On TV in 1984: Wag club host Chris Sullivan talks of his love for jazz (BBC)
❚ DEEJAY AND FORMER WAG CLUB HOST and reinventor of the zoot suit Chris Sullivan writes today: “My first radio show on Soho Radio tomorrow from 4 till 6pm …. Tune in online for an afternoon tickle…. and please like the page if you can. I’d be most grateful.”
“ The show would be called Sullivan Suits and would cover all the music I come across each week on my quest as a DJ that might be Scorpio by Dennis Coffey, You and Me By Slave, Hustlers Convention by the Last Poets or re-edits by Joey Negro such as Same Old Scene by Roxy or stuff that I refind such as Manhattan Fable by Babs Gonsales, Light My Fire by Erma Franklyn. These would be backed up by old favourites such as A Boy Named Sue by Johnny Cash, Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong, Kooks by David Bowie. Howling Wolf, Little Walter, Aretha etc etc.
“ I’d throw in odd facts, stories and hoaxes. All in all it would be whatever suits me and the listener that day. I would also get a guest from time to time and get them to pick a few tracks – Mark Powell, Phil Dirtbox, Kevin Rowlands, Bernie from Groucho, Mark Hix etc and perhaps discuss Soho and swop stories. ”
❏ Launching at 2pm Weds May 7,Soho Radio is a new independent radio station with 24/7 live streaming and pre-recorded programming from its own shop/cafe in Great Windmill Street, next to Paul Raymond’s Windmill Club. Wave to the Cuban Brothers and later to Sullivan through the studio’s large shop window onto the street. The station says it aims to provide an eclectic mix of the vibrant and diverse which this district of central London is renowned for – breaking underground acts and bringing together musicians, artists, film makers, chefs, poets and local piano tuners. Nowhere does the website says who’s behind the radio station, so until it proves itself we’d better assume it’s some Russian oligarch, as usual these days.
TALKING OF THE WAG, HERE’S A RARE OLD VIDEO
❏ Newly posted at YouTube,here’s a supercool glimpse inside Chris Sullivan’s Wag club on Wardour Street when it was London’s landmark nightspot during 1984. Monday nights were given over to the clubland’s most fashionable music craze – jazz! This segment comes from the BBC2 Whistle Test music programme on the Jazz Room when David Hepwoth ventures into the Wag to meet clubland’s jazz deejay Paul Murphy, old-timers Slim Gaillard and Will Gaines, Jerry IDJ, Dr Bob Jones, Robert Elms, among others. While club dudes complain “There’s no good pop music around at the moment” we see the American vocalist and true legend Slim Gaillard boogeying on the Wag’s dancefloor and also in a great vintage clip from 1946 singing his “groovy orooney” number, Dunkin’ Bagel.
Chris Sullivan comments: “I’ve never seen this … but then again I really didn’t like the interviewer hence my lack of enthusiasm in our chat.”
At the Wag in 1984: jazz deejay Paul Murphy, and American trouper Slim Gaillard (BBC)
Me and Mr Sanchez: 1981’s debut chart hit for Blue Rondo à la Turk with cover art by former Wag club host Chris Sullivan
❚ PROMISES! PROMISES!All-round clubbing maestro Chris Sullivan has been faffing away for a year since he got his hands on the original master-tapes of his stand-out Latin-funk dance-band of 1982, Blue Rondo à la Turk. Going public on Facebook today, he dares to promise a re-release of their first album Chewing The Fat this spring (having originally mooted it for last spring), meanwhile posting online a punchy fresh mix of their debut chart single, Me and Mr Sanchez.
Sullivan said: “This is a remix we’ve done for our forthcoming bonus remix CD to accompany the first ever CD release of Blue Rondo’s first album Chewing The Fat on May 5.” Then comes the killer punch: “We’re looking to license it to a TV company for the World Cup… any ideas? It’s a no brainer and the original was used in Brazil by Globo TV for the 1982 World Cup but this is a better mix.”
A year ago he was downloading the whole Rondo catalogue fresh off the original tapes, saying: “First time anyone will have heard them digitally – other than disc dubs, of course. Looking back and listening to the tunes (especially the Heavens are Crying mix) what astonishes me is the f***-you-we’ll-do-our-thing approach.”
