When Jeff Lynne was growing up, he listened to music on longwave radio, soaking up all the sounds coming through the big radio in the living room. His 2012 tribute to these days, appropriately called Long Wave, is a far-reaching salute to the glory days of pop in the years before the Beatles. It's too easy to peg this as a standards album, a designation that isn't quite accurate. Lynne may cover many show tunes along with '50s favorites of big-band vocalists but he spends nearly as much time with rock & roll, and not just the operatic pop of his fellow Traveling Wilbury Roy Orbison, either. He cranks through Chuck Berry's "Let It Rock," slides into the silken harmonies of the Everly Brothers on "So Sad," and grooves through Don Covay's "Mercy, Mercy." These are the cuts that stick the closest to the original hit recordings. When Lynne tackles Rodgers & Hammerstein ("If I Loved You"), Rodgers & Hart("Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered"), Fain & Webster ("Love Is a Many Splendored Thing"), andChaplin ("Smile"), he breaks the song down to its melodic basics then builds up candied, layered arrangements that are distinctly his own, suggesting the gorgeous cascades of sound that were the signature of prime ELO. Indeed, when these sweet reinterpretations are combined with the straight-ahead rockers, Long Wave adds up to a blueprint in reverse for Lynne; by going to back to his beginnings, he winds up figuring out why he went in the direction he did.
Following his stint as the leader of the Electric Light Orchestra, singer/guitarist Jeff Lynne forged an equally successful career in the '80s and '90s as a producer, with his distinctive sound gracing the latter-day records of many veteran rock & roll legends. Lynne began his career in the late '60s as the frontman of a group called the Idle Race, which recorded the album The Birthday Party for RCA in 1969. In 1970, Lynne accepted an invitation from Move leader Roy Wood to join his revamped band; the two shared a vision of fusing electric rock & roll with classical orchestrations, a concept that eventually transformed the Move into the Electric Light Orchestra (instead of the two groups running concurrently, as had originally been planned). The Lynne composition "Do Ya" provided the aggregation's first U.S. hit in 1973; Wood soon abdicated his share of the group's leadership to formWizzard, leaving Lynne in charge. He ran the group into the '80s, scoring several U.S. Top Ten singles and albums and contributing to the soundtrack of the 1980 film Xanadu.
In the early '80s, Lynne's production career began to take off, as he worked with roots-rocker Dave Edmunds, Duane Eddy, and the Everly Brothers. Acclaimed work followed with George Harrison (1987's Cloud Nine), Brian Wilson, and Randy Newman. In 1988, Lynne participated in the Grammy-winning Traveling Wilburys supergroup; he soon produced fellow Wilburys Roy Orbison and Tom Petty on the critically and commercially successful Mystery Girl and Full Moon Fever, respectively. In 1990, Lynne released his first solo album, Armchair Theatre, and worked on the Wilburys' second album, Volume III. In recent years, Lynne's most prominent work has been with his main influences, the Beatles, on their Anthology series; the reconstructed "Free as a Bird" bore his unmistakable stamp, and he has also worked with Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney (Flaming Pie) individually.