoodThe MoveThe Idle Race'Brum Beat'The Beatles and related artistes.

Until next "Time" in the ELO [and related] Universe ... KJS ... 28-Jan-2015

Monday, 26 January 2015

JEFF LYNNE & ED SHEERAN TO STAR AT 57th GRAMMY AWARDS

ELO Beatles Forever [ELOBF] always tries to post facts and not rumours ...
Hello ... Hello ... my old friends ... It's great to see you once again! A second tip from a credible source yesterday afternoon that Jeff Lynne is set to appear with Ed Sheeran at the 57th Grammy Awards Ceremony on Sunday 8th February was enough motivation for Yours Truly KJS to place the above post on Facebook [and below, Twitter] yesterday following the broadcast of a trailer promoting the telecast during the CBS Sunday Morning Show.
Screenshot: Jerry Palovick @ A JEFF LYNNE AND RELATED BLOG
Our friends over at A JEFF LYNNE AND RELATED BLOG posted a screen shot [see above] of that trailer in this article earlier today further reinforcing this interesting news. It will certainly make the show unusually interesting to watch for fans of ELO & Jeff Lynne.
ELOBF @ Twitter posted the same news yesterday evening ...
Perhaps Jeff and Ed could perform "Stay With Me", the Sam Smith song that has now also been 12.5% attributed to both Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne due to its similarity with their 1989 "Full Moon Fever" collaboration "I Won't Back Down", apparently as a result of this recent out of court settlement?

Until next "Time" in the ELO [and related] Universe ... KJS ... 26-Jan-2015

Sunday, 25 January 2015

LIMITED EDITION CD RELEASE: ALL THIS AND WORLD WAR II

This long overdue CD release really is a 'must buy' ...
Hello ... Hello ... my old friends ... It's great to see you once again! Fans of ELO, Jeff Lynne and Roy Wood will be pleased to hear that a limited edition CD release of the "All This And World War II" OST [1976] will be issued by Island Records on Monday 26th January 2015. The 2CD 'vinyl replica' edition features, of course, Jeff Lynne singing "With A Little Help From My Friends" and "Nowhere Man", Roy Wood singing "Lovely Rita" and "Polythene Pam" as well as the late Lynsey de Paul singing "Because". Not unlike "Xanadu", this was another case where the original soundtrack was infinitely better than the accompanying film whilst also being largely unloved by critics.
Jeff Lynne and Roy Wood feature heavily ...
This attractive package is priced at £24.99 by amazon.co.uk and can be ordered via this link thus:


ELO Beatles Forever [ELOBF] recommends the "All This And World War II" OST to those enlightened folks who enjoy the music of ELOJeff LynneRoy WoodThe MoveThe Idle Race'Brum Beat'The Beatles and related artistes.

Until next "Time" in the ELO [and related] Universe ... KJS ... 25-Jan-2015

TWIN SUNDAY SADNESS

The inside sleeve of "ELO II" [1973] featured Wilf Gibson [first left] ...
Hello ... Hello ... my old friends ... It's great to see you once again! I was very saddened to read just this morning [via my good friend Martin Kinch over at Cherry Blossom Clinic] that early ELO violinist Wilf Gibson had passed away during October 2014. Wilf played during the very first ELO gig at The Greyhound in Croydon on Sunday 16th April 1972 and contributed to both "ELO II" and "On The Third Day", although he was not credited on the latter following his departure from the band. Martin conducted an interesting interview with Wilf back in October 2003 and you can read it here.

My sadness was further compounded when I also discovered this morning that The BeatBack Brothers are to be no more. Craig Whale announced on Facebook this morning "... that time [had] come to the end on the road ..." for Craig and his musical partner Adam Willetts after over eight [8] years of gigging together in and round the Midlands. A final farewell performance is scheduled to take place at The Great Western in Bilston on Saturday 14th February 2015. ELOBF has been proud to feature and support Craig and Adam in their various endeavours, be it in The BeatBack Brothers or their other projects Band On The Runn and Off The Ground. We go back a long way!

