WELCOME ➤ TO THE SWINGING EIGHTIES

In 1980 a youth movement began reshaping Britain.
Its stars didn’t call themselves New Romantics, or the Blitz Kids – but other people did. This writer’s words and pictures tell the tale


❚ As a decade the 70s spelt doom. British youth culture had been discredited by punk. A monumental recession followed the Labour government’s “winter of discontent”, threatening the prospect of no jobs for years ahead.
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history of, blitz club,blitz kids, theblitzkids, the blitz,theblitzclub,cult with no name,billy’s, gossips, steve strange, rusty egan, boy george, baby boomers, nightclubs, clubbing, stephen jones, kim bowen, warren street, stephen linard, chris sullivan, robert elms, perry haines, princess julia, judi frankland, darla-jane gilroy,fiona dealey, derek ridgers,vivienne lynn,sharah,ostell, sallon, von thyssen,perry haines, terry jones,peter ashworth, andy rosen,scarlett, myra, sheldrick,helen robinson, stephane raynor, antony price, miss binnie,melissa caplan,Dinny Hall, Kate Garner,chris sullivan, Simon Withers, Graham Smith, Graham Ball, christos tolera,sade adu,marilyn, peter robinson,midge ure,gary kemp,steve dagger,Denis O’Regan, maybury, cerith, iain webb, jeremy healy, kate garner, david holah, stevie stewart,degville, warren street, worried about the boy, st moritz, club for heroes,le kilt, wag club, beat route,hacienda, cha cha, holy city zoo, rum runner, great queen street,camden palace, people’s palace,scala cinema, studio 21,crocs, hippodrome, le palace,white trash, fac51, gaz mayall,comedy store, alexei sayle,fourratt, dirtbox,mud club, St Martins,London Fashion Week,Yet from this black hole burst an optimistic movement the press dubbed the New Romantics, based on a London club called the Blitz. Its soundtrack was a pounding synthesised electro-pop created for the dancefloor by a studio seven-piece called Visage, fronted by the ultimate poser, Steve Strange. But the live band who broke all the rules were five dandies with a preposterous name: Spandau Ballet.
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As the last of the Baby Boomers, the so-called Blitz Kids were concerned with much more than music. In 1980 they shook off teenage doubt to express all those talents the later Generation X would have to live up to — leadership, adaptability, negotiating skills, focus. Children of the age of mass TV, these can-doers excelled especially in visual awareness. They were the vanguard for a self-confident new class who were ready to enjoy the personal liberty and social mobility heralded by their parents in the 60s.
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For Britain, the Swinging 80s were a tumultuous period of social change when the young wrested many levers of power away from the over-40s. London became a creative powerhouse and its pop and street fashion the toast of world capitals. All because a vast dance underground had been gagging for a very sociable revolution.
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“From now on, this will become the official history” — verdict of  a former Blitz Kid.
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➢ THE MENU AT TOP leads you into this Aladdin’s Cave.
➢ THE BLOG POSTS on this front page report topical updates which also link to the background pages in the menu.
CLICK HERE to run the anthemic 80s video ♫ ♫ from Spandau Ballet and feel the chant.

electro-pop, synth-pop, bowie, ashes to ashes, Chant No 1, kid creole, blue rondo, animal nightlife,visage, duran,depeche mode, midge ure,ultravox, human league, rich kids, makers, gentry, ABC,soft cell, bolan,vince clarke, haysi, lennon, cleave,wham!, mclaren, mallet, heaven 17, yazoo, foxx, omd, bauhaus, oakey,Martyn Ware,altered images, 20th-century box, westwood, px, axiom, bodymap,willy brown, foundry, sue clowes,demob,seditionaries, acme attractions,ritz, zg,viz,i-D,the face,new sounds new styles,Kornilof, andrew logan, kahn & bell, biddie & eve, toyah,dencil, batcave, barbarella's, croc's

July 2, 1981: Shooting the video for Chant No 1 at Le Beat Route club in Soho, “down, down, pass the Talk of the Town”. Photograph © by Shapersofthe80s


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➤ Wise words for Only The Young from PJ (he’s The Daddy)

Only The Young, X Factor, Popjustice, pop music, TV,Parisa Tarjomani,Charlie George, Mikey Bromley, Betsy-Blue English

Exiting the X Factor: a month ago Only The Young were tipped to become the best pop group in the country. (Photo: Syco)

◼ THERE’S NO JUSTICE IN POP – usually where Simon Cowell is involved – until Popjustice has spoken. And the nicest thing to happen to the ubertalented act booted off The X Factor finals this weekend – two girls, two boys called Only The Young – is to be told today exactly how to plan their career by Peter Robinson, the Svengali behind the brilliant comment website Popjustice, whose whole existence is “all about giving pop precisely the amount of respect it deserves”. And that demands more real deep-down loving for the daffy world of tinsel tunes and unrequited fan worship than dishing out easy kicks to the gut. PR is The Daddy and we don’t mean patronising, we mean paternal. He is a saint and PJ is a miracle melange of twitchy gotta-dance feet and non-cynical sarkiness. The real clue is in its name.

