Electric Light Orchestra – Zoom


Review by David Waterfield

Frontiers Records

Originally released in June 2001, Zoom was the first collection of all new material from Jeff Lynne in just over a decade and the first to bear the ELO name since Balance Of Power fifteen years earlier. For me, Jeff Lynne is one of the all-time great songwriters/producers and as the creative driving force of Electric Light Orchestra he was responsible for a string of classic albums during the seventies and early eighties which include a number of my all-time favourites.

Zoom is not a return to the lavish orchestral sound of yore – the strings here are used discretely if they are used at all – but the production on the album is no less meticulous and in some ways the stripped back sound allows this collection of typically well-crafted Jeff Lynne songs room to breathe. ‘Alright’ is as strong an opening track as you could wish for and would have been a huge hit single in a previous decade or in any kind of sane universe. The same could be said for the infectious, riff-driven ‘State Of Mind’ three tracks in.

The vast majority of Zoom is played and sung entirely by Jeff Lynne but there are a few guest appearances along the way. Ringo Starr steps behind the drum kit for the rollicking ‘Easy Money’,  Jeff’s then-girlfriend Rosie Vela provides backing vocals on several tracks and most prominently on ‘In My Own Time’, Richard Tandy plays electric piano on ‘Alright’ whilst the late George Harrison provides some tasteful slide guitar on ‘All She Wanted’ and the poignant ‘Long Time Gone’.

One marked feature of Zoom is the degree of personal reflection in the lyrics. ‘Just For Love’ and ‘It Really Doesn’t Matter’ reveal a degree of contentment and tranquillity, whilst ‘Easy Money’ and the album closer ‘Lonesome Lullaby’ are altogether more pointed.

This 2013 remaster features two bonus tracks in the shape of a 2001 live version of ‘Turn To Stone’ and an excellent new studio track ‘One Day’. Speaking as someone who forked out over twenty quid for the Japanese version of Zoom back in 2001 it’s a pity there’s still no UK debut for Long Black Road (which is a belter!) but I guess you can’t have everything!

Zoom may not scale the dizzy heights of ELO’s classic albums but as a strong collection of songs bearing the classic Jeff Lynne hallmark it is a fine addition to a magnificent (but often underappreciated) body of work.

ELO - Zoom8 out of 10

Track listing:

  1. Alright
  2. Moment In Paradise
  3. State Of Mind
  4. Just For Love
  5. Stranger On A Quiet Street
  6. In My Own Time
  7. Easy Money
  8. It Really Doesn’t Matter
  9. Ordinary Dream
  10. Long Time Gone
  11. Melting In The Sun
  12. All She Wanted
  13. Lonesome Lullaby
  14. One Day (bonus track)
  15. Turn To Stone (Live) (bonus track)