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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This album contains secret backward messages!
This album is one of the 'unappreciated' later works by ELO. The cover illustrations contain obscure references to the songs, and the impression is that there is some hidden theme to the album - one which I for one have never been able to identify, despite numerous playings over the years. The album's cover and printed warning that it contains secret backward messages...
Published on 14 Nov. 1999 by bobobob5

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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars a missed opportunity
Secret Messages has always been one of the weakest ELO albums. It originally was intended to be a double album but was eventually released as single album and it shows. This Reissue should have included the remainder of the double album tracks but strangely does not. Some of the left out tracks were included on a box set (Afterglow several years ago) and are arguably...
Published on 1 April 2003 by Maurice Dockrell


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This album contains secret backward messages!, 14 Nov. 1999
This review is from: Secret Messages (Audio CD)
This album is one of the 'unappreciated' later works by ELO. The cover illustrations contain obscure references to the songs, and the impression is that there is some hidden theme to the album - one which I for one have never been able to identify, despite numerous playings over the years. The album's cover and printed warning that it contains secret backward messages suggests that it is not just the simple reversed-tape sequence that was being referred to. The songs are highly melodic and strong, yet they appear to have been written more as 'album songs' rather than as potential hit singles. Despite being recorded a long time ago, this album is highly listenable and does not sound like a museum-piece in any way. It's the sort of CD you can buy and simply play all the way through, enjoying the songs, being left with a feeling of 'Well, I wonder what that was all about?' I think it's excellent.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Definitely One of ELO's Best, 21 Aug. 2007
By 
Mr. N. J. Bayliss "A Book" (Warwickshire) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Secret Messages (Audio CD)
I have been an ELO fan for nearly 30 years and although quite a few people think of this album as a weak point in their history and that it was against Jeff Lynne's will, I tend to look at this album differently. It sounds like a lot of work has been put into the album and if was against Jeff's will, it can't have been too much against it as he wanted the album to be a double despite the powers that be not giving him the go ahead. From the fast pace of the title track thru to Rock n' Roll Is King, you have one well crafted album. Letter From Spain and RnR Is King do not do the album much justice, but Loser Gone Wild is just fantastic with its arrangement which leads us to a typical ELO brilliance of Bluebird. Take Me On And On is very smooth and pleasant to the ear with marvellous playing, Time After Time is not the best of choices but its sound effects and pristine production keep you interested until the great Four Little Diamonds; now that is perfectly arranged and uptempo. Stranger is an absolute classic, the soft tones and the atmospherics of the song especially thru the headphones is dreamlike and simply beautiful. Danger Ahead is very similar to another Jeff song called Slipping Away From Me which Dave Edmunds sung with Jeff's production - uptempo and enjoyable. These songs make Secret Messages a good album. One track that did not make onto Secret Meassages, Hello My Old Friend, singing about Birmingham, is haunting but you can relate to it. I am a Brummie myself and was away from the city for a spell and the occasional visits I made to the city made me think of this lengthy song. Whether you are from Brum, Leeds, London or wherever, it tells you that there's no place like home. This track can be found on the box set called "Afterglow".
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Secret Indeed, 13 Feb. 2008
By 
ds (Whitby, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
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This review is from: Secret Messages (Audio CD)
It's puzzling from this remove, twenty five years (that long!) after release that this is still a somewhat neglected corner of the ELO back catalogue. To say that it doesn't match the heights of Lynne's more prolific earlier output would accurate, but rather unfairly damning if stated that baldly. True, the increasing use of electronic instruments is becoming apparent, even more so than 1981's Time, but here the songs have bent a little to accommodate. and there are treasures aplenty to be discovered.

The title track kicks things off, playing with Lynne's interest in backwards masking, playing with the contemporaneous obsession (and ELO's own previous brushes) with it. Loser Gone Wild is a schizo number, oddly two-paced and flitting between heavily downbeat verses and up-tempo chorus.

