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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Fantastic
Even taking into account the dodgy track "Down Home Town", this has to rate as ELO's best album. The songwriting is superior to Eldorado yet it hasn't quite reached the commercialism of A New World Record and subsequent albums. "Fire On High" is an incredible opener and leads seamlessly into probably what is THE greatest album track of all time, "Waterfall", a harmony...
Published on 23 Aug. 2006 by Trebor H

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2 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars too polished but still some good stuff
1975 for me marks the point when ELO began to lose their way, but ironicly this is when the massive hits started.

The problem I have with this album is it is too polished; there is an emphasis on big production and strange sounds, and a lack of good songs.
The songs are catchy. They are ok to tap your foot too (Evil Woman, Strange Magic) but for me they...
Published on 8 April 2008 by Peter Jones


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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Fantastic, 23 Aug. 2006
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This review is from: Face the Music (Audio CD)
Even taking into account the dodgy track "Down Home Town", this has to rate as ELO's best album. The songwriting is superior to Eldorado yet it hasn't quite reached the commercialism of A New World Record and subsequent albums. "Fire On High" is an incredible opener and leads seamlessly into probably what is THE greatest album track of all time, "Waterfall", a harmony drenched masterpiece. "Evil Woman", "Strange Magic" and "Nightrider" are three of ELO's best ever singles and then there's "Poker" which has to rate as their best rocker.

A previous reviewer claims the only good track on offer on Face The Music is "Fire On High" which makes me wonder if he has been listening to the same album!! Still, there's no accounting for taste!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Top Banana!, 25 April 2006
This review is from: Face the Music (Audio CD)
I've always wondered why it's always been difficult to find this album in shops? Pity because it's a cracker. ELO (with the now classic line-up that they would tour with through the rest of the 70's) strike out with a still prog-rock experimental album which is prehaps a little bit more accessable than "Eldorado" to Joe Public. "Fire on High" is MAD and best listened to loud to freak out the straights! "Waterfall" & "One Summer Dream" are beautiful, and I still think "Evil Woman" is the best single they've ever done. The orchestration is never compromised by crystal clear production and the album cover again is probably the best of all their albums. For me this is ELO's "Wish You Were Here" to their "Dark Side of the Moon" of the previous year.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More music than you can shake a tree trunk at!, 14 Nov. 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Face the Music (Audio CD)
Find out how Jeff Lynne invented thrash metal with Poker, listen to the spectacle of Fire on High and mellow out to One Summer Dream. Remember this was recorded for vinyl so not so many tracks as cds these days, but still one worth getting. Very hard to find in the UK as well!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I'll Face This Music Any Time., 29 Jan. 2015
By 
Adam K. "adam k" (London, London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Face The Music (Audio CD)
This is one of the first rock albums I bought, back when I was 15 (I was a late developer) and I have many fond memories of this, mainly consisting of playing "air drums" to the opening track "Fire On High" (it's almost impossible NOT to!). Forty years later, and I listened to this on the way into work and remembered why I loved it so much. It's the perfect blend of pop and prog, with rocky nuggets to be found shining in the clear, flowing streams of music. While "Eldorado" verged on the slightly pompous (I love it, but as a wayward child) "Face the Music" seems to be the perfect tipping point, the fine balance between the adventurous and the pure fun. The opening track alone is worth the price of admission, with its eerie opening, backwards vocals (and, for those who can no longer play their vinyl backwards, here's what I wrecked my copy to find: "The music is reversible, but time is not. Turn back! Turn back!" You're welcome) right into its dramatic, epic choral singing and then...whack! snap! that acoustic twelve-string riffing like razor blades and then the thunderous drums kicking in. It's all exhilarating and thoroughly, heart-poundingly exciting. The sweeping, beautiful ballads are all here: "Waterfall", "Strange Magic" and the perfect fade-out of "One Summer Dream", as well as the ass-kicking, rock riffing, "Poker" and the poptastic "Evil Woman" and "Night Rider". Hell, I'll even stick my neck out and say that I LIKE "Down Home Town", which sounds like they're all having a huge amount of infectious fun.

