Category Archives: Blitz Kids

1980 ➤ When Duran Duran put Brummie Romantics on the map

Duran Duran, New Romantics

Duran Duran in 1980: Birmingham’s fluffiest New Romantics

40
YEARS
ON

◼ 40 YEARS AGO TODAY the Birmingham club-band Duran Duran released their debut single Planet Earth, less than two months after signing to EMI. It charted in mid-March, peaked at No 12, and bagged the band a spot on Top of the Pops, Britain’s premier music TV show. They were the first New Romantic band from outside London to make good, and the writer Steve Jansen claims that “inside of three short years, Duran were officially the biggest band on the planet”.

He celebrated Duran’s birthpangs with a thorough survey of their origins titled Switch It On! – Planet Earth & The Launch of Duran Duran, on the blog gimmeawristband.com which though sadly defunct today, is preserved at the Wayback Machine. As a shorter alternative, Shapersofthe80s documented a few key excerpts from his epic account, where Jansen talked to all the key players involved during the run-up to the band’s chart debut. They are published here with his permission…

➢ Previously at Shapers of the 80s:
Read Steve Jansen on how other people’s faith put
the Brummies into the charts

➢ Previously at Shapers of the 80s:
1980, How Duran Duran’s road to stardom began
in the Studio 54 of Birmingham

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2020 ➤ Premiering tonight: Spandau’s Parade tour from the Swinging 80s

Blitz Kids, New Romantics, pop music, Swinging 80s, Spandau Ballet, Parade World Tour,

Spandau Ballet in 1985: dressed to impress for their Parade World Tour

❚ THIS WEEK 40 YEARS AGO Spandau Ballet’s first single peaked at No 5 in the UK chart three weeks after its release and exactly one year after the unknown band’s debut at the legendary Blitz Club. More amazingly, in their first year Spandau had been booked to play live on only 10 occasions (two of those on TV, the last being Top of The Pops)! That’s how sudden was their rise during 1980. That’s how phenomenal was their fan base powered by the New Romantics movement.

40
YEARS
ON

Tonight at 8pm GMT the band celebrate by premiering online the video Rockpop In Concert which evokes the Parade Tour of 1984-85, their biggest globally, launched with five nights in Tokyo and its UK leg culminating in December 84 with six nights at Londons Wembley Arena (one more than Duran Duran achieved). These were Spandaus international glory years, fronted by the dazzling vocals of Tony Hadley. This rare 45-minute video captures their taste for flamboyant designer-fashion in their performance at Dortmund’s Westfalenhalle arena, filmed for the German TV show Rockpop and aired in January 1985.

Also marking their 40th anniversary, Spandau have released a choice new compilation album titled 40 Years – The Greatest Hits, as a triple CD set and as double vinyl LPs.

Sax-player Steve Norman says: “I hadn’t heard these mixes for almost 40 years. I’d actually forgotten that we did two 12-inch mixes of ‘Story’. The band’s energy is all over it, which is how I remembered it sounding.” In a promo vid drummer John Keeble notes: “Oh, and I’ve got a credit for backing vocals… about time too!”

➢ Watch tonight’s streaming of Spandau’s Rockpop In Concert video at You Tube: 4 December 8PM GMT / 12PM PST / 3PM EST. The show will continue streaming for the next 48 hours

➢ Order Spandau’s new album 40 Years – The Greatest Hits, plus new items of merch

➢ View Spandau’s first appearance on Top Of The Pops playing To Cut a Long Story Short, on 13 Nov 1980

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s:
1980, The Invisible Hand of Shapersofthe80s accounts for the unprecedented rise and rise of Spandau Ballet

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2020 ➤ Sade’s 20 songs that ensure she remains a 21st-century star

Sade Adu, album, singer-songwriter, This Far, Sony Music,

“No one does small-hours heartbreak quite like Sade”: The singer photographed in 1990 by David Graves

From aching soul to minimalist funk, Sade and her band don’t make many records but their quality has never waned. As a career box set is released, in today’s Guardian critic Alexis Petridis ranks their 20 best songs…

No 1: By Your Side (2000)

There’s a compelling argument that Lovers Rock is Sade’s masterpiece, a collection of deeply affecting meditations on parenthood, loss and race on which they simultaneously pared down and broadened out their sound: its tracks subtly encompass everything from hip-hop to reggae to singer-songwriter folksiness. And, in By Your Side, it has Sade’s greatest song: its hushed atmosphere not a million miles removed from Bob Marley’s No Woman No Cry, its melody so perfectly formed it feels instantly familiar, its lyrics simple but moving. How it isn’t the kind of modern standard that gets regularly murdered on The X Factor is an enduring mystery, although the 1975’s Auto-Tune-heavy cover is nice enough.

➢ Visit The Guardian to read reviews of the other
19 tracks in the Petridis Top 20

➢ Order This Far, a vinyl box set with remastered versions of Sade’s six albums, released today on Sony Music

➢ Previously at Shapers of the 80s:
1982, Sade’s new band Pride need a UK record deal – so let’s go and make friends in Manhattan

➢ Previously at Shapers of the 80s:
2010, Comeback Shard comfy as ‘Auntie Sade’

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2020 ➤ Yes, Midge Ure has Fleetwood Mac to thank for his landmark hit Vienna

40
YEARS
ON

❚ ON THIS DAY in 1980 Ultravox released one of the three most significant albums of the year that exemplified Britain’s new wave of synthesised electronic music – the others coming from Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark (in February) and Japan (in October). None of them acknowledged any association with the New Romantics movement. Ultravox’s 12-track album Vienna made an immediate impact, though its title track was only its third to be released, hitting No 2 in the charts in January 1981, later winning Single of the Year at the Brit Awards and an age later voted “the UK’s favourite No2 of all time” in a BBC poll.

