The Idle Race — “The Morning Sunshine”: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — February 5, 2022

343) The Idle Race — “The Morning Sunshine”

Let there be Light. The Idle Race (see also #30) and its “cheerfully trippy” (Bruce Eder, All Music Guide) first album, ‘68’s The Birthday Party, are the divine sparks that lit the Electric Light Orchestra. Fittingly, this gorgeous and fleeting album track and B-side is titled “The Morning Sunshine.” Bruce Eder writes that:

“Morning Sunshine[“ is] one of the prettiest songs to come out of the entire Birmingham music scene and display[s] a languid guitar flourish that anticipates any number of ELO songs circa A New World Record . . .

Supposedly, it’s Jeff Lynne’s favorite Idle Race track. ( Ah, yes, Jeff Lynne. Eder says that he “is the dominant personality here, as composer, guitarist, and singer, and, as one might expect given his presence, the music all has a Beatles-like quality of playfulness amid the musical invention. . . .”

Mark Deming writes, also in AMG, that:

[T]he Idle Race earned plenty of critical acclaim but little commercial success . . . . They did, however, help launch the careers of several British rockers of note, most significantly Jeff Lynne, who first presented his talents to the world on the group’s 1968 debut album, The Birthday Party. The band also introduced Lynne to Roy Wood, paving the way for their later work together in the Move and Electric Light Orchestra. . . . The Birthday Party, was an album whose impact and influence would far outstrip its meager sales figures . . . [It] quickly earned praise for its witty and sparkling tunes and inventive arrangements and production . . . . The album was championed by influential disc jockeys John Peel and Kenny Everett . . . [but it failed to] find[] an audience.

In accord is David Wells:

Having debuted in the UK with the October 1967 single Imposters of Life’s Magazine, Jeff Lynne and his merry men were quickly adopted by the nascent Radio One, [with] their hook-laden melodies, quirky lyrics and slight underground frisson making them acceptable to everyone . . . . Kenny Everett was also a big fan, describing hem as “second only to the Beatles” . . . . But despite their relationship with Radio One . . . The Idle Race just couldn’t buy a hit. . . . While [The Birthday Party] attracted attention within the industry — Kenny Everett adored it . . . [it] failed to engage the hearts, minds and wallets of the public.

Record Collector: 100 Greatest Psychedelic Records: High Times and Strange Tales from Rock’s Most Mind-Blowing Era

Well, the 70’s were just a few years away, and the world was soon about to fall in love with Jeff Lynne. . .

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