Sunday, 12 February 2017

We Shout Raving Notes: ELO's Picture Disc Mystery Solved!

#1,236: Hello ... Hello ... my old friends ... It's great to see you once again! Early September 1983 saw "Secret Messages" b/w "Buildings Have Eyes" (Jet/CBS A3720) released as the second single from ELO's album of the same name. Lead single "Rock 'n' Roll Is King" b/w "After All" (A3500) had peaked at #13 with the "Secret Messages" album (JETLX527) attaining a respectable #4 earlier in the summer, being kept from being ELO's third #1 album by the formidable trio of "Synchronicity" (The Police), "Thriller" (Michael Jackson) and "Let's Dance" (David Bowie).
Whereas "Rock 'n' Roll Is King" was also released as a limited edition 12" single (TA3500) with "Time After Time" a bonus track alongside "After All" - which was only to be found on the cassette edition of "Secret Messages" (JETCX527) at the time - the release of the "Secret Messages" single (described as a 'special version') also led to the issue of ELO's first and only UK 7" picture disc (WA3720) as part of the Jet/CBS promotion effort. Fans and collectors who bought the picture disc were given the opportunity to enter a competition to win a "personal gold LP disc" and several other items thus:

The competition poser was that there were four clues on the picture disc that would identify a line from a certain ELO song. The answer to the aforementioned question managed to stump Yours Truly KJS for many years and, I'm sure, many ELO fans and collectors too! elobeatlesforever (elobf) is therefore pleased to finally reveal the answer to this long running ELO riddle.

The four (valid) clues were the backwards/mirrored text: "GO TO JETLX 527" and the depiction of four diamonds on side A, as well as the backwards/mirrored text: "WE SHOUT RAVING NOTES" and the picture of a jester on side B (in the same location as the diamonds on side A).
"Secret Messages" was only kept from being #1 by The Police, Michael Jackson and David Bowie ...
"GO TO JETLX 527" refers to the UK catalogue number for the "Secret Messages" album. The four diamonds (obviously) refer to the track "Four Little Diamonds". Now here's the clever bit: If you rearrange the letters that make up "WE SHOUT RAVING NOTES" with the word "JESTER", you (eventually) come up with a chorus line from "Four Little Diamonds" which is: "There's just no answer to give" -  and that's the answer!
The winning line includes the words "No Answer" - the US title for ELO's debut long player - perhaps a coincidence or just another secret message? Red herrings such as the omission of the letters ELO on side B and my mistaking the jester image for a joker led this writer off on a wild goose chase on a number of occasions!

Sadly, the "Secret Messages" single eventually stalled at #48 in the UK Singles Chart joining "The Way Life's Meant To Be" b/w "Wishing" (JET7021) - the fourth single taken from 1981's "Time" LP - in failing to reach the Top 40 and thus heralding the "Twilight" of ELO's stellar British singles chart career.

Until next "Time" in the ELO (and related) Universe ... KJS ... 12-Feb-2017


  1. Replies
    1. Mystery Solved. The winner put it on ebay, I won the auction and it can be seen at

    2. Malcolm ... I'd love to put out an article on the Secret Messages gold disc prize but only with your kind permission to use your photograph. If not, no problem - if so, I'd be very thankful ... Keith (KJS@elobf)