gangster chic

Secret Affair

Secret Affair was a mod revival band, formed in 1978 and disbanding in 1982, reforming to perform and record in the 2000s.


In a period of a little over two years, they posted five releases in the UK Singles Chart, and released three albums. The debut single "Time For Action" sold 198,000 copies and reached number 13 in the UK chart, putting them at the forefront of the mod revival movement. More chart success followed with "Let Your Heart Dance", "My World" and "Sound Of Confusion".

Formed after the demise of the CBS Records signed power pop band New Hearts, singer Ian Page and guitarist Dave Cairns spent the second half of 1978 writing songs that would form the basis of the first two Secret Affair albums. They also drew up plans for a smart-dressing youth movement - the Glory Boys – based around the idea of 1960s gangster chic, influenced by the movie, Performance.

After spending January 1979 demoing songs, Page and Cairns enlisted the services of bassist Dennis Smith from the power pop band Advertising and Young Bucks drummer Seb Shelton. Saxophone player Dave Winthrop would join later in the year.

From their very first gig, opening for The Jam at Reading University in February 1979, the band were adopted by a group of East End mods, who readily embraced Page’s Glory Boy concept. This group of fans began referring to themselves as Glory Boys, often tattooing the name on their arms or inner lips as a badge of allegiance. Secret Affair had become so closely linked to the emerging mod revival that in March 1979 Cairns wrote what would become the youth movement's main anthem, "Time For Action". Just a few months later, Secret Affair had signed to Arista Records and "Time For Action" was in the chart. It was soon followed into the charts by "Let Your Heart Dance", "My World" and "Sound Of Confusion". Their first two albums, Glory Boys (December 1979) and Behind Closed Doors (September 1980), with its more complex orchestrated arrangements, proved successful and in their first year Secret Affair regularly appeared on the BBC Television show Top Of The Pops, and were cover stars of many UK music magazines, including New Musical Express, Sounds and Smash Hits. The music videos for several of their songs were directed by Steve Barron.

Likened to Jimmy Pursey, Page was asked to appear on UK television programmes and was viewed as an articulate spokesman for his generation, although his opinionated views alienated as many potential fans as they won over.

The mod movement that had swept Secret Affair into the pop charts had all but evaporated by mid 1980, losing out to the rival 2 Tone fashion movement, and after the release of the band's second album, drummer Shelton quit to join the "Come On Eileen" era Dexys Midnight Runners. Secret Affair regrouped, recruiting ex-Advertising drummer Paul Bultitude and embarking on a lengthy tour of the United States, before returning in late 1981 with their final chart hit, "Do You Know".

One more single followed, "Lost In The Night", before the release of Business As Usual, an album that saw the band return to the rock-soul fusion of their earlier work. Although a spirited album, it was a commercial failure and Secret Affair split-up midway through 1982.

Cairns went on to form a band called Flag, with Archie Brown from The Bureau and signed a recording contract in the U.S. He subsequently teamed up with Scottish singer Alan King in Walk on Fire, writing the majority of the band's material and playing keyboards on their tours. Signing to MCA in the U.S., they released the album Blind Faith in 1990 and toured supporting Foreigner, Nils Lofgren and the Dan Reed Network before Cairns joined Gibson Guitars USA as Special Projects Manager. Page released two solo singles before leaving the music industry.


In June 2002, Page, Cairns, Smith, Bultitude and Winthrop reformed for three gigs, including a performance at London's Shepherds Bush Empire. They returned in June the following year, playing at The Scala in Islington to promote the release of Time For Action: The Anthology (Sanctuary), a major CD retrospective of hits, rarities and previously unreleased tracks. The concert was filmed and released on DVD.

In 2006 Page and Cairns attempted to mend their sometimes fractious relationship and started work on a fourth Secret Affair album, recording five new songs. The album remains unfinished as of July 2008; however Page and Cairns are performing as Secret Affair at The Isle of Wight Scooter Rally, on 22 August, and at The London Astoria 2, on 13 September & The Small Faces Convention, Islington Academy, Sept 21st 2008,followed by appearances as Special Guests to From The Jam, Birmingham Academy, Dec 20th & Hammersmith Apollo, Dec 22nd, 2008.

Band members


UK Singles Chart

  • "Time For Action" - 1979 - Number 13
  • "Let Your Heart Dance" - 1979 - Number 32
  • "My World" - 1980 - Number 16
  • "Sound Of Confusion" - 1980 - Number 45
  • "Do You Know" - 1981 - Number 57

UK Albums Chart

  • Glory Boys - 1979 - Number 41
  • Behind Closed Doors - 1980 - Number 48
  • Business As Usual - 1982 - Number 84

See also


  • Sleevenotes to the CD reissues of Glory Boys, Behind Closed Door and Business As Usual, by Chris Hunt

External links

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