Saturday, April 18, 2009

Mission (Phase One) - Complete. Stand By For Phase Two...

Greetings and salutations all. Today marks exactly a year since I launched the good ship Retro Universe into cyberspace. Initially, this blog was an outlet for me to express my thoughts and opinions about some of the songs and artists I enjoyed growing up (and still enjoy today), and in the process share some interesting titbits about those artists careers along the way. That’s still the intention by the way, but those half page blurbs during the early days have kind of expanded over time to become less potted, more epic length histories (sometimes covering two or three posts). I’ve enjoyed the process of developing as a writer (if you could call me that), but of late I’ve felt like I’m running out of steam and enthusiasm. Believe it or not I’ve got another forty plus draft posts in the can, and I’d planned to write about ninety more to take the blog through to the end of this year (that was when I’d intended to wind things up). But - best laid plans and all that - my heart’s not really in it at the moment, and I need to step away for a bit. Each post takes a lot of time and energy (and I mean a lot) - more than I’d originally intended investing - and I don’t want maintaining this blog to become a chore, or worse an ordeal, rather than an enjoyable hobby. So, time to take a break for a little while - freshen up, and hopefully regain that drive and enthusiasm which inspired me in the first place. When I return to the helm in a couple of weeks or so, and as Jo Jo Zep once sang “I will return”, I’ll post the longer ‘essay style’ drafts which I’ve already written, but in terms of penning future posts, I’ll attempt to take a more economical approach. Actually, if I take a look back at the posts I was writing during the first few months of the blog - that’s the style (and length) I’d like to get back to - less thorough I know - but more succinct, and less taxing (and time consuming) to research and write. If you’re a regular reader, or casual passer by, I hope you’ll keep Retro Universe bookmarked for future reference - I‘ll be back posting soon….stay tuned ;)

Enough of the self indulgent rant. Time to sign off (for now) with a highlight from one of my all time favourite artists - Electric Light Orchestra. E.L.O. (as they’re better known) evolved during 1971 out of the eclectic British psychedelic-rock outfit, The Move. Roy Wood (guitar/vocals), Bev Bevan (drums), Rick Price (bass), and recent recruit Jeff Lynne (guitar/keyboards/vocals) comprised E.L.O.’s initial line-up. Actually, it was the addition of Lynne to The Move’s roster that proved a key factor in the group’s metamorphosis into E.L.O. Roy Wood left after the band’s first album , leaving Jeff Lynne to take over at the controls. Over the next couple of years E.L.O.’s line-up was expanded to include (among others) Richard Tandy (keyboards), Kelly Groucutt (bass), and Mik Kaminsky (violin). Under Jeff Lynne’s creative direction, the Electric Light Orchestra lived up to their name with a unique brand of orchestral pop-rock, infused with strains of rockabilly, blues, 60s psychedelic rock, melodic pop, and straight up classical music arrangements.

My personal opinion (which is the only one I can really offer) is that no one before, or since, has come up with the unique sound that defined E.L.O., and the reason comes down to writer, producer, singer, guitarist, and considerable musical genius Jeff Lynne. Sure his ambitions for E.L.O. were grandiose, but both he and the band delivered on those ambitions, and then some. Over a fifteen year period, Electric Light Orchestra notched up a swag of gold/platinum albums, and almost thirty top forty hits (across the U.S., Britain and Australia). During the mid to late 70s, E.L.O. was one of the biggest live drawcards in the world, regularly selling out stadium venues. Songs such as, ‘Livin’ Thing’, ‘10538 Overture’, ‘Rockaria!’, ‘Hold On Tight’, ‘Telephone Line’, ‘Shine A Little Love’, ‘Don’t Bring Me Down’, and ‘Rock And Roll Is King’, became instant classic, um, pop-classics. Albums such as ‘A New World Record’, ‘Discovery’, ‘Time’, and ‘Out Of The Blue’, thirty years on still stand up to the most intense scrutiny and scream “eternal gem”. If I had to choose one song by Electric Light Orchestra that resonates more powerfully with me than any other - and that is a mighty tough choice - I’d choose ‘Mr. Blue Sky’ (US#35/UK#6/OZ#87). The track featured on E.L.O.’s 1977 double album ‘Out Of The Blue’ (US#4/UK#4/OZ#3), released on the band’s own Jet Records label. If ever my mind is in need of a ray of sunshine, something to cut a swath through a mental fog, Electric Light Orchestra’s ‘Mr. Blue Sky’ blows the clouds away. Put simply, ‘Mr. Blue Sky’ is a sublime slice of orchestral-pop heaven.

So, until I once more return to the Retro Universe controls, peace and happiness to everyone, and be sure to take time over the next couple of weeks to listen to the music that you love.

And now….“Goodmorning, today’s forecast calls for blue skies”…enjoy ‘Mr. Blue Sky’.


Barely Awake In Frog Pajamas said...

Very cool blog you have here - sorry that I discovered it as you were deciding to take a hiatus.

I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for your return and poring through the archives in the meantime.

A. FlockOfSeagulls said...

Many thanks. Likewise I'm enjoying the process of working my way through the archive of posts on your excellent blog.

In respect of my return, I promised myself a complete break, but find that I'm still tinkering away on penning new posts - old habits and all that - which is a good sign I suppose.

I've got the 30 April pencilled into the old grey matter as a likely date to resume posting - Murray Head and Prefab Sprout are slated for the first week back. Will just take a 2 or 3 post a week approach from there.

rickdog said...

Find more Electric Light Orchestra in my mp3blog and forum searches: