Electric Light Orchestra - I'm Alive [Single/Album Version]Details

At the very end of I'm Alive, just as the song begins to fade, there is a hidden message: the staccato keyboard are playing a Morse code sequence that repeats the letters E-L-O several times.

"ELO's first release [of the 1980s] came in May. I'm Alive b/w Drum Dreams (JET 179) was the flagship release from the Xanadu film. It featured a first for ELO; an original (excepting a couple alternate takes) B-side! Admittedly, Drum Dreams (as the title suggests, a drum instrumental) wasn't the most exciting record ever made, but it was a step in the right direction in giving the fans a bit of value for money (incidentally, if you wanted to be really pedantic, you could still say that strictly speaking it wasn't an original B-side because it does actually appear in the film, although it never made it onto the soundtrack). The picture sleeve was quite attractive as well; a blue backdrop with the art-deco Xanadu logo on it; the reverse inevitably featured... you guessed it! The ELO motif. Interestingly, the label design was also blue with the film logo, practically the cover in miniature in fact. A mint condition copy of the single will set you back £3.50 today. As good as any of the singles from Discovery, I'm Alive worryingly stalled at No.20, their first single to miss the Top 10 since Turn To Stone. It remained in the charts for a reasonable nine weeks, but ever-lower chart positions would be the shape of things to come."
Andrew Whiteside (1992 - Face The Music fanzine #12)

"[ELO's side on the Xanadu album] kicks off with I'm Alive, which is different to the version heard in the film. I've always felt this to be an underrated song in the ELO canon, and judging by its performance in our Poll last issue, a number of you agree with me. Semaphored in a chattering Tandy synth intro, the song proper literally erupts thans to a volcanic bass/drum combination, and once again, there were enough beats-per-minute to satisfy ELO's newly-found disco audience. The treacly harmonies are literally spooned on, and indeed there's nothing wrong with a little syrup every once in a while. Towards the end, the track takes on a neo-Mr. Blue Sky proportions when Richard's keyboards propel the song into unheard of heights of pomposity, capped by the phased drum outro. Wonderful stuff."
Andrew Whiteside (1992 - Face The Music fanzine #12)

"I’m Alive, All Over The World, and Don’t Walk Away—were released as singles in Britain, though each one fell short of the top ten."
John Van der Kiste (August 2015 - Jeff Lynne: Electric Light Orchestra - Before and After)

"The first single [from Xanadu], reaching No. 20, begins with one of Tandy's ambient synth introductions, which is overtaken by a thunderous assault of bass and drums, with call-and-respond vocals, and a strong hook on the chorus. About two-thirds of the way through comes a temporary change in pace, with a near-explosion of phased drums and keyboards followed by a swift reprise of the chorus"
John Van der Kiste (July, 2017 - Electric Light Orchestra: Song By Song)


  • Running Time: 3:45
  • Record Date: 1979 (after May) or 1980
  • Record Location: Musicland Studios, Munich, Germany
  • Written By: Jeff Lynne
  • Produced By: Jeff Lynne
  • Engineered By: Mack
  • Performed By: Jeff Lynne (vocals, guitar, synthesizer), Bev Bevan (drums, percussion), Richard Tandy (piano, synthesizer, all other keyboards), Kelly Groucutt (bass), Louis Clark (orchestra conductor)

  • Released On:
    • I'm Alive 7" single (1980 May 24 — UK — Jet JET 179)
    • I'm Alive 7" single (1980 May — USA — MCA MCA-41246)
    • I'm Alive 7" promo single (1980 May — USA — MCA MCA-41246)
    • Xanadu LP album (1980 June — USA — MCA MCA 6100)
    • Xanadu LP album (1980 July 11 — UK — Jet JET LX 526)
    • The Very Best Of The Electric Light Orchestra CD album (1989 — UK — Telstar TCD 2370)
    • ELO's Greatest Hits Volume Two LP album (1992 — UK — Epic 471956 1)
    • ELO's Greatest Hits Volume Two CD album (1992 — UK — Epic 471956 2)
    • Light Years: The Very Best Of Electric Light Orchestra CD album (1997 October 1 — UK — Epic 489039 2)
    • Xanadu CD album (1998 February 23 — UK — Epic 486620 2)
    • Xanadu CD album (1998 September 8 — USA — MCA MCAD-11857)
    • The Ultimate Collection CD album (2001 October 22 — UK — Sony Music STVCD126)
    • Xanadu: Magical Musical Edition DVD/CD album (2008 June 24 — USA — Universal 61103532)
    • The Essential Electric Light Orchestra CD album (2011 October 10 — UK — Epic/Legacy 88698983612)
    • The Essential Electric Light Orchestra digital album (2011 October 10 — UK — Epic/Legacy 886443171084)
    • The Essential Electric Light Orchestra CD album (2011 October 24 — USA — Epic/Legacy 88697977522RE1)
    • The Essential Electric Light Orchestra digital album (2011 October 10 — UK — Epic/Legacy 886443171084)
    • Xanadu digital album (2015 November 20 — UK — Epic 008811185725)
    • Xanadu digital album (2015 November — USA — Geffen 602517629974)

  • Top UK Chart Position: 20
  • Top US Chart Position: 16

  • Cover Versions:
    • Street Power on their Hits On 33 album (1980)
    • The Music Machine on a Xanadu covers album (1980)
    • Jack Livingston Orchestra and Singers on their A Tribute To ELO album (early 1980s)
    • La Sound on their Xanadu tribute album (1980s)
    • Hiromi Iwasaki during live performances (date uncertain)
    • King on an album of unknown origin (199?)
    • Top of the Poppers on the Top Of The Pops 80 album (2001)
    • Sun Flower Orchestra during a live tribute concert (October 2003)
    • Broadway Cast at Broadway Xanadu play and cast recording album (2007/2008)
    • Graham BLVD on their Hard Rock 80s Vol. 1 album (2009)

  • Used as a Sample in the Songs: Alive Again by Navarone (2007)