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ELO rocker Jeff Lynne working slowly on solo album

 Rock greats Jeff Lynne (L) and Tom Petty play with Dhani Harrison (R), son of ex-Beatle George Harrison, at the 19th Annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in New York on March 15, 2004. REUTERS/Jeff Christensen - Reuters
Rock greats Jeff Lynne (L) and Tom Petty play with Dhani Harrison (R), son of ex-Beatle George Harrison, at the 19th Annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in New York on March 15, 2004. REUTERS/Jeff Christensen
— image credit: Reuters

By Dean Goodman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - For a musician who claims to live a leisurely existence, British rocker Jeff Lynne has plenty of projects on his plate.

The brains behind the '70s art-rock band Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) recently took a break from sessions for his first solo album in almost two decades to produce songs for quirky folk singer/songwriter Regina Spektor. He also has plans to write and record with Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh.

The bearded Birmingham native has kept a relatively low profile since the 2001 album "Zoom," which was credited to ELO but was essentially a Lynne solo work. Sales were poor, and a scheduled arena tour was canceled.

But Lynne's legacy as the writer and producer of such ELO tunes as "Livin' Thing" and "Mr. Blue Sky" is secure. And then there was his tenure with the Traveling Wilburys, not to mention his collaborations on solo works by fellow Wilburys George Harrison, Tom Petty and Roy Orbison.

As for his own album, he hopes to release it later this year. It would be his official solo follow-up to 1990's "Armchair Theater."

"It's coming, gradually," Lynne, 61, said in a recent interview with Reuters. "I can do 'em quick, but it depends whether you want 'em good or quick!"

It is indeed a solo work, with Lynne playing all the instruments apart from the occasional violin or cello. As is his wont, he will be tinkering with the project right up until the last minute, and accordingly declined to reveal any titles.

MUSIC BIZ HONOR

Lynne will emerge from his hilltop home-recording studio compound on Friday when performing rights group ASCAP presents him with its Golden Note Award for lifetime achievement during its annual expo in Hollywood. Lynne will in turn discuss his 40-year career at a Q&A session. His advice to musicians?

"You've just got to love it. You can't really do it unless you love it to bits, and you'd rather be doing it than anything else. That's what I've found. I'm still getting thrilled with music even after 40 years of doing it professionally. The hairs stand up on the back of my neck at certain music."

One of those hair-raising experiences occurred recently when Lynne was working with Spektor. He was busy with his own album, but could not resist the opportunity to put his stamp on some songs she had sent him. He produced five tunes, since working on a whole album would have taken upwards of a year.

But even those five songs proved to be a challenge because Spektor had been performing them live for several years and had definite ideas about how they should sound on disc.

"Yeah, and I had to sorta change her mind! No, not really," Lynne said. "She was very open-minded actually about it. That's why she asked me to do it, to see what I would bring to the party, as it were."

Lynne said he has planning to work with Walsh for some time, but the guitarist has been kept busy touring and recording with the Eagles.

"I love Joe. He's a terrific guy, and we'll probably mess around and come up with some ideas together."

(Editing by Jill Serjeant)

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