Category Archives: Film

How James Brown revolutionised music and became the voice for Black America

James Brown, Chris Sullivan, funk, biopic

James Brown live at the Apollo, 1962: “When I said ‘Die on your feet don’t live on your knees’, I became Soul Brother Number One”


➢ British deejay and commentator Chris Sullivan describes how the Godfather of Funk became the most successful African-American musician of the 20th century – at Alpha, the men’s lifestyle magazine:

Almost every owner of a TV or radio in the world has danced to James Brown’s inimitable grooves at some point in the last half century, even if they don’t know it. Recently, producer-songwriter Pharrell Williams sampled Brown’s hit My Thang on Kanye West and Jay-Z’s 2011 single Gotta Have It, while his 1970 hit Funky Drummer has been sampled a record 929 times. Altogether Brown’s tunes have been sampled 4,500 times by everyone from Eric B and Rakim to Public Enemy. Accordingly, I’d contest that he is the most influential single recording artist of all time.

“James Brown is magic,” declared an awe-struck Michael Jackson. “I’ve never dared speak to him, but I consider James Brown my greatest teacher.” Meanwhile Mick Jagger, who spent hours watching him as a youngster, admitted to “trying to steal everything I could,” from the master. . . / Continued at Alpha Magazine

➢ The whitewashing of James Brown: Why were all the producers, writers and the director white on the new movie Get On Up? – At the Huffington Post

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1980–2014 ➤ Ten inspirational reminders from the 80s to stir today’s young to action

Waldorf Hotel, Spandau Ballet, Blitz club, New Romantics, youth culture,Blitz Kids , To Cut a Long Story Short, London, clubbing, DJs,

Waldorf Hotel 1980: seated at centre, Spandau Ballet, house band of Covent Garden’s Blitz club, home of the New Romantics movement, plus support team of Blitz Kids who helped put their first single To Cut a Long Story Short into the UK singles chart at No 5, on 6 Dec 1980. Average age 20, everyone had a specific role to play in staging and promoting the band: seven musicians, six designers, three media and management, three club-hosts, two DJs, one crimper and 22 egos. Photographed for the Evening Standard © by Herbie Knott

◼ TEN OF THE MOST POPULAR POSTS visited here during 2014 confirm Shapers of the 80s as an “invaluable website” in the words of British historian Dominic Sandbrook. Grounded in the 1980s – the most explosive decade for British youth culture since the Swinging 60s – our eye witness reports and monthly reviews of British nightlife were originally published in magazines such as The Face, the “style bible” of its day. Our recent commentaries monitor fresh interest in the revival of 80s music and attitude during the past five years. Year-ending visit figures at Shapers of the 80s during 2014 have increased year-on-year by 16% to total 210,000.

Much unseen vintage video footage was discovered by the producers researching Spandau Ballet’s biopic, Soul Boys of the Western World, which proved an eye-opening slice of social history when it was released this year. Every frame reveals the sheer energy and commitment to hedonism and creative self-expression that characterised a generation of school-leavers who in the economic gloom of 1979 faced the threat of no jobs ever in their adult lives. The parallels with Britain’s protracted austerity today are obvious and we might hope the lessons of the 80s will again inspire the young to take their fate into their own hands.

TEN BENCHMARKS FROM THE SWINGING 80S

Andrew Ridgeley, George Michael, Wham Rap, video, Face magazine, Club Culture,

Click pic to open a Top of the Pops performance of Wham Rap! in another window … In the original music video (no longer viewable in the UK !!) “man or mouse” Andrew Ridgeley establishes his group’s clubbing credentials in the opening shots of the video, pictured, by reading our landmark Face cover story on The Making of UK Club Culture, now reproduced at Shapers of the 80s. (Screengrab © Sony BMG)

➢ Read: 69 Dean Street and the making of UK club culture

Blitz Kids, No Sacrifice, Chenil gallery,Kim Bowen, Jeremy Healy, Stephen Jones, fashion, London

No Sacrifice was an alternative fashion show in 1980 organised by Iain R Webb and mounted for art-school refusés: outside Chelsea’s Chenil Gallery, Kim Bowen as ever sports a hat by Stephen Jones (right), Jeremy Healy at centre. Photographed © by Mick Hurd

➢ Who’s who among the Blitz Kids: 50 crucial nightclubbers who set the style for a decade

Terry Doktor , Carmel Johnson, Rhonda Paster, Axiom, fashion Underground club, Spandau Ballet, gig