Until next "Time" in the ELO [and related] universe ... KJS ... 25-Jan-2015

Friday, 23 January 2015

MR. BLU-RAY: OUT OF THE BLUE: LIVE AT WEMBLEY + TRIPLE BONUS

Yet another superb ELO release by Eagle Rock is due for release in March ...
Hello ... Hello ... my old friends ... It's great to see you once again! Eagle Rock Entertainment have a long history of making available rare or deleted Electric Light Orchestra [ELO] recordings and the relatively sparse 'official' video footage of ELO in their heyday.

Their latest release sees the "Out Of The Blue - Live At Wembley" [1978] concert video released on Blu-Ray coupled with three [3] bonus features comprising all of Eagle Rock's previous ELO themed releases on VHS and DVD, namely "Live: The Early Years" [1973/74], "Fusion" [1976] and the "Discovery" album promo [1979]. With a total running time of well over three [3] hours at 205 minutes, this is a real value for money release that collates most of the available ELO video footage. Release date is Monday 16th March with amazon.co.uk currently taking pre-orders for just £9.00 via this link thus:


ELO Beatles Forever [ELOBF] recommends "Out Of The Blue - Live At Wembley" to those enlightened folks who enjoy the music of ELOJeff LynneRoy WoodThe MoveThe Idle Race'Brum Beat'The Beatles and related artistes.

Until next "Time" in the ELO [and related] Universe ... KJS ... 23-Jan-2015

Thursday, 22 January 2015

K56021: I'M ONLY DREAMING OF 4000

K56021B: Jeff ... I'm Only Dreaming?
Hello ... Hello ... my old friends ... It's great to see you once again! Here's something unusual that I discovered quite by accident the other day. The original 1973 Warner Bros. 'Burbank' pressing of ELO's "On The Third Day" [K56021] lists track #3 on Side Two of the album as "I'm Only Dreaming" rather than the "Dreaming Of 4000" that we are all familiar with!
UAG30091B: "Daybreaker"; "Ma Ma Ma Belle"; "Dreaming Of 4000"; "In The Hall Of The Mountain King"
I'm not sure whether this is repeated on every pressing of the rare gatefold album or if it was later corrected by Warner Bros. but "Dreaming Of 4000" has always been sandwiched between "Ma Ma Ma Belle" and "In The Hall Of The Mountain King" since the first Jet/UA re-issue [UAG30091] in 1976, the Jet/CBS re-issue [JETLP202] in 1978 and every other vinyl/CD edition since.

Note also that "ROY WOOD MUSIC" has a share of the publishing rights for the WB album too. If nothing else, this proves that being a collector of ELO and related vinyl continues to be interesting and rewarding.

Until next "Time" in the ELO [and related] Universe ... KJS ... 22-Jan-2015

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

RECOMMENDED: THE ORCHESTRA @ REWIND SCOTLAND

Hello ... Hello ... my old friends ... It's great to see you once again! The Orchestra [former members of ELO & ELO Part II] are set to make a welcome return to the Rewind Festival this coming Summer with an appearance just announced at Rewind Scotland 2015. The acclaimed annual multi-sited festival - will be held at Scone Palace near Perth between Friday 24th and Sunday 26th July - with Messrs. Mik Kaminski, Louis Clark, Eric Troyer, Parthenon Huxley, Gordon Townsend and Glen Burtnik scheduled to perform on Saturday 25th July.

Tickets go on general sale as of 9:00AM on Friday 23rd January. Day tickets to see The Orchestra on Saturday 25th July are priced at £57.00 each [adults] and/or £28.75 each [children under 12 years] and can be purchased via these links thus:

www.rewindfestival.com/tickets
www.ticketline.co.uk/rewind-festival#bio

ELO Beatles Forever [ELOBF] recommends The Orchestra [former members of ELO & ELO Part II] and Rewind Scotland 2015 to those enlightened folks who enjoy the music of ELO, Jeff LynneRoy WoodThe MoveThe Idle Race'Brum Beat'The Beatles and related artistes.

