Ian Canty caused a ripple of controversy when he reviewed Mod Revival Originals (now there’s a contradiction) The Lambrettas gig at the Joiners a while back. A great write up, full of glowing praise making it clear what a great gig it was. The moaning was caused by him omitting to even mention The Butterfly Collective – one of the three support acts…. At the time he was not even aware of Mintsouths policy of ‘Not covering Tribute Bands’. (Something we have since relaxed on). From the start we are about New Music and basically there are only two things you can say about tributes – they’re good – accurate, spot-on or not-so-hot, so whats the point. We have nothing against bands who choose to make good money on the tribute circuit –and their fans who enjoy the ‘favourites’ – we just choose not to cover them. Ian has an extensive knowledge and passion for the Mod era(s) and if he thought the Butterfly Collective were not worthy of mention then we trust his judgement. Pat from the Joiners and others will tell you the Collective are a great night out. Different strokes. Anyway – here’s Mr Cantys preview of Secret Affair, who are supported by… you guessed it….
If you are wondering how they arrived at hating “the punk elite” when a couple of summers before both the mainmen of Secret Affair were in Punk Pop act the New Hearts, well the answer is in the question…..
The New Hearts formed in early 1977 and quickly picked up a following and were signed to CBS, home to the Clash. And thats were the trouble started. The punk rumour mill was working overtime had the Hearts playing Johnny Big Time after their signing, even if there was no truth in it, the image that they were coasting around in TR7s while singing about “Blood On The Knife” stuck and bad press blighted them. The Hearts were actually no mean talents themselves as the Cherry Red collection A Secret Affair clearly shows, but after Tony Parsons reviewing their first single “Just Another Teeange Anthem” bafflingly branded them as sounding like The Rubettes it was open season on the New Hearts and I think we’re starting to see why Page (calling himself Ian Pain at the time in the punk venacular) and Cairns started to hate the punk elite and its the jounros we’re talking about.
After the Hearts splintered Page set about putting together a new project, a “new wave band with soul”. He came up with the Glory Boy concept, which was more of a spiv character than a Mod, something like Joe Jackson’s early image in a way. But on a trip to a Barking pub in late 78 he found that the Mods were already there, stylists like Grant Fleming having cottoned on to the cult at the back end of punk wanting something better and sharper looking than leather and chains with a side order of vomit.
Secret Affair arrived quickly and we completely taken to heart by the Mods – their performance at the “Mod Mayday” gig confirmed their status as leaders of the pack and they quickly on their own I-Spy imprint through Arista had two good sized hits and the classic “Glory Boys” LP which was an impressive achievement whichever way you look at it – defining Mod but bringing it up to date, a sound that was nothing like the Who or the Small Faces but was exactly right for what they were trying to achieve (in fact very few of the Mod Revival bands sounded like the Who or the Faces – the Small Hours were a bit like Marriott’s marvels, but that is about it).
Keeping “My World” back from the first records meant they kept their momentum running through 1980 and caping the year with the grandiose “Sound Of Confusion” LP and ambitious record that did occasionally over-reach itself but still on the whole a damn fine listen. Things were grinding to a halt though and by the time of their third and final LP “Business As Usual” in 1982 Mod was just a distant memory and though the band still had a great deal to offer it seemed no-one at the time was listening.
Fast forward to a couple of years back and I saw the re-convened Secret Affair on the very apt setting of the Concorde on Brighton seafront and they were marvellous. A full horn section really bought out the sound and the fire in the playing from Dave Cairns in particular was plain to see. And as for Ian Page, well he’s still pretty cool customer, in good voice and leading from the front. See them at The Brook on Friday 21st September and see what you missed out on because of the NME!