New York 1981: Before Spandau Ballet introduced America to electro-diskow at Manhattan’s Underground club, the Axiom fashion cooperative staged a runway show of New Romantic outfits. Photographed by © Shapersofthe80s

➢ 1981, first Blitz invasion of the US by Spandau/Axiom

London,Sullivan,Dirt Box, Mud Club,Wag club,White Trash,Sallon,Nightlife ,The Face,Swinging 80s, clubbing

First published in The Face No 39, July 1983

➢ 1983, Who’s who in the new London nightlife boom

Seminal spread in i-D issue one: the straight-up style is established with one then unknown New Romantic and one punkette. Photographed on the King’s Road by Steve Johnston

Seminal spread in i-D issue one: the straight-up style is established with one then unknown New Romantic and one punkette. Photographed on the King’s Road in London by Steve Johnston

➢ 1980, ‘Your own i-D counts more than fashion’

Blitz club, London 1979, Iain Webb, Stephen Linard, 2010, Worried About the Boy, Boy George, Daniel Wallace,Douglas Booth,

Real Blitz Kids versus the TV version: George’s boyfriend Wilf and Stephen Linard in 1979 (picture, Andy Rosen)… Daniel Wallace as a Linard lookalike and Douglas Booth as Boy George in Worried About the Boy, 2010 (BBC)

➢ How real did 1980 feel? Ex-Blitz Kids give verdicts on the 2010 TV play about Boy George, Worried About the Boy

➢ 1983, Posing with a purpose at the Camden Palace

➢ Six rewrites punk history with an outlandish claim about the Not-Really-From-Bromley Contingent

➢ 1982, “Who?!” Peter Capaldi’s first interview (probably) as a green young stand-up

➢ 2014, Video gems unearthed by the Spandau Ballet biopic premiering at SXSW

➢ 2009 till now – Index of all posts at Shapers of the 80s

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2014 ➤ Spandau Ballet’s world tour reunion updates

New Romantics, Blitz Kids, Heaven Club, London, Swinging 80s, Spandau Ballet

Spandau Ballet’s tenth live date: playing Heaven in London 1980. Photographed © by Shapersofthe80s

SCREENINGS OF THEIR SOUL BOYS BIO-PIC

pop music, George Hencken, Tony Hadley, Spandau Ballet, Soul Boys of the Western World, movie, biopic,New Romantics, Blitz Kids
✱ Read Shapersofthe80s’ review of the SBWW film and its UK premiere, plus European screening dates, Oct–Nov 2014

✱ Hello Down Under! Auckland NZ 2 Nov, Melbourne 5 Nov and Sydney 7 Nov for special Q&A screenings of SBWW, plus live performance in Melbourne

✱ Spandau’s first public appearance in NYC since 1983, plus US release of their new single This Is The Love, plus outdoor mini-concert in LA for their TV debut with Jimmy Kimmel 10 Nov… plus live performance on Fox’s Good Day Nov 13… Plus SBWW screening 15 Nov at SVA Theatre, premiere and band talk at Doc NYC

Spandau Ballet, Soul Boys of the Western World, cancellations, rescheduled, US tour, dates

Hadley sings True: Spandau live at London’s Albert Hall, 2014. Photographed © by Shapersofthe80s

➢ SPANDAU’S 2015 LIVE TOUR DATES IN ONE LIST

✱ North America tickets on sale 14 Nov from San Francisco 23 Jan to Red Bank NY 10 Feb and in between LA, Denver, Chicago, Detroit, Toronto, Boston, NYC, Westbury, Washington DC . . . Extra concert added 24 Jan at The Wiltern in Los Angeles . . . Extra concert added 2 Feb in Montreal (on sale 27 Nov).

17 Jan 2015 update – Shock change to Spandau Ballet’s North America live tour – still launching 23–25 Jan in California but with other US and Canada concert dates rescheduled for April–May. Click through for complete list of world tour dates 2015.

