SECRET AFFAIR – “Glory Boys” (I-Spy Records 1) November 1979

Secret Affair “Glory Boys” – Do yourself a favour. No matter how trivial this year’s revival might seem, don’t let it cloud judgement of a fine modern pop album.

In other words, forget the absurd Mod vs The World Berate (not debate) and face the music. Of course there are likely distractions. Like the sleeve. Even the lettering is ludicrously sixties-style, though I doubt if 15 years ago anyone would have dared substitute ‘o’s for Mandies. But then that’s Secret Affair’s Ian Page to a T, picking established sounds, attitudes, etc. stamping them with his own individuality and just about getting away with it.

A case in point is the line column of trash poetry which appears alongside the ‘Ready Steady Go’ photo of the group. The street poem gives us a certain amount of insight into the whole Glory Boys lark.

The fact of the matter is, the singer and the mouthpiece for the band was determined to court kids-like-you-and-me following from the start. That the kids wound up as mods was purely incidental.

Regarding the songs themselves, most significantly the important cuts are not necessarily the best or most memorable. And since the likes of ‘Glory Boys’, ‘Time For Action’ and ‘New Dance’ are intended as rallying cries, surely this would have been the object of the exercise.

No matter. As individual tunes they work out fine: mobile, uncluttered and presumably most essentially good to dance to. The lyrics aren’t bad either – sharp, concise, unpretentious and an all-round reflection of Page’s personality and present pre-occupations.

Musically, there’s muscle to spare, if nothing very original. Seb Shelton’s drums resound high into the mix, counterpointing the razor licks and brief power-chords of guitarist Dave Cairns.

As for Page, apart from lead vocals he also tries his hand at keyboards and trumpet, but brings in a sax player for funky bits like the extended section on ‘I’m Not Free (But I’m Cheap)’.

Listen carefully and you’ll be shot at from all sides by echoes of the sixties. an exception is the superb soul-buster, ‘Shake & Shout’, where for once the pose is left in the wardrobe and Ian sounds as if he is genuinely enjoying himself. In comparison, ‘Let Your Heart Dance’ sounds well contrived, but then right now it’s singer must be the least relaxed kid in town.

He’s worked himself into the unenviable position of spokesman for a movement. ‘I’m Not Free’ etc is an indication of the paranoia this type of situation can bring, though he does seem fairly well in control. “I shout smart-assed one liners to critics all day, cos I’m a superstar with nothing to say.”

An unusual piece of self-description, particularly on a debut, but then Secret Affair are going places fast. (Record Mirror, 24/11/79)

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