Music DVD Review: Jeff Lynne's Electric Light Orchestra - Live in Hyde Park

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Let's make this clear right from the top. Eagle Rock Entertainment's new DVD (also available in Blu-ray) documenting a 2014 concert by Jeff Lynne's ELO in London's Hyde Park is a double-feature. In fact, the Live in Hyde Park concert is almost secondary to the included feature-length documentary Mr. Blue Sky: The Story of Jeff Lynne and ELO. Fans have been clamoring for a home video release of Mr. Blue Sky since it initially aired on TV back in 2012. This engaging film boasts terrifically humble, self-effacing interviews with Lynne himself, plus collaborators including Tom Petty, Paul McCartney, and Ringo Starr. It's Petty who says early on in the 80-minute film, "I'm glad you're doing this movie, because somebody should."

Yes, indeed—Mr. Blue Sky casually makes a strong case for Jeff Lynne's inclusion in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. How is he not in? Throughout Mr. Blue Sky, and the Hyde Park concert too, we hear hit after indelible hit. The documentary also charts Lynne's incredible career as a producer. Remember Martin Scorsese's acclaimed George Harrison documentary, Living in the Material World? Whatever its strengths, that film pretty much omitted Jeff Lynne as a factor in Harrison's life. That wrong is righted in Mr. Blue Sky (we hear from George's son, Dhani, as well), as it elaborates on the professional and personal relationship the two artists shared. There are also interviews with Roy Orbison's late widow Barbara, not only about their work together in the Traveling Wilburys but the further work Lynne did (including producing and co-writing the mega-hit "You Got It").

For some odd reason, Mr. Blue Sky really doesn't get into the history of ELO all that deeply, despite the film's subtitle. Towards the end it focuses mostly on Lynne's then-current project of faithfully re-recording all of ELO's biggest hits, overdubbing all the instruments himself, for a "new" best-of compilation. While it's admittedly not the most artfully crafted documentary, there are fun, off-the-cuff touches (Lynne excuses himself during one interview to answer a ringing phone) that give it a lot of charm.

The 70-minute concert is almost a bonus to accompany the documentary, rather than the other way around. Multi-instrumentalist Lynne sticks to guitar throughout the show, accompanied by stalwart ELO keyboardist Richard Tandy and a small army of additional musicians and backing vocalists. The 16-song set contains plenty of instantly recognizable favorites, including "Evil Woman," "Strange Magic," "Don't Bring Me Down," and of course "Mr. Blue Sky" (saved for last and receiving the most boisterous audience response). Lynne also works in a tribute to fellow Wilburys Roy Orbison and George Harrison with a heartfelt "Handle With Care."

If all that weren't enough to justify a fan's purchase of Live at Hyde Park, there's also an additional 15-minute interview with Lynne. While this largely covers the career highlights we hear about in Mr. Blue Sky, it's still a bunch of great stories and a welcome addition to an already great disc.

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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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