Secret Service

Secret Service somehow failed to chart in Britain which is amazing considering just how good they were.They were a Swedish group performing poppy synth rock (or words to that effect) and were big all over the European mainland and in Japan in the early and mid 80s. Their back catalogue is out of print but they have a compilation called TOP SECRET* (*GREATEST HITS) (2000) that is a must have (it also includes some new recordings of old material and a couple of new tracks). I got mine from Amazon Germany but Skivhugget will have it too. It seems to be available at a budget price now

Jonas Wårstad's discography will add some fine detail to the following…

The core members of Secret Service are Ola Håkansson (vocals), Ulf Wahlberg (keyboards) and Tim Norell (keyboards). For the albums OH SUSIE (1979), YES SI CA (1980), CUTTING CORNERS (1982), JUPITER SIGN (1984) and WHEN THE NIGHT CLOSES IN (1985) they were joined by Tonny Lindberg (guitar), Leif Johansson (drums) and Leif Paulsén (bass). Ulf was also credited with guitars on CUTTING CORNERS. Most of the material was written by Tim (Music) and Ola (Lyrics). Tim never featured in group photos or videos and I don't know if he appeared live, played offstage or wasn't around at all. Ola wrote as "Björn Håkanson" initially, later changing to simply "Oson".

Tim and Ola joined with Anders Hansson to form a production team that became known as the Megatrio, and Tim and Ola formed two thirds of the songwriting team Norell, Oson and Bard (Bard being Alexander Bard of the Army Of Lovers). Tim, Ola and Ulf augmented by Anders (keyboards) and Mats A Lindberg (bass) recorded AUX DEUX MAGOTS (1987) with the Norell, Oson and Bard team writing material (this team is also behind the new material on TOP SECRET). I have seen Anders credited with guitars and percussion too but the album only mentions keyboards and there were guest musicians for guitar and drums. I don't know what happened live (if they toured).

Top Secret - Amazon Germany

There was a compilation album called GREATEST HITS released in 1982. This includes "Dancing In Madness" and a version of "Cry Softly" from the same period with the remaining ten tracks being remixes (five of them are included on the Russian two in one CDs). I have seen the cover shown a couple of times, once being a Russian version which may or may not be original. Given the effort that went into the remixes the cover doesn't seem quite right so maybe there is another one, maybe something like that used for the Russian compilation CD of the same name.

There are other compilations called SPOTLIGHT (1988) which was a budget compilation probably only available in Sweden and THE VERY BEST OF SECRET SERVICE (1998) which incredibly wasn't available in Sweden at all. TOP SECRET was mentioned at the top of the page and it has now been joined by another compilation called EN POPKLASSIKER (2002) which you can get from Skivhugget.

Albums from 1985 onwards were released on CD and OH SUSIE was re-released on CD but as stated before all are out of print so if you do see any of them they are likely to originate in Russia.

Since you cannot buy the CDs otherwise it might be worth considering buying the six releases as the three "two in one" CDs on the Russian CDMaximum label as a stopgap (that is what I did). The quality is adequate though the packaging is a little eccentric. "Dancing In Madness" and five remixes from the 1982 GREATEST HITS album are spread across the three CDs as bonus tracks. Track seven on OH SUSIE / YES SI CA is supposed to be "Why Don't You Try To Phone" but for some reason is actually "Dancing In Madness" on the CD!

There are lots of compilation albums available from Russia with the track lists not varying too much and not being too different from the official compilations. The packaging can be particularly eccentric but quality is usually OK. You can get used to the order of the tracks on the official compilations so having something slightly different without having to program the CD player can make a welcome change. Anyway here are some of the titles you may come across on eBay or Gemm…

The cover of GREATEST HITS has clearly been borrowed from somewhere and I have seen a variation with the lettering in a different position and a different size which might even have been the original official one. There is also a another variant with the cover from WHEN THE NIGHT CLOSES IN with the title replaced which may have a different track listing. The CD claims to be on the official Sonet label though this seems improbable. THE LEGENDS OF XXTH CENTURY has rather odd packaging which seems to be reused from something unrelated and on the back the album is called AT WORK. There seems to be a "picture disc" version of this now with the band name written "Secret Servise" on it. STAR PROFILE rather unfortunately uses cover art related to the Secret Service Band. You may also come across DISCO COLLECTION: MUSIC OF DANCE AND SUNSHINE, DANCE HITS & REMIXES, GOLD BALLADS, GREATEST MUSIC GALLERY and DIAMOND COLLECTION. There are probably quite a few others too.

I also came across a Brazilian compilation called RETROSPECTIVE which I suspect is less than official too.

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