Until next "Time" in the ELO [and related] universe ... KJS ... 21-Jan-2015

Sunday, 18 January 2015

MARCH CD RELEASE FOR CLIMAX BLUES FINALE

Hello ... Hello ... my old friends ... It's great to see you once again! You may recall that the final recordings of Climax Blues Band and ELO Part II co-founder Pete Haycock with Robin George under the Climax Blues banner were initially released as a download only album last October. Yours Tyruly KJS is now pleased to announce that "Broke Heart Blues" has been scheduled for release in CD format via Angel Air Records on Monday 9th March.


The 14] track CD edition has a slightly different running order and featured an additional song entitled "Oxygen""Broke Heart Blues" can be pre-ordered for just £12.99 via this link thus:


ELO Beatles Forever [ELOBF] recommends "Broke Heart Blues" by Climax Blues to those enlightened folks who enjoy the music of ELO, Jeff Lynne, Roy WoodThe MoveThe Idle Race'Brum Beat'The Beatles, The Climax Blues Band and related artistes.

Until next "Time" in the ELO [and related] Universe ... KJS ... 18-Jan-2015

Saturday, 17 January 2015

RECOMMENDED: STAND UP & ROCK 2015

Seven Up: Stand Up & Rock 2015 ...
Hello ... Hello ... my old friends ... It's great to see you once again! Following on from the enormous success of both 'Made In Brum' [2013] and 'Stand Up & Rock!' [2014], promoter Brian Yeates confirmed on Friday 16th January that 'Stand Up & Rock!' will be returning to theatres in England [and Wales] in 2015. The acclaimed show is currently slated to run for a total of twenty nine [29] dates during May, June and July with visits to Telford, Stafford, Swansea [and not a few other notable places] planned. ELOBF understands that more shows may be announced later in the year.
Tickets for the 2015 show are selling fast!
'Stand Up & Rock!' [2015] will feature Jasper Carrott, Bev Bevan, Geoff TurtonJoy Strachan-Brain and The Bev Bevan Band [who are Phil Tree, Tony Kelsey and Abby Brant]. Please note that Trevor Burton is not involved with the show this time around. Ticket sales, Yours Truly KJS is told, are strong and they can be purchased [at the time of writing] from most venues, which are listed via this link thus:

www.brianyeates.co.uk/Touring-Shows/Stand-Up-Rock/671

ELO Beatles Forever [ELOBF] recommends 'Stand Up & Rock!' [2015] to those enlightened folks who enjoy the music of ELOJeff LynneRoy WoodThe MoveThe Idle Race'Brum Beat'The Beatles and related artistes.

Until next "Time" in the ELO [and related] Universe ... KJS ... 17-Jan-2015

Friday, 16 January 2015

A SECOND SECRET MESSAGES 7" SURPRISE!

"Secret Messages": 7" picture sleeves for the UK and Dutch markets ...
Hello ... Hello ... my old friends ... It's great to see you once again! The advent of ELO's seminal LP "Secret Messages" [JETLX527] in the summer of 1983 [here in the UK] was marked by lead single "Rock 'n' Roll Is King" [A3500] and another less noticed happening as it saw the familiar 'JET' prefix dropped from the catalogue number in lieu of the then standard CBS Records [UK] 'A' prefix. But that was not the case, at least initially, in Europe with "Rock 'n' Roll Is King" assigned JET7034 and title track "Secret Messages" [UK: A3720] also assigned JET7038. Later singles "Four Little Diamonds" [A3869] and "Stranger" [A4070] were evidently not assigned a formal JET prefix.
"Rock 'n' Roll Is King": A3500 and JET7034 ...
However, quite by accident, I recently discovered a most unusual 'second' 7" issue of the UK edition of "Secret Messages". It was an almost a duplicate of the original A3720 single but was numbered A7038 [without a JET prefix] with a large hole centre. This 'juke box' issue came in a picture sleeve citing JET7038 and was seemingly intended for the European market via Holland but the record itself was entirely "made in England". The run-out area [as with the earlier "Four Light Years" boxed set featured here] has '3720' scratched out with '7038' etched alongside [see below], confirming its UK source.
A7038 was once A3720 ...
"Secret Messages": A3720 and A7038 ...
Hence, you can [hopefully] see that the thrill is still there for Yours Truly KJS here in 2015 when collecting and searching out ELO and Jet Records vinyl. I really am an ELOnorak aren't I?

