Songs You May Have Missed #477


Electric Light Orchestra: “Fire on High” (1975)

Sometimes it just works out that one of an artist’s best works never follows one of the paths through to legacy status. People who either actually owned Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road album on vinyl or are big enough fans to have purchased it in a more recent format probably agree that the album-opening “Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding” medley is among Sir Elton’s finest moments.

Similarly, “Fire on High”, the instrumental curtain-raiser on ELO’s fine 1975 release Face the Music, is a definitive Jeff Lynne/ELO song.

But the two major threads a pop song can follow to a timeless popular status (think “Bohemian Rhapsody” or “Hotel California”) are continued radio airplay and inclusion on Best-of compilations. And although “Fire on High” got FM airplay in its day (as opposed to actual top 40 radio airplay, which was on the AM dial in 1975) you don’t really hear it on the oldies formats today. And as for being included on greatest hits collections, well, since it was never a single in the first place, the people who compile such collections don’t seem to think it merits inclusion.

In other words, ELO fans from back in the day most likely remember it. But to the younger generation fans–those who came to the band via a greatest hits collection or digital downloads of such perennials as “Mr. Blue Sky” and “Don’t Bring Me Down”–this is probably unfamiliar. If so, enjoy! And do check out the catalog further. Face the Music, A New World Record and Out of the Blue represent the band’s peak. And all three contain great album tracks to be explored.

Electric Light Orchestra were much more than their hit singles.

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