The thumbnail sketch of Jeff Lynne is of a band leader far too in thrall to the Lennon/McCartney songbook for his own good. While he’s always readily worn his Beatles influences on his sleeve, Lynne’s own songwriting gifts shouldn’t be overlooked and this 16-disc 7″ boxset finds his assembled Brummie classicists at their peak. You’ll know the big hitters here, of course: the multi-part Mr. Blue Sky and striking Evil Woman, alongside the psychedelic strut of 10538 Overture that inspired Paul Weller’s The Changingman. Several deeper cuts are equally impressive, from the wonderful guitar masterclass of Roy Wood-era First Movement (Jumping Biz) to the broodingly ambitious prog of In Old England Town (Boogie No.2) and Oh No Not Susan, an ode to an unfulfilled socialite that slipped the F-bomb past BBC censors. And that’s Marc Bolan trading tasty lead-guitar licks with Lynne on Ma-Ma-Ma Belle, by the way.
Written by Steve Harnell. Released on Legacy Recordings.