Electric Light Orchestra - Evil Woman [Album Version]Details

Evil Woman was used in the film Austin Powers In Goldmember, using the original Electric Light Orchestra version, however it did not show up on the officially released soundtrack. Instead, the soundtrack featured a cover version by Soul Hooligan featuring Diana King.

Note also that on the Flashback set, the orchestral intro to this song was improperly placed at the end of the previous song, Tightrope.

"Evil Woman (3:15); producer: Jeff Lynne; writer: J. Lynne; publishers: Unart /Jet. BMI. United Artists 729. Pulled from their new LP, this mid-tempo rocker combining the group's patented classical and rock soundstand sounds and the voices of Jeff Lynne and Kelly Groucut is the perfect choice from the fast rising new LP. Again, a title that works well as a hook."
Unknown (November 8, 1975 - Billboard)

"We're doing the same [promoting the Face The Music in the UK] for the single, too, which is Evil Woman from the album."
Jeff Lynne (Fall 1975 - Melody Maker)

"Evil Woman though, is the classic. It fuels perfectly the soul direction so crassly assimilated on Showdown, an explosion of flickering rhythm guitars, clarinet and surging strings, a rich vein of hooks and melodies that seem instantly familiar. If it isn't a huge hit we are in a worse shape than we think."
John Ingham (January 1976 - Sounds)

"At this point ELO is at the high point of their career, enjoying immense popularity among music enthusiasts. Their latest album, Face The Music, is currently the number 10 selling album in the United States, and their gold record single Evil Women [sic] has attracted wide sales during the past six weeks."
Author Unknown (February 12, 1976 - Muhlenberg Weekly)

"Equally, ELO have had singles in the upper reaches of the charts: among them Can't Get It Out Of My Head, regarded here as a classic, and Evil Woman, also big in the UK."
Bob Edmands (April 1976 - New Musical Express)

"Funny enough, when we did the LP... We never do singles as a thing, we just go in and make an LP. I write all the songs and [Evil Woman] just sounded like a single straight away, we did it. Y'know, it had a good feel to it. And, uh, that's what everybody chose to release. The record company, Jet, which is David's label and Don's label, we all agreed on it and it came out. And it's a hit in England as well."
Jeff Lynne (1976 - Innerview with Jim Ladd)

"Now we're home! ELO has its first real hit single. From Face The Music, it delivers ELO the stature they deserve..."
Author Unknown (June 1976 - liner notes for Olé ELO album)

"Lynne's compositions, such as Looking On and especially What?, sound far more like classic ELO than the nondescript disco sludge of Evil Woman. [...] Material from this [The Night The Light Went On In Long Beach] LP has appeared on the B-sides of the last three UK singles, and the live 10538 Overture (with its teasing, truncated Do Ya riff in the middle) is the American B-side of Evil Woman. [...] [Face The Music] rocketed up the charts [in the UK], and when Evil Woman was pulled as the single... The test, as they say, is history. [...] Face The Music is one of the more uneven ELO releases. The dreadful disco of Evil Woman was followed by an equally lame nonentity called Strange Magic, which has also proved a huge hit."
Joel Bellman (December 1976 - Trouser Press #17)

"It's primarily a singles market in England, especially among the younger fans. If you look at the album charts, you'll usually find Perry Como or something like that high up. Some of our singles do well-- Evil Woman went top ten, but then Strange Magic flopped."
Bev Bevan (January 17, 1977 - Circus magazine)

"1975 and Face The Music was released to acclaim in America while Britain, despite making Evil Woman a hit, still restrained from acclaiming ELO."
Harry Doherty (1978 May 27 - Melody Maker)

"[Jeff] wrote Evil Woman in about an hour. We needed another song for the album, and he just went in one morning and wrote it."
Bev Bevan (1978 July 21 - Performance magazine)

"Evil Woman and Strange Magic were the two hit singles from Face The Music."
Unknown (May 1979 - Discovery press kit)

"I wrote Evil Woman in the studio and it came to me quicker than any other song I have written."
Jeff Lynne (November 1979 ELO's Greatest Hits)

"[ELO] recorded the fifth ELO album, Face The Music, a gold record scant weeks after its release. Evil Woman and Strange Magic were the two hit singles from Face The Music to be included on the group's first greatest hits compilation (Ole ELO), also to turn quickly to gold in 1976."
Unknown (November 1979 - Song Hits magazine)

"It was out of a different song, that string bit that comes in backwards. It was out of something... Nightrider, the string tracks off that. And, uh, I played it backwards and it was in the right key."
Jeff Lynne (August 8, 1980 - The ELO Story radio show)

"Face The Music also gave Jeff his fastest-ever [produced] song. We were short a track on the last day of recording in Munich and Jeff went in early. By the time the rest of us arrived at 2 P.M. he had Evil Woman ready for us to play. It made the top ten in both Britain and America as a single release in later months."
Bev Bevan (1980 - The Electric Light Orchestra Story)

"Songs in the Showdown mould have been the mainstay, by and large, of ELO's subsequent career. There's Nobody's Child from Eldorado, Evil Woman of course (which is probably the song which bears the closest similarity to it), Livin' Thing, Last Train To London, Train Of Gold and now Sorrow About To Fall (which features exactly the same keyboards) - all of which have obviously benefitted from Showdown."
Andrew Whiteside (1987 - Face The Music fanzine #3)

