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Customer reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars

on 20 July 2010
Until now I only had this on vinyl, plus the Outside World and Wishful Thinking CDs (and some 12"). As such I can't compare to the SACD or previous CD release!

However I am very impressed with the artwork (quite a booklet), notes and compilation itself. Yes, it is quite a loud master (everything is apparently from the master tapes), but I didn't hear any distortion or obvious 'flattening' as a result, so the sound seems fine.

Disc 1 is great, as you get the original CD version, plus the analogue only tracks/versions. This means you can either play the whole lot, or program to mimic the original vinyl running order/tracks, or simply play tracks 1-9 for the standard CD running order (includes Frozen Faces and 'longer' versions/mixes of Jewel & Mabuse). This should satisfy most fans, and also allow completists to spot the sometimes subtle differences in the mix betwen analogue and digital outings.

Disc 2 is sublime, including a thoughtful compilation of released and unreleased material/mixes. The 20 minute cassingle of Jewel/Duel (Do Well) opens proceedings, with its exclusive segments very welcome, and then we have several tracks that did not make it onto Outside World/Wishful, or even the light of day in some cases! The quality does not drop here, although a larger number of lengthy tracks may not suit all listeners if listening from start to finish.

I could not find any mention of in the credits of Digital Remastering, for those who hunt this out, but at this price I feel this is a worthwhile edition, and essential if you want all (as far as I can tell!) available album versions in one place.
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on 25 September 2010
Well, this will be about the fifth time I've bought this album since it came out, but what a release this deluxe 25th anniversary edition is - sumptuous packaging, and that bonus disk full of hidden treasures...salivating? Me? Oh yeah!

Propaganda hit the UK singles charts once or twice back in the mid-80s, most notably with Duel, but never really achieved the domination they so richly deserved. On the radio, they sounded like nothing you'd ever heard before - post-punk pop with a synthetic sheen, richly layered with that strange continental European voice over the top. There was something going on with this band. The album, when it came out, was a revelation, taking the catchy pop promised by the singles and adding a darkness and menace - you knew this was something special the moment you heard it, and it felt like stumbling upon a secret cabal; this wasn't music for your ordinary Joe.

The album starts with the pounding, relentless drum program of Dream Within a Dream, with that spoken word poem read by Suzanne Freytag, from Edgar Allen Poe (what other band in the world would open an album with a near ten minute poem?) The poignant, almost reflective Murder of Love is next, the calm before the crashing industrial storm of Jewel, before it morphs via a wonderful suspended synth-string chord into its prettier sister, Duel. Once heard, never forgotten.

The shimmering, gurgling percussion of Frozen Faces comes next, a track which was left off the cassette and LP versions of the original release. It's a cracker - a whomping great bassline kicks in towards the end, pushing aside the disquieting conversational murmur and the dreamy panpipes that permeate the start of the track. One box for optimism.

p:Machinery was another track released as a single. This is Propaganda at their finest - the brass riff courtesy of the Big Bath Brass Boys that could knock a battleship out of the water, the wonderfully disturbing lyrics evoking a future where sweet science reigns and the machines have taken over. The call of the machine, indeed. In joyless lanes, we walk in line.

As with the original release we next have The Chase and the wry humour of Sorry For Laughing, a cover of a Josef K song that the group had been playing live since their early days, and finally a ten minute mix of Dr Mabuse, but this 25th anniversay release then slides back into alternative versions of Dream Within A Dream, Jewel and Duel, p:Machinery and the "First Life" mix of Dr. Mabuse, before finishing with the hymnal The Last Word (Strength To Dream), which completes the song cycle and neatly closes off with a line from the opening song, "Is all that we see or seem but a dream within a dream?"

If that was all this release had given us I'd be happy, but there's a second disk running more than 72 minutes with all manner of delights pulled from the vaults and the dark minds of Trevor Horn and Stephen Lipson. Do Well (Do Well/Jewel/Duel - geddit?) is a very rarely heard 20 minute mix of Duel, pulling together various elements from the Wishful Thinking remixes, the original mixes and a splash of new sounds. Some new tracks are mixed in amongst the rare remixes, perhaps the best of which are Die Tausend Augen Des Mabuse and (Echo of) Frozen Faces. The new tracks are thrillingly good, and the alternative versions of the known tracks are top notch - in some cases not that different to existing 12" releases, but worth repeated listening all the same. Some of the tracks are in fact pretty much exactly the same as known releases - the same length, with the same instrumentation, just slight differences in the balance of each track and a little extra delay or reverb here and there on the vocals. It's fun to listen out for the differences, though.

The obligatory booklet is included in the CD slip case, and in this case it's actually pretty good - Andrew Harrison's mini essay is enlightening, though his English occasionally lets him down ("other country's music"?), and Ian Peel's archival notes on the extra tracks are great. A few new (to me, at least) promotional photos from the early days are included too.

Is this the end of the Propaganda story? Legend has it that they were severely ripped off by ZTT, earning barely a penny from this album despite it selling strongly and consistently over the past 25 years. Occasional resurfacings of various band members only tantalised; the 1234 era with Betsi Miller singing, and Michael Mertens the only original member present, was largely forgettable apart from the adrenaline rush of the single Heaven Give Me Words. The original band got back together several times in the studio to write and record; an entire album was produced back in 2002 but was ditched without being released (though it can be found on the internet if you search hard enough). Most intriguing of all was the 12" single Valley of The Machine Gods (could that title sound any more perfectly Propaganda-ish?) from 2005, a sublime, haunting, frankly creepy semi-instrumental song that was released in very limited quantities, supposedly the first of four similar 12" singles, but again the band disappeared without trace afterwards. That release held such promise, and showed that the magic could come back again, but I doubt we'll ever see anything from the band in the future, unless there are further tracks to be pulled out of the vaults (live recordings from the Outside World tour exist, and live performances from TV shows like The Tube). Still, if this 25th anniversary edition of A Secret Wish is all they leave us with, can we ask for more? The sheer Teutonic splendour of this album will likely echo on down the ages, making new fans with every year of its life, and so it should.

Heed the call of the machine. You know you want to. Resistance is futile...
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VINE VOICEon 3 November 2011
Digitally remastered throughout and enhanced beyond measure by the addition of a bonus disc containing alternate versions, previously unreleased remixes and studio out-takes - PLUS an accompanying booklet of extensive notes - this is the ULTIMATE realisation of...

A SECRET WISH: every song flawlessly produced by TREVOR HORN and one of the few completely successful new wave electro-pop albums of the mid-eighties. Even now, some 25 years later - having hard-wired itself into my musical DNA after just one rotation - it still has the capacity to impress on so many levels. The vocals, for example, sung in English by CLAUDIA BRUCKEN, are given a distinctive edge by simple virtue of her native Teutonic phrasing, and it suits the material to perfection. Of course, the sound is unmistakeably European but any undiluted comparisons to KRAFTWERK or IRMIN SCHMIDT end there; Trevor Horn's English pop sensibility has fashioned a hybrid which is altogether more exciting. And this is no fluke; he worked similar magic two years earlier on PHILIP JAP's superb SAVE US.



Pounding rhythm and pristine melody; a raft of sequenced synths and unexpectedly affecting string arrangements; a fixed point where the sounds of industrial wastelands meet their equal but opposite numbers in the form of lush, painted pastures: the very principles of music for pleasure. Well, mine at least. A Secret Wish is one of those defining albums of a time long gone...yet it remains utterly, unequivocally contemporary. And the joy of that particular contradiction will always hold true.

Simply play very loud and let the sheer force of PROPAGANDA (overwhelmingly) win you over.

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on 17 July 2010
"A Secret Wish", an album of mystery without explanation and a musical journey best undertaken in completeness, much like Roxy's "Avalon" or Frankie's "Pleasuredome". I can't actually believe it has taken 25 years for the definitive version of this magnificent recording to finally be realised.

Packaged beautifully in a fold out digipack with a 24 page booklet, the release continues to uphold the extremely high standards that I have now come to expect from ZTT, Union Square and project producer Ian Peel. There's attention to detail on the minutest scale, from the thoroughly researched band history right through to the pinpointing of tiny differences between analogue and digital versions of the same song. People with a passion for what they are doing go to this much trouble, and again, that is what continues to set this re-issue series apart from those of others. Well, that and the excellent audio quality which abounds here, thanks to every track being sourced and enhanced (note, `enhanced' not `maxxed out to oblivion') from the original masters. It appears that in the ZTT archives, the Propaganda catalogue has been well cared for, meaning that the very best of what was recorded at the time has been available for inclusion here.

