“Evil Woman” (ELO Electric Light Orchestra Cover)

Well, “New Bands Week” is over, but I have a hard time letting go…so I bring you yet another new band to the Laptop Sessions acoustic cover songs music video blog!

Tonight I give you a band fronted by a great producer, songwriter, and singer: Jeff Lynne. The band is Electric Light Orchestra (E.L.O.) and the song is “Evil Woman”, a favorite of mine for a long time.

This song is originally done on piano, but I’ve adapted it for acoustic guitar. It’s got great vocals and a great chord progression. I love the way the drums come in- it’s what I miss the most when I play it solo.  Many say that Jeff Lynne, as a producer, kind of “over-produces” his music.  I actually kind of like it.  I love a large chorus of vocals, plus Lynne always throws in some interesting instruments (like a violin) into his songs.  And, sure, when he was with the Traveling Wilburys, he had all five members play acoustic guitar.  But, to me, that just showed how everyone was participating.

Jeff Lynne not only had a ton of hits with E.L.O., he produced many hit albums.  Roy Orbison’s “Mystery Girl” is a stand-out and brought the Lynne co-written song “You Got It” to the world.  He even produced the mega-smash album “Full Moon Fever” for Tom Petty, which had classic songs like “Running Down A Dream”, “Free Fallin'”, and “Won’t Back Down”.  I think I like Jeff Lynne’s producing style because it’s the style of music I grew up with.  I mean, both of the albums I mentioned were from the late 80s.  And one of my other favorite albums, “Cloud 9” by George Harrion, is also produced by Jeff Lynne…and also from the late 80s!  You can’t go wrong with any of these albums and I have to give a little credit to Jeff Lynne on that.

I hope tonight’s Electric Light Orchestra cover song will be the start of many other E.L.O. songs for the Laptop Sessions music blog. I can’t wait to do “Sweet Talkin’ Woman”, too.  That’s another one that’s a bit over-produced, but when it was recorded in the 70s, people were pushing the envelope with the sounds they could create.  In the 60s, you only had four or eight tracks to work with.  And in the 70s, the technology leaped forward, allowing many more tracks to be used without a reduction in sound quality.  Jeff Lynne has always struck me as a technical musician of sorts- he knows the craft of recording a song and applies it to the music he makes and the music he produces for other bands.

“Evil Woman” is also a fun song to do a cover of because of the cool falsetto parts in the chorus.  It’s that kind of range that made E.L.O. stand out to me and I’m happy to present my stripped-down version here on the music video blog!

Enjoy tonight’s acoustic cover song music video, and make sure to come back on Wednesday to see my Original Wednesday cover song tribute to Jeff Copperthite’s great new album, “Greenlight”. Aw, heck, why don’t you just come back on Monday and Tuesday, too?

“The Warmth of the Sun” (Beach Boys Cover)

By Jim Fusco:

Here’s one plenty of people should know: the classic and beautiful “Warmth of the Sun” by the Beach Boys, written by Brian Wilson and Mike Love.  The story goes that both Brian and Mike were together the night that President John F. Kennedy passed away.  It must’ve been quite a night in America- I can only imagine it.  But, in songwriters’ darkest hours come some great material.  Most of the great songs you hear are a result of heartache- it’s usually due to losing a loved one.  But, Brian Wilson and Mike Love of the Beach Boys were creative in their songwriting and made their feellings for the passing of their President known in song.  Sure, they tailored it into a love-lost song (“The love of my life, she left me one day…”), but you can tell the sentiment in the song, especially considering the night they wrote it.

“The Warmth of the Sun” is a beautiful song in all ways- the chord changes are just great.  Brian Wilson always had a knack at creating chord progressions that were familiar, but had a great twist.  The bass line always moves in the opposite direction of where you expect it to go.  In addition to great music (and the instrumental track, which I’m pretty sure was played by the Beach Boys band members themselves), this song has AMAZING harmonies.  Brian Wilson’s voice simply soars in this song.  With the addition of the dead-on background vocals, you’ve got a pretty perfect song.  I’m just glad I found a way to put a solo acoustic performance together and record it with just an acoustic guitar for a cover song music video.

