16 June 2011
Wallace Collection - Dear Beloved Secretary
Year of Release: 1969
Whatever was it with the sixties obsession with secretaries? Look at the poor woman in the picture above, trying to get on with some doubtless important business whilst a bunch of unsavoury hairies hang around her looking smug and pleased with themselves for even being in the same room as a lady. Secretaries were also always portrayed as spectacle wearers, but the kind who would probably rip their glasses off at a minute's notice, toss their hair around, and deliver a ravishing smile. In reality, you have to suspect this probably happened rarely in dull day jobs, and that any female PAs or administrative assistants with the capacity to be stunning probably didn't waste their time flirting with the civil engineers or solicitors in their immediate environments, and went to swinging clubs to meet men instead. Or OK, that's what I'd have done if I'd been an attractive woman in my prime during the mid-to-late sixties. Not that I've thought about this. Much.
We're also in danger of drifting slightly off-topic here, but The Wallace Collection have provided us with a sleeve so downright distracting that it's their own fault. "Dear Beloved Secretary" is indeed a woe-filled piece of chamber pop about being in love with one's chief Personal Assistant, and actually looking forward to going to work in the morning so you can sigh in her presence. Or ogle her. It depends entirely on your personal interpretation. The Wallace Collection are quite sweet natured about it, though, so I'm going to suggest that they're assuming the role of innocent, sexually inexperienced men scribbling love poetry rather than behaving like PA-bothering types (such as Larry Page in this photo here). The song also incorporates some typewriter and bell ringing noises, which is as cutesy as things get.
For my money - and it was indeed my money - the B-side "Hello Suzannah" is a neater, chirpier piece of popsike with hints of The Move in its grooves. Neither side really scales much beyond the level of middle-of-the-road sixties pop, but there's a politeness and quaintness to the material the Wallace Collection produced which I always find endearing. Especially considering the era they operated in, there was something particularly wide-eyed and innocent about their work.
Their most famous track of all was "Daydream", later swallowed by both the Beta Band (for "Squares") and I Monster (for the unimaginatively titled "Daydream in Blue") in its Gunter Kallmann Choir incarnation to create two brilliant Top 40 singles in the UK. The original Wallace Collection version of it did no business in Britain at all, but was a huge hit in their native Belgium and the continent. The impact of that track meant the band did have some continued success across Europe, but not enough to really sustain their careers beyond the early seventies, after which point they called it quits.
As for the secretary - who knows? She's probably retired and living in Antwerp these days.
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