Turning to the original album, Propaganda, or as one journalist dubbed them in 1985, "Abba in hell" (I love that!) delivered a moment in time. It was one of the truly great albums of the year, a sonic masterpiece that ran the whole gauntlet of contemporary music and beyond. "Jewel" remains one of the most disturbing pieces of music I have ever listened to, truly the complete opposite of "Duel", a great pop record that probably ranks as one of the most commercial singles ever released by ZTT. So commercial even Mandy Smith recorded a passable version of it several years later at PWL! This is even more interesting considering there was talk of sending Propaganda off to work with Stock Aitken & Waterman at one point to create a German version of Dollar (in fact "Testament One" on disc two could have easily evolved into a "Mirror Mirror" clone). Anyway, back to "Duel"! As a song it never fails to make me smile, and it really did deserve to go much higher in the charts than it did. In fact I would wager most people think it made the top 10, instead of #21.

"Frozen Faces" is a beautiful, off the wall moment which always reminds me of Yazoo. With some re-structuring I think this could have made a killer single. I'd rate it as one of Stephen Lipson's' production highlights, rivalling even the majestic opulence of "p:Machinery". It's featured in expanded form on disc two, in a version that wouldn't have been too out of place in an acid house set in 1988. "The Murder Of Love" is another non-single favourite and I wouldn't be surprised if it was the inspiration for much of New Orders output in the mid/late 80s. Influential band? Definitely. The liner notes reveal even Quincy Jones was a fan.

What can I say about "Dr. Mabuse"? Even at a 10:41 running time it still isn't long enough. Getting the opportunity to see Claudia perform this song with Trevor back in 2004 at Wembley was a real dream come true. It still remains a pop masterpiece, overlooked on all the usual 80s compilations.

Disc two contains many previously unreleased alternate/extended and remixed versions, including the Goodnight 32 mix of "p:Machinery", one of the last Propaganda mixes to be completed during the album sessions.

A highlight for fans will definitely be the inclusion of "Do Well", the "Duel" cassingle exclusive. Running at 20 minutes this megamix included an exclusive segment, called "Wonder", where the ethereal meets the industrial. Now at last it's time to throw away those dodgy cassette-to-CD transfers!

Revisiting this album again makes me realise how many potential singles there actually were on this record, but back in 1985 it was definitely ahead of its time. Propaganda clearly wasn't a band or concept that could easily be shoe horned into pop radio, and that's a real shame because a significant audience therefore missed out on the opportunity of enjoying this album. Fortunately as people mature, so often does our taste, and those who missed it now have the chance again to strike out of their comfort zone just for a spell and enjoy something deeper, darker and totally fabulous. Those who are already fans and waiting with anticipation for this release will be well rewarded for their (25 year) patience!
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on 9 April 2002
Here's a much forgotten secret from the mid eighties, Propaganda's Secret Wish is one of the best albums from this period of golden pop. The album was produced by one of the UK's best known and most successful producer's Trevor Horn, who was also the driving force behind the trend setting debuts of ABC and Frankie Goes To Hollywood. Horn's love of complex string arrangements are used to good effect giving Propaganda's well constructed songs an added dimension that starker electronic albums could sometimes lack. Propaganda proved they were on equal terms with fellow German innovators Kraftwerk by releasing an album where every track is a gem. Clever use of synth sequencing and analogue layers give many of the tracks a definite edge, and the album still sounds superb by today's techno standards some 15 years after it was released. This sort of music is always helped by a strong vocalist, and the enigmatic Claudia Brucken with her distinctive German voice is as important to the success of this album as Alison Moyet was to Yazoo. Brucken's vocals easily generate pure emotion against the harsh, industrial sequencing of some of the tracks. On Jewel she provides a manic performance that I really haven't heard from any female vocalist since. It's very difficult to pick highlight tracks as favourites, because they are all so good, but Duel remains as one of the best pop songs from this period. It's a perfect mix of classical interludes and melodic synths, something Horn was to revisit on the PSB classic Left To My Own Devices from 1988. Heaven 17's Glenn Gregory helps out on the vocals for the single P-Machinery, a song that has one of the catchiest synth leads I have ever heard. Japan's David Sylvian also provided the bleeps in the intro. Sorry For Laughing is a touching change of pace and something of a classic. Huge heaps of melancholy and another memorable pop tune. If I'm pushed, I'd say that Dr Mabuse is the highlight purely for it's complexity and change of pace halfway through into a pure killer of a bassline (I bet Adamski liked this one before recording his track Killer!). A dramatic song like most of the album and it was no surprise to hear tracks from this album used for endless UK TV theme tunes and car adverts. Secret Wish easily makes my own personal top ten along with the Human League's Dare and Depeche Mode's Black Celebration. Sadly, I own the original 1985 CD release of this album so I don't have the extra tracks, but I can recommend the remix album Wishful Thinking. Buy Secret Wish and you'll love it. Trust me.
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VINE VOICEon 19 July 2010
I'll write a more contemplative review when I've lived with this 25th anniversary edition for a few weeks, but the initial play-through has been a great experience.

