Category Archives: Technology

2016 ➤ On film: two electrifying hours of The Beatles as they’ve never been seen and heard

The Beatles, Eight Days a Week, Ron Howard, documentary, film, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, John Lennon, George Harrison, Swinging Sixties, live concert, vintage, pop music, Shea Stadium, touring,

Pristine footage: The Beatles play Shea Stadium in August 1965. (Image: SubaFilms)

LAST NIGHT AT A LONDON CINEMA I saw the most exciting live pop concert since the same band played live in the Swinging Sixties. Ron Howard’s new Beatles documentary, Eight Days A Week about the touring years 1963-66, is a sensational feast of long-lost performance footage that confronts us with the Fab Four’s raw onstage energy and pounding tempo – the audio as gorgeously restored as the images. This two-hour celebration of Beatle genius goes behind the clichés of hysteria to give us Access All Areas. It delivers one revelation after another, from Paul’s “Oh-my-God” moment when Ringo joined the band, to the jaw-dropping recording of a top-ten single in 90 minutes of studio time, to their 1964 triumph for civil rights when the band refused to tour in the US until audience segregation was abandoned at their venues.

New interviews from Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney keep dropping gems of insight about this the most commercially successful group in pop history, while vintage footage does as much justice to lippy John Lennon and “quiet” George Harrison who are no longer with us.

Throughout this joyous moptops-into-men odyssey we’re wide-eyed at the sheer cheek of these multimedia superstars, aged between 19 and 22, who created their own interview style by pinging back witty ad-libs to questions from the world’s media. The downside was mass hysteria from teenaged babyboom fans laying siege to hotels and airports where they repeatedly overwhelmed police and security on an often scarifying scale.

Beatle albums sat at No 1 in the charts for 20 to 30 weeks at a time – more No 1 albums than any other musical act. Their 20 No 1 hit singles on the Billboard Hot 100 chart remain unchallenged.

The Beatles, Eight Days a Week, Ron Howard, documentary, film, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, John Lennon, George Harrison, Swinging Sixties, live concert, vintage, pop music, Shea Stadium, touring,

Ron Howard with Paul and Ringo this week: “I love this photo that was taken yesterday at Abbey Road Studios in historic Studio 2 while we were promoting The Beatles: Eight Days a Week”

Everything The Beatles did was without precedent. Among their innovations they launched arena rock and at Shea Stadium Howard’s doc ensures that we hear George’s guitar chords above the screaming audience of 55,000 fans. As a shock reminder of Sixties technology, Vox had built three new amps for the Beatles, each souped up to 100 watts (!!!) specially for touring America, their output being relayed via microphones to feed the stadium’s tinny loudspeaker system!!!

It is a breath-taking source of inspiration to know that during The Beatles’ far from meteoric early years, this Liverpudlian band of brothers had played at least 456 live gigs before signing their recording contract with EMI. Yes, 456 !!! With that amount of practice, it should be no surprise to find that their legacy amounts to 237 original compositions – songs which most people on the planet can hum, while the most radical among them personify the Sixties counterculture. As the best-selling band in history, the Fabs revolutionised all of music for ever.

Howard’s previous reality epics include the wonderful Apollo 13 and the gripping joust, Frost/Nixon. This week he told The Guardian: “I began to think of the Beatles story as like Das Boot: they’re in it together, they have each other, they know what their objective is, but, y’know, it’s a dangerous world out there.”

WHAT THE PRESS ARE SAYING

➢ Ron Howard trashes the idea that there’s nothing new to say about the Beatles – The Guardian:
This is about the Beatles as live phenomenon, and the fact that their music was all the more remarkable because it had to be heard above the scream – that ambient sound of sex, excitement and modernity, mixed in with a thin chirrup of press envy. The scream was an important part of it. . . an almost unbroken four-year, semi-improvised multimedia performance for which there was no pre-existing template – not simply the music but the giant public spectacle and public scrutiny.

➢ 10 Things we learned from Eight Days a Week
– Rolling Stone:

In February 1964, the band and their entourage occupied nearly the entire 12th floor of the Plaza NYC, including the 10-room presidential suite. But despite the space, the four friends retired to smaller quarters. “The four of us ended up in the bathroom just to get a break from the incredible pressure,” Starr says.

➢ “We were force-grown, like rhubarb,” says John Lennon
– Daily Telegraph:

The film shrewdly draws a line between the Beatles’ mischievous sense of humour and their long-time producer George Martin’s earlier life recording alternative comedy. Martin had worked with the Goons, an enormous influence on the band’s growing lyrical eccentricity in that period, as well as their off-the-cuff ribbing of strait-laced reporters.

