Shine A Little Love
“The treasure chest of unheard and under-appreciated bands must surely be running dry, what with us coming close to two full decades of CD-Age vault-plundering and with multitudes of internet sites cratedigging for the next forgotten masterpiece. So rather than continuing to look for those artists that sold 11 copies of their wildly influential debut record before imploding, perhaps we should be re-appraising bands that have been right under our nose all the time, almost annoyingly so.”
Way back in days of old we all had to rely on friends and some very hip, imported and expensive music magazines (read: NOT Rolling Stone, SPIN, etc.) to discover a long-forgotten musical gem such as Big Star, Suicide, Velvet Underground, etc. Nowadays, of course, with record companies scrambling to keep afloat by re-releasing every album in their roster by giving even the most obscure and undeserving record the “DELUXE” treatment and, of course, the internet, most of the really great forgotten bands are no longer the domain of the terminally hip. Everyone and my grandmother has a copy of Television’s Marquee Moon nowadays. It doesn’t make it any less great, because we all know it certainly is great; it just makes it a little less…special and a lot less personal.
Now it seems the only ‘hip’ thing to do is to find and champion an ‘un-hip’ band which will, of course, make said band ‘hip’.
I’ve kind of been doing that, albeit a little under the radar, and subconsciously for the most part, all my life. Now I’m not talking about bands like Big Star, VU or The Zombies. They’ve been recognized and championed for decades now. One band I can think of off the top of my head that deserves this kind of positive reassessment is Electric Light Orchestra.
Jeff Lynne embraced disco before disco was even a genre. His incorporation of classical strings with rock and roll beats became the cornerstone of ‘70’s dance music. And while bands like the Rolling Stones stuck a frightened collective toe into the disco pool and promptly decided the waters were too cold and dangerous to swim in (Miss You, Emotional Rescue), ELO dove in head first because that’s what they’d always done.
The difference between most disco hits of the ‘70’s and Lynne’s output was Lynne’s absolute devotion and obsession with the Beatles, particularly their psychedelic period and particularly the Magical Mystery Tour album. In addition, there’s the little fact that Lynne is a freakishly talented pop song writer. When I think of the ‘70’s I think of ELO. I don’t think any other band sound tracked the cocaine decadence of that decade better than these guys. Well, maybe Fleetwood Mac comes a close second…
When you sit down and think about the amount of great songs written by Lynne, well, it’s just staggering. Can’t Get It Out Of My Head, Mr Blue Sky, Evil Woman, Don’t Bring Me Down, Turn To Stone, Strange Magic, Do Ya?, Telephone Line, Sweet Talkin’ Woman, the list just goes on and on and on and freakin’ on. ELO has had a tremendous impact on modern alternative music as well and it’s time we gave them their due.
My favorite of all ELO albums, and they all have something to recommend them as great, is Time. I loved it when it was first released and it has remained in rotation ever since. What do you think? Any other bands you’d like to see rehabilitated?