Until next "Time" in the ELO [and related] Universe ... KJS ... 16-Jan-2015

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

INTERVIEW: MARGE RAYMOND

Marge Raymond
Hello ... Hello ... my old friends ... It's great to see you once again! The wonderful enhancement to the ELO sound to be found on their 1975 long player [LP] "Face The Music" - including, of course, "Evil Woman" and "Down Home Town" - as well as during the ensuing American tour thereafter were thanks to, in no small part, to the talent and the sublime female backing vocals of SuMagNa. Marge Raymond was an integral of the legendary SuMagNa and kindly took part in this interview recently for ELO Beatles Forever [ELOBF] talking not only about her time with ELO but also her early and latter career. Enjoy!

KJS: What and who were your inspirations to become a singer and songwriter?
Marge: According to my mother, I was singing from the day that I was born! In reality, I've been singing all my life and it was not any one person that inspired me to sing. It's inherently part of my personality to sing since the day I could speak. My parents, seeing that I had been gifted with the ability to sing and their being obsessed with listening to music, bought me a phonograph and a small child's piano. I listened to all the Rogers and Hammerstein albums [Carousel, Oklahoma, The King & I etc.] and other various classical musicals along with popular music of the time.
I was inspired by everything musical. At about the age of 5, on my little piano, I can remember composing music, but it was all in my head. I had a 78RPM record of The Platters song "My Prayer", released in 1956. I taught myself how to vocally belt by singing the ending of "My Prayer", over and over till I was able to perfectly duplicate it. I was 8 yrs. old. Any opportunity I could get to entertain people I took! I can remember singing "Climb Every Mountain" at school assembly on the stage leading the entire auditorium. Personally, I thought that everyone could sing. It was hard for me to comprehend that everyone didn’t sing music like I did. It was during that time, while I was in 3rd grade, that a report card came home stating to my parents that I was musically gifted. That is when I was told I had something that my friends and the majority of the population didn’t have.
KJS: Please tell us about your early career?
Marge: I was discovered singing on a street corner in Brooklyn, New York. Back in the 60’s there were several acapella singing groups in the neighbourhood. One in particular used to sing on my street corner. They sang at night and I would listen from my window. One day I got the nerve to go up to them and say I know all your songs and can sing them. There were never any girls singing. The guys said "OK lets hear you!", most likely thinking I would make a fool of myself. I would sing the top note [first tenor]. They were impressed and so there I was singing with them. Because I was a girl, they didn’t really let me sing lead vocals. I had a couple songs they let me sing lead. One was, “My Vow To You” by The Students. We would draw big crowds, listening to us. One day a man stopped in his car, listened, approached us and said, I want to bring you up to the Brill Building. You sound great. We go to the Brill Building [this is around 1964] to Coed Records. As we were doing a live audition, the President of the company says, "I want to hear the girl!" [I was singing background vocals, not lead]. He asked me if I could sing "Baby Love" by The Supremes.
I sang the very beginning of the tune and right there and then he said, "Marge is the lead singer and you will cut a record!". I was signed to Coed Records as Margie and The Formations. The single was "Sad Illusion" and "You Better Get What Goes For You". Northern Soul is always playing it to this day. That was the beginning of my recording career. I was about 15 years old. I also did a lot of demos at the Brill Building as a session singer for many of the songwriters there. I had to get permission from my parents to miss school and work. I was in high demand because, unbeknownst to me, I was able to learn a song quickly and record it in one take. It wasn’t until later in my career that I realised why I was in such high demand. Time is money! And I was able to produce quickly and sing exactly what they wanted to hear.
