During the late 1970s and early 1980s, a hot and heavy Mod revival occurred in England. Instigated by the vision of the Jam, the scene may have been fertile, but the majority of participants proved to be pale imitations of their hip forefathers of the previous decade like the Who, the Action and the Small Faces. Because a great deal of the efforts lacked genuine quality, the movement often resembled more of a fashion show than a valuable musical statement.
Of course there were exceptions, with Secret Affair being one of the best of the parka-clad, scooter-riding brigade. The band’s debut album Glory Boys (Captain Mod Records) not only stands as a classy source of Mod mindfulness, but all told, it’s a fantastic rock and soul record as well. Ascending above the level of their inspirations, Secret Affair wrote and performed songs that were so good they appealed to even those with no interest in Mod culture.
Initially distributed by the Sire label in 1979, Glory Boys rips and roars to an ear-pleasing exercise of rushing riffs, snorting saxophones, blaring trumpet thrills, bulldozing drum beats and titanic harmonies. An instant winner, the record featured British hit singles such as “Time For Action,” a brazen blast of combative power popping godliness, and “Let Your Heart Dance,” which bounces and pounces with spongy rhythms.
Highlighted by a heated horn workout, “I’m Free (But I’m Cheap)” swivels and swaggers to stabbing soul-drenched doodlings, while “Don’t Look Down” and “Shake And Shout” pump and thump with cutting hooks and soccer styled call and response choruses. A couple of bonus tracks were attached to a 2001 CD reissue of Glory Boys, including the rump wiggling “Soho Strut” and “Sorry, Wrong Number,” a pulsating slice of catchy soul slanted pop rock. Embracing their Motown roots with a spring in their step and a smile on their lips, the band’s cover of Smokey Robinson and the Miracles’ “Going To A Go-Go” is recycled in a fresh and exciting manner.
Bursting back and forth with impassioned energy, Glory Boys displays Secret Affair’s numerous strengths over and over again. From the cool and cocky vocals to the brick solid instrumentation to the firm arrangements, the band was constantly seated on the same page. Secret Affair were, indeed, glory boys!
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