Category Archives: pure-pop

2017 ➤ My pantry, my memoir – ‘Scoop’ Simper relives the flamboyant decadent 80s

Pop Stars in My Pantry, PSIMP, Paul Simper, books, No1 magazine, Swinging 80s, Unbound

The boy wonder: “Scoop” Simper plugging No1 on Switch, the TV pop show

A rare book is published this month giving a vivid eye-witness account of one of the most creative eras for British pop music, the Swinging 80s. Paul Simper himself says: “It’s the pop life story pop-pickers have been gagging for.”

He should know, having emerged from London clubland to become the leading commentator on the New Pop led by image-conscious young bands when the rock press at large was giving them short shrift. Not only was he genuinely The Friend of The Stars but was one of the few writers who could also give it pure laldy dancing his socks off down Le Beat Route. Pop Stars in My Pantry is his confessional memoir and today Shapers of the 80s reprints an exclusive extract. . . But first, who is the man called Simper?

Steve Norman, Paul Simper, PSIMP , Pop Stars In My Pantry,

Wakey-wakey! Spandau Ballet sax player Steve Norman discovers our hero Simper relaxing during a characteristic night out on the town during London’s Swinging 80s

THERE’S NO EXPLAINING PAUL SIMPER except as a life force which is Always On – sometimes as a mouse, sometimes a bunny, often in a skirt or a sequinned tuxedo. Not usually at same time, obvs. He’s obsessive, definitely bonkers, extremely good “in the room” and, oh yes, quite an entertaining showbiz writer.

Now he’s had the nerve to bring out his life story as a book called Pop Stars in My Pantry (PSIMP for short) when you’d think people in the music biz would have learned a lesson from Morrissey’s Pooterish own goal. Luckily Simper seems to have had massively more fun than Moz, actually likes the people he writes about and, oh yes, brings a wicked sense of humour to an industry not noted for knowing how to laugh.

books, Unbound,pop life,clubbing,1980s, Paul Simper, PSIMP , Pop Stars In My Pantry,As a singer in Slippry Feet – a marriage of supper-club in a circus ring meets David Lynch in a disco – Simper only ever got as far as being the best group of December 1993. Bar none. Fortunately for this book he has the day job to fall back on and he is SUCH a namedropper. Look at the puffery adorning his book’s back jacket: “Always a joy to hang with” – Siobhan Fahey; “The most trusted person in 80s pop” – Patsy Kensit; “Truly the epitome of the embedded journalist” – Gary Kemp.

Goes with territory when you have become Friend of The Stars, having leapfrogged from Melody Maker within minutes of coming up from the sticks in 1981, onto smart new fan mags like New Sounds New Styles and No 1 which counted clubbing on-the-town as research. There from the off, he was friends with the burgeoning new generation of self-invented nightlife stars who were storming off fashionable dancefloors across the UK and into the singles charts to knock the rock dinosaurs for six. Fellow clubbing names being dropped go from George Michael to Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Bananarama to Boy George. Not to mention Madonna, Prince, Whitney, Elton and Weller. Woohoo!

Early on I nicknamed him “Scoop” Simper because even though I worked for a Deeply Influential Mainstream Newspaper, whenever any big sexy pop star, like, y’know Debbie Harry, flew in from abroad *he* got the exclusive interview even though he “only” worked for one of those pure-pop weeklies full of pinups and lyrics and breathless reviews.

➢ Pop Stars in My Pantry
is on sale at Amazon

So who’s having the last laugh now?! Well probably Scoop, as usual, since PSIMP proves to be “a right frollicking read for the adults in your family”, while my own book has blurted itself out and into this website for several years, clocking up barely a handful of Wikipedia footnotes to credit. And now His Majesty is entrusting Shapers of the 80s with running an excerpt from one of the best chapters in his book, the story of Sade Adu, the Essex girl who rose via St Martin’s School of Art to become one of the UK’s biggest Grammy-award winning pop exports, described by Robert Sandall in The Sunday Times in 2010 as “the most successful solo British female artist in history”.

Scoop spills the beans: “Sade was very much a part of my early years as a young pop writer living in London. She even used to kindly let me sleep on her sofa.” So here’s a short teaser-taster from PSIMP, but do click through to our inside page for the full extract when Sade’s first band Pride goes in search of Manhattan’s edgy Village scene. . .

Sade’s debut with her own band in Aug 1983 at the Yow club, London, Paul Denman to the fore. Photographed © by Shapersofthe80s

MY RESIDENCY ON SADE’S SOFA
BY ‘SCOOP’ SIMPER

I owed Sade and Bob Elms plenty. When I first moved to London I couldn’t have been more grateful for the existence of their north London home tucked away in multi-cultural Wood Green on the Noel Park Estate.

Their old sofa didn’t exclusively have my name on it – fresh-down-from-Hull saxophonist Stuart Matthewman was pretty much clothed, housed and fed by them over the same period – but on the occasions I was invited back, I took some shifting. Sade reckoned that a pair of my old socks stuck around even longer than me until she ceremonially buried them, like high-grade plutonium, in the back garden.

