RATINGS: A = must own B = buy it C= average D = yawn F = puke

Jeff Lynne – Armchair Theater
Frontier Records

Rating: B

By 1990, Jeff Lynne was not only famous for his work with the Electric Light Orchestra, he was one of the most sought after producers in the world, lending his production talents to releases by Roy Orbison, Del Shannon, George Harrison, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, and remarkably, even the Beatles themselves. 

Together with Harrison, Orbison, Tom Petty and Bob Dylan, Lynne was, of course, a member of the Grammy award-winning Traveling Wilburys--a super group like no other. “I’ve been in love with music since I was probably just five years old,” says Lynne. “I was mad for music then--and I still am today.” 

Somehow, he found the time to release his first ever solo album titled Armchair Theater.  The album, which has not been available for purchase for over ten years, mixes Lynne’s poppy ELO style writing with a certain flair for old time rock and roll, which Lynne was heavily influenced by.  The album even features a couple of cover tunes that are reminiscent of what Lynne did on his 2012 release Long Wave in “Don’t Let Go,” “Stormy Weather” and “September Song.”  

The new version of the album was remastered by Jeff Lynne and includes two bonus tracks, both recorded in 1989, “Borderline” and “Forecast.”  Lynne, also invited his rock star buddies to help him out on his solo album.  George Harrison appears on guitar on several tracks and Tom Petty co-wrote the strongest song on the release, “Blown Away.”  His ELO bandmate Richard Tandy also played various instruments throughout the album.  “Don’t Let Go” should have been a huge hit, as it has all the starts, stops, pushes and pulls that Lynne is known for.  

Armchair Theater didn’t make much of a splash, oddly enough, as this was right up the alley of the Traveling Wilburys.  It’s a shame that Lynne didn’t enjoy the same success as the supergroup, as this is a great album, written, performed and produced by a true rock and roll genius.  

At the end of the day, this is a welcome re-release by Lynne and Frontiers Records and should be snapped up by fans of ELO, as well as by people who love good old time, fun rock music. 

ARMCHAIR THEATRE: Every Little Thing, Don’t Let Go, Lift Me Up, Nobody Home, September Song, Now You’re Gone, Don’t Say Goodbye, What Would It Take, Stormy Weather, Blown Away, Save Me Now, Borderline (Bonus), Forecast (Bonus) 

Jeb Wright