Saturday, 4 August 2018

Review: Secret Messages 2LP (ELO)

The day finally arrived on Friday 3rd August when a 2LP edition of ELO's seminal 1983 album "Secret Messages" (Epic 1907583769181) was released some 35 years and 2 months since an abridged 1LP version (JETLX527) hit the proverbial shelves in June 1983. A lot has been written by Yours Truly KJS in the nine and a half years since elobeatlesforever (elobf) was launched in February 2009 with an initial mission to campaign for the originally intended 2LP version of "Secret Messages" (JETDP402) replete with a certain septet of missing tracks including "Beatles Forever". Rather than go over old ground, I wanted to write an article which collated my thoughts on the positive and negative aspects of "Secret Messages" (one of my very fave ELO albums) in 2018.
The positives? It feels great to handle "Secret  Messages" as a double album. It really does. Playing both discs (and listening to the accompanying digital download) reveals a deep, lush texture to the whole record with nuances and detail not previously revealed. Add to that the fact that "Mandalay", "Buildings Have Eyes", "Time After Time" (on cassette first time around), "Endless Lies", "No Way Out", "Hello My Old Friend" (sounds great on vinyl!) and a shortened "After All" now have a permanent place on 33 1/3 RPM vinyl and you know that this is a significant enhancement to a classic Electric Light Orchestra album.
The negatives? You won't be surprised to read that my personal opinion is that the glaring omission of "Beatles Forever" is the most obvious shortcoming of this 2LP. That hasn't changed and will not change. A "Secret Messages" without "Beatles Forever" sandwiched between "No Way Out" and "Letter From Spain" is incomplete. It's the elephant in the room that many fans are being guided to forget by clever soundbites and quotes. If it was good enough to be included in the 1983 double album then the same applies here in 2018. My only other observation is that it's disappointing that lyric sheets are missing with the credits and some kind words from Jeff Lynne forming the inside of the gatefold and both discs supplied in plain white paper sleeves. Note also that the backward messages warning has been deleted and that "Rock 'n' Roll Is King" is now appended by its original working title "Motor City" here too. In summary, this edition is flawed but still worth the investment for the positives mentioned above. ★★

elobeatlesforever (elobf) recommends "Secret Messages" by Electric Light Orchestra to those enlightened folks who enjoy the music of ELOJeff LynneRoy WoodThe MoveThe Idle Race'Brum Beat'The Beatles and related artistes.

Until next "Time" in the ELO [and related] Universe ... KJS ... 04-Aug-2018

7 comments:

  1. Not sure how i feel about this i have not ordered it yet but certainly would have if beatles forever had been included is the shortened after all what was intended for the original

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  2. I would love to see this get a cd release, is it going to happen.

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  3. The reason why beatles forever has been omitted is because it's rubbish plain and simple and Jeff Lynne I think would agree

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  4. Anonymous Anon is correct. Beatles Forever is something to be ashamed of, despite the good music (as expected). Also, I want to know if the digital download is lossless. Sure, I could record the vinyl manually, but it just so happens I DON'T HAVE A GOOD TURNTABLE YET.

    ALSO also, how does the mixing compare to the 2003 remaster? Have they fixed the compression?

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  5. Beatles Forever is just as good as any other song on the album. There is a reason it didn't sell enough to get a gold record in the USA. Side A starts off strong but quickly goes downhill. And Side B is just filler. Rock -N- Roll Is King is just a rewrite of Don't Bring Me Down and Hold On Tight. Basically no-brain songs. The album song set-up is similar to Discovery.

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  6. I have watched an “unboxing Secret Messages” video on YouTube and am a tad underwhelmed. Sorry Keith, but I don’t think this is “…worth the investment…” at all as there is too much missing from what is “After All” merely an expanded-expanded re-issue-on-vinyl.

    If “Beatles Forever” was originally conceived to be on the double-album, then it should have been on this release (whether I like it or not) for completeness and accuracy.

    Furthermore, what ever happened to the originally conceived “swapping envelopes” artwork? It could have at least made it onto the inner gatefold (or the inner sleeves, as I wouldn’t imagine JetDP402 would have been issued with blanks).

    Omission of the lyrics strikes me as odd too, given that the 1983 single disc version had these. I don’t think I am ever going to regret not buying this issue.

    If only they had included “Beatles…,” pressed it on white vinyl, and included a 7” picture disc of the “Secret Messages” single edit backed with the long version of “After All,” now that would be worth at least a couple of ponies (£50 to you and me)…

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