I was never so bold as to turn up unannounced, but if Bob suggested a home viewing of an under-the-counter video of Texas Chainsaw Massacre or The Hills Have Eyes that he’d got his mitts on in Soho (I’d discovered in my early days in London there was a black market for everything), then I was more than up for it.

My telly viewing habits were not of primary importance to the residents at No 64 Hewitt Avenue by the spring of 1982, though, when Bob and Lee Barrett started talking up this new band called Pride that “Shard” was in. Stuart Matthewman was also involved, as were fellow Hull lads drummer Paul Cooke and bass player Paul Denman.

Back in Hull, Stuart had been in The Odds, a pop/mod band similar to The Piranhas that had started out doing speeded-up punk versions of 60s hits like The Dave Clark Five’s Glad All Over. He then played sax in a ten-piece Elvis impersonator show called Ravin’ Rupert, which covered the whole spectrum of The King’s career from rockabilly to Vegas delivered by a front man sporting a quiff and wearing Rupert-the-Bear checked trousers. A tad cooler was Paul Cooke and Paul Denman’s prog-rock band, The Posers, which Stuart credits as being the only band in Hull trying to do something new.

As for Sade, her singing career had only begun a few months previous when she sang onstage for the first time as part of another London band, Ariva. Considering Ariva were viewed as a bit of a Blue Rondo rip-off, ironically it was on the way to a Rondo gig on Barry Island that Lee first clocked Sade singing along to the radio and asked her if she could sing. She thought she probably could so said Yes. . .

➢ Continue reading about Sade’s first foray with Pride
to New York City – inside Shapers of the 80s

Sade Adu, Pride, pop music, NYC, 1982

NYC 1982: Sade and her British Pride posse hang with the locals on the streets of Alphabet City

Sade Adu

By 1986 Sade was touring the world fronting a band in her own name, here in Paris

Sade Adu, soul music

Sade’s band in Paris 1986: keyboard player Andrew Hale and manager Lee Barrett

➢ There’s a launch party and a book review for PSIMP coming up soon so fasten your seat belts for a full report!

PAUL’S OTHER ROOST: NO.1 THE POP WEEKLY

FRONT PAGE

➤ When the Blitz Kids blessed Abba and conferred their cult status

◼ ON THE 20TH ANNIVERSARY of The Sunday Times publishing its encyclopedic Abba-to-Zappa partwork, 1000 Makers of Music, let’s recall the first pop biography in its 1,000. The Swedish four-piece Abba won the Eurovision contest in 1974 with their Waterloo wall of sound, not to mention instant celebrity for their self-selected kitsch costumes from the age before stylists had been invented. We’ve dug out from the vaults the ST assessment of Abba to remind us how these deeply embarrassing Scandinavians went on to transform their reputation from cheesemakers to the most ironic definition of Pure-Popsters!

In the UK Abba were utterly rehabilitated within a decade by London’s subcultural opinion formers. Most memorably, Shapersofthe80s witnessed (sadly without a camera to hand) an immaculate recreation of Abba’s Dancing Queen video by clubland’s coolest Blitz Kids cutting the rug at designer Fiona Dealey’s 1983 birthday party. Spontaneously, movers and shapers such as Dylan Jones not only fell into dance formation but knew all the words, plus Agnetha and Anni-Frid’s hand moves too! It was, in that frozen moment of time, a shockingly unbelievable sight. It marked the birth of a much-loved cult.

Abba, pop music, Eurovision

1000 Makers of Music: six-week partwork from The Sunday Times

FROM 1000 MAKERS OF MUSIC, MAY 1997:

Abba – Swedish, 1973-82, vocal group

As cheesy now as when they won the 1974 Eurovision song contest singing Waterloo, Abba embody a perennial contradiction: you may make the quintessential pop music of the decade but you must remain for ever a bad joke if that era proves as tasteless as the 1970s. Abba’s lovingly coupled foursome – the acme of glitz in their satins and flares – were derided because Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, as journeymen songsmiths, wrote singalong melodies epitomising Europe’s dreaded folkloric tradition. Worse, their sentimental lyrics about love and money – in English – nauseated purists who preferred Anglo-American guitar heroes who mouthed youthful dissent.

Yet Abba scored eight consecutive No 1 albums in Britain and 25 Top 40 singles so catchy that everybody can hum one. In 1992 Abba’s hits were revived ironically by Erasure and ingenuously by a tribute band called Björn Again. Today Abba enjoy cult status in Britain as new generations, numbed by the joylessness of techno and talent contests, recycle yesteryear’s kitsch to discover ecstasy in pure pop.

