Secret Affair

Business as Usual

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Secret Affair's previous album, Behind Closed Doors, was just a bit too far ahead of its time; Business As Usual, in contrast, was a sad case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, in the wrong clothes. After Doors' disappointing sales, the band decided to rejig their sound once again and return to a somewhat closer approximation of their earlier mod vision. But this album wasn't Glory Boys revisted, but a retooling of their rock sound into a more dance-friendly concoction. Original drummer Seb Shelton quit for the greener grass of Dexys Midnight Runners before work on Business began. His replacement, Paul Bultitude, was bassist Dennis Smith's cousin, and, thus, was well acquainted with the songs and the members. Therefore, Shelton was barely missed, Bultitude easily powering the album's boisterous tracks. And what tracks they were. Business roils with an energy that never flags, the beats pummel listeners onto the dancefloor, and keep them their until the final note. The infectious songs were still filled with the depth of sound, coherent lyrical vision, and sharp production noted on Doors, but the meld of styles brings Affair back into touch with their old influences. An amazing amalgamation of past and present infuses the tracks, where Yardbirds riffs rub shoulders with Springsteen-esque horns, and '70s pop/rock easily blends with mid-'60s Beatlesque melodies. Business As Usual was anything but. Unfortunately, it was too late. If Doors and Business had been reversed, it might have turned out different. Perhaps Affair wouldn't have ended up alienating their British fans, and America, a year behind release-wise, would have been better primed to send Doors chart-wise. But it wasn't to be. In the U.K., this album was mostly ignored and seen by some as a step backwards, and while the U.S. was readying the white flag, the country would only surrender to men in makeup and extravagant outfits. Affair was still garbed in their smart mod suits, so what chance did they really have? The album remained a secret, and the affair was finished.

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