Is Jeff Lynne Kevin Turvey? Or is he a genius?

Do you remember Kevin Turvey?*

He was from Solihull and, frankly, you have to be from Solihull or thereabouts to fully appreciate his pedantry. “I got some milk out of the fridge and I poured it on my cornflakes. Well, not all of it. Obviously.”

People from there or thereabouts will go into excruciating detail to ensure you get the full measure of whatever story they’re telling you. It’s a rarely remarked upon ethnic eccentricity.

I was reminded of this reading an interview with Jeff Lynne this week. He was asked if he’d like a cup of tea.

“Do you want a cup of tea, Jeff?”

“Yeah, I’ll have the same again.”

“The same cup of tea?”

“No, I can’t have the same cup of tea, obviously, ‘cos I’ve drunk it. But some tea. In the same cup.”

Well, it made me cry laughing, but perhaps you had to be there. Or thereabouts.

Another comment I love from Jeff was when Tom Petty pulled up next to him at some traffic lights in LA. “Hey Jeff, we should hang out,” said Tom. “Which was nice,” said Jeff, recounting the story later.

Of course, but for that chance meeting (Tom Petty had been planning a sabbatical) we might never have had The Traveling Wilburys. So ‘nice’ doesn’t begin to cover it.

I saw The Electric Light Orchestra at Fairfield Halls, Croydon on what may have been its first major outing (after a pub debut at The Fox & Hounds (also in Croydon). As a Beatle nut, an entire band dedicated to recreating the sound of I Am The Walrus, cellos and all, seemed an entirely brilliant concept.

But all was not sweetness and light. Backstage after the gig, I saw manager Don Arden line the group up against a wall and walk up and down, shouting at each of them for some invented slip-up. It was a control mechanism. He even punched a couple of them.

No wonder tensions ran high. Not long after, Roy Wood scarpered with a couple of other members to form Wizzard. To those of us who had imagined that the whole Walrus thing was Roy’s idea, ELO seemed like a dead duck.

But Roy wasn’t the creative midwife. Jeff Lynne was. So after a long apprenticeship, going back to 1965, when he first met Richard Tandy, Jeff finally had centre stage and a vehicle for what turned out to be a stunning talent for timeless pop tunes and a mastery of studio techniques.

I’m not going to go on and on about how brilliant Jeff Lynne is. But let’s just think about his timeline – The Idle Race (legendary but rarely heard), The Move, ELO, George Harrison, Tom Petty, Roy Orbison, The Traveling Wilburys and then, a career crowner you’d have thought, The Beatles!r

But Free As A Bird and Real Love were 20 years ago. Oh, fuck me!! Really? Yes indeed. And you can’t keep a restless and creative soul like Jeff Lynne under wraps for 20 years. I bought his 2012 album Long Wave, which is a joy.

And now he’s in the process of releasing a new ELO album, though it’s really a Jeff Lynne album, Alone In The Universe. I’ll be buying it.

I know some of you won’t. There are a lot of ELO haters out there. Though you’re not in the same class as the Phil Collins haters. Just deviating for a few seconds (without hesitation or repetition) I personally cannot see the point of hating Phil. I’m not a fan, but for God’s sake, the man is a brilliant drummer, much sampled by the Hip Hop community who revere him.  And he’s written some great songs. His music career alone (preceeded by a five-year spell as a child actor) has lasted nearly 50 years.

But hating ELO at least comes with the possibility that you don’t also hate Jeff Lynne. I bet every one of you has a favourite record tucked away that has Jeff Lynne all over it. Surely no-one can hate Roy Orbison and George Harrison and Tom Petty and Dave Edmunds and Olivia Newton-John and Paul McCartney and Duane Eddy and Regina Spektor and Joe Walsh and The Beatles and The Traveling Wilburys?

If you hate absolutely every one on that list, please spare me your rationale. Instead, make a doctor’s appointment and ask to see a consultant. You’re clearly unwell.