It was produced by the German Conny Plank with an evocatively romantic landmark video directed by Russell Mulcahy who was creating a stunning visual vocabulary for the then novel music video. Midge Ure can take full credit as lead singer and guitarist for breathing a subtle blend of Roxy Music’s style and krautrock clarity into Ultravox and building them into a credible vanguard for electronica. Even as the word punk was given the heave-ho in favour of the term “new wave”, Ure was probably the first active player of a synth among any of his clubbing pals, having bought his first, the polyphonic Yamaha CS-50, in the summer of ’78.

As one of the most innovative musicians of the new decade, having had fingers in more pop pies than most, Ure is well qualified to stake his claim to have shaped the music of the Blitz Kids (among whom he was very much an honorary member), and here he describes the inspiration for Vienna, in an extract from his eloquent and candid 2004 autobiography If I Was (Virgin Books):

The first time I plugged in and made a noise with Ultravox was in April 1979 at a rehearsal room in the Elephant and Castle. Right from the first minute I knew I had come home. This noise was what I had been searching for, not only could these people make that noise, but they also could teach me how to make it. [These people being Chris Cross, Billy Currie, Warren Cann.]

What we were doing was radical and new: synthesisers, drum machines and electric guitar mixed together, synth bass with regular drums playing on top of it, the electronic and the organic. It had never been done before. Our sound was massive, this weird crossover between Kraftwerk and the guitars, bass and drums that belonged to every rock band in the world…

I might have been a one-time teeny-bop guitarist but once I was behind the technology, the music that made me famous was the darkest, most serious stuff I’d ever done. Those early days in Ultravox were the best time of my life. The result was a complete crossover, maybe that’s why it worked. The music came from all of us: everyone contributed and we split all the songwriting credits four ways. The classic example of all of us working together was Vienna.

Midge Ure, Ultravox, pop music, Swinging 80s,

The day job: in 1979 Midge Ure (moustachioed) resurrected the name of Ultravox along with Billy Currie, Chris Cross and Warren Cann. © Getty

One night I was sitting having a conversation with my old manager, Gerry Hempstead, who had co-managed the Rich Kids, when his wife Brenda said to me: ‘Midge, what you need to write is a song like that Vienna.’ I looked blank and she went, ‘You know, the Fleetwood Mac song.’ I looked blanker. ‘No, it wasn’t Vienna,’ said Gerry, ‘it was Rhiannon.’ That was the night I went home with Vienna lodged in my brain.

The next morning it was still there. I walked into the kitchen in my little flat and said to Billy, who was staying over, ‘I’ve got a line running around in my head I can’t get rid of, “this means nothing to me, this means nothing to me, Vienna”.’ We built the song from that one lyric. Every component element came from all four of us. It wouldn’t have been Vienna without Warren’s heartbeat drum sound, and it wouldn’t have been Vienna without the bass synth notes and Billy’s eerie viola… / Continued in Chapter 10 of If I Was

➢ Buy Midge Ure’s If I Was: The Autobiography

➢ Previously at Shapers of the 80s:
1978, Midge stakes his claim as the weathervane of synth-pop who helped shape the British New Wave

➢ Previously at Shapers of the 80s:
110+ acts who set the style for the new music of the 1980s

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2020 ➤ Vocalist Hadley hammers final nail into the coffin of Spandau Ballet

Tony Hadley , Martin Kemp, Gary Kemp, Rhys Thomas, BBC2, Spandau Ballet, mockumentary,

From last night’s Sun Online

Tony Hadley, Martin Kemp, Gary Kemp, Rhys Thomas, BBC2, Spandau Ballet, mockumentary,

In The Kemps spoof TV doc: this portrait was supposedly painted by Gary Kemp (BBC)

❚ ANOTHER SUN EXCLUSIVE WENT ONLINE simultaneously with last night’s TV “mockumentary” about the Kemp brothers of Spandau Ballet, The Kemps: All True. It saw brothers Martin and Gary mock themselves and featured a portrait supposedly painted by Gary Kemp of Hadley with red eyes, red horns and fangs. Their former singer who reported quitting three years ago declared that he’d rather watch Broadchurch than their TV show. The Sun Online reports Hadley as saying:

Tony Hadley , singer, pop music,

Big Tone: “I’m done.” (Photo: Rex)

I wasn’t approached and would not have anything to do with it. I’m done. They want me back for good but it ain’t going to happen. I’d rather be happy on my own than be in that band again. If they want another lead singer, that’s their choice. But if you want to hear those songs sung by the original singer then you can only really see one bloke – and that’s me.

The Sun reports Hadley’s reaction to the Kemps using their hit Gold last month for a cheesy TV advert for the washing powder Bold. It saw Gold’s lyrics changed to “Bold”:

It’s embarrassing. I posted a social media disclaimer saying, ‘This was nothing to do with me’. Gary wrote Gold. It’s anthemic. When I sing it live, the audience sing back. To change the title is just weird. I thought it was in bad taste.

➢ View The Kemps: All True at BBC iPlayer

➢ Previewed at Shapers of the 80s:
2020, Knife-edge TV doc shows Kemp tongues firmly in their cheeks

➢ Previously at Shapers of the 80s:
2017, Tony Hadley pulls the plug on Spandau Ballet – but the band will rise from the dead

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