Category Archives: Media

➤ 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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➤ 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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2014 ➤ Harry Styles signs up for Band Aid 30

Midge Ure, Bob Geldof, Band Aid 30

Fund-raising veterans Ure and Geldof: can they pull together another Christmas chart-topper? (Pic PA)

◼ ROCK LEGENDS SIR BOB GELDOF, 60, and his unknighted partner in charity, Mr James “Midge” Ure OBE, 61, plan to record a new fund-raising song, most likely destined to help fight ebola in West Africa. The 80s stars masterminded the 1984 chart-topper Do They Know It’s Christmas? by co-writing the song and amassing a Who Was Who of 45 rock stars to record it free, under the group name Band Aid. The track sold 3.7million copies in the UK alone and remained its best-selling single for 13 years.

Three decades on, One Direction are thought to have agreed to record the new tune, with other hot acts for Band Aid 30 tipped to include 20-something generationers Adele, Emeli Sandé, Ed Sheeran, Alt-J, Ellie Goulding, Paloma Faith, Jessie Ware, Bastille, Olly Murs, Ben Howard and Sam Smith.

The 1984 hit led directly to the globally televised Live Aid concerts of 1985, voted the most important music event of the past 30 years, which raised £150million to fight famine in Ethiopia.

Tracey Emin, Band Aid 30

Design by Tracey Emin

➢ Nov 10 update: One Direction confirmed at BBC News: One Direction, Ed Sheeran, Elbow and old-timers such as U2’s Bono and Coldplay’s Chris Martin are among the acts confirmed to record the fourth version of the Band Aid charity single Do They Know It’s Christmas?. Bob Geldof and Midge Ure said the song’s lyrics would be changed to reflect the ebola crisis. The new version will be recorded this Saturday and artwork has been designed by Tracey Emin.

Patryk Spiker,Band Aid 30, Harry Styles,

Up for Band Aid 30: 1D’s Harry Styles tonight snapped in the recording studio with Polish photographer Patryk Spiker. Harry made no comment on the charity project

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

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s: Band Aid, the smash hit that earned 47 artists three platinum discs each

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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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