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Electric Light Orchestra - Secret Messages CD (album) cover

SECRET MESSAGES

Electric Light Orchestra

 

Crossover Prog

2.45 | 101 ratings

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progaeopteryx
Prog Reviewer
2 stars I remember Secret Messages being one of my first purchases on vinyl back when Columbia House was offering five records for a penny and then you had to buy one or two records at regular price for the year. But let's get one thing out the way right from the start. Just like every ELO album released from 1976 onward, there isn't an ounce of progressive rock on this interesting work. It's pop rock loaded with lots of synthesizers, but it's on par with some of the best pop rock the band had ever recorded, although the lyrics are clearly a cheese festival with swiss cheese holes distorting the local spacetime continuum.

Secret Messages was named after a controversy that followed ELO's career starting with their Eldorado album in which they were accused of recording Satanic messages backwards. Although these messages never actually existed, ELO mocked the controversy by recording backwards messages on Fire on High from their Face the Music album. As far as I know, they never again recorded backwards messages until Secret Messages, which has backwards messages in the beginning and ending of the album and in some small parts in individual songs. They also played Morse code using keyboards on the title track spelling out the album's name.

Another curiosity about Secret Messages is that Lynne had intended it to be a double record release, but the record company disapproved. So a lot of the extra material was released as B-sides and later on the Afterglow boxset. And that's a shame as some of this extra material was even better than what made it onto the actual album. One song in particular, Hello My Old Friend, was sort of like the Beatles meet neo prog.

Anyway, all that trivia aside, this is a great, if underrated pop album of the 1980's and the last interesting work of the band. However, since there isn't any progressive rock on it, I can only recommend to fans and collectors only, thus only two stars. Still, if you're interested in synthesizer-laced, but tasteful 1980's pop rock and can bear cheesy lyrics, you might want to take the time to seek this one out. Otherwise, go with something from their first three studio releases.

progaeopteryx | 2/5 |

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