Third is, for me, the track of the album, Bluebird. This is a song that would fit easily onto ANY of their albums, with a title giving a gentle nod to the Beatles' Blackbird and a mix of keyboards and acoustic guitar that has more than a sniff of the McCartneyesque about it.

The wistful and dreamy Take Me On And On (possibly a little too much so for my taste) leads into Time After Time, a song that didn't appear on the original vinyl release but crept into later reissues. It has a quite thin premise, but the heavy percussive influence carries it along really nicely, making it another favourite of mine.

From there we hit another gem: Four Little Diamonds, a rockin' crunchy guitar romp that has echoes of older stuff like Ma Ma Ma Belle and is plainly fabulous.

The remainder of the album alternates in pace between slower and more uptempo numbers. Stranger is, for me at least, the weakest of the album tracks. Danger Ahead is another rollicking uptempo number, while Letter form Spain is a meandering, yet haunting little vignette which subject matter makes me think of the later Calling America, even if the style doesn't. Train of Gold has a slightly plodding feel but also reminds me a little of The The's Heartland for some reason I can't quite explain. The album proper rounds off with Rock n Roll is King, a nod to 50's Rock n Roll which most fans know and either love/hate anyway. So no more said.

The bonus tracks are interesting. No Way Out is yet another 50's-tinged number, while After All a slightly mournful and rather downbeat way to finish a disc. The pick though is Endless Lies, which has an unmistakable air of Roy Orbison to it, in amongst its faintly disquieting carousel sounds.

It's sad that by this point ELO's commercial star was on the wane in the face of an many-headed onslaught from the tail end of the New Romantic and the explosion of sometimes one-dimensional synth pop, because the electronica here is deployed to rather neat effect. Perhaps though, by this point Lynne was just starting to lose interest a little in the whole ELO project. If so, it's a shame because, actually, this compares well with anything else the band ever did, with at least two or three songs that were the equal of any of their previous glories.

The remastering and the presence of the bonus tracks justify the purchase for any fan and even casual listeners may be surprised by the quality of what's on offer here. Certainly worth a listen.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great - and could have been even better!, 24 Jan. 2004
This review is from: Secret Messages (Audio CD)
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.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Often Overlooked ELO-Classic, 5 Mar. 2002
By 
Werner Bednarzik (Haltern) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Secret Messages (Audio CD)
Secret Messages is a great album with fine melodies, beautiful harmonies and a pleasurable dose of good old Rock'N'Roll. As on 1981's Time strings are hardly to be heard anywhere except on 'Stranger', one of the true gems of this album. Other highlights, for me anyway, are the driving 'Danger Ahead', a rocker that should had been the first single instead of 'Rock'N'Roll Is King' and features one of the most thrilling choruses ever, the beautiful 'Bluebird' which comes with relatively sparse instrumentation as well as the brillant 50's rock'n'roll hommage 'Endless Lies' included as a bonus track. It's quite difficult to explain why this timeless, classic techno-pop-rock brew lacks the recognition the 1981 predecessor Time has got. At this price a must buy for any fan of timeless pop music.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Let those gee-tars play, 3 May 2007
By 
will_de_beest (South Oxfordshire) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
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This review is from: Secret Messages (Audio CD)
This is the last of the proper ELO albums, with a sound instantly recognizable by its multi-layered production and oooh-aaah vocal harmonies. And while it's not a classic like Time or Out of the Blue, it's been rather harshly treated by critics and others, ELO's main offence being to have been seriously unfashionable in 1983. If you ignore all that, you're left with some cracking songs, a few experiments that work less well, some satisfying synthesized noises, a bit of playful sampling and a surprising amount of tasty electric guitar.

Lynne himself has said he was short of inspiration for this album, and much has been said about what should or should not have been included. I've not heard all the omitted material but the three bonuses here are nothing special, while Time After Time didn't impress me much when it was a cassette-only `bonus track' in 1983. But pare it down to the ten songs from the original LP and there's plenty to enjoy. Secret Messages chugs along amiably, then flows into the moody, two-paced Loser Gone Wild, which some reviewers hate but which I think works rather well, with a soulful trumpety synth riff that would sound even better played on a real trumpet - think of Miles Davis's Sketches of Spain.