✱ Now on sale: tickets for 13 dates 3–19 March in Spandau Ballet’s live UK tour 2015, kicking off 3 March from Dublin in the land of music, now taking in TWO London dates at O2 Arena 17–18 March, and ending in Brummie Duran-land

First dates on live European tour 2015: Amsterdam 21 March, Luxembourg 22 March, Italy 24–30 March (Assago, Torino, Padova, Firenze, Roma), Germany 16–22 April (Leipzig, Hamburg, Dusseldorf, Berlin, Frankfurt and Munich)

✱ Down under: Auckland, NZ 10 May tickets on sale 20 Nov… Oz on sale Nov 12: Spandau’s Australia concert tour 2015 kicks off in Brisbane 13 May, playing also Sydney, Melbourne and Perth

✱ Weekly: Big Tone’s party show Saturdays 7–9pm GMT on Absolute 80s Radio, on air and online

➢ First US review of the new single This Is the Love at Billboard: “Thirty years after Spandau Ballet’s last U.S. single, the British new-wave quintet brings back everything that made it danceable on This Is the Love, touting a thick sax, Tony Hadley’s syrup-and-silk delivery and poppy drum work. The twist? There’s also a James Bond theme vibe mixed in.” – Andrew Flanagan … 8 Nov Martin Kemp tweets: “Billboard single of the week in the U.S.”

SPANDAU INTERVIEWED IN NEW ZEALAND, 2 NOV


➢ Or, read a transcription of the above interview with New Zealand’s arts website, The 13th Floor – Here’s Tony Hadley on how life was different when he was a teenager: “The 80s was probably the last innocent decade in a kind of weird way, pretty primitive, you know. In Britain we had three TV channels. As a young person, you had music and you had fashion. So everything was pretty tribal and we’ve always been like that in Britain anyway, with the Mods, the Rockers, psychedelia, punk. So you picked your tribe and the kind of music you wanted to be associated with and that was it – it was just a simple time. We’ve now entered into a period where social media and connectivity around the world is unprecedented, incredible. So as a young person, you don’t necessarily need just fashion and just music. It’s a very different world we live in.”

➢ 1980: Read the epic story of Spandau Ballet, the Blitz Kids and the birth of the New Romantics at The Observer

➢ Official Spandau Ballet website

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➤ Catch up on New Romantic landmarks reported here at Shapers of the 80s

Andrew Ridgeley,George Michael, Wham Rap, video, Face magazine, Club Culture,

Click pic to open the Wham Rap! video in another window … “Man or mouse” Andrew Ridgeley establishes his clubbing credentials – along with sidekick George Michael – in the opening shots of the Wham! video by reading this very Face cover story on Club Culture that you’re about to read!

THE MOST READ FEATURE ARTICLE AMONG 890,000 VIEWS SINCE THE LAUNCH OF SHAPERS OF THE 80s

➢ 1983, The Making of UK Club Culture — Definitive Face cover story by yours truly being read here in the Wham Rap! video. This account of how London nightlife had become an international magnet was first published as “an upstairs‑downstairs tale of two key nightspots” in The Face No 34 in February 1983. Photography © by Derek Ridgers. Reprinted in The Faber Book of Pop, 1995; and in Night Fever, Boxtree, 1997

69 Dean Street, Soho, club culture, The Face magazine, London, 1980s, clubbing, nightlife,Billys, Gargoyle,Red Studio,Blitz Kids

From The Face, February 1983

THE ORIGINAL HISTORY OF THE BLITZ KIDS

The Observer Music Magazine. Pictures © by Derek Ridgers

The Observer Music Magazine, Oct 4, 2009. Pictures © by Derek Ridgers

➢ Spandau Ballet, the Blitz Kids and the birth of the New Romantics — This much-recycled account originally penned by Shapers of the 80s tells who did what to make stars out of a club houseband, change the rhythm of the UK charts — and ultimately rejuvenate the British media. The obsessive fashionistas behind one small club in London in 1980 went on to dominate the international landscape of pop and fashion, while putting more British acts into the US Billboard charts than the 1960s ever achieved. Spandau Ballet songwriter Gary Kemp responded: “A superb piece. It will be referred to historically.”

EARLY 80s REPORTS REVISITED

➢ How three wizards met at the same crossroad in time — an inside scene-setter on the forces shaping the Swinging Eighties

➢ 1980, Strange days, strange nights, strange people: at The Blitz a decade dawns

➢ 1980, One week in the private worlds of the new young: London blazes with creativity

➢ 1980, Shapersofthe80s tells how Duran Duran’s road to stardom began in the Studio 54 of Birmingham, UK

➢ 1981, Birth of Duran’s Planet Earth … when other people’s faith put the Brummies into the charts

Romance blossoms: Drummer Jon Moss gives George O’Dowd a peck at Planets club in July 1981 way before their band Culture Club existed. Photographed © by Shapersofthe80s

➢ Three key men in Boy George’s life – In 2010 the BBC turned the pop star’s teens ’n’ twenties into a 90-minute drama of foot-stamping, chair-throwing, cry-baby tantrums over his self-confessed “dysfunctional romances”, all of which he had documented in his eye-wateringly frank 1995 autobiography, Take It Like a Man. Shapers of the 80s summarises George O’Dowd’s stormy lovelife.

➢ Ex-Blitz Kids give their verdicts on the TV drama Worried About the Boy – During and after this heavily fictionalised life story was broadcast in 2010, Shapers of the 80s canvassed this authoritative mixture of opinions on the Boy George myth and in doing so reshaped the accepted clichés about the Blitz Kids.

Chris Sullivan, club-host, deejay, Wag club, Blue Rondo, pop music,We Can Be Heroes, youth culture,

At home in Kentish Town Chris Sullivan chooses the right zootsuit for today’s mood: his wardrobe is legendary, his taste impeccable, and his influence immeasurable. Shapersofthe80s shot this for his first Evening Standard interview in June 1981

➢ 1976–1984, How creative clubbing started and ended with the 80s – “We were all kids,” says Chris Sullivan who would eventually run the Wag, the coolest club in town, for 19 years. “We went out and had a go. Empowerment is what’s important about this story.”

Photocall: Spandau Ballet, Richard Burgess and assorted Blitz Kid designers gather for the press conference before their fashion-and-music shows in New York. Yes that is Sade towards the far right. Photograph © by Shapersofthe80s

➢ 1981, First Blitz invasion of the US – 21 Blitz Kids take Manhattan by storm with a fresh fashion show and the live new sound of London. Eye-witness words and pix by Shapers of the 80s

ROMANTIC REVIVAL OF THE NOUGHTIES

Sade  1983

Wow! Then and now: Sade backstage in August 1983 while still seeking a recording contract and, right, as shot to launch her 2010 album. Vintage picture © by Shapersofthe80s

➢ 2010, Shapers of the 80s finds comeback Shard comfy as ‘Auntie Sade’ – Having wowed the 80s clubbing scene, in 2011 Sade’s band won a Grammy award for Best R&B Performance By A Group.

➢ 2009, Onstage, Spandau Ballet’s Hadley and Kemp finally get huggy in a mighty musical Reformation – Shapers of the 80s follows the reunion of the band who wrote the new rules for pop in the Swinging 80s.

WE ARE ALL BOWIE’S CHILDREN NOW

David Bowie, Starman, 1972, Top of the Pops, tipping point, BBC

The moment the earth tilted July 6, 1972: During Starman on Top of the Pops, David Bowie drapes his arm around the shoulder of Mick Ronson. Video © BBC

➢ 40 years since “I picked on you-oo-oo”! July 6, 1972 saw the seminal pop moment — David Bowie’s first appearance on Top of the Pops as Ziggy Stardust, the day he created the next generation of popstar wannabes

➢ Where to draw a line between glitter and glam – defining what separates Slade from Bowie, the naff blokes in Bacofoil from starmen with pretensions

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➤ Soul Boys Spandau rise like a phoenix from the flames of their film premiere

Spandau Ballet, Soul Boys of the Western World, premiere

Spandau Ballet: smart-casual on the red carpet

Spandau Ballet, Soul Boys of the Western World, premiere

Spandau live at the Albert Hall: All six members of the band reunited, the sixth being manager Steve Dagger in the wings

Spandau Ballet, Soul Boys of the Western World, premiere

Royal Albert Hall: full house for Spandau’s premiere

◼︎ 6,000 PEOPLE WERE UP FOR an emotional roller-coaster ride at London’s Royal Albert Hall on Tuesday – hundreds more watched simulcasts in cinemas across the land. Today Rolling Stone has called it “the biggest home-movie party in British pop history”. We sped through yards of breathlessly cut vintage footage even the band hadn’t seen before, showing how five glammed-up school friends adopted the preposterous name Spandau Ballet and effectively rewrote the rules of a moribund pop industry to rocket into the charts and become one of Britain’s six supergroups of the New Romantic 80s…

We saw how their friendships turned nasty and imploded in a law court… and how they’ve agreed to make this film 20 years later in which each tells his own version “warts and all”, soul boys baring their souls in a cathartic process of reconciliation and redemption. Why, they’d even titled their home movie, Soul Boys of the Western World, ironically referencing one of theatre’s tragic morality tales about human failings, the greater irony being that the band themselves were actually shocked to hear each other’s words at the first screening. They were the film’s only narrators, recorded separately talking one-to-one with the director and telling the tale with more “crashing and burning” than tact.

Tuesday’s audience picked up these cues in pantomime tradition. We were bearing witness just as the penitent members of Spandau Ballet were hoping. We oohed and aahed at some really tear-jerky best bits. We howled at odd Spinal Tap daftness. We heckled the cocky Cockney TV presenter. We laughed at our quaint mullets and hilarious teenage pretensions four decades ago. Then when the screen froze in a silent moment of grim truth, the whole Albert Hall groaned “Ohhhh no!” One hero had been damned, but a succession of jaw-dropping out-takes from pop-idol interviews hanged the others in turn. Icicles formed in the air, Steve Norman’s voice told us “You can see on our faces Spandau Ballet has just come to an end” and we shared their pain. At times the spoken bluntness came too near the knuckle and between last spring’s hair-shirt trailer and this autumn premiere a couple of killer icicles have been chopped.

Click any pic to launch slideshow

Apart from that, Mrs Lincoln, the yarn rattled along as a fascinating piece of social history, to a soundtrack deftly clipped from 22 Spandau numbers and a host of others that shaped the 80s. Tuesday’s melodrama came in three acts and we confessors gave the film a standing ovation, took a quick break to share our own shock at the band’s courage, and then rose to our feet again as the 6,000 to welcome onstage the happy smiling band of brothers, plus their equally glamorous film director, George Hencken, who had brought a woman’s instincts to handling the boys’ emotional baggage.

Spandau Ballet, Soul Boys of the Western World,

Soul Boys oWW reviewed by NME

Act 2 heard the team answer those burning questions live onstage, among them Gary Kemp saying “Yes, I’m the baddie”, and his brother Martin admitting disappointment in himself when young, while Tony Hadley said all the bitterness had weighed heavy on their families. There was plenty of humour too. When asked what he’d missed most since the great days, John Keeble said “the cheeseboard” (a reference to a backstage luxury specified in the band’s touring contract). Drummers, eh?

Act 3 was the equal of all that had come before. We rose to greet Spandau’s live set of six copper-bottomed hits, kicking off with their hymn of defiance, Through the Barricades, then sprinting into To Cut a Long Story Short. By Chant No 1 all six tiers of the Albert Hall were on their feet and cheering the dancefloor anthem that just missed being the chart No 1 in the riotous summer of 1981. Martin looked reassuringly relaxed powering its funky bassline, and Steve’s sax breaks were definitely dirtier than of old. In Only When You Leave Tony’s big balladeering vowels confirmed what a magnificent bel canto baritone he has become. And of course the last two classics, True and Gold, were inevitably hijacked by the choir filling the hall.

In words of the Eurovision winner, Spandau Ballet have risen from their ashes like a phoenix (fortunately without beards or frocks). We turn to our philosopher-drummer Keeble for the last word: “The film is a three-act play: guys have success, the wheels come off, then there’s some redemption. This now feels like fun and games – with love in it.” Gulp.

Spandau Ballet, Soul Boys of the Western World, premiere

Spandau film premiere: Rock god Keeble photographed by Dave Hogan

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY ABOUT SBWW

Spandau Ballet, Soul Boys of the Western World, premiere

Soul Boys oWW reviewed by Empire magazine

“More than a typical rock doc … the biggest home-movie party in British pop history” – David Fricke, Rolling Stone

“I found it gripping. Despite having never understood the appeal of the New Romantics, I enjoyed the hell out of Soul Boys of the Western World” – Observer film critic Mark Kermode on BBC-tv … “The mark of a really good rock documentary is that it makes you care about a band who played music that you were never a fan of” – Kermode again, on BBC News channel, picking his DVD of the week 24 Oct

“A funny, absorbing, trivia-filled portrait of friendship, the 80s music biz and bad hair” – Ian Freer, Empire Online

“The muscular musicianship of the band suggested that this latest stage of their reunion is more than just a nostalgia-wallow” – James Hall, Daily Telegraph

➢ Soul Boys of the Western World goes on general release 3 October, plus w/b Oct 20 screenings at Rome Film Festival and cinemas across Italy, Belgium’s Film Fest Gent… from Oct 27 Barcelona, Madrid, Bilbao, Pamplona… Plus, Nov 15 Spandau’s first public appearance in New York since 1983.

➢ Oct 20: tickets on sale today! Auckland NZ Nov 2, Melbourne Nov 5 and Sydney Nov 7 for special Q&A screenings of SBWW – Spandau Ballet are heading Down Under where the Melbourne screening will include a 20-minute live performance by the band.

➢ Plus Oct 24: Spandau’s first European tour dates announced: Amsterdam 21 March, Luxembourg live 22 March and a five-date Italian tour 24–30 March

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