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Secret Messages

Electric Light Orchestra

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Album Review

Originally conceived of as a double album, and wisely whittled down to one on release, Secret Messages was routine, formulaic Electric Light Orchestra. Lynne's hooks and dense production were still in force, but it sounded more mechanized and heartless than usual, due in part to the surfeit of synthesizers on some tracks. It did include the Top 20 hit "Rock & Roll Is King." [The 2001 CD reissue on Epic/Legacy included three bonus tracks: "After All," the B-side of "Rock & Roll Is King"; "No Way Out," planned for the double-album version of Secret Messages and eventually released on the 1990 Afterglow album; and a previously unreleased version of the Roy Orbison-style "Endless Lies," which was re-recorded for the Balance of Power album.]

Customer Reviews

Excellent!

This is one of those albums you have to listen to over and over just to hear all of whats going on in the music. Jeff is a brilliant producer and song writer who's flair for back-masking makes this a musical journey forward and backwards. Even a casual fan will dig this album. Great songs like Four Little Diamonds", Bluebird", Endless Lies", and "Rock and Roll Is King" to name a few. All I can say is..."Welcome To The Show"

Routine and Formulaic? Hardly!

First of all, let's give credit to the writer of this pseudo-review, Richie Unterberger at AllMusic, for writing an analysis based on having not heard the album.

Second, synthesizers do not make music sound mechanized or heartless as witnessed by the excellent Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret by Soft Cell. Jeff Lynne and ELO had been playing around with synthesizers since Discovery and their execution has not diminished.

Third, I challenge you to listen to any song on this album and compare it to any other song by ELO since 1972. Maybe "Rock & Roll is King" sounds like "Hold on Tight to Your Dreams". Otherwise, it's not even close.

The album is not without it's problems: Jeff Lynne as a lyricist is not one of the best. He is okay, but "Train of Gold" is weak and "Loser Gone Wild" is both compelling and unintentionally funny. Secret Messages is also bluesier and sadder than previous albums with "Bluebird" being the most upbeat song on the album.

In spite of it's weaknesses, Secret Messages is still a strong album which shows Jeff Lynne taking some chances having some fun with his critics.

Split personality

Some pro reviewers have seen this album as just so much electronic twaddle, and half of it seems that way, but the other half is Jeff Lynne at his finest -- "Stranger", "Danger Ahead" and the title track. The biggest mystery is why the incredible "Bluebird" wasn't a worldwide hit. What a magnificent work of art, warm, wonderful ear candy.

Biography

Formed: October, 1970 in Birmingham, England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

The Electric Light Orchestra's ambitious yet irresistible fusion of Beatlesque pop, classical arrangements, and futuristic iconography rocketed the group to massive commercial success throughout the 1970s. ELO was formed in Birmingham, England in the autumn of 1970 from the ashes of the eccentric art-pop combo the Move, reuniting frontman Roy Wood with guitarist/composer Jeff Lynne, bassist Rick Price, and drummer Bev Bevan. Announcing their intentions to "pick up where 'I Am the Walrus' left off,"...
Full Bio