Bluebird is pure Lynne melodic genius: a wistful soft-rocker in the mould of Sweet Talking Woman. That gives way to Take Me On and On, which seems a little plodding on first hearing but repays perseverance with some subtle instrumental decoration and a bluesy electric solo.

What I still think of as Side Two is stronger: Four Little Diamonds really ought to begin `after two' but still rocks along nicely on its straightforward G-B flat-C guitar riff. Stranger is full of words that don't mean much but still does enough musically to evoke the isolation and uncertainty we now realize Lynne was feeling at the time. And Danger Ahead is simply glorious: a juicy guitar-driven rocker but with classic ELO harmonies, Louis Clark's strings and a drum workout for Bev that makes you wish he had more to do on the rest of the album. Pure magic that is unmistakably ELO but still sounds quite different from anything on an earlier album.

Letter from Spain takes a beating from some reviewers, but I like its enigmatic lyrics - is he quoting the letter or merely telling us about it? - and breathy harmonies. And it doesn't last long. And Train of Gold is another where I'm happy to go against the tide: it's a crunchy minor-key stomp with plenty of strings, another well-plucked solo and a gorgeously rude synth sound in the coda. And yes, Rock'n'Roll Is King is a bit silly but it's bouncy and well done and it rounds things off happily.

I hadn't played this album for a long time before I bought this reissue. It may not be a masterpiece but its best bits are very good indeed, the sound quality is fantastic and it thoroughly deserves a recommendation.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Secret Messages, 4 Oct. 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Secret Messages (Audio CD)
This is well worth buying for the sleeve notes and the extra tracks. However, they have chopped the end bit off 'Rock and roll is king' which was on the original cd release - why ??
The music is really good - quite why this album was not a big success when it came out in 83 must be down to the fact that people were sick of ELO by then and were out buying Depeche Mode and the like. Tracks such as 'Stranger', 'Bluebird' and 'Danger ahead' are superb whilst the hit single 'Rock and roll is king' although similar in style to 'Hold on tight' from 'Time' really does get your feet tapping.
One final thought, 'Buildings have eyes' the b-side of 'Secret Messages' is not included so it feels like a missed opportunity.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ELO at there best, 13 Mar. 2013
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This review is from: Secret Messages (Audio CD)
what a cd , this is ELO at there very best, it as everything , Rock,Pop,Ballad's, the production is second to none & every member of the band put there heart & soul into every song the opening is one they could use if they ever got back together & did a live concert, it is so powerful. buy it, play it, enjoy it, you will love it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Hidden Secret, 11 Oct. 2013
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This review is from: Secret Messages (MP3 Download)
Secret Messages was the follow up album to ELO's finest moment "Time". It would always have been difficult to follow up such a highly rated album, which is probably why this album may not have received the credit it deserved at the time it was released. However revisiting this album now I can see how many tracks are stand alone classics that maybe should not have been dismissed so easily back in the day. From the first track "Secret Messages" through to the original last track "Rock and Roll is King" this album is crammed full of highly polished pop songs done in the way only Jeff Lynne could write and produce. If you are a fan that missed out on this album then I highly recommend that you give it a listen.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The best ELO album since Out of the Blue, 18 Oct. 2012
This review is from: Secret Messages (Audio CD)
This is in my opinion an unfairly maligned album, it may not be in the same league as 'Eldorado' or 'A new world record' and it may favour synth sounds over the orchestral sound the band is known for but it has some excellent tracks nevertheless. 'Danger ahead', 'Four little diamonds' and 'Rock & Roll is king' are exemplary rockers, great to sing along to. 'Bluebird' and 'Stranger' are both neglected gems. The title track is on a par with 'Twilight' from the album 'Time'. By some margin this is the best 80's ELO album, and is proof that while they might have gone into decline in later years ELO were still very good indeed.
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Secret Messages
Secret Messages by E.L.O. (Audio CD - 2001)
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