Electric Light Orchestra - Secret Messages as originally intended

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by peterpyser, Feb 24, 2015.

  1. kwadguy

    kwadguy Forum Resident

    Cambridge, MA
    A song that's 100x better than "Beatles Forever".

    c-eling likes this.
  2. c-eling

    c-eling Forum Resident

  3. I tend to believe that Jeff's hostility towards Beatles Forever has been exaggerated somewhat, as it was originally being talked about as a potential lead single from its parent album, only to be dropped and never heard of again, if you don't count the fact that elements from it were quickly reworked into Video! from the Electric Dreams soundtrack, which suggests its creator identified something in the basic idea worth salvaging (similar to how he'd revisit the melody of Tears In Your Life for After All, Sirens and Night Calls before finally reworking the initial Secret Messages era outtake into a song he was happy to see released).

    For all Jeff's teasing that he might one day rework Beatles Forever, let's not forget that he did approve the full version of Secret Messages in its 2LP form ahead of a planned 30th anniversary reissue, only to pull his support and block Sony from going ahead with the project because this all took place at the time he'd suddenly fallen out with his former label, having recently inked a lucrative deal that briefly saw Frontiers become the new distributor for all new ELO-related titles. In the period since this, we know from Rob Caiger that a further deluxe edition of Secret Messages was being prepared, so Jeff must surely be aware of the demand for such a thing.

    I'm not quite sure where the idea's come from that Jeff is very much against rarities circulating online, especially since he's done nothing to have the complete Trojan Tapes removed, despite once vetoing these from both the Eldorado and Face The Music remasters because he felt they didn't really fit on either album, even as bonus tracks. If anything, it surprises me that more wasn't said within the general ELO fan community when the supposedly mythical Supersonic finally surfaced, which perhaps says everything you need to know about just how highly Secret Messages is held in regard, even though certain tracks are admittedly not all that.

    From the most casual of glimpses at any fan outlet, general music forum such as this or the comments of YouTube videos, it's clear that most people familiar with ELO's catalogue are also educated enough on the subject of Secret Messages that they'd at least like to have the option to hear the full album regardless of whether it's actually up there are one of the group's best. As we increasingly move into an age where downloads remove a lot of the risk and financial demands of having physical products made in even limited amounts, I genuinely feel that Jeff could do a lot worse than putting Beatles Forever out there and letting the music speak for itself.

    However, I suspect the biggest problem with any future archival releases is Jeff himself. Going all the way back to live shows in the 1980s, Jeff isn't the best when it comes to hiding his enthusiasm - or lack of - for things expected of someone in his position. He's spoken in the past of being hardly involved with Afterglow, which really could have been a definitive retrospective. Flashback definitely had more input from Jeff, but his slight liner notes on the 2001-7 remasters along with their mere handful of bonus tracks each points to this being something he only did out of obligation rather than a great inner need to focus on his past.

    My opinion is that Jeff simply doesn't seem the kind of person who is overly preoccupied with going over ELO's history, and why should he? As we've discussed all too well in this thread alone, these guys were never a band in the traditional sense, yet to describe ELO as Jeff's vehicle for him to reshape how he pleases is doing a disservice to many of the former members, who I consider responsible for contributing their fair share of musical ideas that helped guide the whole. Even when he was just following orders, we're often found unfairly comparing Jeff's drumming to the work of Bev, while Richard's multi-instrumental flourishes clearly did make a difference.

    So, that leaves us with Jeff, now well and truly living up to his last album's name as someone Alone In The Universe, yet certainly not a spent creative force. I still might be struggling to put his post-1986 output on the same level as that incredible original run, but that's my hang-up. Saying that, who honestly will rate the likes of Zoom or whatever comes next over such a brilliant creative streak in the end? More importantly, why should this matter? I'd just prefer that we had the choice to have both new and old music from Jeff, though I suspect this approach isn't high on his priority list. Thankfully, it's not as if the world is going to end tomorrow...
  4. Finally, someone managed to find the complete news report from 1981 that shows ELO's newly expanded line-up during initial rehearsals for the Time Tour at Jasper Carrott's folk club, The Boggery:

    ATV Today: 12.08.1981: Electric Light Orchestra

    Considering this now stands as the only surviving professionally shot footage of the period, we're looking at something of a goldmine. If not for any other reason, this material is invaluable to me because it means I can double check a few details about the equipment being used - especially the keyboards! For example, Richard is seen using an Oberheim OB-X (possibly the same model as used on Time) rather than the OB-Xa he'd upgrade to when practicing moved from Solihull to a soundstage in Los Angeles, plus I can now tell who did exactly what during the very start to From The End Of The World in its live arrangement. Anyway, it's so great to see most of the band in such a jovial mood on camera, particularly when you think about what happened over the following months. Also, the concept of Jeff wanting to play live in order to dismiss the idea that ELO could be wrongly seen as a faceless group is quite interesting...

    P.S. Kelly's absence may be a result of him being in Los Angeles or New York, based on notes I have suggesting that he spent at least some of August '81 in the US supervising the mixing of his first solo album at two specific locations, including CBS Studios, where Vlado Meller earned his mastering credit on the resulting project.
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2018
    TrekkiELO, Paul R, lawrev and 7 others like this.
  5. Pelo

    Pelo Forum Resident

    May I remind you of my two-volume book on Jeff Lynne, "Eldorado" (2014/2016), which is supposed to be a career-spanning (musical) biography, discussing every single album and tour in detail? The problem for you might be that it is written in German.

    The print edition of the first volume has just been released to critical acclaim in Germany. Great reviews in German music mags "Good Times" and "eclipsed" (they call it a "brilliant bio", although I have to say that the main focus is on the music)

    My basic idea was to apply the concept of the ELO-album "Eldorado" to a written piece of work. For example, every chapter is about another musical dreamworld of Jeff's, because in my opinion this is what Jeff's music is about. The songs usually transport you to strange places, to different worlds or a different time. Similar to the recurring musical themes of the album, there are some essays (Eldorado Themes) interspersed between the chapters, and the chapter on "Secret Messages" even includes a secret message!Additionally I've tried to give the chapters a certain feel that reminds you of the flow of the album (e.g. transitions, rhythm). Like in the album the Eldorado Finale sees our hero "high on a hill", but in contrast to the album it's the musicians' olympus, and my point is that Jeff Lynne (his music) will actually never die.

    If you are in command of German you might want to order the book (hardcover) on the German amazon site at www.amazon.de:

  6. Comet01

    Comet01 Forum Resident

    Chazzbo13 likes this.
  7. Kuiama

    Kuiama Well-Known Member

    Bonn, Germany
    I am very pleased that this book is finally available in printed form. However, it is not cheap (even if not as expensive as the one announced by Jeff). :p

    Since I couldn't find any information about it: How many pages? Are illustrations included?
  8. Pelo

    Pelo Forum Resident

    It's nearly 300 pages, some pictures and illustrations, hardcover. There is a wealth of information and a very detailed reference list. No, it's not cheap :-; but it's reasonably prized considering that it took me about 10 years of hard work and as a self-publisher, I have to bear all the costs. (So far, I've only lost money!)
  9. Pelo

    Pelo Forum Resident

    Here is the latest review, taken from eclipsed:

    eclipsed April 2018, Seite 110.


    Another great review appeared in Good Times.
    RangerXT and vallilalainen like this.
  10. themisto

    themisto Forum Resident

    Los Angeles, CA
    So interesting to see Lynne on camera in the 80s - much like the 1986 interview with Dick Clark, he comes across as sharp, unpretentious, although not as snappy. On a side note: it's somewhat unsurprising that the punks hated bands such as ELO - one glance at Louis Clark in the footage and it's as if 1971 never ended!
    lawrev and RangerXT like this.
  11. That's awful to hear, and worrying for my own project...
    TrekkiELO, lawrev and RangerXT like this.
  12. lawrev

    lawrev Forum Resident

    I find this video to be fascinating also, not just for how good of a mood everyone was in, but also Jeff saying that this is a real group and not just a studio group. I was hoping that it ran longer, and have Bev in it too, though at one point you can see him behind his drum kit. A great find, regardless!
    RangerXT likes this.
  13. In some ways, delaying my book is quite frustrating, but then something of interest surfaces that makes it all worthwhile. Here's a perfect example:


    Until this picture, I'd wrongly assumed that Jeff became obsessed with using just the AMS RMX16 during the Secret Messages sessions, since this was the only component previously specified by name - it turns out he was actually enamoured with an entire AMS rack! (As a side note, I'm curious to find out where and when this shot was taken, if that's at all possible...)