"Evil Woman has become the antithesis of Sweet Talkin' Woman. In the former, there's an 'open road that leads nowhere', but in the latter he is clearly begging her to come back: 'You got me runnin', you got me searchin'.'"
Neil Frost (1987 - Face The Music fanzine #3)

"The first ELO Polydor release was Evil Woman (Jet 764), which was minus its string prelude, but this did not detract from the song's appeal. Indeed, it probably made it a better single. The B-side was the live version of 10538 Overture, taken from The Night The Light Went On In Long Beach. All three of the Polydor ELO singles had B-sides taken from the live LP, an obvious (and only partially successful) attempt to placate UK fans for the fact that the album wasn't available in Britain. The label design was probably the worst ELO ever had - just the vinyl of the record embossed with blue paint, and the Jet emblem, and like all the Polydor 7-inchers, it never came in picture sleeve. The single re-established ELO's commercial fortunes in the UK regardless, reaching No. 10 and staying in the charts for 8 weeks. Today it's worth £2.50 mint. After the Top 10 success of Evil Woman, ELO must have had high hopes for the LP, Face The Music (Jet LP 11). If so, they were to be severely disappointed, for despite all their efforts, it never charted."
Andrew Whiteside (1988 - Face The Music fanzine #4)

"The piano solo [in Nobody's Child] was a dry run for Evil Woman to follow next year."
Andrew Whiteside (1988 - Face The Music fanzine #4)

"According to legend, Evil Woman was written in the studio before the other band members arrived. It's further proof that the best things are sometimes the simplest. A brief string prelude lulls you into thinking the song is a pretty ballad, and assumption quickly dispelled by the sudden interruption of the drums, and the introductory lyric that sums up the song: 'You made a fool of me, but them broken dreams have got to end.' What follows is three minutes of some of the most powerful and compelling pop music Jeff has ever written. Simple enough lyrically, but nothing short of brillian musically. Jeff's grasp of the Philly shound is total and intuative, from the call and response vocals (again from anonymous girl backing singers) thorugh most genuinely chilling 'ha ha's' that punctuate the versus at regular intervals; to Richard's bar-room piano soolo, culminating in the truly spine-tingling moment when the strings momentarily run backwards (taken actully from the string part in Nightrider), giving the song a ganuine other-worldly feel."
Andrew Whiteside (Early 1989 - Face The Music fanzine #5)

"Yeah, Evil Woman, actually [still gives me a thrill]. It sounds like a complete... song. I wrote that in about fifteen minutes. It was really weird because I needed one more song for the album and all the rest of the group were hanging about and I said, 'You all go do something and I'll just write this song on the piano in the studio.' And I had it done like... kinda like 'bout half an hour later it was almost ready to record. Y'know, just showed everybody how it went. And it... I made the record in probably a day, wrote the words the next day. It was very, very quick. Some take months to make, y'know. Some just come easy."
Jeff Lynne (June 23, 1990 - Timothy White's Rock Stars: Jeff Lynne's Musical Chairs)

"Lyrically and musically [Sweet Talkin' Woman is] the antithesis of 1975's Evil Woman."
Andrew Whiteside (1990 - Face The Music fanzine #7)

"Sparked by the controversially discofied sound of Evil Woman and the soothing slow-dance charms of Strange Magic, the [Face The Music] album out-sold Eldorado."
Ira Robbins (1995 liner notes for Strange Magic: The Best Of Electric Light Orchestra)

"Almost at the end of the recording sessions [for Face The Music] one more song was needed so Jeff walked into the studio, sat on the piano [sic] and wrote Evil Woman very quickly. When the band came in as usual the song was finished!"
Patrik Guttenbacher, Marc Haines, & Alexander von Petersdorff (1996 Unexpected Messages)

"Probably the fastest song I ever wrote was on [the Face The Music] session-- Evil Woman which took about six minutes to write the basic tune. I was always planning on changing the chorus a bit but I couldn't come up with anything better. [...] Me second go at an R&B style song. [...] I took the high string crescendo from [Nightrider] and over dubbed it backwards onto Evil Woman where it's prominently featured."
Jeff Lynne (2000 - Flashback)

"They all went out for like half an hour and I just walked up to the piano and played these three chords. And it was Evil Woman immediately. I never even changed it. It was just... that's the verse of Evil Woman. It was just, uh, A minor, E minor, D minor, built into C and then goes: 'dow, dow, dow.' Right back into them chord changes. And it was just done instantly. And, uh, so I got all that and said, 'This is how it goes.' And then, it was recorded in that afternoon and then, I probably did the words at the end, as usual. And I was gonna change the actual chorus. [Sings 'Evil Woman.'] I was gonna change that bit. One day, I was gonna change that at the last minute. But I could never come up with anything better, so I left it like that."
Jeff Lynne (June 2 & 9, 2001 - Mr. Blue Sky: The Jeff Lynne Story 2001 BBC 2 Radio show)

"Yeah, [I wrote Evil Woman very quickly]. I actually walked up to the piano and wrote the first three chords and it just went through just like that. And, uh, it took me a lot longer to do the words... probably it took me six weeks to do the words, but the actual tune... the track... [...] Well this is a little innovative idea that I had. You see, the two songs-- We'd just done the two string sessions, like, probably three strings sessions in a session. So I'd just been overdubbing orchestra and I noticed that where that crescendo went off, I turned it 'round backwards and listened to it and thought, 'That'll fit right in Evil Woman in this beat that I'm really bored [with].' And, I tried it out on, y'know, just took a little copy of it. Snip it in; snip it out. And put this thing in backwards. And it fit perfectly. It never missed a beat and it just whizzed through like nothing ever happened and here it was backwards. "
Jeff Lynne (June 24, 2001 - Off The Record interview with Uncle Joe Benson)

