A sting in the tale
From page 74 of Classic Rock Magazine February 2007
Jellyfish man Andy Sturmer revisits ELO with an anagram tribute.
The re-evaluation of ELO continues apace. And if it keeps up we’ll all soon be sporting sunglasses, bubble perms and beards. Along with the band’s back catalogue getting a make-over, the occasional essay on Jeff Lynne and his idiosyncratic pop, and a new generation of bands falling over themselves to sing ELO’s praises, comes L.E.O. If we tell you that the hidden bonus track on Alpacas Orgling (crazy name, crazy guys) is Lynne’s Don’t Bring Me Down we’ll be giving nothing away. Especially if you’ve bothered to listen to the entire album beforehand.
Helmed by Jellyfish’s Andy Sturmer and Candy Butchers’ Mike Viola (he had a hand in the effervescent gem That Thing You Do from the film of the same name) Alpacas Orgling is an evocative rendering of spangled 70s pop that’s more 10cc and ELO than it is Sweet or the Bee Gees. There’s Mellotron and strings everywhere, the vocals can only be described as lush, the sentiment almost always whimsical or lovelorn. But, that never stopped Jellyfish;
infighting did. How serious this project is (Sturmer appears to enjoy the studio as much as Brian Wilson did) remains to be seen. Recreating it live would be fantastically expensive, and even though the songs would stand up well enough when arranged for guitar and piano, you think that might skew the grandiose L.E.O. vision.
Ya Had Me Goin’ shares its intro with ELO’s Showdown (although you think that might be the point) before blowing up into a fully fledged disco stomp (the Scissor Sisters are pocketing platinum albums like baubles with similar material). The Ol’ College Try is reminiscent of a Turnstiles -era Billy Joel, and Make Me is a slightly less subtle reworking of Do Ya and suffers somewhat for it. Nothin’ Will Ever Change is so blissfully forlorn that it will quickly turn you into a morose drunk eager to call your ex-girlfriend to ask her where it all went wrong. “When I met you,” she’ll say, before putting the phone down quicker than you can say New World Record. This could be the start of something.