REMASTERED UK FOOTAGE, MANCHESTER 1963

Previously at Shapers of the 80s:

➢ No wonder The Beatles changed the shape of music after 456 sessions practising in public

➢ 1963, With The Beatles the day Kennedy was shot: “The second house was distinctly more subdued”

➢ 1966, More popular than Jesus: the fascinating Lennon interview in full

FRONT PAGE

2016 ➤ Van Jones reveals Prince’s humanitarian activities to CNN

➢ American political activist and friend reveals extent of Prince’s philanthropy on CNN – reported at Bring Me The News:

Stories about the Purple One’s generosity are starting to emerge in the days following his death, with his close friend Van Jones lifting the curtain on his humanitarian endeavours in an interview with CNN (which you can watch above).

Prince, YesWeCode

July 2014: Prince at the #YesWeCode Launch, at Essence Music Festival

As a practising Jehovah’s Witness, Jones says, Prince was “not allowed to speak publicly about any of his good acts” but Jones felt that now was the time people knew more about his charitable giving over the years.

Chief among the projects he helped fund is #YesWeCode, an initiative led by Jones aiming to teach 100,000 low-income, urban youths learn how to code to help them get jobs in the tech world. Jones says 15 major technology companies now work with “kids in the hood” to help them break into Silicon Valley through the project.

According to the L.A. Times, Jones said the inspiration for the idea came following the Trayvon Martin verdict, with Prince saying to Jones: “Every time people see a young black man wearing a hoodie, they think, he’s a thug. But if they see a young white guy wearing a hoodie they think, oh that might be Mark Zuckerberg. That might be a dot-com billionaire” . . . / Continued online

➢ Elsewhere at Shapersofthe80s:
Prince ‘A funny cat’ and ‘sole authentic genius’ of the 1980s

➢ Elsewhere at Shapersofthe80s:
Prince’s raunchy earliest videos and his last

FRONT PAGE

➤ Remembering Steve Strange: Today’s tweet from Midge Ure

Midge Ure, Rusty Egan, Steve Strange,,anniversary, death, Visage, pop music, Blitz Kids, New Romantics

Click to view original Tweet

❏ To which Rusty Egan, Steve’s partner in the Blitz Club and other landmark ventures that helped create the Swinging 80s, replies:

For 2 years prior to this unfortunate event Steve and I were embroiled in a public feud. Sadly we did not kiss and make up and I like most people was shocked he left us so young. RIP Steve. I have still got a few things I need to do… will sort that biz out later.

Visage, Swinging 80s, pop music, Blitz Kids, New Romantics,Midge Ure, Rusty Egan, Steve Strange, Dave Formula , Billy Currie

Visage 1980, left to right: Midge Ure, Rusty Egan, Steve Strange, Dave Formula and Billy Currie. (Photo © Denis O’Regan)

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s:
2015, Original Blitz Kids say farewell to Steve Strange – read exclusive tributes to the King of the Posers

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s:
1980, One week in the private worlds of the new young

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s:
Catch up on New Romantic landmarks reported here at Shapers of the 80s

➢ Read the story of Spandau Ballet, the Blitz Kids and the birth of the New Romantics at The Observer, by Yours Truly

FRONT PAGE

➤ Kerpow! Splat! Remix wizard Rusty unleashes all barrels on the music industry slackers

Rusty Egan, New Romantics, Blitz Kids, DJ, Kraftwerk, conference, Aston University, Soundcloud , Pop music, EDM, synthesiser,

Jan 2015: Rusty Egan ranting, sorry, lecturing at Aston University

◼ DID ASTON UNIVERSITY KNOW WHAT IT WAS DOING inviting deejay Rusty Egan to talk at an academic conference? The drummer and co-founder of the legendary 80s Blitz Club has dedicated his life to promoting electronic dance music so is uniquely qualified to spout on Germany’s seminal synth band at the world’s first scholarly gathering devoted to Kraftwerk and the Birth of Electronic Music. Conference organiser Dr Uwe Schütte claimed: “They are the most important band in the world in the way they changed music.”

Having been among their early disciples, Rusty was besotted enough to go hunting through Germany in the 70s in search of experiments in synthesised pop. His lifelong mission, he believes today, has shown “how Kraftwerk turned into Planet Rock turned into house music and what we know now as dance music.” He tells how he found the world’s first sampler in a German village called Wächtersbach, spent 12 hours making his first mash-up there and “never got paid for that record, not one dime”.