"Actually, [Evil Woman] was a premonition of a woman I was about to meet. [Laughs] So we don't have to go too deeply into that one. Funny enough, the title, I was gonna change... I'd written the song really quickly, like in about six minutes. And I came to do the words and I've got the-- I wrote those last and I couldn't thing of anything except 'evil woman' so I left it in there."
Jeff Lynne (July 2001 - Electric Light Orchestra - Up Close US Jones Radio Network Radio Show)

"Face The Music's single, Evil Woman, written hurriedly as a filler, was the first to make the Top 10 on both sides of the Atlantic, but it was the third album in a row not to chart in Britain. In front of his first audience since 1986, Jeff goes into Evil Woman and notes ruefully that 'it came true recently'. Acrimoniously divorced from his second wife, Jeff now lives in LA with singer Rosie Vela, who joins him in the new line-up."
Jim Irvin (August, 2001 - The Bullring Variations article in Mojo)

"Face The Music gave Lynne his first worldwide smash with the single Evil Woman, the fastest song he ever wrote. "
Author Unknown (March 31, 2003 - website only expanded liner notes for ELO 2 remaster CD)

"Face The Music... was an immediate hit and also gave Lynne his first worldwide smash hit, Evil Woman."
Rob Caiger (2003 liner notes for The Collection)

"Face The Music also wrought... the soulful Evil Woman, an infectious tune built around a dynamic string riff, which Lynne was said to have penned in only 30 minutes."
Jaan Uhelszki (April 1 2003 liner notes for The Essential Electric Light Orchestra)
Editor's Note: The song was built around the piano riff, not a string riff.

"Well, actually it turns out [the evil woman in Evil Woman is] somebody I know. [Laughs] So I can't talk about it really."
Jeff Lynne (July 5, 2005 - Face The Music: The Story of the Electric Light Orchestra BBC 2 Radio show)

"There's songs such as Evil Woman that were presented to the band complete for them to learn to play..."
Rob Caiger (July 20, 2005 - Showdown mailing list)

"ELO's Jeff Lynne made three of the most over-the-top enjoyable radio hits of the 1970s: Evil Woman, Don't Bring Me Down and Turn to Stone."
Peter Relic and Brian Hiatt (November 17, 2005 - Rolling Stone issue #967)

"...a lot of songs are edited - its just that the edited version that makes it to the album is the only one you've heard. Evil Woman for example is an edited track - the full-length version has an additional verse and chorus."
Rob Caiger (February 4, 2006 - Showdown mailing list)

"Jeff does control his songs and the sample [from Evil Woman] used for the Pussycat Dolls [song BEEP] was approved by him."
Rob Caiger (March 1, 2006 - Showdown mailing list)

"Millionaire rock star Jeff Lynne is set to make a killing - because sexy popbabes Pussycat Dolls have borrowed one of his old chart hits. The musician from Meriden in Warickshire has given the girls permission to use part of ELO's Evil Woman in their new single, and it's being tipped as a No 1. They've even credited the former Move and ELO frontman as one of the writers of Beep, a cheeky pop song with most of the chorus beeped out. If it follows in the footsteps of their first tune Don't Cha, it will top the charts - giving Lynne his first No 1 since Xanadu, recorded with Olivia Newton-John way back in 1980. Former ELO drummer Bev Bevan, now a Saga FM DJ and Sunday Mercury columnist, said he hadn't been told that Evil Woman was about to make a comeback. 'Evil Woman is one of my favourite songs,' he said. 'I haven't heard Beep yet. I'm not a huge fan of the girls, although they're very attractive!'"
Unknown (February 26, 2006 - Birmingham Sunday Mercury)

"Check out the stripped down version of Evil Woman; I think it's a better mix than the original 1975 one. I took the high string part of Nightrider that climbs up to a climax, and used it backwards in Evil Woman as a big effect. I was amazed when it slotted in seamlessly."
Jeff Lynne (September 11 2006 - Face The Music remaster liner notes)

"[Face The Music] also included one song composed in record time. Short of a final track for the album, Lynne created the classic Evil Woman in six minutes, the fastest song he ever wrote. J.L.: 'Now, when I say I wrote the song in six minutes, I didn't write the words in six minutes! I wrote the actual structure of the song, the chords and the melody and the little twiddly bits and then invited the group back in, showed everybody what to play and then laid it down. It was all done in a couple of hours in the afternoon and then I went back and worked on the arrangement and on the lyrics.' Evil Woman gave Lynne his first worldwide top 10 hit single, including a no.10 chart placing in the U.K."
Rob Caiger (September 11 2006 - Face The Music remaster liner notes)

"
Author Unknown (September, 2006 - Q Magazine Sep 2006)

"JEFF LYNN [sic] of ELO gave me center mic," exclaims Marge. "He liked a background vocal arrangement I came up with for Evil Woman (Evil Woman went to #1). To this day, I still hear my voice loud and clear on that part, in fact it was just used in the AUSTIN POWERS GOLDMEMBER movie."
Author Unknown (circa 2008 - Marge Raymond's web biography (http://www.margeraymond.com/bio.html))
Editor's Note: Evil Woman did not reach #1 on the charts.