This video is fulfilling a request I received in my first week of doing the Laptop Sessions. I waited until now because I knew I had to get this one right. I had to practice the chords (not too easy, and this is my own interpretation- I didn’t even use a book), plus get the intricate tune correct. There’s so many subtleties to this tune and NO ONE was writing pop music like this in 1963. Talk about ahead of their time.

Please visit my website at http://jimfusco.com for more great music–original songs! One of the main ideas behind doing all of these cover songs for the Laptop Sessions is that if you like the style of music that I do live performances of, you’ll also love my original music, too!  I really think that’s true- my original songs aren’t just throwbacks or anything like that.  They’re unique songs that put a modern twist on my favorite influences, including The Beach Boys, the Byrds, the Beatles, and the Moody Blues.  I hope you enjoy tonight’s Beach Boys cover song and I hope you’ll stay tuned for more.  Make sure to follow me on Twitter @jimfuscomusic so you always know the latest on my songwriting endeavors, too!

“I’m So Lonely” (A Beach Boys Cover)

Okay, so now for a REALLY obscure one!

This song is from the Beach Boys self-titled 1985 album. It’s called “I’m So Lonely” and was Brian Wilson’s only solo lead on the album.  Why would I pick such an obscure song? Well, for one thing, my roomate dared me to figure it out on my own, and this is also the way I’ve been feeling lately (bust out the violins).  But can you blame me?  I mean, living away from home is tough.  Factor that in with just starting to work full-time for the first time.  Plus, add in running a condo for the first time.  When all of those things combine, you find that you don’t have a lot of time for yourself.  But that’s where music comes in.  Singing, playing and recording these cover song music videos for the Laptop Sessions music blog is a great way to keep the passion of music in my life without taking up too much time.  Honestly, I don’t have that much time to take up anymore!

Most people don’t like the Beach Boys’ 1985 self-titled album.  But, I don’t understand why.  To me, this album has just about everything.  It’s not without its flaws, but I’d love to hear a redone version of this album with real instruments.  I think people would have a much different take on the album.  But, it was 1985 and the Beach Boys were using cutting-edge technology to record their songs.  They wanted to do all of their new songs digitally, so they went over to England.  There, they found one of the only studios in the world with the equipment to pull off such a task.  Maybe the Boys wanted to sound “hip” and not like they were a bunch of guys in their 40s.  The result was one of the first albums released on compact disc- a revolution, but not well-received.

For one, the fans definitely noticed the change in style (except for “California’s Calling”, featuring real drums by Ringo Starr- the only person worthy enough to take Dennis Wilson’s place on a Beach Boys record).  But, I like the style.  Sure, I was born in 1984, but honestly, I love the style of these songs- especially Carl’s contributions.  “Maybe I Don’t Know” is one of my all-time favorite songs.  It features great lead vocals and an amazing mid-80s guitar solo.  I’ll agree- it’s hard to believe it’s from a Beach Boys song.

With “I’m So Lonely”, the Beach Boys got Brian Wilson to contribute a song.  You know, I think Brian sounds pretty good on the recording.  He sounds passionate (unlike his lackluster performance in “Crack At Your Love”).  The song is simple, but it’s great to hear Brian’s falsetto once again.  If you haven’t listened to this album for a while, I strongly suggest you give it another chance.

This video is EXACTLY what the Laptop Sessions are all about.  These acoustic cover song videos are meant to take songs and strip-down their production (in this case, the synthesizers of the mid-80s).  I want to make videos where people say, “Wow, I never liked the studio version of that song, but since you just made it an acoustic version, it’s actually a really good tune!”  I think I do the song justice and I hope you enjoy!