    P.S. Another very recent development is that I'm currently waiting to hear back from a potentially fascinating new inside source who I suspect could help fill in blanks regarding a certain ELO album within the period my project will cover that we don't yet know too much about. Even at this early stage, an intermediary has provided me with a truly incredible piece of information, though I'll hopefully be able to elaborate on this soon.
  14. lawrev

    lawrev Forum Resident

    This thread never ceases to amaze me, ShardEnder! Great photo and thanks for sharing. Can't wait to hear more.
    Lonecat and RangerXT like this.
  15. Michaelpeth

    Michaelpeth Forum Resident

    Durham, UK
  16. grimble

    grimble Forum Resident

    London, UK
    RangerXT likes this.
  17. Rickhawk22

    Rickhawk22 Well-Known Member

    Mason City, IA
    RangerXT likes this.
  18. Chazzbo13

    Chazzbo13 Forum Resident

    Johnstown, PA
    Yeah...I can't help but think there's nothing important here...I simply can't picture a boutique product of this status (for the die-hard fan, anyway) flying so far under the radar...
    RangerXT likes this.
  19. Dave1965

    Dave1965 Well-Known Member

    RangerXT and Michaelpeth like this.
  20. Here's another link:

    Виниловая пластинка Electric Light Orchestra - "Secret Messages". Винил с доставкой по Киеву и Украине.

    This tracklisting is clearly a placeholder, as there's no way to separate the 10 songs of the original single LP across two discs without separating many that were previously connected (the link between Stranger and Danger Ahead is a subtle example). Also, why would you need a second disc for the three bonus tracks included on the 2001 remaster unless this ends up being an EP including just one of the further outtakes from either Afterglow or Flashback?

    In addition to keeping a close eye on whether Jeff's book offers any unlikely revelations, could this be the other reason why I chose to delay my own work until the summer? At this point, all I can say for certain is that I was promised something of interest to classic ELO fans to accompany Jeff's upcoming new album and tour. Whether it's quite the happy ending I'd been hoping for remains to be seen...

    P.S. I'm also pleased to see the singles boxes that were originally scheduled for last year being dusted off - archival enthusiasts have a good year ahead!
    TrekkiELO, Dave1965, longaway and 4 others like this.
  21. Gordon Lynne

    Gordon Lynne Well-Known Member

    United Kingdom
    Following ShardEnder's logic, I cannot see how this product would be a simple reissue—indeed, why the need for a second disc? Moreover, with the LP due to ship on June 29th (at least, from Ukrainian, Czech, and German sites), my feeling is this could indicate a European-wide release date. Perhaps a UK release could fall a few days earlier on June 24th which would coincide quite nicely with the 35th anniversary of the album's UK launch in 1983. Now, wouldn't that be nice?!
    TrekkiELO, longaway, lawrev and 2 others like this.
  22. While it's not exactly the most obvious of milestones I would have thought to celebrate, reissuing Secret Messages in its original 2LP form to mark the single album's 35th anniversary is perhaps the last real opportunity to finally beat the bootleggers and at least appease the hardcore few who've been hoping for such a release going back years. In all honesty, I once didn't believe there was much demand to see one of ELO's later period albums expanded in such a way, but over time I'd see comments in the most unlikely places from even casual fans asking for this to happen. Apparently the awareness and need for this material (or Beatles Forever specifically, as all the other songs are officially available, some in slightly different mixes) has been growing at a rate I'd consider proportional to Jeff's profile over the last decade or so, and with all the talk of a private group threatening to do something with the acetates at their disposal, the only real barrier to a fully approved alternative remained Jeff's resistance to a certain track once intended for this project.