"Face the Music, released in 1975 -- featuring Evil Woman and Strange Magic as top 20 singles and non-single track such as Fire on High and Waterfall -- was the most solid release to date."
Rock Cesario (October 16, 2006 - The Daily Sentinal (Grand Junction, Colorado))

"Face The Music (1975) produced the international Top Ten Evil Woman and the equally brilliant Strange Magic. Both continued to redefine Lynne as a consummate pop composer."
Lindsay Planer (November 6, 2006 - MusicTAP On The Third Day, Face The Music and A New World Record remaster review)

"In 1995 Michael Stipe imitated Lynne at an REM concert, wearing a frizzy wig and singing Evil Woman..."
Paul Lester (November 11, 2006 - The Scotsman)

"Face the Music is the album that introduced the radio-friendly version of ELO to the masses with the singles Strange Magic, Waterfall, and the ubiquitous disco-tinged Evil Woman."
Barry Nothstine (2006 - The Phantom Tollbooth On The Third Day, Face The Music and A New World Record remaster review)

"His songwriting machine was so well honed at this point that he could toss off a generic song like Evil Woman in an afternoon, dress it up with the production techniques he had been working toward all decade, and have it go straight to the top 10 all over the world. The song is a compendium of clichés-'You took my body and played to win', 'A fool and his money soon go separate ways'-but the commanding piano opening, the burping riff after each iteration of the chorus, and the backward crescendo break make it irresistible anyway. (The [Face The Music] reissue includes a 'stripped down mix' that removes the female backing vocals and the orchestra overdubs. This allows the piano solo to come through much more clearly but deprives the song of some of the towering preposterousness that made it magical.)"
Rob Horning (2007 February 16 - On The Third Day, Face The Music and A New World Record reissue review on popmatters.com)

"Two of ELO's biggest hits, Evil Woman and Strange Magic are here [on the Face The Music remaster] and the band swiftly started gaining ground on the charts."
Scott Homewood (2007 February 2 - On The Third Day, Face The Music and A New World Record reissue review on cdreviews.com)

"ELO's finest singles may have appeared on the two prior albums (can you argue with Evil Woman or Livin' Thing?)..."
Rob Mitchum (March 1 2007 - Pitchfork Media Out Of The Blue remaster review)

"Even today it's hard not to be bowled over by the impact and innovation of Evil Woman, Mr. Blue Sky or Strange Magic, a song whose title perfectly summarized the Lynne mystique."
Unknown (Summer 2007 - Yamaha All Access)

"[Cliff Richard's] Miss You Nights was to be the first single released [from his I'm Nearly Famous album], in February 1976, because there was some concern that Devil Woman might get confused with the Electric Light Orchestra's Evil Woman which had entered the charts in January."
Steve Turner (2008 January - Cliff Richard - The Biography (revised edition))

"Face the Music and A New World Record eschewed the orchestrated prog of Eldorado and explored the Beatles influence even further, with... hit Evil Woman (which directly references the Fabs with the line 'there is a hole in my head where the rain comes in,' a magpie lyric snatched from Fixing a Hole). [...] Fun fact: ELO influenced Daft Punk, who sampled Evil Woman"
Alan McGee (October 16, 2008 - The Guardian)

"Then came Evil Women [sic]. I can [remember] to this day how amazed we all were when we heard this track. Jeff was quite the genius in music innovation. He was one of the first to use phase shifting and other special effects in music. Jeff wants us all to strengthen the chorus 'EEEvil Women'. So here we are standing in front of the mic and the opening of the tune comes on: 'You made a fool of me...', etc. We all look at each other and mouthed the words... 'WOW what sound and what great tune.' We missed our entrance a few times because we were listening to this song in the headsets and were blown away, especially on the part where it phase [shifts] into the chorus 'Evil Women'. We apologize to Jeff...Sorry...we are just blown away with the effects and the sound. We come back into the control room. Jeff says he still feels there is something missing in the tune. We listen to the playback. We add vocals to the part that says, 'HA HA (women what you gonna do, etc)'. Back in the control room we are listening back again and right after the part 'but you better get yourself onboard the very next train' and 'Ha Ha, very nice to know, that you aint got no place to go' I came up with the preceeding vocal part. Jeff loved it!!! [Jeff says:] 'Marge go out in the studio and do that!!' So we all go back into the studio, but he puts me center mic, which makes my vocals stand out the most. You can hear the 'hey, hey, hey' and 'Your an evil women'. Then came the tag at the end of the song: 'Your an evil women...such an evil women, etc..' [It's] me loud and clear. [...] Can you imagine what I felt like when I heard Evil Women [sic] for the first time. I was completely blown away. While I was in he studio I knew that this album had smash hits on it. Evil Women went to #1 and stayed there for many weeks. Wow! To this day, its still on the radio and I always get a thrill to hear it and my voice. I still say to myself, I cant believe its me on that tune, 34 years later. That song will be around forever...its classic. [...] In Goldmember [sic], I hear Evil Women [sic] and my voice. Now its on the Xbox Grand Theft Auto game which is in litigation for not paying out any royalties to anyone. You just can't take music and not pay out on it, especially when its a union job. I would get a conversion payout because my vocals are used in a different medium... i.e. first a recording... then a movie... then a game."
Marge Raymond (February 23, 2009 - Facebook message board for an ELO page)
Editor's Note: Evil Woman did not reach #1 on the charts.

