❚ “HERE’S A NEW BLUE RONDO REMIX — at last we’ve got it right. Recorded in 1981 … remixed in 2012.” So says the Latin-funk combo’s founder and frontman Chris Sullivan on Facebook today, after posting on Soundcloud a pacy instrumental mix of the London clubland band’s first hit, Me & Mr Sanchez, which stayed four weeks in the UK chart in 1981. Wait for the virtuosi to open up in the second half.
In the topmost pic we see vocalist Sullivan onstage demonstrating his northern soul choreography alongside sidekick Christos Tolera. This pic was taken during Blue Rondo’s promotional tour for their debut single at Glasgow’s trendiest nightspot Maestro’s on Nov 6, 1981, the day of its release. As a former fashion student at St Martin’s School of Art, Sullivan almost single-handedly introduced the zoot suit to Soho’s nightclub scene, and designed styles for both himself as leader of the band and for Tolera and Beat Route host Ollie O’Donnell, among many others.
Under its full name of Blue Rondo à la Turk, the stylish seven-piece was among the first of the Blitzworld’s new image bands to change the musical gear of 1981, in their case towards a tongue-in-cheek collage of carnival rhythms inspired by the Brubeck era of jazz. If you visit Soundcloud you’ll also find a fresh 2012 remix of the single, complete with vocals. “Mark Reilly did the lion’s share,” says Sullivan, referring to Rondo’s guitarist, who still flies the flag for his band Matt Bianco, which he formed in 1983 with the late Kito Poncioni and Daniel White, both Rondo members. The new remixes have been brought about only now because “it has taken us a few years to get the masters back,” Sullivan says. “More to follow as well.”
➢ From the summer of New Romance in 1981, read how the UK charts were bursting with a new generation of pop sounds … Also, view Rondo’s video of Sanchez … Then click through to my eye-witness account of the day that Blue Rondo à la Turk set off on their road to fame — here at Shapersofthe80s