Since then Sullivan has released a handful of mixes from the putative new album, including an earlier mix of Mr Sanchez about which he acknowledged that the dean of swing, ex-Rondo guitarist Mark Reilly, “did the lion’s share”.
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 720,000 VIEWS SINCE THE LAUNCH OF SHAPERS OF THE 80s
➢ Spandau Ballet, the Blitz Kids and the birth of the New Romantics — The much-plundered story originally researched 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.
➢ 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.
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
❚ A CRACKLING EXCHANGE OF OPINIONS has given Facebook some edge this week. Legendary Wag club host, the deejay Chris Sullivan poured scorn on the term “jazz-funk” and its followers, igniting a barrage of responses from 70s fans of the Gold Mine, Caister and the Lacy Lady, sampled below.
➢ Chris Sullivan at Facebook, Nov 15:“ A friend of mine asked me what I played at Novikov every Sunday. I replied “jazz and funk” and he said “jazz-funk” and so horrified was I that anyone would think I play that rubbish, I recorded the start of my set for him and here it is… ”
Paul Carter: Nuthin wrong with jazz-funk at all – was the soundtrack to many young Londoners’ lives… The Gold Mine was one of the best clubs ever… When everyone was obsessed with punk and post punk, the really cool kids (black and white) were groovin to jazz-funk and soul. Just sayin.
Chris Sullivan: When I went to the Gold Mine it was funk but later came jazz-funk like Brazilian Love by George Duke and jazz-funkers started getting their hair permed and wearing dungarees and going to Purley All-Dayers… bloody horrible… Most true funk I love and jazz, especially Blue Note, is impeccable but jazz-funk is shite… and its emergence ruined a good little scene – remember the Cortinas with the car stickers “Wayne and Shirley” for example, and the furry dice.
Paul Carter: Bit of snobbery there I think… and it is an opinion Chris, no more… I remember some incredible nights down the Gold Mine with Chris Hill, Pete Tong, and the rest of them – a lot of wedges but not a perm in sight – just great music – I think it’s a real shame that it’s been written out of club culture in favour of Northern soul (dull dull dull) and the West End scene in which you played such a large part. I was in both scenes and I always loved that the suburban scene was just about the music, not about the width of your turn-ups (much as I loved Le Beat Route and the rest). Oh and it was far more racially mixed too… / Continued at Facebook
❚ EX-ST MARTIN’S AND WAG CLUB HOST Chris Sullivan says: “I’ll be deejay at the V&A again for next Friday’s free event. I’ll be doing a typical 80s club set from Kraftwerk to house with hip hop, rockabilly and mutant disco, to seminal electro and rare groove. It’s an evening of all sorts of shenanigans to do with the Club to Catwalk exhibition.”
The monthly Friday Late on October 25 at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum is inspired by the current exhibition Club to Catwalk: London Fashion in the 1980s, which celebrates the creativity and theatricality of the capital’s dynamic fashion and club scenes. Assistant curator Kate Bethune is running a busy programme of free events, including art and design workshops, art installations, expert talks, performances and deejay sets throughout the gallery.
DIY fashionistas will discover how to make their own Scarlett Dress (named after Scarlett Cannon, 80s Cha-Cha club hostess and now “key identity” for the exhibition, seen at left) by downloading the dress pattern from the V&A’s website. An example of the toile is being displayed in the Sackler Centre on Friday evening.
Kate reports: “Our free Friday Lates tend to attract upwards of 4,000 visitors and our Club to Catwalk exhibition, London Fashion in the 1980s, continues to prove extremely popular and is averaging 5,000 visitors a week.”