What you get on Disc One is, firstly, the original "Secret Wish" album as issued on CD on ZTT/Island in 1985, including the specially-remixed "Dream Within A Dream" that Stephen Lipson produced just for CD; the vinyl and cassette had a different version that became the one on the previous ZTT re-issue. Confused? You will be - the superb 10' 41" mix of Dr Mabuse is also here from that original 1985 CD. This is what we've been waiting for for so long. As if that weren't enough, the rest of Disc 1 contains the analogue format versions of the tracks above, plus trainspotters-only versions of Duel and p:Machinery that you'd be hard-pressed to tell apart from the earlier versions. But we do get all those riches in the form of "Dream Within A Dream" in both mixes and the unexpurgated "Dr Mabuse", which is wonderful.

Disc 2 is also a treasure-trove. People have commented on "Do Well", the cassette single version of Duel, and it's brilliant. Some of the other mixes etc. are more subtle (or not, as in "Echo of Frozen Faces"). Fans will probably bemoan the omission of some material e.g. the Beta Wraparound 12" version of p:Machinery but, after all, you've gotta leave something for those vinyl specialist record shops to deal in!

The mastering sounds perfect to me. I'm not sure what the reviewer who complained was expecting - the original tapes put through the too-good-to-be-true filter? (e.g. loads of artificial treble boost? horrible compression to make it sound 'louder'?). The compilers of this re-release seem to have decided that, what Stephen Lipson and Trevor Horn wanted us to hear, is what we get. Which is fine by me.

In summary, if you buy this, "Wishful Thinking" and the "Outside World" compilation from a few years ago, you'll have more Propaganda tracks than you could ever need. Excellent re-issue and, as everyone seems to be saying, about time too!
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on 11 April 2015
I actually only like one track on this CD but that is not to take away from what a good album it is. It is well produced but generally the style of music is too aggressive for my tastes. Still glad I bought it even if this seems contradictory!
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on 5 February 2011
So how many copies of this album did you buy before this came out?

This CD pulls together the mixes from both the original vinyl and CD versions of the album and is good enough to point out some differences between the more subtle remixes.

The main sleeve notes perhaps continue the crusade to make Propaganda seem dark as perhaps do the the tired old religion/science disc titles taken from the text on one of the 12" sleeves. There is some interesting info in the main body, but what was more satisfying to me was the section from Ian Peel who curated the collection giving some interesting info about the different mixes.

The CDs are also refered to in the sleeve notes as "Beauty Love and Danger" and "Repetition Plus Variation" which works much better for me.

The sound quality was a really nice surprise - particularly on disc 2.

Bonus tracks:

Disc 1 contains the original CD sequence and then tags on the different mixes that appeared on the original vinyl. Very neatly fills up the CD to within a few seconds shy of 80 mins. The CD version of Dream Within A Dream seems to be the better of the two - even down to the slight pause between the initial question (more later) and the start of the instrumentation. Was Stephen Lipson unhappy with the original mix and decided to give it another go, or was Paul Morley up to his tricks? I don't know. Still you can easily make your own decision now.

Disc 2 is a mish mash of rarities, previously unrealeased tracks and for some reason part of the Wishful Thinking album which seems a waste.

1) Do Well - the cassette single of Duel/Jewel

Yeah, so it was one side of a cassette, but as others have noticed it's five seperate tracks. It would have been nicer to have separeted these out to bear more repeated listening of certain sections. I quite like Bejewelled (part 5) which is the two versions cut alternately throughout the track. Works for me, but again would have preferred it as a seperate track.

2) Testament One

About 75 seconds of a keyboard riff in Duel. Not essential, surprising hard (for me) to sing along with.

3) Die Tausend Auden Des Mabuse (previously unreleased)

- which answers the question: "Why did the 13th Life Mix fade out in such an odd place?" The answer is this mix which is essentially the 13th Life Mix not fading out at the odd place but continuing for just over 3 minutes. It continues as a remixed, but not extended version of the standard track so makes it a bit repetitive as a couple of the verses are heard more than once. Track sounds nicer than the faded 12" though.

4) Sorry For Laughing (Unapologetic 12")

- this track is a more interesting inclusion for me in that it is an outtake from the Wishful Thinking album. It is a difference mix to the version that made the album. It has its moments, and oddly includes a limeric about a man from Hong Kong (not a highlight for me.) There is at least one clumsy edit (a bar too early on the cut in I think) and it goes on a bit for my liking.