"Then came Evil Woman. I can remember to this day how amazed we all were when we heard this track. Jeff was quite the genius in music innovation. He was one of the first to use phase shifting and other special effects in music. Jeff wants us all to strengthen the chorus Evil Woman. So here we are standing in front of the mic and the opening of the tune comes on: 'You made a fool of me'... etc. We all look at each other and mouthed the words, wow, what sound and what great tune. We missed our entrance a few times because we were listening to this song in the headsets and were blown away, especially on the part where it phase shifts into the chorus Evil Woman. We apologize to Jeff... Sorry, we are just blown away with the effects and the sound. We come back into the control room. Jeff says he still feels there is something missing in the tune. We listen to the playback. We add vocals to the part that says, 'Ha ha (woman what you gonna do'), etc). Back in the control room we are listening back again and right after the part 'But you better get yourself onboard the vevry next train and Ha Ha, very nice to know, that you aint got no place to go'. I came up with the preceeding vocal part. Jeff loved it!!! Marge go out in the studio and do that!! So we all go back into the studio, but he puts me center mic, which makes my vocals stand out the most. You can hear the 'Hey, hey, hey' and 'Your an evil woman'. Then came the tag at the end of the song: 'Your an evil woman, such an evil woman', etc.. Its me loud and clear. [...] Can you imagine what I felt like when I heard Evil Woman for the first time. I was completely blown away. While I was in he studio I knew that this album had smash hits on it. Evil Woman went to #1 and stayed there for many weeks. Wow! To this day, its still on the radio and I always get a thrill to hear it and my voice. I still say to myself, I can’t believe its me on that tune, 34 years later. That song will be around forever... its classic. The album was a smash hit and launched ELO's career to the top in the USA and all over the world."
Marge Raymond (August 31, 2009 - ELO Secret Messages blog)
Editor's Note: Evil Woman did not reach #1 on the charts.

"The famous conjugal visit scene between Frau Farbissineh and Dr. Evil in Austin Powers’ third movie Goldmember memorably uses our background vocals front and center to score the scene (pardon the pun) in the Georgia State Prison. And of course, Rockstar Games’s Grand Theft Auto IV, the biggest-selling video game of all time, remixes our original background vocals throughout the soundtrack of that hit gaming title. "
Susan Collins (September 11, 2009 - ELO Secret Messages blog)

"[ELO] had dabbled in... prog rock (the slightly superior Evil Woman)..."Evil Woman was went Top 10 both in America and in England in 1975."
Author Unknown (August 18, 2012 - Something Else! website review)

"[Evil Woman was] a premonition of somebody I was going to meet."
Jeff Lynne (October 9, 2012 - L.A. Weekly)

"ELO's breakthrough hit is the moment where the band recast itself from somewhat stuffy art rockers into a more playful (and way funkier) group. The Top 10 Evil Woman includes the band's usual mix of old-school strings and new-school keyboards, but this time they're backing a funky dance-floor beat that drives the song all the way to pop glory."
Michael Gallucci (December 30, 2012 - Ultimate Classic Rock online magazine article 'Top 10 Electric Light Orchestra Songs')

"I was working in the Record Plant overdubbing some girl singers onto the end of Evil Woman. Ellie Greenwich, the famous singer-songwriter, and two other girls did the part (sings 'You're an evil woman'). It was great to have them. While we were there, May Pang (one-time girlfriend of John Lennon) came into the studio and told me that John had said that Showdown was one of his favorite songs..."
Jeff Lynne (January 2013 - Goldmine magazine)

"Evil Woman, Mr. Blue Sky, Livin' Thing and Don't Bring Me Down can't fail to brighten your day."
Duncan Jamieson (2013 March - Melodic Rock Fanzine #55)

"The most successful song on the album was the one written the most quickly of all. Jeff reportedly took about six minutes to pen Evil Woman, in which case it must have been the most lucrative six minutes of his career altogether. It was also a song which showed a slight musical concession to disco, and the verse ‘there’s a hole in my head where the rain comes in’ pays homage to a line from The Beatles’ Fixing A Hole from Sergeant Pepper [sic]. Thanks to heavy exposure on TV and radio, it restored the group to favour in Britain by peaking at No. 10 in January. In America it reached the same position shortly afterwards, finding similar success in several other countries. [...] On the week ending 13 January [1979]... a four-track EP featuring Can’t Get It Out Of My Head, Strange Magic, Ma-Ma-Ma Belle, and Evil Woman fell six places to No. 40 in the British singles chart... [...] Can’t Get It Out Of My Head at last saw fleeting chart action for the week ending 20 January as well. Jukeboxes were ill-adapted to 7-inch EPs with a total playing time of around seven or eight minutes per side, and Jet issued a small pressing for the jukebox trade with this track on one side and Evil Woman on another. This little-publicised contribution to the discography sold sufficiently to make an appearance at No. 52. [...] Daft Punk sampled Evil Woman on the track Face to Face in 2001. [...] In 2005, the Pussycat Dolls’ Beep featured an instrumental hook [from Evil Woman] as good as sampled from the same song."
John Van der Kiste (August 2015 - Jeff Lynne: Electric Light Orchestra - Before and After)

"Although only 10 years old, [my son] regularly raids my record collection and has become devoted to ELO. Every night the Seventies' Birmingham space rockers blast from his bedroom. I like to crack open the door to watch him lying there, singing 'Ee-ee-evil woman!' in a squeaky high voice."
Neil McCormick (September 20, 2014 - The Telegraph)

"ELO has always had a strong rock catalog, with hits like Do Ya, Evil Woman, and Ma-Ma-Ma Belle to back up the more adventurous tunes in their repertoire."
William Hoffman (October 16, 2015 - Music Times)

