“ 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
◼ 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.
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)
✱ 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
✱ 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)
➢ 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.”
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
➢ 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.”
➢ 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
Spandau live at the Albert Hall: All six members of the band reunited, the sixth being manager Steve Dagger in the wings
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
The old gang: Robert Elms, Christina Wilson
At rehearsals, Dagger and Norman
The old gang: Graham Smith, daughter Carla Jane
The old gang: 80s Spandau keyboardist Jess Bailey
The old gang: Christos Tolera, Wendy Bevan
The old gang: Spandau biographer Paul “Scoop” Simper
Vintage MTV interview: Gary, Tony and an icicle moment
Q&A: George Hencken and band face Lauren Laverne’s questions
Spandau live: Hadley sings True.
Barricades photographed by Dave Hogan
Spandau farewell: keyboardist Sean Barry and backing singers Lex Cameron and Derek Green
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.
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 film premiere: Rock god Keeble photographed by Dave Hogan
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, 1983)
“The truth about those Blitz club people was more interesting than most people’s fantasies” — Steve Dagger, pop group manager, 1983
An “invaluable website” — historian Dominic Sandbrook, 2012
A UNIQUE HISTORY
➢ WELCOME to the Swinging 80s ➢ THE BLOG POSTS on this front page report topical updates ➢ ROLL OVER THE MENU AT TOP to go deeper into the past ➢ FOR NEWS & MONTH BY MONTH SEARCH, see the sidebar below
❏ Header artwork by Kat Starchild shows Blitz Kids Darla Jane Gilroy, Elise Brazier, Judi Frankland and Steve Strange, with David Bowie at centre in his 1980 video for Ashes to Ashes
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NEWS — OLD FACES, NEW MIXES FOR THE 20-TEENS
✱ Career-spanning collection featuring all of Midge Ure’s solo singles, select Ultravox recordings, previously unreleased material and collaborations with artists such as Kate Bush, Moby, Mick Karn and Sir George Martin. Soundtrack 1978-2019 is released on 20 Sept as 2CD+DVD set, priced £16
✱ Shakespears Sister have announced their official reunion as a band, 26 years after they originally disbanded. They embark on a 14-date Ride Again UK Tour on 31 October. Meanwhile their album Singles Party (1988-2019) is out now
✱ The 50-date Peter Frampton Farewell Tour is running through the summer in the USA. Frampton will retire from regular vigorous touring at the end of this year due to illness. $1 of every ticket sold will benefit The Peter Frampton Myositis Research Fund at Johns Hopkins. He says his latest album All Blues “kicks ass on every track”. Alas the British-born Face of ’68 is not saying farewell in his homeland
✱ On 7 Oct deejay Gary Crowley is ‘Coming Home’ to The Cockpit Theatre in NW8, a neighbourhood stage where he once attended the weekly youth drama group. He will be discussing his career in music, radio and TV with writer Navaz Batliwalla. Plus other dversions, all for £10
✱ Party Time! The current B-52s World tour continues across the States through September
✱ Watch out for ex-Wag Club supremo Chris Sullivan’s new book Rebel Rebel for £11. It runs to 480 pages with rigorous appreciations of such heroes as Bowie, Iggy and Robert Mitchum, plus his own illustrations. Cheapest bought from Waterstones
✱ Apart from being a seminal force in forging the new pop music of the Swinging Eighties, Blitz Club deejay Rusty Egan’s own “electro-diskow” album, Welcome to the Dancefloor, amounts to a superb sonic landmark. Read the full review at Shapersofthe80s
✱ Jeff Young on Jazz FM last year made the new 18-track Siren his album of the week. This January it won the Bright Star Music Award for Best Soul / R& B Album 2018, brainchild of Colourful Radio. It was superbly crafted by Londoner Robb Scott, with strong supporting line-up, for the Expansion label. Soul Brother Records says: “A collection of classy soul/jazz grooves on that has jazz at its heart but with some superb soulful brushstrokes applied.” Purchase directly from the artist’s store
✱ If you thought there was no more to know about the birth of Blitz culture in 1980 then get your hands on a sensational new book by an obsessive music fan called David Barrat. It is gripping, original and epic – a spooky tale of coincidence and parallel lives as mind-tingling as a Sherlock Holmes yarn. Titled both New Romantics Who Never Were and The Untold Story of Spandau Ballet! Sample this initial taster here at Shapers of the 80s
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