Showdown (Electric Light Orchestra song)

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File:Sh down.jpg
Single by Electric Light Orchestra
from the album On the Third Day (US version)
B-side "In Old England Town" (Instrumental)
  • 14 September 1973 (UK)
  • 6 October 1973 (US)
Format 7" vinyl
Recorded 1973, Air Studios
  • 4:09 (US album version/UK single length)
  • 3:53 (US single edit)
Writer(s) Jeff Lynne
Producer(s) Jeff Lynne
Electric Light Orchestra singles chronology
"Roll Over Beethoven"
"Ma-Ma-Ma Belle"

"Showdown" is a song written by Jeff Lynne and recorded by the Electric Light Orchestra (ELO). It was the band's last contemporary recording to be released on the Harvest label.


In the US the song was included on the album On the Third Day (1973), while in the UK the song was omitted from this album but later featured on the band's first compilation album, also called Showdown, a year later. In 2006 the remastered issue of On the Third Day would feature the song on the album on both sides of the Atlantic for the first time.

The song was a change of pace for ELO, with a funkier backbeat, including clavinet, beneath the band's trademark sweeping strings. The record was a favourite of John Lennon at the time, who dubbed the band "Son of Beatles" in a US radio interview.[2]

Jeff Lynne played the lead guitar part using Marc Bolan's Gibson Firebird guitar.[citation needed]


"In Old England Town (Boogie No. 2)" is an Electric Light Orchestra song composed by Lynne.

An edited instrumental version of the song was included as the B-side to their early hit single "Showdown" in 1973, with the title "In Old England Town". The Moog intro of the edited version was later sampled and included on Paul Weller's hit single "The Changingman" as well as the main riff from "10538 Overture".

Recorded in 1972, this was the opening track of the band's second LP ELO 2, and was one of two songs on the album that featured Roy Wood on cello and bass guitar, the other being "From the Sun to the World". Shortly after recording these tracks Wood abandoned ELO to form Wizzard and was not originally credited on the LP sleeve. Normally Wood and Lynne co-produced all their collaborations, but it is unknown whether these two tracks had any Wood production involvement.

"A planned concept album entitled The Lost Planet was quietly abandoned and sessions for the second LP proper began May 1972. Two new Jeff Lynne songs, From The Sun To The World and In Old England Town were the first to be recorded and included Roy Wood on bass guitar and cello, but in little more than a month, the co-founder of the ELO concept left the group." —Rob Caiger (28 March 2006 – ELO II Remaster)

The song was included in ELO's first 1972 tour playlist, simply titled Jeff's Boogie #2, and had a different set of lyrics. This early live version was filmed by Granada's Set of Six in 1972 and is the only live footage of the original ELO known to exist. These songs were released on a 2006 DVD called ELO – Total Rock Review.


Chart (1973–74) Peak
Canada Top Singles (RPM)[3] 47
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[4] 28
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[5] 25
Norway (VG-lista)[6] 9
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[7] 12
US Billboard Hot 100[8] 53
US Cash Box[9] 51

Jeff Lynne version

Song by Electric Light Orchestra from the album Mr. Blue Sky: The Very Best of Electric Light Orchestra
  • 8 October 2012 (UK)
  • 9 October 2012 (US)
Recorded 2001–2012 Bungalow Palace
Length 4:16
Label Frontiers
Writer Jeff Lynne
Producer Jeff Lynne
Mr. Blue Sky: The Very Best of Electric Light Orchestra track listing

Lynne re-recorded the song in his own home studio.[when?] It was released in a compilation album with other re-recorded ELO songs, under the ELO name.[10][citation needed]

Covers and media use

  • Odia Coates charted in 1975 with her cover.
  • Featured on the Archiva Vol. 2 compilation album, the song was covered in 1996 by Asia[11] with would-be ELO Part II vocalist John Payne.
  • In the 1996 comedy movie Kingpin, the song was used as background music during a one-on-one bowling tournament.
  • Ray Liotta heralds the song's use in the 2007 movie Wild Hogs, stating "At least someone's here to face the music".
  • In 2011, the song was sampled on Full Tote Odds' "Southern Wind".[12]
  • EA's 2009 video game Skate 2 features the song in both the opening movie and soundtrack.
  • The song is heard in the 1999 movie Outside Providence.
  • In July 2012, Fox News Channel show The Five returned from a commercial break with a side-by-side split screen of President Obama and Governor Mitt Romney on the campaign trail set to the song.
  • On 17 November 2013, Sunday Night Football on NBC played the song just before a commercial break in the 3rd quarter as the 9-0 Kansas City Chiefs played the 8-1 Denver Broncos in an AFC West rivalry game.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Pardo, Pete (10 October 2006). "Electric Light Orchestra: On the Third Day (remaster)". Sea of Tranquility. Retrieved 30 July 2013. Listen to their soaring lines on the hit single "Showdown", a mix of rock, funk, and soul, with some great keyboard sounds from Tandy and a bitchin' guitar solo from Lynne.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Lennon DJs on NYC Radio 1974 (2/4)". YouTube. 30 August 2011. Retrieved 6 June 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Top RPM Singles: Issue 4957a." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 30 July 2013.
  4. "Nederlandse Top 40 – Electric Light Orchestra - Showdown search results" (in Dutch) Dutch Top 40. Retrieved 30 July 2013.
  5. " – The Electric Light Orchestra – Showdown" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved 30 July 2013.
  6. " – The Electric Light Orchestra – Showdown". VG-lista. Retrieved 30 July 2013.
  7. "Archive Chart: 1973-11-03" UK Singles Chart. Retrieved 30 July 2013.
  8. "On the Third Day – Awards". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved 30 July 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. CASH BOX Top 100 Singles – Week ending FEBRUARY 9, 1974 at the Wayback Machine (archived 3 October 2012). Cash Box magazine. Retrieved 6 June 2014.
  10. "Mr. Blue Sky – The Very Best of Electric Light Orchestra". 5 October 2012. Retrieved 30 July 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "Asia – Archiva, Vol. 2". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved 30 July 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "Full Tote Odds's Southern Wind sample of Electric Light Orchestra's Showdown". WhoSampled. Retrieved 30 July 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links