SuMagNa sharing the stage with Mel Gale, Jeff Lynne and Kelly Groucutt ...
KJS: Together with Susan Collins, Nancy O'Neil you were SuMagNa. How did SuMagNa and your working relationship with the late Ellie Greenwich come into being?
Marge: Ellie knew of SuMagNa. Susan introduced me to Ellie. Ellie would listen to us sing. She loved us. When Ellie got the call from Record Plant that Jeff Lynne was looking for a girls group sound, who else but Ellie Greenwich would be contacted. She is the Queen of Pop Music and of the girls group sound. She called on SuMagNa and that is how we got the gig. She is sorely missed.
Marge [circled] with the FTM version of ELO ...
 KJS: There are relatively very few songs in the Jeff Lynne and ELO songbook that feature female vocals, save for, of course, "Xanadu". After the breakthrough success of "Eldorado" in 1974, Jeff elected to add the tight harmonies of SuMagNa to the ELO sound on more than half of their fifth album "Face The Music". How did SuMagNa and Ellie become involved in the recording of "Face The Music"?
Marge: Basically it's the same answer as the previous question. Ellie Greenwich got the call from Jimmy Iovine who she knew. Jimmy was an engineer at the Record Plant Studio in New York City. Jeff Lynne wanted a girls group sound for his album. Jimmy Iovine called Ellie, who is the Queen of Pop music and she called us [SuMagNa]. The rest is history. Two days of recording and before we knew it, it was on the radio!
Marge is credited on the "Face The Music" liner sleeve as Margaret Raymond ...
KJS: What are your recollections of your contributions to "Evil Woman", "Nightrider", "One Summer Dream", "Strange Magic" and "Down Home Town"? What was it like working with Jeff in the studio?
Marge: The man is a musical genius.! A lovely personality and all around musical prodigy. Jeff Lynne had explicit parts he wanted on his songs. He was open to suggestions on "Down Home Town". I came up with a couple of arrangements and he liked them so much that he said “record it” and that is how I got the small solo on "Down Home Town". A good musician always wants to hear what other musicians might hear. Jeff Lynne being the great producer that he is, is from the school of record it, then decide what to use when you mix it. Better to have it, than not have it.
Marge [far left] and SuMagNa with Jeff Lynne and Kelly Groucutt ...
KJS: Did you cross swords with Don Arden at this time?
Marge: Don Arden was very professional in all the times I met him.
KJS: You had the privilege of working not only with Jeff in the studio but also interacting with what many consider the classic ELO line-up of Jeff, Bev Bevan, Richard Tandy, Kelly Groucutt, Mik Kaminski, Melvyn Gale and Hugh McDowell. What are your top memories of that particular magnificent seven?
Marge: They were all gentleman and brilliant musicians. When I sang the background vocals in the studio, it was only Jeff, Richard, Kelly and Bev that were there. It wasn’t until I toured did I meet the string section. Everyone was brilliant!
Marge was a familiar sight with her tambourine ...
KJS: You were an integral part of ELO’s ensuing “Face The Music” tour of the north-eastern United States. What was it like touring with such a successful and large group during that tour? Is there a specific event that stands out and do you recall the reaction of the audiences at that time?
Marge: It was a great tour. Every venue was sold out. I think I remember the Philly Spectrum Arena [it no longer exists]. Richard always had his keyboard backstage and we would warm up. That night, we were in the dressing room of the Philadelphia Flyers Ice Hockey team. A huge dressing room with showers. Coming from an acapella group I immediately said, "The showers have great echo!" [when you sing acapella, you are always looking for great acoustics and echo]. So we went into the shower and we all sang acapella. It was amazing. We would all sing backstage everything and anything. This holds true with so many groups that I've sung with. We had a lot of fun. I remember the band gave us carnations. The lost "Face The Music" photos which emerged 35 years later, show me wearing a carnation on my lapel. It was from the band.
