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Jeff Lynne|Armchair Theatre

Armchair Theatre

Jeff Lynne

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Jeff Lynne could do no wrong in 1990...until he released a solo album, that is. Prior to Armchair Theatre, everything Lynne touched turned to gold and platinum. He coaxed a comeback out of George Harrison for Cloud Nine, helped Tom Petty go solo in 1989 with Full Moon Fever, then those two joined forces with Bob Dylan and Roy Orbison for the Traveling Wilburys, perhaps the only supergroup to ever live up to its billing (he also polished Orbison's swan song Mystery Girl). On each album, Lynne's production stamp was indelible: gigantic, shimmering tapestries of harmonized vocals and acoustic guitars underpinned by a bit of old-time rock & roll and dressed in a bunch of Beatlesque pop. This sound was his signature so it's no surprise that it's all over Armchair Theatre, but the record doesn't come close to matching the success of any of the aforementioned albums. That could be due to the shocking lack of pure pop here. Apart from the punchy "Every Little Thing" -- its title nods to the Beatles, its pre-chorus to Smokey Robinson but it sounds like neither of them -- and maybe the cheerful midtempo "Lift Me Up," there are no pop singles here; it's a surprisingly reflective record from a musician currently sitting on the top of the world. If anything, the album Armchair Theatre most resembles is its long-delayed sequel Long Wave, a sepia-toned collection of standards Lynne released in 2012. Lynne also dips into the past here, crooning versions of "September Song" and "Stormy Weather" that would have seamlessly fit onto Long Wave, then creates a joyful rockabilly pastiche on "Don't Let Go," easily the liveliest bit of rock & roll on the album. Elsewhere, a sense of nostalgia permeates the proceedings, not so much giving this a sense of sadness but rather a bit of comfortable, familiar warmth. Ultimately, that coziness didn't gain a large audience but it has aged well, as Armchair Theatre now doesn't seem part of Lynne's 1990 golden era but rather the unheralded start of his final act as pop maverick in repose, dabbling with the sounds he's loved from the past. [The 2013 reissue of Armchair Theatre adds two nice unreleased cuts: the faux folkie "Borderline" and the lightly Baroque "Forecast."]
© Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo

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Armchair Theatre

Jeff Lynne

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1
Every Little Thing
00:03:42

Bernie Grundman, Mastering Engineer - GEORGE HARRISON, Acoustic Guitar, Background Vocal - Jim Horn, Saxophone - Jeff Lynne, Composer, Lyricist, Producer, Guitar, Keyboards, Piano, Bass, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, Vocal - Richard Dodd, Recording Engineer - Michael Kamen, Strings - Charlie Brocco, Assistant Engineer - Richard Tandy, Acoustic Guitar - Mette Mathiesen, Drums - Hema Desai, Vocal - Phil Hatton, Background Vocal - Robert Salcedo, Assistant Engineer

(P) 1990 Daft As A Brush, Inc. under exclusive license to Sony Music Entertainment

2
Don't Let Go
00:03:01

Bernie Grundman, Mastering Engineer - Jesse Stone, Composer, Lyricist - Jim Horn, Saxophone - Jeff Lynne, Producer, Guitar, Keyboards, Piano, Bass, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, Vocal - Richard Dodd, Recording Engineer - Charlie Brocco, Assistant Engineer - Richard Tandy, Background Vocal - Mette Mathiesen, Drums - Jake Commander, Background Vocal - Phil Hatton, Background Vocal - Robert Salcedo, Assistant Engineer

(P) 1990 Daft As A Brush, Inc. under exclusive license to Sony Music Entertainment

3
Lift Me Up
00:03:37

Dave Morgan, Background Vocal - Bernie Grundman, Mastering Engineer - GEORGE HARRISON, Guitar, Background Vocal - Jeff Lynne, Composer, Lyricist, Producer, Guitar, Keyboards, Piano, Bass, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, Vocal - Richard Dodd, Recording Engineer - Charlie Brocco, Assistant Engineer - Richard Tandy, Acoustic Guitar - Mette Mathiesen, Drums - Phil Hatton, Background Vocal - Robert Salcedo, Assistant Engineer

(P) 1990 Daft As A Brush, Inc. under exclusive license to Sony Music Entertainment

4
Nobody Home
00:03:53

Bernie Grundman, Mastering Engineer - Jeff Lynne, Composer, Lyricist, Producer, Electric Guitar, Keyboards, Piano, Bass, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, Vocal - Richard Dodd, Recording Engineer - Charlie Brocco, Assistant Engineer - Mette Mathiesen, Drums - Phil Hatton, Background Vocal - Robert Salcedo, Assistant Engineer

(P) 1990 Daft As A Brush, Inc. under exclusive license to Sony Music Entertainment

5
September Song
00:02:59

Rita, Other - Bernie Grundman, Mastering Engineer - GEORGE HARRISON, Guitar - Jeff Lynne, Composer, Lyricist, Producer, Electric Guitar, Keyboards, Bass, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, Vocal - Richard Dodd, Recording Engineer - Charlie Brocco, Assistant Engineer - Richard Tandy, Piano - The Ordinaires, Background Vocal - Robert Salcedo, Assistant Engineer

(P) 1990 Daft As A Brush, Inc. under exclusive license to Sony Music Entertainment

