❚ re:VOX #12 IS A FAT special issue of Rob Kirby’s pocket magazine dedicated to 80s electronica, which celebrates the 30th anniversary earlier in January of the release of Ultravox’s hit single Vienna. This 40-page issue tracks the origins of Vienna as a monster hit that set a benchmark for pop’s new wave, both musically and with its innovative, cinematic video.
There is a lengthy interview with Barbie Wilde of Shock, the mime/dance troupe whose single Angel Face was produced by Rusty Egan of Visage and Richard Burgess of Landscape who also produced Spandau Ballet’s first records (today a director for Smithsonian Folkways, the nonprofit record label of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington). The Shock B-side R.E.R.B. is the first re-release by the new label Blitz Club Records — here’s a 30-second clip of the 2011 extended version:
In re:VOX Barbie describes the emergent mime scene inspired by visiting Paris in the late 1970s, and being involved at the age of 19 with Tim Dry in the formation of Shock in 1979, along with Robert Pereno, Lowri-Ann Richards, Karen Sparks and Sean Crawford (later Tok of Tik & Tok) and how all paths crossed at the Blitz, resulting in Shock becoming dance figureheads for the New Romantics. In October 1980 Barbie didn’t have much fun dodging explosions as she ran around Beckton Gas Works with Tok when they added romance to Ultravox’s video for Passing Strangers, one of the first pop promos directed by Russell Mulcahy, in which moustachioed Midge Ure thinks he’s Clark Gable.
Tim Dry, another ex-Shock performer, continues the saga of how in 1980 he span off to form the white-faced robo-mime duo Tik & Tok with Sean Crawford who was already familiar on London’s fashionable streets as a robot character called Plastic Joe. Dry had been completely unaware of the Blitz as a “secret underworld the rest of London was oblivious to” (along with the indolent record industry to whom the scene came as a monumental surprise once it exploded).
He gives full credit to Robert Pereno as the social networker who was key to both acts getting bookings on the clubbing circuit, and persuaded Tik & Tok to ditch disco in favour of cutting edge Euro-synth music. The duo made £30 from their first street performance outside San Lorenzo, the smart Beauchamp Place restaurant. From that pavement debut, television, fame and fortune beckoned…
Kirby has also produced a separate 16-page issue, re:VOX #13, to report the Blitz Club Reunion party itself, held at the site of the original 1980 club on Jan 15 jointly to launch the book Remembering Eden by Jus Forrest and Helen Waterman, as well as Egan & Strange’s website for their label Blitz Club Records. Rob gives his first-person account of the party, confessing that he was too young to be one of the original Blitz Kids and reminds us that he’d fallen in with Rusty quite recently as an obsessive archivist who can trace every track Rusty had ever played as the Blitz club’s deejay. They have already shared their playlists with Graham Smith, the designer of Spandau Ballet’s graphics whose anthology of 80s photographs, We Can be Heroes, is published in September by DJhistory.com
❏ Each issue of re:VOX costs £1.50 from Rob Kirby, 2 Bramshott Close, London Road, Hitchin, Herts SG4 9EP
WHICH TRACKS WOULD YOU LIKE ON
A BLITZ CLUB COMPILATION?
Egan plans to produce a Blitz Club album, not of the usual suspects who are wheeled out on 80s compilations, but artists as cutting-edge as those Rusty was so eagle-eared at finding on his travels through Europe in the late 70s. “Not 12-inch disco remixes,” he says. “Our clubs played great weird music like Can, Neu and Magazine.”
He is inviting lovers of Billy’s, Blitz and Club for Heroes music from 1978 to 1981 to propose the key tracks they think made London’s clubbing scene so inspirational. He names as examples the German version of Bowie’s “Helden” (1977) that he played relentlessly at Billy’s, RAF by Snatch featuring Brian Eno (1983) and Eno’s own King’s Lead Hat (1978), Television’s Little Johnny Jewel (1975) which he says has “great drums” from Billy Ficca, Klactoveesedstein by Blue Rondo a la Turk (1982), and the French model Ronny’s If You Want Me To Stay (1981).