SuMagNa with Mik, Bev and Jeff ...
KJS: What was your favourite live ELO song during that tour?
Marge: That question is too hard. All of them.
KJS: Marge, please tell me about your career after your ELO involvement?
Marge: My career started before ELO and has continued non-stop right up to today. I have a very long biography, so I will only post highlights. Prior to ELO, I was signed to Coed Records as Margie and The Formations. I was a Brill Building demo singer for songwriters that wrote huge hits. I joined SuMagNa who were signed to Don Kirschner Entertainment. Paul Shaffer was our music director. SuMagNa toured with the New Riders of The Purple Sage and we were in demand as session vocalists. We had an incredible tight vocal harmony. I was signed to a major label, RCA for two albums with Flame. I am a published songwriter with Warner/Chappell. I sing on two Humble Pie albums with the late Steve Marriott. I was signed to the huge management of Leber/Krebs that managed Aerosmith, AD/DC, Def Leppard and Ted Nugent.
I toured with Aerosmith as their opening act with my band Kicks. I became the lead vocalist of Renegade, which was the line up of Aerosmith minus Steven Tyler. It's in all their biographies. During the 80’s, I was with a heavy metal band called Proton. We recorded an album that never got released because one of the members died and I didn’t want to continue without him in the line-up. I switched direction in my music and joined the esteemed Collegiate Chorale and was the backup chorus for Luciano Pavarotti. I was with them for 4 years and sang at Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall. I got to meet Paul McCartney, and sang in the chorus for his Liverpool Oratorio at Carnegie Hall, NYC. I have been with Generation Gap entertainment for the past 25 years. We work continuously at weddings, corporate parties, outdoor concerts, clubs, etc. I continue to record and arrange music. I am also a guest artist for many other bands.
KJS: Can folks purchase your releases and, if so, how?
Marge: Unfortunately, the Flame albums are out of print. I'm sure you can find them on eBay.
KJS: What is Marge Raymond doing next and how can folks keep tabs on your good self in 2014 and beyond?
Marge: I am always singing somewhere or recording. I am also a tour guide for the Historic Green-Wood Cemetery. I sing a tribute to Leonard Bernstein by his memorial. I burst into song at various times. You can check out my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/margeraymond and my web site at www.margeraymond.com. I want to write a book about my long career.
KJS: Finally, here is the question that I always ask next when interviewing for ELO Beatles Forever. What are your personal favourite ELO, Jeff Lynne and/or Beatles tracks, and why?
Marge: Ah, I have no favourite, I love them all! The group I sing with, Generation Gap, have over 100 Beatles songs that we sing.
I do like singing "Oh! Darling" by The Beatles because I get to put my rock 'n' roll style on it. When I was singing in the chorus for Paul McCartney’s Liverpool Oratorio, I approached him and told him how much I love his work. I went on to tell him that I sing "Oh! Darling" with one of my bands. He said, "Do Ya? How do you sing it?" I told him I sing it a bit more rock 'n' roll. Right there and then he asked me to sing it for him! I was mortified, but sang the first verse and chorus for him in the lobby of Town Hall where we were rehearsing. He loved it. I don’t think he ever heard a woman sing it before. Especially as I was singing classical music at the time as a first tenor and before breaking out into my rock 'n' roll voice! He gave me his autograph. Now that is a day I will never forget!

