Electric Light Orchestra

Strange Magic

Composed by Jeff Lynne

Song Review by

This lovely Electric Light Orchestra song, one of the best tracks on their breakthrough album Face The Music, is a fine example of songwriter Jeff Lynne’s skill at creating ballads that are as memorably hook-laden as his uptempo pop tunes. The lyrics of "Strange Magic" have a psychedelic tinge as its narrator describes the woman who has bewitched him in otherworldly terms: "You’re sailing softly through the sun/In a broken stone age dawn/You fly so high/I get a strange magic." The music lives up to the fanciful style of the lyrics with a gorgeous melody that blends mellow ascending verse melodies with an airy chorus that builds to a stirring peak on its final lines. Electric Light Orchestra’s recording of "Strange Magic" plays up the hooks in this melody and adds even more with its crafty arrangement, including a stunning intro full of swirling strings, some George Harrison-styled slide guitar riffs, and a complex backing vocal arrangement that layers on piles on a vast array of counter-harmonies as the song progresses. The end result was lush enough to make a good slow dance song but dense enough with hooks to hold up to repeated listens. "Strange Magic" did quite well as a follow-up single to "Evil Woman," peaking in the pop chart top-20 and becoming a radio staple for the group. It remains a favorite with pop fans today and recently was used to powerful effect during a school dance sequence in The Virgin Suicides.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Face the Music 1975 BMG / Sony Music 4:30
Ole' ELO 1976 Jet Records / Sony Music 4:02
ELO's Greatest Hits 1979 Epic / Sony Music Distribution 4:09
The Very Best of the Electric Light Orchestra [Telstar] 1989 Telstar 4:11
Afterglow 1990 Sony Music Distribution
The Very Best of the Electric Light Orchestra [CBS] 1990 CBS Records 4:07
Sounds of the Seventies: Rock 'n' Soul Seventies 1991
Various Artists
Time/Life Music
Burning Bright 1992 Columbia 4:29
Strange Magic: The Best of Electric Light Orchestra 1995 Legacy / Epic Associated/Legacy 4:30
3-Pak: Face the Music/A New World Record/Discovery 1995 Sony Music Distribution 4:05
Light Years: The Very Best of Electric Light Orchestra 1997 Dino / Dino Entertainment
Live at Winterland '76 1998 5:06
Definitive Collection 1999 Columbia 4:29
Complete Electric Light Orchestra: Light Up 2000 Calamari Records 2:13
The Complete ELO Live Collection 2000 Cleopatra 5:06
Flashback 2000 Epic
Gold Collection, Vol. 2 2001 Retro Records 2:13
A Year in Your Life: 1976, Vol. 2 2001
Various Artists
Definitive 4:30
Part Two: Strange Magic 2002 Digimode Entertainment 2:13
The Essential Electric Light Orchestra 2003 BMG / Sony Music
All Over the World: The Very Best of Electric Light Orchestra 2005 Sony Music 4:07
Standin' in the Rain, Strange Magic, Once Upon a Time Ausgabedatum: 2005-11-29 2005 Box Records / Digimode Entertainment 2:13
Greatest Hits 2007 MCP 2:12
Part II: Rockaria 2007 Pazzazz 2:13
Face the Music/A New World 2007 EPC / Sony Music Distribution 4:29
Platinum 2007 Madacy 4:31
Playlist: The Very Best of Electric Light Orchestra 2008 Sony BMG / Sony Music
Original Album Classics 2009 Sony Music
The Collection [SBC] 2009 Camden / sbc / Sony BMG 4:09
The Collection [Camden] 2009 Camden International / Sony Music 4:09
Live: The Early Years 2010 Eagle Rock
Eldorado/Face the Music 2011 Epic 4:29
Mr. Blue Sky: The Very Best of Electric Light Orchestra 2012 Frontiers Records
100 Hits: Acoustic 2014
Various Artists
100 Hits 4:08
The Classic Albums Collection Epic / Legacy / Sony Music
blue highlight denotes editor's pick