Following on from our review of the compilation "Ballerina - The Tribute To Shanghai", we have another compilation to review, put out by PBH Media, who are based in Sweden, this time we have, "Night City Tribute - The Songs Of Secret Service".
This is a massive 26 track compilation that plays homeage to Swedish band Secret Service, who released 8 albums between 1979 and 2012 and 34 singles and EP's during the same period, this tribute album was released in April 2018.
So without further a do let's take a look at what this compilation has to offer......
First up we have Matt Pop & Martin Blix, with an album mix of "Let Us Dance A Little Bit More, Matt Pop has made a name for himself as a remixer on the electronic music scene, and this track suits his style perfectly, pure pop! Think Erasure :)
Italoconnection provide a 12 Inch Radio Edit of the track "Night City", this is italo disco driven as you would expect from them, great sequenced bass-line with warm melodies over the top, something tells me, that after the first two tracks we are in for something special with this album.......
Track 3 is "Cry Softly (Time Is Mourning)" by Johan Baeckstrom, a music genuis, his work with Daily Planet and as a solo artist, is simply breathtaking, and my word he puts heart and soul into this track, a thing of pure beauty, if you like Yazoo, you will love this track. Next we have a band from the 80s that have been very active over the last decade or so, and have a loyal fan base in Sweden, despite being based in Canada. They have covered "Flash In The Night" and is all you would expect from this truly excellent band, melodies, analogue rhythms with some piano thrown in as well, I really like this track, it is quite a mellow track, but the chorus grabs you instantly, brilliant!
"Bring Heaven Down" by Glas, has a great atmospheric intro and the most amazing piano line and science fiction synth sounds, fantastic vocal and strong song construction, another excellent track. Jesper Jelse Ft RetroTeque are next with "Don't You Know, Don't You Know", again an italo disco track with a powerful anthemic chorus. This would instantly get people up on the dance floor, superb! "Oh Susie" by Evan, is melody driven with sequenced synths, vocally it has a 70s feel which works really well with the music, this will grow on you the more you hear it.
I have been impressed with the work of Swedish synthpop band Electric City Cowboys and they deliver once again on the track "The Way You Are", which features Mia Moilanen, Vince Clarke influenced bass-line and synth parts give this a really warm feel and I like the boy/girl vocal arrangement, this band have something special about them, if you haven't discovered them yet do check them out, especially their debut album "Superstar", which has just been released.
Octolab contribute the track "Fire Into Ice", lots going on in this track but everything has its place, another fine example of fine electro pop. Now, next, is something really special as far as I am concerned, I haven't come across Mirko Hirsch before, however, their version of "Feel You Near Me", has one of those melody hooks that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, the synth work, the melodies and rhythm and vocals are faultless, a track you will play over and over again, without doubt one of THE best tracks I have discovered this year, absolute perfection. "L.A. Goodbye" by 047, reminded me a bit of Belgian band, Telex, tight rhythm and initially quite minimalistic, then it bursts into life when the chorus kicks in, quite atmospheric sounding, but with a pop twist. Next we have, from Australia, who are no strangers to White Lion Radio, as we have played their music for many years and I have followed John's progress since he started out and we have a synth delight, as Parralox cover "The Dancer (Version)", uplifting, strong chorus and high quality synth work, as you would expect. We have been massive fans of Swedish Synthpop band, Eurotix, and it is know surprise, to see them featured on this compilation, and they don't let their fans down either, with a top quality cover of "Broken Hearts", beautiful music production and a passionate vocal by Dennis, another fine example, that the chemistry between the two members, Larry and Dennis shows no sign of diminishing, quite how this band are not bigger amazes me.
Martha Frans has done an excellent job of covering "Walking", very electro in it's delivery and the vocals are fabulous, a talented singer, without a doubt. Cliff Wedge Ft James Knights will work you into a sweat, James once again manages to effortlessly create energy in the songs he records and this is no exception, this high energy stomper is brilliant, such an infectious chorus. An album highlight.
"Where The Wind Blows" by Stockholm Nightlife Ft Eliza K, has both an ABBA and Madonna inspiration to my ears, great vocals and harmonies against a well built electronic backdrop. The song builds nicely, you could easily see Madonna singing this track and it being a big hit. Stormby treat us to a mid tempo italo disco rendition of "I'm So, I'm So, I'm So (I'm So In Love With You)", this has a strong 80s feel, especially the music, following that we have Modiga Agenter, who has recorded the song, "Oh Susie (Bara Vi Tva Vet)", the first track sung in Swedish, I like the sequenced melody and like the choir sounds, they add a nice dimension to the track. Uplifting chorus that really makes the track.
Parralox contribute two tracks to this compilation, the second track being their version of "Flash In The Night", covered by Rational Youth on this album, lots of neat analogue synth sounds help develop this track into a synthpop delight, John is a superb music producer, and he has delivered once again on this song, that said I do prefer the version by Rational Youth.
"Aux Deux Magots" by The Real Parakeet, I would define as Euro-Pop with hints of Italo Disco, it is an instrumental but it is impressive and fits in well on this album, typical 80s style synth stabs and throbbing bass-line, It also has a killer synth melody, I really do like this track. Defintely has retro overtones. "Dancing In The Madness" by Leaderboard is another track with a fabulous bass-line, Soft and soothing pads and strong vocal, the track develops well into a great pop track, the middle 8 bass-line is pure Pet Shop Boys.
"When The Night Closes In" is covered by Finkseye, which is given a dark synth makeover, not sure about the vocal effects used, not convinced they were needed, quite a sombre cover in general. Mr Doonuts version of "How I Want You" sees us back to Italo Disco, dominant bass-line, as you would expect from an Italo Disco song, some excellent soaring pads and gentle melodies, again with this track the vocals are given some serious treatment, which I think get in the way on the chorus section.
Jimmy Fang's cover of "It's Not Over" is full on synthpop, superb synth sounds used on this track and clever use of melodies, on this one the vocal production is excellent, I like the minimal aspects of the song, yet it maintains a really cool music backdrop, great rhythmm section throughout the track, another album highlight.
To close the album we have two remixes by Stormby, first is the remix of the Evan track "Oh Susie", which is given a more modern sounding makeover, four to the floor, which showcases the chorus section perfectly, I liked the original cover on this album and this remix, is as equally as good, the chorus nails this song. The final song, and remix, is the Stormby 7 Inch Mix of Stockholm Nightlife Fr Eliza K's cover of "Where The Wind Blows". This remix is similar in production as the PWL tracks from the 80s, a super remix which is every bit as enjoyable as the original version on this album.
What we have here is a solid set of songs, that collectively give us a brilliant overview of the work of Secret Service, 26 tracks of pure class and a treat for any Synthpop, Electro Pop, or Italo Disco fan, I enjoyed it from start to finish and credit to PBH Media for masterminding and putting this compilation together, plenty of Swedish artists on here, that once again, show that Sweden, is the leader in Electronic Music at the moment, it is staggereing how many independent bands have come on to the scene, long may it continue.
Our thanks to Niclas at PBH Media.
The album is available on CD and as a Digital Download via Bandcamp:
PBH Media on Facebook: