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Jeff Lynne, ‘Mercy Mercy’ – Song Review

Long Wave
Frontier Records

Fans waiting for Jeff Lynne‘s first solo album of original material since 1990 will have to wait an indefinite bit longer, with the 11 songs on ‘Long Wave‘ being hits that influenced the ELO singer as a child in England. The cloud of disappointment lifts however when one plays ‘Mercy Mercy,’ his first single.

R&B singer and songwriter Don Covay wrote and found success with this song in 1964, and Lynne stays true to that original composition. “Well I went to see the gypsy / To have my fortune read / She said man, your baby’s gonna leave you / Her bags are packed up under the bed,” he sings, telling the oft-told story of man being dumped by woman.

It’s an ironic trick to dial up ’60s-esque production in 2012 without sounding hackneyed or dishonest, but Lynne — widely considered amongst rock’s best producers — nails it. A thick bass line and rattling drums give the single a sense that it comes from a neighborhood garage. Lynne’s voice isn’t quite as smooth as you’d want, but he doesn’t try to pour it on too thick. That little bit of gravel adds character to make the recording unique.

If you stay now baby / I tell you what I’m gonna do / I’m gonna work two jobs, seven days a week / And bring my money home to you,” he adds during the final verse.

This is a genuine effort from Lynne, and it gives one hope that the remaining 10 songs on ‘Long Wave’ will be unique and intriguing, even if somewhat familiar. It’s curious that he settled on this project as his first since ‘Armchair Theater,’ but a spin of ‘Mercy Mercy’ shows his honest passion for this collection of songs. It could be special.

Listen to Jeff Lynne, ‘Mercy Mercy’

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