Rusty Egan, New Romantics, Blitz Kids, DJ, Kraftwerk, Pop music, EDM, synthesiser,

Sampling in Wächtersbach, 1979: ‪Rusty Egan‪ with Ian Tregoning making Wunderwerk with Franz Aumüller‬

Rusty made good with bands such as Rich Kids and Visage, in the face of the fat-cat indolence that prevailed in the torpid British music industry of the 70s, so last month’s platform enabled the now 57-year-old Rusty to settle a few scores by naming and shaming the rip-off merchants who, he says, have nicked his arrangements over the years and never paid a penny for them. By his own account, one of the guilty villains Rusty had paid £500 a day responded to his accusation saying: “Yeah but you should have kept the floppy disk.” Another lesson in the school of hard knocks.

The Aston “lecture” is described by one of the 200 delegates as “more of a comedy routine” and by Rusty himself as “Welcome to my insanity”. It’s now on Soundcloud for all to hear, and is typical of many an hour I’ve spent in Rusty’s kitchen trying to follow his uniquely entertaining stream-of-consciousness which randomly leaps from one story to the next while you work out that 20 years separates them. Early in his talk he says “I’m just mad on sound – it wasn’t a case of double paradiddle” illustrating his point with a beatbox break. So you have often to do a bit of Sherlockian deduction to finish his thoughts for him. His splenetic outbursts and ripe language (parental guidance advised) testify both to his indignation at the greed that characterises sections of the pop fraternity and to his own honesty, which even his friends suspect might be charming naivety.

Here’s his first rant:

In my experience record companies have never ever had any idea about creating music or creative people… I spent years not having any respect whatsoever for any guy in a satin jacket with Ace written on it with a briefcase with tour passes on it, long sideburns, dark glasses and a handlebar moustache, saying “Hi! I’m from your record label”. He was the last guy in the world you wanted to talk to and you had absolutely nothing you wanted to say to him.

VERDICTS BY RUSTY’S FANS AT FACEBOOK

Chi Ming Lai You will be in stitches.
Mat Mckenzie‪ This is a fantastic listen Rusty! ‬
Clive Pierce‪ Bravo… Absolutely riveting.‬
Anver Hanif‪ The knowledge and vision are superb.‬
Derek Quin‪ Rusty, you have been a massive influence on my music heritage. When I heard you speak at Aston it reinvigorated me.
Iris Peters‪ Great fun to listen to.
Jon Lowther‪ You and François Kevorkian defined the evolvement of electronica and the DJ. You have managed to maintain your passion, creativity and faith in an industry that fails. ‬
Mats From‪ I literally LOL’ed many times listening to thi‬s.

Rusty Egan, New Romantics, Blitz Kids, DJ, Kraftwerk, Pop music, EDM, synthesiser,

Kraftwerk’s pioneering drummer Wolfgang Flür: Rusty meets his hero in Dusseldorf more than 30 years after he first went in search of synth. . . “I was 22 when I met Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider and spent the evening explaining that future clubs will be playing music made by machines – what must they have thought!”

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s: 1980, One week in the private worlds of the new young when London blazes with creativity

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s: How three wizards met at the same crossroad in time – an inside scene-setter on the forces shaping the Swinging Eighties

RUSTY’S LATEST ELECTRONIC MIX

➢ Update from Spandau Ballet: Legendary deejay and friend of the band Rusty Egan has been confirmed as the support for all of the Soul Boys of the Western World tour UK & Ireland shows

FRONT PAGE

➤ Celebrating Midge Ure: the big-hearted old poser behind Band Aid

 Band Aid 30, pop music, recording, Midge Ure

Band Aid 30: Midge Ure yesterday conducting the artists for a new version of the song Do They Know It’s Christmas? Photograph: Band Aid Trust/Brian Aris/Camera Press

◼ TODAY AT 8pm ON THE X-FACTOR BAND AID 30 airs the fourth version of its pop smash hit, Do They Know It’s Christmas? So let’s remember the lifelong contribution of the quietest man in pop, Midge Ure, who is the true brains behind the charity project. As Bob Geldof described him on This Is Your Life: “He’s a great guy, hilariously funny though you wouldn’t know it from his old New Romantic posing. He’s got a great heart and is a great all-round good bloke.”



➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s: 1984, Band Aid, when pop made its noblest gesture but the 80s ceased to swing

➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s: How Midge Ure helped shape the British New Wave

Midge: “There’s no doubt the early 80s was a golden age of music made by real popstars who created themselves. It was more than just padded shoulders and asymmetrical haircuts. It was a pivotal moment in our cultural history when new tech mixed with new ideas to create something really good. All in the pressure cooker environment that was the Blitz club”

Rusty Egan, Steve Strange, Midge Ure, Visage, synth-pop, new wave, electro-pop,Band Aid, Rocking the Blitz,BBC

Visage Mk 1: Rusty Egan, Steve Strange and Midge Ure in 1978 searching for sounds and styles

UPDATE: BAND AID 30 MUSIC VIDEO – PG ADVISED

FRONT PAGE