6
Now You're Gone
00:03:58

Kurt Weill, Composer, Lyricist - Bernie Grundman, Mastering Engineer - Jeff Lynne, Producer, Electric Guitar, Keyboards, Piano, Bass, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, Vocal - Richard Dodd, Recording Engineer - Maxwell Anderson, Composer, Lyricist - Charlie Brocco, Assistant Engineer - Suresh Lalwani, Percussion - Mette Mathiesen, Drums - Vikram Patil, Percussion - Ashit Desai & Hema Desai, Vocal - Robert Salcedo, Assistant Engineer - Nellai Kanan, Percussion - Pandit Fateh Singh Gangani, Percussion

(P) 1990 Daft As A Brush, Inc. under exclusive license to Sony Music Entertainment

7
Don't Say Goodbye
00:03:10

Bernie Grundman, Mastering Engineer - Jeff Lynne, Composer, Lyricist, Producer, Guitar, Keyboards, Piano, Bass, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, Vocal - Richard Dodd, Recording Engineer - Charlie Brocco, Assistant Engineer - Mette Mathiesen, Drums - Phil Hatton, Background Vocal - Robert Salcedo, Assistant Engineer

(P) 1990 Daft As A Brush, Inc. under exclusive license to Sony Music Entertainment

8
What Would It take
00:02:41

Bernie Grundman, Mastering Engineer - Jeff Lynne, Composer, Lyricist, Producer, Guitar, Keyboards, Piano, Bass, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, Vocal - Richard Dodd, Recording Engineer - Charlie Brocco, Assistant Engineer - Mette Mathiesen, Drums - Robert Salcedo, Assistant Engineer

(P) 1990 Daft As A Brush, Inc. under exclusive license to Sony Music Entertainment

9
Stormy Weather
00:03:43

Bernie Grundman, Mastering Engineer - GEORGE HARRISON, Guitar - Harold Arlen, Composer, Lyricist - Ted Koehler, Composer, Lyricist - Jeff Lynne, Producer, Keyboards, Bass, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, Vocal - Richard Dodd, Recording Engineer - Michael Kamen, Strings - Charlie Brocco, Assistant Engineer - Richard Tandy, Piano - Mette Mathiesen, Drums - Robert Salcedo, Assistant Engineer - The Olton Orioles, Background Vocal

(P) 1990 Daft As A Brush, Inc. under exclusive license to Sony Music Entertainment

10
Blown Away
00:03:31

Bernie Grundman, Mastering Engineer - Del Shannon, Background Vocal - Jeff Lynne, Composer, Lyricist, Producer, Guitar, Keyboards, Piano, Bass, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, Vocal - Tom Petty, Composer, Lyricist - Richard Dodd, Recording Engineer - Charlie Brocco, Assistant Engineer - Phil Hatton, Background Vocal - Robert Salcedo, Assistant Engineer - The Warwickshire Wobblers, Background Vocal

(P) 1990 Daft As A Brush, Inc. under exclusive license to Sony Music Entertainment

11
Save Me Now
00:01:54

Bernie Grundman, Mastering Engineer - Jeff Lynne, Composer, Lyricist, Producer, Acoustic Guitar, Keyboards, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, Vocal - Richard Dodd, Recording Engineer - Charlie Brocco, Assistant Engineer - Robert Salcedo, Assistant Engineer

(P) 1990 Daft As A Brush, Inc. under exclusive license to Sony Music Entertainment

Album Description

Jeff Lynne could do no wrong in 1990...until he released a solo album, that is. Prior to Armchair Theatre, everything Lynne touched turned to gold and platinum. He coaxed a comeback out of George Harrison for Cloud Nine, helped Tom Petty go solo in 1989 with Full Moon Fever, then those two joined forces with Bob Dylan and Roy Orbison for the Traveling Wilburys, perhaps the only supergroup to ever live up to its billing (he also polished Orbison's swan song Mystery Girl). On each album, Lynne's production stamp was indelible: gigantic, shimmering tapestries of harmonized vocals and acoustic guitars underpinned by a bit of old-time rock & roll and dressed in a bunch of Beatlesque pop. This sound was his signature so it's no surprise that it's all over Armchair Theatre, but the record doesn't come close to matching the success of any of the aforementioned albums. That could be due to the shocking lack of pure pop here. Apart from the punchy "Every Little Thing" -- its title nods to the Beatles, its pre-chorus to Smokey Robinson but it sounds like neither of them -- and maybe the cheerful midtempo "Lift Me Up," there are no pop singles here; it's a surprisingly reflective record from a musician currently sitting on the top of the world. If anything, the album Armchair Theatre most resembles is its long-delayed sequel Long Wave, a sepia-toned collection of standards Lynne released in 2012. Lynne also dips into the past here, crooning versions of "September Song" and "Stormy Weather" that would have seamlessly fit onto Long Wave, then creates a joyful rockabilly pastiche on "Don't Let Go," easily the liveliest bit of rock & roll on the album. Elsewhere, a sense of nostalgia permeates the proceedings, not so much giving this a sense of sadness but rather a bit of comfortable, familiar warmth. Ultimately, that coziness didn't gain a large audience but it has aged well, as Armchair Theatre now doesn't seem part of Lynne's 1990 golden era but rather the unheralded start of his final act as pop maverick in repose, dabbling with the sounds he's loved from the past. [The 2013 reissue of Armchair Theatre adds two nice unreleased cuts: the faux folkie "Borderline" and the lightly Baroque "Forecast."]
© Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo

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