"His wonderful 1975 single Evil Woman is given a reboot on the propulsive, funky One Step At A Time, the sole track here that bears comparison with premium ELO. While the smooth drive-time rock of Dirty To The Bone takes lyrical cues from the same source."
Graeme Thomson (2015 November 7 - Daily Mail)

"I love to play Evil Woman because it's so simple. It's really easy to get it to sound good 'cause, you know, the tune carries itself, really. And, you know, it's just mainly piano."
Jeff Lynne (November 12, 2015 - interview on BBC WM 95.6)

"Dirty To The Bone comes across as a lighter, modern-day version of ELO's 1975 Evil Woman..."
Clint Rhodes (November 19, 2015 - Herald-Standard)

"Electric Light Orchestra was huge throughout the ’70s and into the early ’80s, the British band started by Lynne and Roy Wood placing hit after hit on the charts – 15 singles reached the Top 20 in the United States – songs such as Telephone Line, Evil Woman and Turn To Stone becoming radio staples over that time."
Peter Larsen (November 25, 2015 - The Orange County Register)

"Have you ever actually read the lyrics to Evil Woman? It’s some mean shit."
Marc Spitz (November 27, 2015 - Salon website)

"On Face The Music, Lynne finessed ELO's usual hybrid of fiddly prog-rock and pop. Songs such as Strange Magic and Evil Woman suggested less of the former and more of the latter. Released in autumn 1975, Face The Music was another US hit, but missed the British chart. But there was hope in sight when Evil Woman finally gave ELO that precious UK To 10 hit. Here was a song that used everything Jeff Lynne learned from dissecting other people's records, but given the ELO spin. Evil Woman's piano intro briefly echoed Fats Domino's Blueberry Hill; the string could have come off a Philly soul hit; the line 'There's a hole in my head where the rain comes in' was a tribute to The Beatles' Fixin' A Hole; and there was even a hint of disco in the rhythm. Evil Woman was a perfect pop record. 'And the fastest song I ever wrote,' said Lynne, who composed it in just six minutes."
Mark Blake (November 2015 - Classic Rock magazine)

"And there are bits where Lynne relives past glories. Evil Woman is recast twice [on Alone In The Universe]-- lyrically on the waspish and embittered Dirty To The Bone ('She'll drag you down/Until you drown') and sonically on One Step At A Time (with the same slinky guitar riffs and shrieking, sugar-coated chorus)."
John Lewis (December, 2015 - Uncut magazine)

"Lynne reportedly wrote this falsetto-fueled sing-along in 30 minutes, aiming to bang out an easy filler track for Face The Music. Suitably, Evil Woman is rougher and harder hitting than most ELO tunes, built on a funky guitar jangle and simple, diva-like backing vocals. (Even the arrangement is a bit sloppy: Notice Bevan’s awkwardly timed drum fill at the :33 mark.) The band’s trademark strings swoop in on the chorus and thereafter, adding a subtle elegance – but the thrill here is hearing Lynne work his magic within the confines of a smaller palette. That immediacy paid off in 1975, earning the band their first hit single – a Number 10 chart peak in both the UK and US. Four decades later, it remains a drunken karaoke staple."
Ryan Reed (January 7, 2016 - Stereogum online magazine article entitled 'The 10 Best ELO Songs')

"Evil Woman (1975): I wrote this in a matter of minutes. The rest of the album (Face the Music) was done. I listened to it and thought, 'There's not a good single.' So I sent the band out to a game of football and made up Evil Woman on the spot. The first three chords came right to me. It was the quickest thing I'd ever done. We kept it slick and cool, kind of like an R&B song. It was kind of a posh one for me, with all the big piano solos and the string arrangement. It was inspired by a certain woman, but I can't say who. She's appeared a few times in my songs. Playing concerts in those days wasn't fun. The sound was always bad and we were still playing theaters and town halls, the occasional dance hall. After Evil Woman, we got more gigs, but it didn't change my life all that much. You can't buy a palace or anything after just one hit."
Jeff Lynne (January 21, 2016 - Rolling Stone article entitled: 'ELO's Jeff Lynne: My Life in 15 Songs')

"Come 1975, as Lynne tried out his newfound orchestral superpowers on early disco (Evil Woman)... Do Ya was creeping into ELO’s mid-70s live set as a forerunner to Evil Woman..."
Mark Beaumont (March 30, 2016 - The Guardian)

"We were in the studio and I thought, 'I ain't got a single yet for this album.' So I sent the other guys out to play football and said, 'I'm going to make this up now in five minutes.' And of course, I didn't think I would, but I did-- I went to the piano and those three chords of Evil Woman just came right out of my hand."
Jeff Lynne (April 2016 - Prog magazine)

"It was Lynne’s genius – illustrated in songs such as Mr. Blue Sky, Livin’ Thing and Evil Woman – that led Manic Street Preachers frontman James Dean Bradfield to proclaim: 'ELO are better than The Beatles!' And even Jeff Lynne never dreamed he’d hear that. [...] [Face The Music] did, however, produce a UK hit single, albeit belatedly. Evil Woman, a song written in 20 minutes and initially dismissed as filler by Jeff Lynne, gave ELO their first domestic Top 10 hit in three years, and set them up nicely for the next album, A New World Record. Evil Woman remains one of ELO’s best-loved songs, a genuine 70s pop classic and the highlight of an album that includes several great songs (Strange Magic, Waterfall) and one outright turkey, the daft Down Home Town."
Paul Elliott (December 19, 2016 - Teamrock.com)