Yours Truly KJS wishes to thank Marge for both her time and participation in this interview. ELO Beatles Forever [ELOBF] recommends Marge Raymond to those enlightened folks who enjoy the music of ELO, Jeff LynneThe MoveRoy WoodThe Idle Race'Brum Beat'The Beatles and related artistes.

Until next "Time" in the ELO [and related] Uuniverse ... KJS ... 14-Jan-2015

Sunday, 11 January 2015

ELO1JB: ELO'S JUKEBOX SPECIAL


Hello ... Hello ... my old friends ... It's great to see you once again! You may remember the golden days of 7" vinyl when almost every single was "taken" from an album - or a forthcoming album. But did you know that ELO, via Jet Records, were parties to an unusual release as they approached their commercial peak? A large centered jukebox single taken from an EP which was taken from a boxed set of three [3] earlier studio albums!

After the amazing success of "Out Of The Blue" and the ensuing 'spaceship' tour, Jet Records released "Three Light Years" [JETBX1] in late 1978, a boxed set that included, of course, "On The Third Day" [1973], "Eldorado" [1974] and "Face The Music" [1975]. The famed ELO EP [ELO1] emerged from "Three Light Years" sporting four [4] tracks: "Can't Get It Out Of My Head""Evil Woman""Ma Ma Ma Belle" and "Strange Magic" and managed to reach a respectable #34 in the UK Top 40 with an eight [8] week chart run.
Because the EP came in 45RPM format [and not 33RPM as reported by Wikipedia here] and because the stylii [or amplifiers!] of then jukeboxes would not cope with what I term the 'fine groovery' that eight or nine minutes of playing time created, two tracks: "Can't Get It Out Of My Head" and "Evil Woman" were then "taken" from the EP for a special jukebox promo edition of the EP [ELO1JB]. I seem to recall that The Chart Archive quoted this rarity as attaining a chart position of #52 in its own right in early '79 [according to The Official Charts Company].

Never let it be said that being a collector of ELO and related items is uninteresting!

Until next "Time" in the ELO [and related] Universe ... KJS ... 11-Jan-2015

Friday, 9 January 2015

ACROSS THE BORDER: THE DEMISE OF JET RECORDS

"Four Light Years" - One compilation too many? 
Hello ... Hello ... my old friends ... It's great to see you once again! The release of ELO's second boxed set "Four Light Years" [JETBX2] in late 1980 was a surprise to many fans being as it appeared on the record racks barely a year after the amazing success of 1979's best selling "Discovery" and literally within weeks of the August 1980 release of the "Xanadu" OST [JETLX526]. If nothing else, this period of "Time" gives us some clues as to the beginnings of the demise of Don Arden's Jet Records empire.
The sleeve originally intended for the second ELO EP?
The withdrawn second ELO EP [ELO2] in April 1981 is particularly notable as it was originally planned just three [3] months before the release of lead single "Hold On Tight" from the then forthcoming "Time" album and, significantly, much later than the issue of "Four Light Years", a boxed set that included "A New World Record", "Out Of The Blue" and a relatively recent "Discovery".
"Across The Border" was a 'B' side and very nearly an EP track ...
The intended EP surprisingly included "Across The Border" from "Out Of The Blue" alongside "Mr. Blue Sky""Telephone Line" and "Don't Bring Me Down", a track that had already been the 'B' side for "Don't Walk Away" [JET7004] in November 1980, the final ELO release from "Xanadu". The self same "EP Version" of "Across The Border" finally appeared on the 1997 Sony compilation "Light Years" [489039] some sixteen [16] years later, although it appears to be just one [1] second short of the album version at 3:51 duration. A mystery indeed!
Just what was the difference - if any - between the LP and EP versions of "Across The Border"?
A cursory glance at the run-out groove area of all four records in my copy of "Four Light Years" shows that the original LP matrix numbers of JETLP200, JETDP400 and JETLX500 have been crossed out with JETBX2 added. This suggests this second boxed set may have been an ingenious way to try to shift the Jet Records back catalogue of "A New World Record""Out Of The Blue" and "Discovery". Needless to say, "Four Light Years" did not trouble the album charts.
"Out Of The Blue" - JETDP400 became JETBX2 ...
"A New World Record" - JETLP200 became JETBX2 ...
"Discovery" - JETLX500 became JETBX2 ...
The cause of ELO's waning popularity [and Jet Records' ensuing financial difficulties] from 1981 onward may well have a result of their many single, album and compilation releases between 1978 and 1980. One reviewer for "Three Light Years" [JETBX1], released in late 1978, headlined their review of that boxed set with the words "ELO get out the Polycell". A term that can be more readily applied its red successor. November 1979 saw the pre-Christmas release of "ELO's Greatest Hits" [JETLX525], hot on the heels of "Discovery", yet without any tracks included thereof, and managing only to attain #7 in the UK Album Chart.
This uninspiring review questioned the release of "Three Light Years" ...
The artwork of "Four Light Years" ended up inspiring the 7" picture sleeve of the "Ticket To The Moon" and "Here Is The News" AA side single [JET7018] in December 1981 and is may have been the intended sleeve for that second ELO EP. Further evidence, perhaps, of Jet's cash flow issues and their over dependence on the ELO bandwagon would see "The Way Life's Meant To Be" [JET7021], the fourth single from "Time", released without a picture sleeve in the UK during March 1982 and the planned double album "Secret Messages" [JETLX527] being culled to a single LP in 1983, with only three [3] singles: "Rock 'n' Roll Is King", "Secret Messages" and "Four Little Diamonds" seeing release. "Balance Of Power" followed in 1986 but was released on Epic Records, the first non-Jet release since "Eldorado".

