Secret Messages is an album by Electric Light Orchestra (ELO), released in 1983 through Jet Records. It was the last ELO album with bass guitarist Kelly Groucutt, conductor Louis Clark, and real stringed instruments. It was also the final ELO studio album to become a worldwide top 40 hit upon release.
The record was originally planned to be a double album, but was thwarted by Jet's distributor, CBS Records, claiming that producing a double vinyl album would be too expensive. This version of the album was digitally recorded and was to have been ELO's first compact disc. Six of the songs from the intended double album appeared as B-sides and reappeared on the Afterglow box set in 1990, including a string-laden eight-minute long tribute to the band's home town (Birmingham) entitled "Hello My Old Friend". Some of the tracks reappeared on the 2001 re-issue of the album. "Endless Lies", which had been altered for its inclusion on the subsequently-released Balance of Power album, appears in its original 1983 form on the 2001 remaster of this album.
Secret Messages, as its title suggests, was littered with hidden messages in the form of backmasking, some obvious and others less so. This was Jeff Lynne's second tongue-in-cheek response to allegations of hiddenSatanic messages in earlier Electric Light Orchestra LPs by Christian fundamentalists which led up to early 1980s American congressional hearings (a similar response had been made by Lynne on the Face the Music album, during the intro to the "Fire on High" track). In Britain, the cover of Secret Messages has a mock warning to youth about the hidden messages. Word of the album's impending release in the United States caused enough of a furore to cause CBS Records to delete the cover blurb there.
Louis Clark returned to conduct the strings once more and the violinist Mik Kaminski appeared on an ELO recording for the first time since Out of the Blue in 1977, playing a violin solo on the track "Rock 'n' Roll Is King". On completion of this album, Lynne dismissed bass guitarist Groucutt, who later sued for alleged lost royalties and received a settlement out of court.
Three singles were released from the album in the UK: "Rock 'n' Roll Is King", the title track and "Four Little Diamonds". In the US, "Rock 'n' Roll Is King", "Four Little Diamonds" and "Stranger" were issued. "Rock 'n' Roll Is King" was the band's last UK Top 20 hit. The song "Letter from Spain" was used as backing music in commercials for the Games of the XXV Olympiad, held in 1992 in Barcelona.