21 December 2017


A few nights ago I had episode 4 of a series dream about a crazy acid casualty Texas record producer who insisted on calling everything “best coast” when it sounded just right. So around midnight I woke up wondering which other bands were on Jet Records besides ELO, and disappeared down a Wikipedia hole. Apparently Jet Records was the creation of Don Arden, known as the “Yiddish Godfather”, who was the violent father of Sharon Osbourne, and who once turned up with a squad of heavies at another record label manager’s office and threatened to throw him out of the window for daring to discuss a change of management with one of Arden’s bands.

So that led to a kind of “six degrees of Jeff Lynne” where I read about the fractious conversion of The Move into ELO and Roy Wood’s departure. I learned that Hugh McDowell left with Wood to form Wizzard, returned to Jeff Lynne’s side in ELO, eventually ended up in the Cornelius Cardew Ensemble, and wrote software for fractal music composition, making him a much more interesting guy than I had previously anticipated.

Apparently after Wizzard’s first album (which featured none of their hit singles), Roy Wood decided he wanted to record something less commercial, and succeeded beyond his wildest dreams. The resulting double album only ever had the first half released, with the jazz-fusion remainder being deemed unreleasable by Jet. Wizzard split up, but Roy Wood determinedly formed a new jazz-fusion Wizzo Band and recorded another album Super Active Wizzo, released with cover art featuring him in glam rock garb superimposed on a pastiche of a washing machine detergent box. Somehow it failed to appeal to either the rock fans or the jazz fans of 1977, go figure.

And then there were all the attempts by ex-ELO members to start their own bands. OrKestra, ELO Part II, The Orchestra, Violinski, Wilson Gale and Co… Most of them seem to be mercifully unavailable for streaming. Kelly Groucutt’s solo album sounds like it could be interesting, but sadly it also sounds like it was recorded on a 4-track in someone’s bedroom.

There’s a parrot conference in Houston next month. The special focus is budgies. I think I might need to go.

© mathew 2017