The demise of the Jet empire went hand in hand with the eighties ebbing away of ELO. The two were always powerfully entwined. Maybe that's why insiders joked from time to time that they should be renamed "Jeff Records" ...

Until next "Time" in the ELO [and related] Universe ... KJS ... 09-Jan-2015

Thursday, 8 January 2015

ELO PREFIX PROFILE

Hello ... Hello ... my old friends ... It's great to see you once again! Call me an ELOnorak [and you will after reading this article!] but it was always a strange thing to me that a band defined by those three [3] classic and familiar initials that we all know and love only ever saw them used once [and nearly twice] by their record company [Jet Records] during their heyday between 1971 and 1986.

The ELO EP [1978] featuring, of course, "Can't Get It Out Of My Head", "Evil Woman", "Ma Ma Ma Belle" and "Strange Magic" [ELO1], was the only occasion that we saw an official bespoke ELO prefixed catalogue number [see above]. The ultra-rare and sadly withdrawn second ELO EP [1980], featuring "Mr. Blue Sky", "Across The Border", "Telephone Line" and "Don't Bring Me Down" [ELO2] remains, of course, a long sought after enigma.

Other bands of the time including Status Quo [QUO] and Queen [QUEEN] did see their singles having their own branded number with Telstar Records later electing to use the ELO prefix for their two [2] ELO Part II single releases "Honest Men" [ELO100; 12ELO100; ELOCA100; ELOCD100] and "Thousand Eyes" [ELO101; ELOCD101] in 1991.

EMI/Harvest'promo CD [2001] for their 30th anniversary "First Light" re-issue of "The Electric Light Orchestra" [ELO001] is another rare example. These are the only instances that Yours Truly KJS is aware of [at the time of writing] when ELO was used as an 'official' release prefix.

Until next "Time" in the ELO [and related] Universe ... KJS ... 08-Jan-2015

Monday, 5 January 2015

PHIL BATES IN RARE FEBRUARY SOLO JAM HOUSE GIG

Hello ... Hello ... my old friends ... It's great to see you once again! February 2015 will see the welcome return of Phil Bates to his Midlands roots for a rare solo gig. Phil, a former member of Quill, Trickster, ELO Part II, The Move ft. Bev Bevan and Trevor BurtonThe Orchestra [former members of ELO & ELO Part II], Beatles Blues & Blue Violin [BBBV], The Abbey Road Experience and many other notable music projects, will be playing at The Jam House in Birmingham on Tuesday 3rd February from 8:30PM onwards.

Entry to the event is free of charge with some dress restrictions. Further information about the gig and the special restaurant menu also available on the night can be found via this link thus:

www.thejamhouse.com/birmingham/live-music/event/3461/phil-bates-february-2015.htm

ELO Beatles Forever [ELOBF] recommends Phil Bates to those enlightened folks who enjoy the music of ELOJeff LynneRoy WoodThe MoveThe Idle Race'Brum Beat'The Beatles and related artistes.

Until next "Time" in the ELO [and related] Universe ... KJS ... 05-Jan-2015