Praise, while I'm at it, for the extended version and the notes that revealed one of the backing singers to be the legendary Ellie Greenwich, co-writer of such stone cold classics as "Mountain Deep, River High" "Leader of the Pack", etc. What she's doing lending uncredited vocals to this is anyone's guess, and I can't believe I had to wait over thirty years to learn this.

For a long time this album was hard to find, and seemed unfairly overlooked. I suppose because it was after this that they finally tipped over into the processed cheese that they become much better known for and started selling out stadiums, but this scintillating piece of beauty captures them at their best, as far as I'm concerned: you can still hear the sense of adventure, the exciting juxtaposition of classical instruments and rock (witness the sinuous violin line on "Fire on High", which always sent a shiver through me) and that fine, fine balancing act they pull off here.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An underrated gem in the ELO catalogue, 23 Sept. 2014
By 
Andy Sweeney "music was my first love" (Brighton, East Sussex) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Face The Music (Audio CD)
The Electric Light Orchestra's fifth album, “Face The Music” is one of the most underrated in their catalogue. It's curiously out of place between “Eldorado” (1974) and “A New World Record” (1976) mainly because it appears to return to a slightly rawer sound than the carefully polished fourth and, most notably, Bev Bevan's drums are not only are very high in the mix but he also appears to have been given creative license to cut loose in a way that hadn't been heard on record since his days in The Move. This results in a very powerful sound, with a heavier rock feel to the whole project and an altogether much more “in your face” punch to the music. This release also marked bassist and backing vocalist Kelly Groucutt's début with the band, as well as new cellist Melvyn Gale, replacing the two Mikes (de Alberquerque and Edwards). Unlike “Eldorado”, “Face The Music” is very much a straight forward rock album, albeit with Jeff's classical/orchestral fusion ethos and each track a separate entity, with Jeff given the freedom to write about exactly what he wanted without having to fit in to any particular concept. “Face The Music” spawned the UK top ten hit “Evil Woman” (as well as minor, but equally worthy, hit “Strange Magic”) and became the best selling ELO album to date, but often seems to be overlooked when the best of the band's work is discussed amongst fans.

One of the aces up the sleeve of “Face The Music” is the creepy opening instrumental “Fire On High”, five and a half minutes of sheer genius, with superb lead guitar work from Jeff, magnificent Bev Bevan drum fills that definitely get the adrenaline pumping and inspired string arrangements; it remains one of the finest ELO tracks that “greatest hits” buyers constantly miss out on. The sublime “Waterfall” is a work of immense beauty, the classic falling chord progression giving the composition a masterful classical air and the instrumental bridge with the sweeping, swirling strings and thumping toms adds some further dramatic flair. “Evil Woman”, a stomping slice of piano-driven rock was an obvious single and, with the exception of “Showdown” was the most commercial song Jeff had written for ELO up to that point. Sharp, slick, catchy; “Evil Woman” was the beginning of the era of ultra-radio-friendly Electric Light Orchestra songs. Ending side one of the original vinyl record is the excellent and classy “Nightrider” (a small tribute to Jeff's first band The Nightriders) which, although also released as a single, failed to chart.

Side two begins with a frantic, uncharacteristically heavy track, “Poker”, using the card game as a metaphor, and is notable for Kelly Groucutt's lead vocal, as well as some truly insane drumming from Bevan; it's a breathless performance and really rather thrilling to listen to. “Strange Magic”, a dreamy composition, with a chorus that highlights a phased acoustic guitar, continues the classy feel of the album which only dips slightly for “Down Home Town”, a jokey number with a bit of a country hoe-down influence which feels a little out of place compared to the rest of the record. It's a likeable, pleasant enough toe-tapper, but it is, without doubt, the weakest offering here. The original album concludes with “One Summer Dream”, a composition that shares many of its characteristics with “Waterfall”, but is the lesser of the two tracks, meaning that “Face The Music” finishes not quite as convincingly as it begins. It is, on the whole, an excellent album, though, and none of the songs are any less than highly enjoyable, with three quarters of the music being really rather exceptional.

