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Secret Messages is an album by Electric Light Orchestra, released in 1983. It would be the final ELO album to feature bassist Kelly Groucutt, who left the band shortly after its release.

Original Concept

The record was originally planned to be a double album, but the band's record company cited that it would be too expensive for a double vinyl LP due to the early 80's oil crisis. This version of the album was digitally recorded and supposed to be ELO's first compact disc before Balance Of Power. Six of the songs from the intended double album would appear as B-sides and reappear on the Afterglow box set in 1990, including a string-laden eight minute long tribute to the band's home town (Birminghammarker) entitled "Hello My Old Friend". Some of the tracks reappeared on the 2001 re-issue of the album. "Endless Lies", which had been altered for its inclusion on the subsequently-released Balance of Power album, appears in its original 1983 form on the 2001 remaster of this album.

Secret Messages, as its title would suggest, was littered with hidden messages in the form of backmasking, some obvious and others less so. This was Lynne's second tongue-in-cheek response to allegations of hidden Satanic messages in earlier Electric Light Orchestra LPs by Christian fundamentalists which led up to early 1980's American congressional hearings (a similar response had been made by Lynne on the Face the Music album, during the intro to the "Fire On High" track). In Britain the cover of Secret Messages has a mock warning to youth about the hidden messages. Word of the album's impending release in the United States caused enough of a furor to cause CBS Records to delete the cover blurb there.

Louis Clark returned to conduct the strings once more and violinist Mik Kaminski appeared on an ELO recording for the first time since 1977's Out of the Blue, playing a violin solo on the track "Rock 'n' Roll Is King." On completion of this album Jeff Lynne dismissed bassist Kelly Groucutt. Groucutt later sued for alleged lost royalties and received a settlement out of court.

Three singles were released from the album in the UK: "Rock 'n' Roll Is King," the title track, and "Four Little Diamonds." In the US, "Rock 'n' Roll Is King," "Four Little Diamonds," and "Stranger" were issued. "Rock 'n' Roll Is King" would be the band's last UK Top 20 hit. The song "Letter from Spain" was used as backing music in commercials for the Games of the XXV Olympiad, held in 1992 in Barcelonamarker, Cataloniamarker, Spainmarker.

Chart Positions, Chart Runs

Original Track Listing

All tracks written by Jeff LynneStrings conducted by Louis Clark

Side One
  1. "Secret Messages" - 4:44
  2. "Loser Gone Wild" - 5:27
  3. "Bluebird" - 4:13
  4. "Take Me On and On" - 4:57
  5. "Time After Time" - 4:01 (not on vinyl LP; included on cassette tape format and 12 inch single )
Side Two
  1. "Four Little Diamonds" - 4:05
  2. "Stranger" - 4:27
  3. "Danger Ahead" - 3:52
  4. "Letter from Spain" - 2:51
  5. "Train of Gold" - 4:20
  6. "Rock 'n' Roll Is King" - 3:49
Bonus tracks on the 2001 edition
  1. "No Way Out" - 3:28
  2. "Endless Lies" - 3:26 (1983 Version, previously unreleased)
  3. "After All" - 2:23

Original intended track listing for double album

Side A
  1. "Secret Messages" - 4:51
  2. "Loser Gone Wild" - 5:17
  3. "Bluebird" - 4:13
  4. "Take Me On and On" - 5:02
Side B
  1. "Stranger" - 4:30
  2. "No Way Out" - 3:27
  3. "Beatles Forever" - 4:30
  4. "Letter from Spain" - 2:59
  5. "Danger Ahead" - 3:47
Side C
  1. "Four Little Diamonds" - 4:12
  2. "Train of Gold" - 4:22
  3. "Endless Lies" - 3:35 (1983 Version)
  4. "Buildings Have Eyes" - 4:04
  5. "Rock 'n' Roll is King" - 3:10
Side D
  1. "Mandalay" - 5:20
  2. "Time After Time" - 3:56
  3. "After All" - :41
  4. "Hello My Old Friend" - 8:37



  1. Big Secrets: Chapter 26, pages 200, 203, 204, 205 & 206. 0-688-04830-7
  2. Bigger Secrets: Chapter 28, pages 228 & 229. 0-395-45397-6

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