May 11, 2009

Mod-A-Day: The New Hearts/Secret Affair

Somewhere along about 1982 or '83 I stumbled across this compilation album with a scooter on the cover called Mods Mayday '79. I was just learning what this new --to me at least-- sound was, this thing called mod.

The band was stocked with groups I'd never heard of before. The internet essentially was still more than a decade off, and music sharing services like Napster even further away still. There was no googling a band's name and finding out every fact about them and listening to every song they'd ever recorded. For a teenager in Upland, California, learning about the sounds from London was a tedious task that required frequenting the few alternative/independent records stores around the southland. And even then you mostly found singles and records from local acts, or for imports it was The Clash, The Police, the Sex Pistols, or on an especially lucky day The Buzzcocks or The Undertones.

So I headed home to discover these wonderful bands with punk like attitudes, and lots of sixties soul. That's how I discovered Secret Affair and I looked long and hard for anything by the band, eventually picking up the few releases that managed to make their way across the pond to the States.

The song here, "Just Another Teenage Anthem" actually pre-dates Secret Affair -- though they rerecorded it later and it has since become identified with them. In 1977 Ian Paige and Dave Cairns formed The New Hearts and recorded "Just Another Teenage Anthem" as their first single. The New Hearts ran into label problems and eventually were dropped, and Paige and Cairns immediately reformed as Secret Affair.

Secret Affair's sound was crisp, claen and sharp, like their dress. It was updated version of sixties power pop that also incorporated some of the elements of British punk rock. It eschewed the psychadelic leanings of some of the mod stalwarts of the sixties, but completely embraced their love of soul and R&B. And the songs were anthemic -- "Time For Action", "Glory Boys", "Days of Change" -- making the whole mod scene that much more cool and arrogant. And, the band embraced that image fully, becoming the leaders of the mod revival in a way that a tremendously successful band like The Jam, or less talented second tier mod scene acts never could.

Secret Affair -- Just Another Teenage Anthem