    By technically giving us what we'd always dreamed of in a format that ensures its most controversial aspect retains a degree of scarcity, Jeff is seen to be catering to a small yet dedicated portion of his fanbase without throwing unwanted additional light on something he'd prefer to keep locked in the vault. Also, keeping in line with his general policy on letting out anything that isn't polished to the usual standard, approving a "vanilla" edition means he doesn't have to deal with approving further documented material such as the alternate single mixes or edits, not to mention the Garden Rehearsals that I've discussed in the past. While it would have been great to see even highlights of those recorded practices and Jeff's home demos included on a bonus disc with a CD edition, there's always the possibility a handful of more interesting curios, including one or two of the so-called Trojan Tapes Sessions, will find their way onto a new retrospective, especially since the previous Flashback will soon be turning 18!

    Saying that, we still don't know much about the plans and whether they include a CD variation featuring additional material. At a push, my guess is that the 2LP set will contain the correct mixes and artwork, but no expanded liner notes or drawing attention to a period in ELO's history when things really were getting to the point of no return, to borrow a line Jeff would use on what became their final album together, also released as the group's last pre-split single. Speaking of singles, it would have been great if the booklet for a new Secret Messages could reveal at long last the early sleeve design for Rock 'N' Roll Is King, which only reached the public through a slightly modified print advertisement. For those unaware, the initial jacket saw a continuation of the '50s theme shared by not only the song itself, but its promotional video. However, it's believed that 2 Tone Records objected to the heavy use of a checkerboard pattern it regarded as something of an in-house trademark, which may have contributed to the single's lengthy delay. Of course, it probably didn't help that the song's parent album was also held back two months while its contents were extensively reworked, and it should be noted that the clip for this track was actually filmed in late 1982 before the LP, provisionally entitled Unexpected Moments, was rescheduled from December '82 to March '83, then April and eventually June.

    I'd love to see Rob Caiger's dream of an exhaustive box celebrating the complete Secret Messages become a reality, though I'll happily settle for a less elaborate package. As I've already mentioned, it's not as if there aren't other ways to get the more interesting additional material out if the powers that be want this further down the line, and the demand for such rarities was hardly comparable of that for the 2LP running order, even if fans can technically reassemble this already to a level of accuracy. I'm just hoping now that we get something as authentic as possible, and that Jeff understands how much this is appreciated. Not all of his fans will be able to attend the upcoming live dates, plus I'm sure many won't have interest in the new album or singles boxes to be rolled out over several months. To end this optimistic post on a forward-thinking note, I've updated my ELO holy grail list to reflect the very real likeliness that Beatles Forever will soon be officially available, leaving those two mystery tracks from the initial 2LP acetates for Time as the next rarities I'm hoping will also receive a similar treatment some day...
    Octowen, TrekkiELO, lawrev and 5 others like this.
  23. drowningdeep

    drowningdeep Dude

    North Carolina
    Congrats. Job.... done?
  24. I genuinely don't expect a letter of thanks from anyone for helping build up awareness of Secret Messages in its original 2LP form as something a greater number of ELO fans are clearly interested to hear - the fact remains that despite its primary creator wanting to bury this period of his work under the proverbial carpet for years, the material itself never slipped below a certain standard, and while Beatles Forever is hardly a career highlight, Jeff clearly saw its potential, since there are at least two further tracks based on elements from what became perhaps his most well-known outtake. To paraphrase a key point of my rejected proposal to Bloomsbury (which seems like a lifetime ago), I genuinely consider the full Secret Messages a 1980s equivalent of such familiar "lost" albums as SMiLE by The Beach Boys, The Who's Lifehouse and Weezer's Songs From The Black Hole. All of these can be recreated to a degree of accuracy, yet I always felt that ELO's contribution to music mythology was the least documented, and I regarded it something of a personal mission to draw as much attention as possible to what could be in the hope of such a thing one day receiving an official treatment. Now that looks to finally be happening, I guess it is a case of job done. Of course, I would have preferred an expanded set, though I can also understand why Jeff might not want to take such an approach...
    Octowen, TrekkiELO, lawrev and 5 others like this.
  25. Michaelpeth

    Michaelpeth Forum Resident

    Durham, UK
    You do realise that release in June will be 'The songs of Secret Messages" rerecorded by Jeff Lynne's ELO
    mikew, lawrev, RangerXT and 2 others like this.

Share This Page