Secret Messages

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Secret Messages
Studio album by Electric Light Orchestra
Released June 1983
Recorded December 1982 – February 1983
Wisseloord Studios, Hilversum
Genre Rock, pop rock
Length 46:52
Label Jet
Producer Jeff Lynne
Electric Light Orchestra chronology
Secret Messages
Balance of Power
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3/5 stars[1]
Popmatters (Favourable)[2]
Q 2/5 stars[3]

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, and the last ELO album to be released on Jet Records. It was also the final ELO studio album to become a worldwide top 40 hit upon release.

Original concept[edit]

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 hidden Satanic 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).[4] In Britain, the back cover of Secret Messages has a mock warning 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.[5]

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.

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Jeff Lynne. Strings conducted by Louis Clark.

Original LP track listing[edit]

CD track listing[edit]

Original CD track listing

  1. "Secret Messages" – 4:44
  2. "Loser Gone Wild" – 5:27
  3. "Bluebird" – 4:13
  4. "Take Me On and On" – 4:57
  5. "Time After Time"* – 4:01
  6. "Four Little Diamonds" – 4:05
  7. "Stranger" – 4:27
  8. "Danger Ahead" – 3:52
  9. "Letter from Spain" – 2:51
  10. "Train of Gold" – 4:20
  11. "Rock 'n' Roll Is King" – 3:49

Bonus tracks on the 2001 edition

  1. "No Way Out" – 3:28
  2. "Endless Lies" – 3:26 (1983 Version, previously unreleased)
  3. "After All" – 2:23

* "Time After Time" was originally included on cassette tape format and on select US issued CDs

Original intended track listing for double album[edit]


Additional personnel

Chart performance[edit]

Country Peak
United Kingdom (UK Albums Chart)[6] 4
Norway[7] 5
Germany[8][9] 6
Netherlands[10] 7
Austria[11] 11
Sweden[12] 11
Spain[13] 13
New Zealand[14] 13
France[15] 15
Australia[16] 19
Canada[17] 20
Japan[18] 35
United States (Billboard 200)[19] 36
United States (CashBox) 33


  1. ^ Secret Messages at AllMusic
  2. ^ Mathews, Kevin. "Electric Light Orchestra: Secret Messages < PopMatters". 
  3. ^ "Q Magazine | Music news & reviews, music videos, band pictures & interviews". 
  4. ^ Big Secrets: Chapter 26, pages 200, 203, 204, 205 & 206. 0-688-04830-7
  5. ^ Bigger Secrets: Chapter 28, pages 228 & 229. 0-395-45397-6
  6. ^ "Electric Light Orchestra". Offfical Charts Company. Retrieved 12 March 2013. 
  7. ^ Steffen Hung. "Electric Light Orchestra – Secret Messages". 
  8. ^ "". 16 January 1995. 
  9. ^ "Charts Electric Light Orchestra LP – ELO-Wiki" (in German). 
  10. ^ Steffen Hung. "Electric Light Orchestra – Secret Messages". 
  11. ^ Steffen Hung. "Electric Light Orchestra – Secret Messages". 
  12. ^ Steffen Hung. "Electric Light Orchestra – Secret Messages". 
  13. ^ Steffen Hung. "Forum – I have Spanish chart archive! (General)". 
  14. ^ Steffen Hung. "Electric Light Orchestra – Secret Messages". 
  15. ^ "InfoDisc : Tout les Titres par Artiste". 
  16. ^ "chartelo". 
  17. ^ "Item Display – RPM – Library and Archives Canada". 
  18. ^ "Oricon Style". 
  19. ^ "Secret Messages – Electric Light Orchestra : Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 10 October 2012.