Friday, June 23, 2006

"10538 Overture"

In brief: This song is the bastard child of the Beatles' White Album and Sergeant Pepper, with a guitar riff so good that Paul Weller stole it.
Less brief: It's no secret that Jeff Lynne was the mystery musical heir to the Beatles, and there can't have been many songs that were more obviously hommages to John Lennon than this one. The closing coda, with its French horns and deep scrapes from the cello, is straight out of "I Am the Walrus", while the vocals have been thinned out to resemble Lennon's voice.
The guitar riff is almost like something Radiohead might have cooked up, but this song is 35 years old and just adds to the theory that all the best songs have already been written - though we know that isn't true, don't we? But Paul Weller must have thought so, because he lifted the riff straight off this record and made it the core of his terrific single "The Changingman." This song is like a borrowers' daisy-chain.
10538 was the first, and probably the best, example of the ELO experiment to marry strings and the more traditional rock ensemble. Before Lynne became a devotee of the producer-as-musician school, he laid down this plain, unvarnished gem, where the strings are front and centre rather than buried in the mix as they were to become.
Truly revolutionary.

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