The re-issue of this album includes an alternative “Fire On High” intro which, although historically interesting, isn't something fans will want to listen to again and again, but the alternative mix of “Evil Woman” is different enough to be well worth a listen (according to the liner notes, Jeff prefers it to the original), you get the US single mix of “Strange Magic” and a rather wonderful instrumental version of “Waterfall” which showcases the majesty of the string section behind the soaring melody. It is a piece of music so beauteous and stirring , it featured heavily at my wedding service as the piece of music playing while the guests were waiting for the ceremony to begin (I think that underlines how this particular writer feels about Jeff Lynne's music!). To me, “Face The Music” is a milestone in Jeff's songwriting abilities and having the skill and confidence to truly project his own voice. Although Lynne's love of The Beatles manifests itself here as a single line in “Evil Woman” (“There's a hole in my head where the rain comes in”), it would be very difficult to pinpoint any real Beatles influence to the melodies or arrangements, with Jeff stamping his distinct style and personality well and truly on this record. Indeed, “Face The Music” is an excellent rebuttal to any lazy musical commentator who dismisses Lynne as a Beatles copyist and proves to be another fine example of his musical genius. Arguably, the best was yet to come, but this album is a criminally underrated gem in the ELO catalogue and stands alongside their very best releases quite comfortably.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic 1975 ELO, 21 July 2014
This review is from: Face The Music (Audio CD)
Shamefully, the great British public were very slow on the uptake when it came to appreciating the wonderful ELO. Make no mistake this is, for me, the best album that Jeff Lynne and the guys ever released; 'Fire On High' is a scintillating opener - when I first heard it back in 1975, its creepy, gothic opening really freaked me out - and the lovely 'Waterfall' (one of 3 gorgeous ballads here) is the perfect soother. 'Evil Woman' is classic ELO; a thumping rocker which never seems to age whilst 'Nightrider' repeats the trick and should definitely have been a big hit. The speedy 'Poker' keeps things thundering along before the beautiful 'Strange Magic' cools things down again. Sadly, 'Down Home Town' lets things down somewhat, but, the superb 'One Summer Dream' rounds things off very nicely indeed. Tremendous album - buy this and simply luxuriate.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Facing and Reversing the Music, 14 Jun. 2015
By 
Neil Frost (Germany) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Face The Music (Audio CD)
As Bev Bevan wrote in his 1980 biography of Electric Light Orchestra, "Face the Music" is one of my favourte albums. I think that record finally and firmly established our special sound, which has remained fairly constant since."

And right he was. Face the Music for me is as different from it's four predecessors as they has been from each other. Having taken the risk of employing a full orchestra and choir on Eldorado, Jeff Lynne maintained the approach but adjusted it by placing them in a more complementary role. Mention must be made here of string arranger Louis Clark, whose working with Jeff Lynne and Richard Tandy proved very fruitful. Over the five year period since their inception, Jeff Lynne had experimented (after all ELO was very much an experimental group) with various styles to arrive at one with which he was satisfied and one that would bring ELO commercial success. Face the Music was the start of that commercial success. There were several factors contributing towards this.

Firstly, the arrival of Kelly Groucutt on bass and backing vocals to replace Michael D'Albuquerque meant some wonderful harmonies on Face the Music and future releases. In addition, Groucutt's character was more outgoing than that of Jeff Lynne's and he became a crowd banterer as well as an instigator of audience participation at gigs. It's sad that his contributions should be later brought into question, thus leading to his departure from ELO via a courtroom battle, but for the next 8 years at least, Groucutt was an integral part of ELO. The other personnel change was Melvyn Gale, drafted in on the recommendation of fellow cellist Hugh McDowell to replace Mike Edwards, thus rounding out the line-up that would share ELO's greatest successes over the next 5 years.

The second factor was the move of ELO from Warner Brothers to Jet Records, a record company set up by ELO manager Don Arden in reaction to the unreliability of the latter when it came to marketing. The formation of Jet with Don Arden as their boss seemed to place pressure (in a positive sense) on the band and in particular Jeff Lynne, whose composing skills shifted up a gear, creating a set of songs that generally displayed a quality that was a grade more commercial than their predecessors. Sure, hit singles ELO had had previously, but their was a fourth factor that contributed to Face the Music's success: Musicland Studios, Munich, Germany.

