Documenting Real Hidden Messages In Music

During the 1980s, a moral panic swept across the landscape with the mistaken belief that there were Satanic messages hidden in various games, books, and music that at any moment would corrupt the youth of the era and destroy society as we knew it. While completely unfounded, it turns out that there actually were some hidden messages in vinyl records of the time although they’d corrupt children in a different way, largely by getting them interested in computer science. [Dandu] has taken to collecting these historic artifacts, preserving the music and the software on various hidden recordings.

While it was possible to record only programs or other data to vinyl, much in the same way that cassette tapes can be used as a storage medium, [Dandu]’s research focuses mostly on records, tapes, and CDs which had data included alongside music. This includes not only messages or images, but often entire computer programs. In some cases these programs were meant to be used with the accompanying music, as was the case for The Other Side Of Heaven by Kissing The Pink with a program for the BBC Micro. Plenty of other contemporary machines are represented here too including the ZX Spectrum, Atari, Apple II, and the Commodore 64. The documentation extends through the CD era and even into modern music platforms like Spotify and Apple Music.

The process of extraction and recovery is detailed for each discovery, making it a comprehensive resource for retro computing enthusiasts stretching from the 80s to now. There are likely a few hidden pieces of data out there hidden in various antique storage media that [Dandu] hasn’t found yet, either. You could even make your own records with hidden programs provided you have some musical and programming talents, and a laser engraver for the record itself.

22 thoughts on “Documenting Real Hidden Messages In Music

    1. I was going to post a mini-rant about “did no one remember that time Sony put a data track on audio CDs that was not only an Autoplay on windows machines with default settings, with a root kit and a player to play DRM laced files instead of the normal CD tracks?

      IIRC, there were lawsuits, Sony lost a LOT of trust and had a nightmare of a time glossing over that.

      Oh wait, I guess I just did post a mini rant. Carry on!

  1. I turned around the motor on a turntable and then the needle started in the center instead. The white album was fun, The Game, Stairway to Heaven, I didn’t have any ELO though I heard they did it too. I searched through “Secret Treaties” but couldn’t find anything.

  2. hard to blame bands like judas priest and motorhead, when at the same time there were bands like venom and merciful fate being overtly satanic. bands which i still listen to mind you. now you got bands like behemoth and all bets are off.

    you should feature the reign in blood hack where by the album had a slip track at the end so the storm from the end of raining blood plays indefinitely.

      1. Play “Another One Bites The Dust” backwards. It says “start to smoke marijuana” very clearly. When I was a kid I recorded the song off the radio, and then broke the cassette open to flip the tape reels(?) inside out so it would play backwards. It’s there. Not sure I believe it had any impact (although marijuana is becoming legal all over…)

  3. The band Klaatu did a lot of work with backwards masking. Playing some of their music backwards is really interesting. Nothing stupid or Satanic that is going to bring down society, but a really interesting application of the technique. A really good example is “Silly Boys” from the album Sir Army Suit. Playing it backwards gives you audio from their song “Little Neutrino” from their first album. It’s very well done, and it gives you a hint to play it backwards as the lyrics in “Silly Boys” are all backwards, but the music is not.

    It’s a fascinating concept and very well implemented in some cases, but I have never believed that a reference to the devil backwards on an album could give you some sort of message when played normally. It’s just one of those things that is pretty cool if you can do it well, never mind the politics.

  4. One I remember:

    Electric Light Orchestra 1975 Fire on High but also on 1978 Sweet Talkin’ Woman, I can’t quite recall.
    “The music is reversible, but time is not. Turn back! Turn back! Turn back! Turn back!” Ostensibly, this was Jeff Lynne’s shot at backmasking hysteria, after satanic allegations were made against their song “Eldorado” by fundamentalist Christianity members.[5] From

    In the 80’s major uproar over satanic lyrics, subliminal messages, sex, rock t-shirts etc and then Ozzy bit the head off that bat on stage.
    1985 Senate Hearing over it all, Twisted Sister’s Dee Snider testified in front of Al Gore and crew, and went after his wife lol.

    Strange, today rap music has violence, theft, rape, killing as the norm and does far more harm than any of the old stuff.

    1. So, when you saw people of a previous generation being drawn into an unfounded moral panic over music they hadn’t listened to, what was your takeway from that again?

      1. What are you asking – I was the “previous generation”; the crazy fear was subliminal (advertising) and satanic messages in the music corrupting youths. I was corrupted and sacrifice electronic parts daily. My wasted youth. But modern rap advocating gangsta behaviour- seems worse.

  5. The song “Echo Side” by the Insane Clown Posse, when a certain part is played backwards, contains an anti-satanic and surprisingly wholesome message if you consider the source.

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