Popjustice, pop music, website

PJ’s editorial stance

So what can Only The Young discover today after their long dark Sunday of sobbing into their pillows because there’s no justice in TV talent contests? If they google themselves now they will find that Popjustice has rushed boldly into print with a letter of pure lurrrve and really shrewd advice drawn from years of knowing its way round the demented biz of pop.

PJ doesn’t rant on saying “They wuz robbed”. Instead it explains odd facts of life of about how a TV talent show can miscast an act, how it juggles its roster and how other talent-show rejects have shipwrecked their careers within five minutes. Then PJ tells Only The Young how brilliant they are and delivers a six-month action plan:

“Think of yourselves as a Wall’s Viennetta. Imagine that you are amazing, which shouldn’t be hard because you are, indeed, amazing. And imagine that you are in the freezer. You will still be amazing when you’re taken out of the freezer in six or eight months.”

This masterclass of careers advice (easily worth 10% of their future contract) goes on for 1,000 words about which label to sign to, which producers to call, which acts not to emulate and which two to follow. The best tip of all is about haircuts.

Our synopsis does not contain spoilers and you really should click through to the full monty now.

➢ Enjoy the real Popjustice experience. Wow!

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1983 ➤ Video gem unearthed from the Blue Rondo vaults

◼ AIRED TODAY AT YOUTUBE: A long-lost live performance by London’s Latin jazz-soul band Blue Rondo à la Turk on German TV in 1983 complete with classic dance breaks from Moses and Sullivan in Aubrey Beardsley hair-do. The line-up dates from about 1982–3: Chris Sullivan and Christos Tolera (vocals), Moses Mount Bassie (sax), Art Collins (sax), Peter Tsegona (trumpet), Geraldo Darbilly (percussion), Greg Parker (guitar), Robin Jones (congas/percussion), Kito Poncioni (bass) and Daniel White (keyboards).

At this time Sullivan says: “Mark Reilly had left to form Matt Bianco. Kito carried on for a few months as he needed the money.” Then he and Daniel White left to join Matt Bianco which enjoyed several UK hits. By the time Blue Rondo released its second album album, Bees Knees and Chicken Elbows in 1984, the band had sadly disintegrated. Their first album Chewing the Fat was easily the best new album of 1981 in terms of musicality and attitude. Sullivan of course went on to run Soho’s Wag Club for 19 years and make it a legendary showbiz rendezvous.

24 NOV UPDATE FROM THE VAULT ♫ CHANGE ♫

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s: How Blue Rondo à la Turk created a buzz in clubland

Blue Rondo à la Turk ,Chris Sullivan ,Chewing the Fat ,jazz,soul,double-CD ,Cherry Red Records,Swinging 80s,Christos Tolera ,
➢ In June 2014 a double-CD entitled Chewing the Fat was issued by Cherry Red Records (CDBRED621) – They include 29 tracks, which are all of the group’s recordings on the original album, and various bonus tracks, 7in and 12in specials, plus remixes.

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➤ Celebrating Midge Ure: the big-hearted old poser behind Band Aid

 Band Aid 30, pop music, recording, Midge Ure

Band Aid 30: Midge Ure yesterday conducting the artists for a new version of the song Do They Know It’s Christmas? Photograph: Band Aid Trust/Brian Aris/Camera Press

◼ TODAY AT 8pm ON THE X-FACTOR BAND AID 30 airs the fourth version of its pop smash hit, Do They Know It’s Christmas? So let’s remember the lifelong contribution of the quietest man in pop, Midge Ure, who is the true brains behind the charity project. As Bob Geldof described him on This Is Your Life: “He’s a great guy, hilariously funny though you wouldn’t know it from his old New Romantic posing. He’s got a great heart and is a great all-round good bloke.”

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s: 1984, Band Aid, when pop made its noblest gesture but the 80s ceased to swing

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s: How Midge Ure helped shape the British New Wave

Midge: “There’s no doubt the early 80s was a golden age of music made by real popstars who created themselves. It was more than just padded shoulders and asymmetrical haircuts. It was a pivotal moment in our cultural history when new tech mixed with new ideas to create something really good. All in the pressure cooker environment that was the Blitz club”

Rusty Egan, Steve Strange, Midge Ure, Visage, synth-pop, new wave, electro-pop,Band Aid, Rocking the Blitz,BBC

Visage Mk 1: Rusty Egan, Steve Strange and Midge Ure in 1978 searching for sounds and styles

UPDATE: BAND AID 30 MUSIC VIDEO – PG ADVISED

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➤ How Marilyn lost a million and ended up on benefits

