Secret Messages
Strangely enough, one of the things that sparked my interest in ELO was their use of backward masking. Backward masking is the process of recording music or vocals, then playing them backward in a song. The effect is eerie - often evil sounding. This got religious fundamentalists all shaken up during the 1970s. They were sure the backward messages were Satanic and influenced the listeners. Here's some of the messages...I'll let you decide how dangerous they are.

No Answer
Mr. Radio
ELO's first backwards message appears in the middle of this song. When played backward you can hear the words

Hello Mr. Radio.
The song also begins with a recording of classical music played by a full orchestra--but the recording itself is running backwards.

Face the Music
Fire On High
At the beginning of the song is a frightening voice--but you can't understand it. That's because it's a recording being run backward. If you can run the music backward, you'll understand that the voice is saying:
The music is reversible...but time is not Turn Back! Turn Back! Turn Back! Turn

Special thanks to Keith for pointing out the very faint words "is not" in this message. You'll have to listen carefully to hear it over the swell of music that hits as the words are said.

I once heard an interview with Jeff Lynne where he was asked why we were being told to "Turn Back". He said because if you could understand the message, it meant you were playing the record backward...and if you didn't TURN BACK, the needle would pop off the record.

Down Home Town
You'll hear this bit at the beginning of the song. This message is tricky to understand both forward and backward. It sounds like:
"Pass (or maybe 'face') the mighty (or maybe 'parting') waterfall.

These same lyrics are sung as background lyrics in the song Waterfall...going forward.

Album Packaging
The back cover of the album has all of the band members faces pressed against a glass wall. They are supposed to be watching someone being electrocuted. Richard Tandy (who disapproved of the whole idea for the picture) is the only band member who is not watching (he is looking to the side).

Out of the Blue

It's Over
The intro to instrumental piece is actually a portion of the string section from Mr. Blue Sky played backwards.

Mr. Blue Sky
This message isn't backward--it's just run through a vocoder, making it hard to understand. The best interpretation I've heard of it is that the voice says

Please Turn Me Over
which is appropriate, since this is the last song on this side of the vinyl album!

At the end of the song is the backmasked version of
I wish my wife was not away....

At the end of this song is this backward masked clip. You'll hear the sound of footseps in the distance and the words:
"Though you ride on the wheels of tomorrow, you'll still wander the fields of your sorrow".
(These lyrics are sung "forward" in the song Twenty First Century Man on the same album.)

Secret Messages.
You hear at the beginning these words:
"(backward stuff)...Come Again...(backward stuff)...Come Again..."
At the end of the album, you hear the same words played backward and discover they are saying:
"Welcome to the show...(backward stuff-which is "Come Again")...Welcome to the Show...

Rock'n Roll is King
A quiet reversed messages says
"Thank you for listening"

Danger Ahead
One chorus runs these words backward.
"Look out there's danger ahead"

Time After Time
Not all releases of Secret Messages contain this song, but it is filled with little backward and sped up messages, including:
"Hup two three four"

"Time After Time"

In the intro a high-pitched voice says
your playing me backwards
when played backwards.

Album Packaging
On the back cover are old advertisements that contain the words "T.D. Ryan", "F.Y.J. Ennel", "G.U. Ruttock" and "V. Nabbe". If you rearrange the letters of these words, they spell "R. Tandy", "Jeff Lynne", "K. Groucutt", and "B. Bevan".
Also, the liner notes have a picture of a cupid holding an ELO symbol. Shooting out from the symbol are a stream of dots and dashes that spell "ELO" in Morse code. The instrumental lead in to the song "Secret Messages" also has a keyboard tapping out "ELO" in Morse code.

Other "Messages"
Jeff Lynne is an avid football (soccer) player and fan. His favorite team is the Birmingham City Football club - nicknamed "The Blues." As a tribute, he has written many songs with the word blue in them. Here are a few: "BlueBird is Dead," "Mr. Blue Sky," "Birmingham Blues," "Midnight Blue," "Bluebird," and "Out of the Blue."

Thanks to the dozens of people who wrote to correct me that "The Blues" is only the team's nickname!