Following the debacle with the Musicians Union regarding the use of an orchestra on Eldorado, ELO followed the advice given them and tried their hand at the studios situated in the former West Germany. The decision to follow this advice proved a vital one: for the next five years, the albums ELO recorded there were also their most commercial. The sound and production of Face the Music (thanks to the contributions of recording engineer Reinhold Mack) are a step up from anything they had recorded in the UK and Musicland did for ELO in the mid-late '70s what Abbey Road had done for the Beatles throughout their career. The finished album is generally an upbeat one, the make-up of which fades only once.

Starting off with a string / sound effects montage which (if I'm to believe an old school friend of mine) scared the crap out of you if listened to loud and in the dark, Fire on High is an exraordinary instrumental in the ELO repetoire and one that has never really been matched. It almost picks up from where the Eldorado Finale left off and makes use of the technology now at Jeff Lynne's disposal. And there's a lot going on here. There's Bev Bevan's unearthly backward vocals (most ELO fans know what he says), reliable roadie Brian Jones' footsteps and a section of the Alleluia chorus from the Messiah by Georg Friedric Händel. An army of guitars are joined by Bev Bevan's incredible drumwork which in turn leads into a Stéphane Grappelli style violin phrase. Fire on High is one of the finest openings an album could have.

Waterfall follows which sounds like a pastich of Queen, the band that would make Musicland Studios very much their own in the '80s, much as ELO had in the previous decade. There is the interesting story as told in Don Arden's autobiography that Queen had wanted the manager to weave the same magic for them as he had done with ELO. This never happened, but Waterfall has a very Freddie Mercury style vocal to it and the song as a whole is a forgotten gem in the ELO catalogue.

"You made a fool of me" and a wonderful piano intro kick-starts an ELO classic: Evil Woman. Four years prior to ELO conciously adopting the dico-flavour that then peppered the charts, Jeff Lynne wrote (apparently faster than any other song) a piece of soul that sounds more as if it was recorded in Philidephia rather than Munich and holds similarities to Showdown two years previouly. Lyrically it is the antithesis of Sweet Talkin' Woman two years later and features for the first time female backing vocalists. The piano bridge in the song would sometimes be signalled by Jeff Lynne live with "take it Richard!" and it's a pity he didn't say it on the studio recording.

Closing side one (in the Land of Vinyl at least!) is Nightrider, featuring the debut lead vocal of Kelly Groucutt. Bev Bevan comes to the fore once again with the galloping drums during the riding the night section of the chorus and I find the string arrangement in the song extremely uplifting. Lyrically it needs some dissection: it seems to be about the search for a lost woman (Sweet Talkin' Woman once again?). It's high point for me however comes in the final 10 seconds with a piano / violin outro which I find very relaxing and optimistic and that contrasts well with the dark gloom that opened the side.

Poker starts side two, a song once described as an amphetamine-fuelled version of Status Quo meets ELP, it is an out-and-out rocker. But 1,5 minutes in comes the refrain "play me another hand" where Groucutt once again takes the lead vocal and the song mellows out before roaring up again. And then the tension just builds to a swirl of strings that are eventually brought down by an accord that sounds extremely like c-major.

For some welcome light relief comes Strange Magic, a song that was played unplugged live for a time. As chart statistics go, the song as a single just broke the Top 40 in the UK and made only no. 14 in the States. With "You're walking meadows in my mind, makin' waves across my tide", Jeff produced some wonderful imagery and once again the female backing vocalists boost the chorus.

Although with Face the Music Jeff Lynne had found his creative niche, he still seemed to feel the need to experiment and thus we arrive at "Down Home Town", a novelty country 'n' western song that sounds out of place with the rest of the album. It would have been better placed on a B-side (which it eventually did four years later on that of The Diary of Horace Wimp).

The side is redeemed and the album concluded with "One Summer Dream", a song I first heard on the B-side of Mr Blue Sky. It's one of Jeff Lynne's gorgeous ballads and some more wonderful imagery is shown in the form of "Warm summer breeze blows endlessly, touching the hearts of those who feel."

Face the Music's artwork is as striking as that of any of it's predecessors and I can best describe it as horror with subtlety. At it's centre stands an electric chair, a device synonymous with the death penalty in various parts of the USA. The chair is lit directly from above by a source covered by a circular shade, thus producing a very symmetrical form of light and shade around it. This source is partly concealed by a vertical steel girder upon which (rather appropriately) the word "LIGHT" has been mill cut. Guarding each side are two further girders, twice as long as the centre one with "ELECTRIC" and "ORCHESTRA" respctively mill cut into them.