Peter Robinson, Marilyn, Blitz Kids, Planets, clubbing,

Marilyn at Planets club, 1981: Peter Robinson lived his life as the Hollywood legend. Photograph by © Shapersofthe80s

➢ Band Aid star Marilyn reveals all
in today’s Daily Mirror:

The original Band Aid charity record for Christmas 1984 brought together pop stars who would go on to dominate the charts and become superstars and millionaires. And then there was Marilyn, whose first hit Calling Your Name had reached No 4 in 1983. The girlishly beautiful singer, real name Peter Robinson, was once inseparable from Culture Club star Boy George. He stood out from the likes of Duran Duran, Phil Collins, and Paul Weller with his yellow tracksuit and long bleach-blond hair. And within a few years he had fallen into obscurity.

“After Band Aid lots of things went wrong in my life and I had a nervous breakdown,” he says today, aged 52. “I started smoking heroin and taking shedloads of prescription drugs. I moved into my mum’s house and basically spent 20 years on heroin . . . / Robinson talks about his obsession with Marilyn Monroe and more at Mirror online

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s: Three key men in Boy George’s life, but why has TV changed some of the names?

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➤ Forsooth, Master Bowie, what art thou banging on about?

David Bowie, single, ’Tis Pity She’s a Whore, vorticism, music

The next Bowie: Click on image to hear audio of his single ’Tis Pity She’s a Whore

◼ BOWIE IS BACK IN BAFFLER MODE. A new single released today derives its name from an English Restoration drama on the theme of incest. In John Ford’s play ’Tis Pity She’s a Whore, the protagonist Giovanni brings about his own destruction. Though the play stands as classic of Eng Lit, ever since the 17th century it has been ignored or condemned as too racy.

The new Bowie single puts your teeth on edge with an abrasive percussion landscape echoing Michael Nyman, over which David Bowie affects an enfeebled voice to deliver mildly explicit lyrics in Restoration vein. Typically of Bowie, however, he offers his own distracting interpretation by saying: “If Vorticists wrote rock music it might have sounded like this.” Hmmm.

vorticism, Blast, magazine, The experimental art movement of vorticism grew out of futurist abstraction and the machine age in 1914, being pioneered by such English painters as Wyndham Lewis, Edward Wadsworth and William Roberts. The founders signed a manifesto proposing that they “set up a violent structure of adolescent clearness” and they produced a literary magazine titled Blast, which mocked the art establishment and the Bloomsbury set. The unfortunate coincidence of the First World War and its shocking realities killed vorticism in its tracks.

In light of which we are forced to ask: Would Wyndham Lewis or David Bomberg seriously have produced music like Bowie’s? About incest?

’Tis a Pity She Was a Whore is the B-side of the more invigorating single due out 17 Nov on Parlophone and titled Sue (or In a Season of Crime) – listen ♫ online at DB’s website – which pushes Bowie’s eerie impersonation of the godlike Scott Walker into a Valhalla of jazz. Mm-mm, crunchy!

David Bowie

Click on pic to run video for Sue (or In a Season of Crime)

❏ Update: The video above is released 13 Nov for Bowie’s single Sue (or In a Season of Crime) from the album Nothing Has Changed. The video was shot in New York and London and directed by Tom Hingston and Jimmy King. The track was recorded with the Maria Schneider Orchestra and produced by Bowie and Tony Visconti. Extra special Bowie features for the next two weeks in the NME whose verdict on Sue was: “It’s Nick Cave meets Scott Walker meets Herbie Hancock – and it’s quite brilliant.”

➢ The official monty on ’Tis A Pity She Was A Whore.

➢ A production of John Ford’s play is currently running in London at Shakespeare’s Globe theatre.

Epstein, sculpture, Rock Drill

Epstein’s Rock Drill 1913–15

➢ Tangle with 21st-century vorticists who insist Bowie rates Blast among his favourite books because, perhaps coincidentally, Blast had been returned to public consciousness in 1974 by Richard Cork who, while art critic of the Evening Standard, curated a monumental retrospective exhibition at London’s Hayward Gallery titled Vorticism and its Allies. The totemic star exhibit was the giant monolith, Epstein’s Rock Drill of 1915, destroyed by the sculptor and specially recreated for this show by Ken Cook and Ann Christopher. The plaster-cast male torso was dwarfed by mounting it on a life-sized stone-cutter’s drill, readymade by Holman Brothers of Cornwall, as originally conceived by Epstein in a powerful celebration of the machine age and of masculinity. Today the piece resides in the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery

➢ “Bowie has topped his new compilation with a seven-minute jazz experiment – as much a statement as a song” – Alexis Petridis reviews Sue in the Guardian

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s: Enigmatic Scott Walker lets loose a revealing rush of answers

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