MORE INTERESTING THAN MOST PEOPLE’S FANTASIES — THE SWINGING EIGHTIES 1978-1984
They didn’t call themselves New Romantics, or the Blitz Kids – but other people did
“I’d find people at the Blitz who were possible only in my imagination. But they were real” — Stephen Jones, hatmaker, 1983. (Illustration courtesy Iain R Webb)
“The truth about those Blitz club people was more interesting than most people’s fantasies” — Steve Dagger, pop group manager, 1983
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COUNTDOWN TO THE NEW DOCTOR WHO
◆ Who arrives August 23? Shapersofthe80s tells the tale of Peter Capaldi’s big break in 1982 as stand-up comic supporting Spandau Ballet’s first UK tour — springboard to 2014 and becoming the 12th Doctor Who on BBC-tv
NEWS — OLD FACES, NEW MIXES FOR THE 20-TEENS
✱ Bowie sends signal: “More music soon” in a message to a charity event in London on July 12. He added: “Remember to dance, dance, dance”
✱ Billed as “the most exciting musician in the world right now”, FKA twigs leads the pack of up-and-coming future mavericks sending out shockwaves in the summer issue of Dazed (no longer Confused)
✱ The modern issue: i-D summer 2014
✱ Finally!!! Culture Club, they come, they go, they come back, with George resuming his role as Boy, on the road with the sensational Alison Moyet in an 11-date UK tour Dec 1–15, Glasgow to Bournemouth, Tickets still available from Live Nation
✱ What a fab surprise! Former 80s Blitz Kid, now nightclub deejay, critic and style icon Princess Julia tells us: “What Would Julia Do by Rebecca Thomas is a contemporary photographic account of my life over the past five years, a vivid visual diary of how I combine my many interests, where I go and the people I meet, of course dressed for every occasion. For me ‘dressing’ is a way of life, it’s as natural as breathing”
✱ Singer Tony Hadley announces a 10-stop UK tour performing songs from his new album along with the hits of Spandau Ballet once again with a full orchestra, the Southbank Sinfonia, climaxing at London’s Theatre Royal Drury Lane ... Catch him too at Rewind Festivals South Aug 17 and North Aug 31 ... Also Big Tone’s party show Saturdays 7–9pm GMT on Absolute 80s Radio
✱ Remastered, expanded, deluxed: Grace Jones’s landmark 1981 album Nightclubbing explodes into comprehensively remastered formats including 180gm vinyl for 2014 ... Catch this freshly discovered Compass Point original of If You Wanna Be My Lover ... Grace also performs live at OnBlackheath on September 13 with Massive Attack
✱ The Laboratory Project is a utopian vision designed to take music to a global audience. Sample its latest compilation Taste Masters 4 on iTunes
✱ Powering on through summer and returning to Britain – Peter Hook & The Light perform New Order's Low Life live
✱ Tue-Sat: Distrkt, FCK, #FRI251, Factory Saturdays at Factory251 – EDM, house, garage, hiphop, tech, soul and indie over three floors designed by Ben Kelly ... Clubnights and live bands at Princess St Manchester M1 7EN
✱ Remake Remodel claims to be “The Nation’s Saving Grace of Alternative, Rock’n’Roll” with pure indie at Soup Kitchen, Manchester, on Mondays, and at Ruby Lounge every first Saturday
◆ By January 2014 WordPress had reported more than 474,000 views at Shapers of the 80s during the previous two years. Total views to date exceed 800,000
JUDI’S EYE VIEW
Judi at Spandau’s 1981 Sundown show, pictured by Shapersofthe80s
David Bowie spotted Steve Strange, of 1980s group Visage, wearing one of Judith Frankland’s creations, a black wedding dress, and asked if he could use it in his video. Judi says now: “Steve and I became firm friends. The Blitz was the place to be seen. It wasn’t big and could only hold 200 people, but you could never be too outrageous and only the wildly dressed got in. Those who stood around never met anyone… I can’t remember going to *meet* men in the Blitz. In purple, black and white make-up you felt like death anyway.”
HOT EDM FROM RUSTY EGAN
✱ Latest hour’s-worth of 120 bpm deep electronica from Blitz Club co-founder Rusty Egan... Follow him and the Electronic Family Tree Radio Shows live on mi-soul.com every Friday 01:00–03:00 BST
◆ Shapersofthe80s is declared an “invaluable website” by historian Dominic Sandbrook, author of the rich new cultural analysis, Seasons in the Sun: The Battle for Britain, 1974–1979. We report how Sandbrook gives generous credit to key influencers on youth culture. His unstuffy combination of high and low life energised the BBC2 series The Seventies aired in 2012
◆ Elsewhere at Shapers of the 80s, telly don Simon Schama succinctly expresses why we should document the “irreverent freedom” that is a special aspect of life in Britain
◆ Tony Hadley at Facebook: “My wife and I are pleased to announce the safe arrival of our beautiful baby daughter born on February 6, 2012” ... But for Spandau, Tony dropped another bombshell on ITV’s Loose Women on May 16
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