Electric Light Orchestra

Ma-Ma-Ma Belle

Composed by Jeff Lynne

Song Review by

Most pop listeners think of Electric Light Orchestra as purveyors of string-laden, Beatle-esque pop but a few of their hits boasted a surprisingly hard-rocking edge. The best example is "Ma-Ma-Ma Belle," an Electric Light Orchestra tune where the power chords are as prominent as the string section. Like many a rocker, the lyrics of "Ma-Ma-Ma Belle" are concerned with the boasts a man who considers himself the answer to every woman’s dreams. However, this song pushes the envelope by making its hard-loving protagonist almost psychotically determined he pursues the woman of the title: "You gotta Ma-Ma-Ma Belle or I will get you." This scenario is backed up with a driving melody composed of verges that surge forward in a powerful staccato style and a rousing chorus that is designed to be shouted along with in a glam-rock style. Electric Light Orchestra’s recording gives "Ma-Ma-Ma Belle" a shot of hard-rock power by leaping out of the gate with a snarling, swaggering power-chord riff. Swirling violins and ominous cello lines are worked in to flesh out its texture, but this guitar riff drives and dominates the song. Jeff Lynne’s vocal compliments this rocking feel by avoiding his usual sweet pop croon in favor of a hoarse, rocking shout that fits the bravado of the lyrics. These elements made for song that rocked enough for radio but had enough slickness to capture the ears of pop listeners. As a result, "Ma-Ma-Ma Belle" got plenty of radio play and has become a staple of the group’s compilation albums. It never quite became a hit single but its mixture of rock riffs and string textures set a precedent for future Electric Light Orchestra hits like "Rockaria" and "Do Ya."

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
On the Third Day 1973 BMG / Sony Music Entertainment 3:57
Ole' ELO 1976 Jet Records 3:32
ELO's Greatest Hits 1979 Epic / Sony Music Distribution 3:37
Afterglow 1990 Epic 3:52
ELO Classics 1990 Sony Music Distribution 3:35
Strange Magic: The Best of Electric Light Orchestra 1995 Legacy / Epic Associated/Legacy 4:11
The Best of Electric Light Orchestra 1995 Disky 3:57
Light Years: The Very Best of Electric Light Orchestra 1997 Sony Music Distribution 3:21
Live at Winterland '76 1998 6:36
The Complete ELO Live Collection 2000 Cleopatra 6:36
Flashback 2000 Legacy / Epic/Legacy 3:55
The Essential Electric Light Orchestra 2003 Epic / Legacy 3:38
All Over the World: The Very Best of Electric Light Orchestra 2005 Sony Music 3:37
Platinum 2007 Madacy 3:37
The Pop Years: 1974-1975 2009
Various Artists
Crimson Productions 3:39
The Collection [SBC] 2009 Camden / sbc / Sony BMG 3:37
No Image 2009
Various Artists
Commercial Canada 3:57
The  Pop Years: The 70s 2010
Various Artists
Crimson Productions 3:39
Pure... Guitar Heroes 2010
Various Artists
Sony Music 3:56
Live: The Early Years 2010 Eagle Rock
Rock Heroes 2012
Various Artists
Sony Music 3:38
The Golden Years: 1974 2014
Various Artists
Crimson
Rock!: The Album
Various Artists
Sony Music 3:37
The Classic Albums Collection Epic / Legacy / Sony Music
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