"But Lynne’s prowess as a singer and writer is still strong on songs such as Dirty To The Bone, a sly update on Evil Woman spotlighted by shimmering guitars and Lynne’s multi-tracked vocals."
Steven Hyden (April 25, 2017 - Uproxx website)

"Evil Woman would be a part of the Face The Music album... more on that in a moment! This future-hit record was recorded at 'Musicland Studios' in Munich Germany in 1975. Jeff Lynne wrote the song very quickly... he needed to! All the songs for Face The Music had been recorded... and it was quickly realized that they needed another song! Lynne sat down at the piano in the recording studio, and played the opening riff, which became the basis for the rest of the song. Later that day, the rest of the band came in and recorded the backing track! The lyrics were written... and the vocals were recorded... the next day at Musicland Studios. The strings portion of Evil Woman... and the female vocals... were recorded later, at a recording studio in England. The song tells the story of... an evil woman. The singer pointing out that he isn't going to put up with it any more. Obviously, the song struck a chord with the listening public... Evil Woman would enter the top-40 chart on November 15, 1975... going all the way to #10 in early 1976. It would be the Electric Light Orchestra's second Top-10 hit both in New Jersey, and in their native England! Strange Magic (#14/1976) would be the other hit record to come from the Face The Music album... Our 'Fun Facts' song is track #1... meaning that it won't fade down in the middle to click to the next track! Here's one more 'Fun Fact:' Looking at (some of) the Evil Woman lyrics... 'Hey, woman, you got the blues ‘Cause you ain't got no one else to use There's an open road that leads nowhere So just make some miles between here and there There's a hole in my head where the rain comes in You took my body and played to win Ha, ha, woman, it's a cryin' shame But you ain't got nobody else to blame... ' Yes... the line 'There's a hole in my head where the rain comes in' was inspired by the Beatles song Fixing A Hole. You just have to love when one of Jersey's Favorite Hits... is inspired by the 'Fab Four!' Evil Woman is song #1 on this ELO 'Best Of.'"
Craig Allen (June 24, 2017 - New Jersey 101.5 website)

"Well, what I did learn [when writing Evil Woman] was that I could actually write a song in six minutes and I didn't know I could do that before. I never tried. 'Cause I sent the rest of the group out, 'cause I was one short on the Face The Music album. I thought, I haven't go a proper hit single on here yet. I'm going to make one up now. So you go on up in the shops or whatever, in Germany this is, in Munich. And they came back and luckily I got this song within six minutes and it was like... Evil Woman. So I was, 'Whoo, that'll do.' [Laughs] And we made the record, like, that afternoon. And a few overdubs later, you know, another session, you know, put the strings on and all that, the vocals on... And it was shocking to me 'cause I did it in six minutes, the main theme and everything was done."
Jeff Lynne (November 16, 2017 - interview at Clive Davis Theater for Wembley Or Bust screening)

"Evil Woman lives on as one of the most emphatically embittered (and catchy) pop tunes of all time, with anti-romantic verses like: 'Evil woman how you done me wrong, But now you’re tryin’ to wail a different song, Ha ha funny how you broke me up, You made the wine now you drink the cup, I came runnin’ every time you cried, Thought I saw love smilin’ in your eyes, Ha Ha very nice to know, that you ain’t got no place left to go.' Swoon!"
Catherine Araimo (February 14, 2018 - Paste website)

"This kept them busy until the release of their next album the same year Face the Music which produced their third top 10 hit single Evil Woman."
Andrew Gutteridge (September 5, 2018 - Counteract website)

"I wrote Evil Woman in about six minutes. I sent the rest of the group out somewhere, and I made the song up on the spot. In 1975, when I listened back to the album Face The Music, I'd got all the songs done, but I thought 'I don't hear a single on there.' I said to the group, 'Can I have a bit of space, and I'll make this tune up?' They went to play football or something, and when they came back I'd got the tune. It was like, 'Wow that was quick,' and I couldn't believe it either. I got the backing track down. I hadn't got any of the words yet, of course, I just has the chord sequence, which is a very simple one. But nevertheless, it turned out to be really, really catchy. Evil Woman was the only song I'd ever written that quickly. Some songs can take me five years because I can never quite get them right, and I keep going back to them. I'll check them out a month later, or a year later, then five years later. Finally, I think, 'Wow! That's what it was!' And then it's so easy-- the tune just flows, where before I couldn't connect to it. I've got music that's 20 or 25 years old that I still want to finish one day."
Jeff Lynne (November 2018 - Wembley Or Bust book)

listenThis sample is of the string interlude as heard in Evil Woman, then the same section flipped backwards (so that the strings are heard forwards), then the section of Nightrider from which it is taken.
There is a short string interlude heard in the middle of the song. This interlude is actually lifted from another song on the album, Nightrider, only it is flipped backwards and a flange effect is added.