Meantime, in case you’ve missed the buildup, here’s a gorgeous taster of Alone In The Universe, due for release late next week, I think.

*Kevin Turvey was one of Rik Mayall’s earliest inventions.

The Sound Of Music. The Sound Of U2. The Sound Of Me, Running A Mile.

Imagine a time when a record is released and you have to leave your house with real money in your pocket. You take the bus into town and go to a shop.

You go up to the counter and ask for the record. The retailer has it behind the counter. You hand over your money, she hands you the record.

Bus back home, rush in, fire up the turntable and gently – gently, now! – lower the stylus onto the shiny black vinyl. Heaven.

This dreamlike image appeared in my head recently after I woke up to find a U2 album on my iPhone.

We’re all entitled to our little irrationalities, and I hold it as a badge of honour that I’ve never owned a U2 album.

Ditto, I’ve never seen The Sound Of Music.

I had an amusing exchange on Twitter recently after I posted about tracks I produced with Vince Hill and 101 Mandolins.

@BeoirFinder tweeted “Bugger – wrong Edelweiss”.

I tweeted back “Surely not!? What were you expecting – I’m intrigued” and he sent me a link to a YouTube mashup called Bring Me Edelweiss. It’s so many levels of wrong and bad, it might actually be brilliant.

In a later tweet, he explained: “I have a project where I’m going to destroy The Sound Of Music.”

This was our last exchange:


So, imagine if I woke up one morning to find that, during my sleep, someone had discovered a way to show me The Sound Of Music from beginning to end in my dreams. Once seen, I could never unsee it.

It’s not far from that to waking up to find U2 on my iPhone.

I had thought this particular prejudice was unique to me. Turns out I’m not alone. My friend Peter Mate discovered pages of Bono/U2 jokes on Wikipedia. Facebook was crawling with people outraged by, at the very least, what they considered an invasion of privacy. Fuck privacy. Taste is far more important.

But the funniest thing was posted by my son Remi. It’s a note from Captain Beefheart to Bono, who had been trying to interest the Captain in a collaboration. The note read:

Dear Bongo, I don’t know who you are, or what you want from me, but don’t call me again.”

It’s the ‘Bongo’ that cracks me up. I don’t believe the story’s true (Beefheart died in 2010, so there’s no way of finding out).

But surely, being Bono, it must puncture his pride to see this stuff so widely circulated?

Seems not.

Why else would he think it’s a good idea to force his new album on 500 million unsuspecting iTunes account holders? There’s more hubris attached to that than could be contained in a Jumbo Jet.

I checked and discovered U2 have reportedly sold 150 million albums in their career.

Rihanna has sold more. Not to mention Garth Brooks, Celine Dion and Mariah Carey.

What must it feel like to know that history is going to record you as 14th on a list (with all chances of slipping down) where Madonna is in fourth place?

So then I started calculating. Are you paying attention, Bongo?

I figure that if your hardcore fans had bought all 14 albums, that would make roughly eleven million people in the world who own a U2 album.

Let’s be kind and say that your hardcore fans account for half of your sales, and that 75 million other people have bought one album each. That’s still fewer than 90 million people (and that’s really pushing it, I know) who’ve actually bought a U2 album. In reality, I reckon it’s probably closer to 25 million.

In which case, what made you think that 475 million people who had never bought one of your records would want one now – even for free?

So, here’s a reality check for you, Bono. It’s a clip of you and the boys being drunk and disrespectful to Phil Collins, who is tirelessly tolerant – but has also sold a quarter of a billion albums. You’re never gonna get there. You know that, don’t you?

My next dream involves the pop star who lives in my house, winning an award, which you present. She won’t be drunk when she comes up to accept it. Oh no. It’s much, much worse than that.

She has absolutely no idea who you are. “Sing me a U2 song, pop star who lives in my house.”

“Are you for real, P-Dog? Wtf is that?”

And here’s the Edelweiss mashup that BeoirFinder wants to use in his destructive remake of The Sound Of Music. I’m with you, BF.