Psychedelic Lunch

Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch” series, where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore psychedelic tunes from the 60’s to today. Weekdays At Noon EST. Enjoy the trip!

Strange Magic By ELO Off The Album, Face The Music 1975

Written by ELO frontman Jeff Lynne, “Strange Magic” is the sixth track on Electric Light Orchestra’s fifth studio album Face the Music.

By this time, the band had shifted their orchestral sound to make it brighter and more radio-friendly. The strategy paid off, as this song and “Evil Woman” were both big hits.

The song is about a captivating woman, but “Strange Magic” is also a good description for this song’s sonics. Compressed to a tight 3:27 for the single release (it runs 4:29 on the album), the song packs in an intriguing array of harmonies and hooks while integrating the famous ELO string section. The lyric is suitably trippy, and very repetitious, with the title appearing five times per chorus.

The weepy-sounding guitar lick is provided courtesy of Richard Tandy, who was somehow persuaded to take his hands off his various keyboards to pick up a guitar. Normally, Tandy’s array of Moog synth, clavinet, mellotron, and piano was so omnipresent that it led to the stereotype of prog-rock bands having a stack of keyboards onstage.

Some of you movie-music fans may cringe at this, but this song was also used in the 2007 stage production of Xanadu. Fear not, it was not part of the 1980 film soundtrack, although the soundtrack was the least of that film’s problems… or so we’re told.

The Pan-Pacific Auditorium in Los Angeles, California, doubled as the set of “Xanadu.”

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