❏ Keywork: Knowing Me, Knowing You (1977)

MORE PURE-POP AT SHAPERS OF THE 80S:

➢ Kylie dazzles London with laser-love
➢ Wise words for Only The Young from PJ (he’s The Daddy)
➢ My pantry, my memoir – ‘Scoop’ Simper relives the flamboyant decadent 80s

➢ 1000 Makers of Music; Steve Dagger on Duran Duran
➢ 1000 Makers of Music: Robert Craft on Stravinsky
➢ 1000 Makers of Music: John Peel on Smith and The Fall

FRONT PAGE

➤ Wise words for Only The Young from PJ (he’s The Daddy)

Only The Young, X Factor, Popjustice, pop music, TV,Parisa Tarjomani,Charlie George, Mikey Bromley, Betsy-Blue English

Exiting the X Factor: a month ago Only The Young were tipped to become the best pop group in the country. (Photo: Syco)

◼ THERE’S NO JUSTICE IN POP – usually where Simon Cowell is involved – until Popjustice has spoken. And the nicest thing to happen to the ubertalented act booted off The X Factor finals this weekend – two girls, two boys called Only The Young – is to be told today exactly how to plan their career by Peter Robinson, the Svengali behind the brilliant comment website Popjustice, whose whole existence is “all about giving pop precisely the amount of respect it deserves”. And that demands more real deep-down loving for the daffy world of tinsel tunes and unrequited fan worship than dishing out easy kicks to the gut. PR is The Daddy and we don’t mean patronising, we mean paternal. He is a saint and PJ is a miracle melange of twitchy gotta-dance feet and non-cynical sarkiness. The real clue is in its name.

Popjustice, pop music, website

PJ’s editorial stance

So what can Only The Young discover today after their long dark Sunday of sobbing into their pillows because there’s no justice in TV talent contests? If they google themselves now they will find that Popjustice has rushed boldly into print with a letter of pure lurrrve and really shrewd advice drawn from years of knowing its way round the demented biz of pop.

PJ doesn’t rant on saying “They wuz robbed”. Instead it explains odd facts of life of about how a TV talent show can miscast an act, how it juggles its roster and how other talent-show rejects have shipwrecked their careers within five minutes. Then PJ tells Only The Young how brilliant they are and delivers a six-month action plan:

“Think of yourselves as a Wall’s Viennetta. Imagine that you are amazing, which shouldn’t be hard because you are, indeed, amazing. And imagine that you are in the freezer. You will still be amazing when you’re taken out of the freezer in six or eight months.”

This masterclass of pure-pop careers advice (easily worth 10% of their future contract) goes on for 1,000 words about which label to sign to, which producers to call, which acts not to emulate and which two to follow. The best tip of all is about haircuts.

Our synopsis does not contain spoilers and you really should click through to the full monty now.

➢ Enjoy the real Popjustice experience. Wow!

FRONT PAGE

➤ Too cool to crow — Paradise Point just happen to be gigging in Hyde Park before Grace and Pulp

Paradise Point,O2Academy ,Wireless Festival ,livepop,Hyde Park, music festival

“It takes a minimum of four girls to start The Scream,” said Steve Dagger in the 80s: the old rule of pure-pop was certainly fulfilled at Islington’s sold-out O2Academy when Paradise Point headlined tonight. Cam Jones leads an encore of Run In Circles which basically the girls sang for him — in between screams. Roman Kemp at left, Adam Saunderson right © Shapersofthe80s

Wireless Festival ,Hyde Park, Paradise Point , 2011◼ THIS WEEK BASSIST ROMAN KEMP told Hemel FM: “We’ve only been around for eight months so we’re amazed by how it’s been going. The other day we were confirmed for the Wireless Festival on Sunday. We were amazed. Playing before Pulp!”

OK, a bit of artistic licence there. The club scene’s dynamic pure-pop teen band Paradise Point are scheduled to strike up at exactly 15:20 in Hyde Park, which is about four hours before Grace Jones goes on, to be followed by Jarvis Cocker’s band Pulp who top the bill at the three-day fest. All the same, Kemp wasn’t exactly overdoing the crowing rights. This gig is a huge coup for a bunch of live 18-year-old popsters without a recording deal.

➢ Wireless Festival runs July 1–3 in Hyde Park, London,
with Black-Eyed Peas, Chemical Brothers and Pulp
headlining a bill of 91 acts across four stages

Paradise Point, O2Academy,Steve Dagger, Martin Kemp,Wireless Festival

In the audience for Paradise Point at Islington’s O2Academy: Spandau manager Steve Dagger and Martin Kemp vote Roman Kemp’s band a hit. So no surprises there, then.

Call of the Wyld is a blogger who “tracks young, new and exciting bands as they emerge” and last month he wrote: “This lot are sex on legs and even if they weren’t actually any good they would still find it hard to walk on stage without being shrieked at. Fortunately their music is excellent too. These are real pop gems — certainly 80s inflected, but delivered with a whomp and panache that would put a lot of other acts to shame. The Only One is a track that is going to get them a lot of attention.” As a taster or three, view PP’s live debut last November (below), videoed by Shapersofthe80s, scan our first PP concert review and give the Hemel FM interview a spin:/%20

FRONT PAGE