ELO are the rock music equivalent of Abba. When it's fashionable to admit to being a fan of either of these bands, they have lots of fans. And when it isn't, they don't. Currently, Abba are 'in' and ELO are 'out'. And that's simply daft, because the music on the albums doesn't change. It can't. It's just trends and fashions influencing perceptions.
And when this album was released, the trends and fashions had moved against ELO. The album's better than 'Out of the Blue' - "but let's ignore it", they said. And it's close to 'Time' - "we ignored that one as well". That's ELOs problem - by the time that Time was released, they'd been branded 'dinosaurs' thanks to Johnny Rotten's 'I Hate ELO' T-shirt and a general anti-ELO groundswell.
This is clearly a concept album, into which a great deal of work had gone. That's clear from the front and rear covers of the album sleeve. But, exactly what the 'secret messages' are seeking to convey to the listener, well that's not so clear. Time was far better executed in that regard, because it's a true concept album. Maybe there wssn't enough space in a single vinyl album, or studio time, to fully realise the intention - if so, the album is regrettably incomplete. But, it contains some stunning material. One might say 'only four stars' because of this, but I think that would undervalue the album. It's typical late-period ELO, superbly recorded, with great melodies and arrangements, and a very strong 'drive' on many of the tracks. Personally I can do without the 'Rock and Roll is King' material, because it lacks creativity, doesn't fit with the rest of the album, and 1950s rockers might have been more likely to punch an ELO fan than to share his taste in music! But that's just my view. Buy it.