Secret Messages (1983)

1. Secret Messages 2. Loser Gone Wild 3. Bluebird 4. Take Me On and On 5. Time After Time 6. Four Little Diamonds 7. Stranger 8. Danger Ahead 9. Letter From Spain 10.Train of Gold 11. Rock & Roll is King


Well, the "Orchestra" part of the Electric Light Orchestra was now gone (even though they reverted back to their original name, and not simply "ELO") and they had exhausted the futuristic "future" theme on the last album, so what was there to do for a follow up? Unfortunately, as this record shows, not much. In future years, Jeff Lynne would admit that the joy of The Electric Light Orchestra was gone, and he was really just going through the motions.

Without the classic string section sound, this record almost comes across as a "Jeff Lynne" solo album, which shouldn't be such a bad thing since Lynne had proved time and time again he could write, perform and produce some classic songs. However the well is definitely dry here. What was really ironic was that he had enough material for a double album and was forced by the studio to whittle it down to a single. Years later many of the songs that were "cut" resurfaced in some form or another, and as one might expect, weren't any good either. In further irony, Lynne was touting the lead single from the album prior to its release, a song called Beatles 4Ever that never even made the cut (you can now find a rough demo on the internet if you do a Google search - it hasn't been legitimately released in any form).

Yep, something just wasn't right here.

The two singles from the album didn't even make the top 10 - the first time in ten years. Rock & Roll is King never quite catches, and where it sounds a bit fun to listen to, it's quite thin and doesn't endure. Four Little Diamonds is a bit of the same vein that resonates slightly better. The two best songs are the title song (a response to some religious groups that the band had "evil" backward messages) and Bluebird which is actually a very radio friendly piece that coulda shoulda been a hit single.

Most of the rest of the album just lumbers along with nothing ever taking hold. Sadly, by 1983, not many really cared at this point what the Electric Light Orchestra was doing. This was a new decade with new tastes and, sadly, these guys were no longer the flavor of the month.

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