5) Thought Part I
6) Thought Part II

- seemingly pointless inclusion as these two tracks are the last track from Wishful Thinking split into the main body and then the brief p:Machinery reprise. Why waste the space? This might have allowed room for another outtake or at least the b-side Mabuse material and the Femme Fatale link which have yet to make it to CD as far as I'm aware.

7) p:Machinery (Goodnight 32)

- apparently previously unreleased, but as someone else has stated this sounds just like the beta wraparound 7" mix. Haven't compared closely.

8) The Chase (the Goodnight Mix)

- also previously unreleased, couldn't tell the difference on a straight listen. A brief comparison seemed to sound SLIGHTY different, but if you can't tell straight away that implies it's not a great find, doesn't it?

9) (Echo of) Frozen Faces

- don't like this track. Musically much more interesting and rewarding than the lyrics for me.

10) p:Machinery (p:Polish)

- is that Polish as from Poland or polish as in shoe? I like this standard 12" mix a lot. Seems the least satisfying single for me brought the best 12" mixes. Includes the neat reprise that was not included at the end of the beta mix that appeared on Outside World.

11) Testament Three

- not much over twenty seconds long. Contains a fade up on a piano section from The Murder of Love and then a crash from Jewel.

Take off the two Thought tracks and there's ten minutes space that could have been used for either more outtakes or the "still not on CD" material.

So how about Wishful Thinking getting a remaster with bonuses, eh?

Is all that we see or seem but a dream within a dream? No. It's not.
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VINE VOICEon 14 January 2008
ZZT Records had great success in the 1980,s with Frankie Goes To Hollywood but after journalist Paul Morley had signed the group to Trevor Horns label it was Dusseldorf band Propaganda who made the finest album ever to be released on it. A Secret Wish released in July 1985 does,nt quite encapsulate Morley's vision of the band as a twisted version of Abba but their stentorian fusion of synth-pop , electronic funk and neo-classical futurism sounded thrillingly contemporary ( It has also dated very well) and had tunes that would crack a titanium walnut.
The band had already released the single "Dr Mabuse" (Named after a character in a Fritx Lang movie) which had reached no 27 in the U.K. charts before the release of the album and while its inky black rhythmic arrangement and juddering keyboards gave a delicious portent of what the album would be like , only a true psychic could have envisaged some of the delights A Secret Wish would unfurl.
The follow up single the magnificent "Duel" took the band into pop territory though it retained the trademark plump bass lines and dynamic stabbing keyboards. Lyrically "Duel" was an altogether darker beast with its chorus about "You start bleeding , i start screaming". The lyrics were down to "conceptualist" Ralf Dorper who operated strictly behind the scenes , never touring or appearing live with the rest of the group.
Final single "P Machinery" is in truth one of the albums weaker tracks , though that's weaker in a comparative sense. Certainly when you put it up against "Sorry For Laughing" or "Murder Of Love" where the keyboards attain a real cinematic gleam it palls slightly. Opening track "Dream Within A Dream", "Jewel" and the closing "The Last Word/ The Strength To Dream" are more extended instrumental work outs that occasionally approach ambient( "The Last Word " is an instrumental remix of "Dr Mabuse") with their appropriately reverie like tones and textures. There are spoken passages ( "The Strength To Dream" ,s opening line is from the Edgar Allan Poe poem "Dream Within A Dream") but unusually for spoken passages they never skirt the edges of the ridiculous.
A Secret Wish is not only a hugely enjoyable album but surreptitiously an influential one as well. It,s in many ways a perspicacious progenitor for the dance music that would become so popular in the late 80,s / early 90,s. Certainly i can hear their influence on bands like Underworld, The Disco Evangelists, Fluke and Leftfield. The band continue on in various forms till this day , even appearing together on German TV in 2007 performing an edited version of "Dr Mabuse". As i alluded earlier it still sounded like the future now. Looks like that wish came true.
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VINE VOICEon 8 June 2006
having bought the album on vinyl and then the cd when i bought i cd player the sound difference was amazing....20 years later i have moved on to the sacd version and it is truly stunning!!!!

the album was a classic when it was released and still ranks amoung the best albums of all time...the songs are magnifent and the production is truly amazing!!!

the sacd version takes the whole album to a new level of enjoyment. fantastic vocals...amzing orchestrals....it has blown me away!

i think the only think to buy a sacd version for is if it sounds better and you hear things that are lost...this delivers..you listen and think that never sounded so clear before and i never heard that before!

if you have an sacd player this is a one must for you......its what they where made for!
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