|Studio album by Electric Light Orchestra|
|Released||5 June 1983|
|Recorded||December 1982 – February 1983
Wisseloord Studios, Hilversum
|Genre||Rock, pop rock, art rock|
|Electric Light Orchestra chronology|
Secret Messages is the tenth studio 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.
The record was originally going to be a double album, but this plan was thwarted by Jet's distributor, CBS Records, claiming that producing a double vinyl album would be too expensive; as a result, leader Jeff Lynne would have to reduce it to a single album. This version of the album was digitally recorded and would have been ELO's first compact disc. Six of the songs from the intended double album appeared as B-sides and reappear on the Afterglow box set in 1990. These include a string-laden, eight-minute long tribute to the band's home town (Birmingham), titled "Hello My Old Friend". Some of the tracks also appear 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, is 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 American congressional hearings in the early 1980s (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 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.
The back cover of the record jacket (made to look like the back of a picture frame) also contains "Secret Messages" in the form of 3-aged and weathered stickers. One is the track listing and the other two contain mock names of the retailer and manufacturer of the frame. These names are anagrams of the 4 band members: T.D. Ryan (R. Tandy), F.Y.J. Fennel (Jeff Lynne), G.U. Ruttock (K. Groucutt) and E.V. Nabbe (Bev Bevan). The record sleeve also contains a "Secret Message". The front and back has a string of dots and dashes that is actually Morse Code and repeats "E L O". E (one dot), L (dot dash dot dot) and O (dash dash dash).
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.
Original LP track listing
CD track listing
Original CD track listing
- "Secret Messages" – 4:44
- "Loser Gone Wild" – 5:27
- "Bluebird" – 4:13
- "Take Me On and On" – 4:57
- "Time After Time"* – 4:01
- "Four Little Diamonds" – 4:05
- "Stranger" – 4:27
- "Danger Ahead" – 3:52
- "Letter from Spain" – 2:51
- "Train of Gold" – 4:20
- "Rock 'n' Roll Is King" – 3:49
Bonus tracks on the 2001 edition
- "No Way Out" – 3:28
- "Endless Lies" – 3:26
- "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 - 76:33
Side A - 19:23
Side B - 19:13
Side C - 19:23
Side D - 18:34
- Jeff Lynne – vocals, background vocals, guitar, synthesisers, bass guitar, piano, percussion, Oberheim DMX, producer
- Bev Bevan – drums, percussion
- Richard Tandy – synthesizers, grand piano, electric piano, harmonica, Oberheim DMX
- Kelly Groucutt – bass guitar, background vocals ("Train of Gold", "Rock 'n' Roll Is King", "No Way Out" and "Beatles Forever")
- Mik Kaminski – violin ("Rock 'n' Roll Is King")
- Dave Morgan – additional background vocals
- Bill Bottrell – Engineer
- Strings conducted by Louis Clark ("Train Of Gold", "Danger Ahead" and "Stranger")
- Al Quaglieri – reissue producer (2001)
|United Kingdom (UK Albums Chart)||4|
|United States (Billboard 200)||36|
|United States (CashBox)||33|
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