  • Running Time: 4:35
  • Record Date: May and June 1975
  • Record Location: Musicland Studios, Munich, Germany (basic track), De Lane Lea Studios, Wembley, England (orchestra), The Record Plant, New York City, USA (female backing vocals and final mix)
  • Written By: Jeff Lynne
  • Produced By: Jeff Lynne
  • Engineered By: Mack (basic track and orchestra) & Jimmy Iovine (female vocalists and final mix)
  • Performed By: Jeff Lynne (guitar, vocals), Bev Bevan (drums, percussion), Richard Tandy (piano, moog synthesizer, guitar, clavinet), Kelly Groucutt (bass), Mik Kaminski (violin), Hugh McDowell (cello), Melvyn Gale (cello), Louis Clark (orchestra conductor), Ellie Greenwich, Susan Collins, Nancy O'Neill, Margaret Raymond (backing vocals)

  • Released On:
    • Face The Music LP album (1975 September — USA — United Artists UL-LA 546-G)
    • Face The Music LP album (1975 November — UK — Jet JET LP 11)
    • Face The Music LP album (1976 — UK — Jet/United Artists UAG 30034)
    • Face The Music LP album (1978 — UK — Jet JET LP 201)
    • Three Light Years LP album (1978 December 1 — UK — Jet JET BX1)
    • Face The Music LP album (1978 May — USA — Jet JZ 35527)
    • Face The Music LP album (1980 — USA — Jet PZ 35527)
    • Face The Music LP album (1985 — UK — Epic EPC 32544)
    • Face The Music CD album (1987 — USA — ZK 35527)
    • Face The Music CD album (1991 — UK — UK 982648-2)
    • Face The Music 24KT Gold CD album (1995 August 15 — USA — Epic/Legacy ZK 57184)
    • Flashback CD album (2000 November 21 — USA — Epic/Legacy E3K 85123) [the orchestral intro is attached to the end of Tightrope]
    • Flashback CD album (2000 December 11 — UK — Epic/Legacy 500931 2) [the orchestral intro is attached to the end of Tightrope]
    • Flashback CD album (2010 November 8 — UK — Sony Music 88697807792) [the orchestral intro is attached to the end of Tightrope]
    • Flashback digital album (2014 June 27 — Worldwide — Sony Music 886444707701) [the orchestral intro is attached to the end of Tightrope]

  • Top UK Chart Position: 10
  • Top US Chart Position: 10
  • Cover Versions:
    • Cottonwood in live performances only (1975)
    • Patty Pravo on her Tanto album (1976) [under the title E Io Cammino]
    • The Cadets on their Un Tributo a Electric Light Orchestra album (1981)
    • Jack Livingston Orchestra and Singers on their A Tribute To ELO album (early 1980s)
    • OrKestra during live performances from 1987 to 1991
    • King on an album of unknown origin (199?)
    • Electric Light Orchestra Part II on their Electric Light Orchestra - Greatest Hits Live album (1992)
    • REM live on stage (with Michael Stipe wearing a wig and imitating Jeff Lynne) (1995)
    • Phil Bates, Jo Bates, Bev Bevan, Mik Kaminski, Kelly Groucutt, Gordon Giltrap and Mark Knight on their A Little Light On An Electric Night album (1996)
    • Electric Light Orchestra Part II on their One Night - Live in Australia album (1997)
    • Phil Bates on his Agony & Ecstacy album (1998)
    • The Orchestra from live performances (2000s)
    • The Vandals in the film Saving Silverman (2001) -- no soundtrack album was issued
    • Ross Rice on the Lynne Me Your Ears tribute album (2001)
    • Soul Hooligan featuring Diana King on the Austin Powers In Goldmember soundtrack album (2002) -- although the film itself did not contain this cover version, but the original Electric Light Orchestra version
    • Sun Flower Orchestra during a live tribute concert (October 2003)
    • P. Hux on his Homemade Spaceship: The Music Of ELO Performed By P. Hux album (5/2005)
    • Jon Kahn on the DMusic.com website (2005)
    • ShELO in live performances (2006)
    • Broadway Cast at Broadway Xanadu play and cast recording album (2007/2008)
    • The Hit Crew on their 30 Greatest Classic Rock album (2007)
    • The Hamptons on their Evil Woman EP (November 2007)
    • Creedsight on their Planet Two album (2007)
    • Egg Babies Orchestra on their Myspace page (2007)
    • Sicknosis on his Kyros 2007 album (2007)
    • Lighthouse Band during live performances (2007)
    • Sexton Blake on his Plays The Hits! album (2007)
    • Electric Live Orchestra during live performances (2008)
    • The ELO Experience during live performances (2008)
    • Evil By Numbers on their Myspace page (2008)
    • Jim Fusco on The Laptop Sessions album (2008)
    • Joel McHale in the TV show Community, episode Advanced Criminal Law (2009) [chorus only]
    • Harry Scorzon and Flashback on their MySpace page as part of an ELO Medley (2009)
    • Graham Blvd on the Rock On 1976 Vol. 2 album (2011)
    • Animal Style on the ELO: The Video Game OST album (2014)
    • Explosive Light Orchestra during live performances (2016)
    • The ELO Encounter during live performances (2017)

  • Used in the Film or TV Program:
    • Austin Powers In Goldmember (2002)
    • Monster-In-Law trailer, not in the film (2004)

  • Used as a Sample in the Songs:
    • When You Talk About Love by Patti LaBelle (1997)
    • Thing Big (Debbie & Ruth) by The Bran Flakes (1998)
    • Party Children by Andy Mathee vs. Billy Jack Williams (2000)
    • Flowers (Sunship Edit) by Sweet Female Attitude (2000)
    • Face To Face by Daft Punk (2001)
    • Beep by Pussycat Dolls featuring Will.I.Am (2005)
    • Toop Toop (Oliver Koletzki Mix) by Cassius (2006)
    • Evil Woman by Little Theif (mid 2000s)
    • Evil Woman by D Incredible Hall (2005)
    • Grand Theft Auto IV (04/2008) [Video game only]
    • A Matter Of Time by Mike Posner on his A Matter Of Time album (2005)