The subtlety comes in the form of a pair of headphones nestled on the electric chair, replacing the usual electrodes, indicating the prisoner would be sent to the chair to face the music. Rounding out the scene are bizarrely an ashtray standing to the right of the chair in which a tobacco pipe rests and to the left against the back wall, a bucket and mop.

On the sleeve reverse is a photo of the new ELO line-up staring in horror into the electrocution chamber. The photo is tinged in a very garish yellow and each group member (with the exception of keyboard player Richard Tandy who didn't like the concept from the start) has piercing white pin-heads in their pupils. It contrasts so well with the romantic image of the band that adorned the interior of Eldorado. Here they all appear positively demonic (particularly Bev Bevan) and Jeff Lynne and Mik Kaminski could be taken as brothers. The photo is surrounded by a metal frame, rivetted down for stability and safety.

The concept carries over to the inside sleeve: a photo that could have been taken by a night camera shows a hand strapped to the electric chair, presumably facing some not-so-pleasant music. The album credits show how more well travelled ELO were becoming: recorded in Münich, strings recorded in London (despite the hassle with the Musician's Union on Eldorado), remixed in New York, mastered in Los Angeles. There are special thanks to (presumably) the female vocalists on the album, including Ellie Greenwich, who was the co-writer of hits such as "River Deep, Mountain High" and "Leader of the Pack" and hence the soul-tinged infuences that were creeping into ELO's music.

To summarise, Face the Music was the first ELO album to hold up as a whole (with very little let-down) and catch the attention of the record-buying public. On reflection then, it should have done the sort of chart business that it's successors would achieve. But it didn't: why not? There was an apparent distribution problem so that the album couldn't gain as many of those essential sales returns to place it in the Top 10's around the world. A 65-plus date tour of the States in 76 days helped to promote Face the Music on the other side of the Atlantic, but ELO's short tour of the UK ensured that only the singles Evil Woman and Strange Magic broke into the Top 40.

All this said, the template had been set and the following two ELO albums would bring them commercial success beyond their wildest dreams, but as the saying goes that is another story and another review.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars FIRE ON HIGH! One of the finest instrumentals by a Rock Band!, 13 July 2007
By 
Too bad one of ELO's best songs doesn't appear on any of their greatest hits packages...and they have a lot of "Best Of's" and "Greatest Hits"! This is one of the Best Instrumentals by a Rock Band. ELO does it with style, but this is the only CD you can get it on. I've listed the rest of the songs on the CD too, but I highly recommend FIRE ON HIGH!

1. FIRE ON HIGH
2. WATERFALL
3. EVIL WOMAN
4. NIGHTRIDER
5. POKER
6. STRANGE MAGIC
7. DOWN TOWN HOME
8. ONE SUMMER DREAM
9. FIRE ON HIGH Intro (Early Alternative Mix) *
10. EVIL WOMAN (Stripped Down Mix) *
11. STRANGE MAGIC (U.S. Single Edit) *
12. WATERFALL (Instrumental Mix) *

* EXTRA TRACKS

ENJOY!!!!
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a brilliant underrated elo classic !!!., 8 Feb. 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Face the Music (Audio CD)
"face the music" is the link between the progressive-rock elo and the mega-hits-making elo.
two mega-hits are included ("evil woman" and "strange magic") + beautiful beatles-like melodies ("one summer dream", "waterfall").
the opening track is very dramatic and dark.
the leader, jeff lynne, is a real genius, and this album is indeed one of his triumphs.
buy it and enter a world of pure beauty.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars absolute genius symphonic-rock, 9 Feb. 2002
This review is from: Face the Music (Audio CD)
this is the real link between the progressive-rock
era to the mega-hits success.
the leader, jeff lynne, made here a triumphant production with dark edges ("fire on high"), FM radio hits ("evil woman", "strange magic") and other real underrated gems.
go out and buy this one. if you love the melodic side of rock (like the beatles, supertramp or queen) - you will love this album a lot !
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