Category Archives: Uncategorized

2011 ➤ Clarke and Wilder pile in for Depeche Mode’s ultimate remix album

depeche mode, Remixes 2,electro-pop,

Three faces engraved by a life in rock: Depeche Mode’s Andy Fletcher, Dave Gahan and Martin Gore have between them survived depression, addiction, mental instability, attempted suicide, divorce and fatherhood

❚ ESSEX BOYS DEPECHE MODE TODAY offer an audio stream exclusively at Facebook as a taster for the release of their newest compilation album titled Remixes 2: 81–11, through Mute Records on June 6. Both of the early members of the band have contributed tracks to the album which covers three decades of music. Songwriter and synth pioneer Vince Clarke, who established DM’s identity in 1981 as the first techno-pop clubbers to break the UK charts, has remixed Behind The Wheel; and Alan Wilder has remixed In Chains. He took Vince’s place in the lineup from 1982, but in 1995 regretfully departed to pursue production and his solo project Recoil.

The mainstays of today’s band remain Dave Gahan (vocalist, who not long ago told Interview magazine “Depeche Mode music somehow appeals to the oddball”), Martin Gore (keyboards, here telling BBC 6Music about the places in the world that were crucial to Depeche Mode’s history — and the problem with the UK), plus Andrew Fletcher (keyboards and on-off manager). Depeche Mode are without doubt one of the greatest of British alternative bands, whose sound and image have grown darker and more provocative with the years. They boast 48 UK hit singles and international album sales said to total 100 million, among which 12 titles were studio recordings and four live.

Depeche Mode, Remixes2 81–11, Mute Records , albumThe new release (left) comes in various formats: a three-disc version holds 37 remixed tracks, while a one-disc version has 13, spanning the decades from the 1981 debut Speak and Spell, through to 2009’s Sounds Of The Universe. Purists will welcome the 6 x 12-inch vinyl LP box set.

See the tracklistings at Depeche Mode’s news page.

❏ Today at Facebook all 3,456,660 fans of the band’s page must have been attempting hear the free stream simultaneously because for a long while it became impossible to join up and listen to the Alex Metric Remix of Martin Gore’s 1989 song Personal Jesus. To ease the pain for DM fans who don’t belong to Facebook, here’s a quick clip:
❏ Update April 4 — Since last Monday 56,290 people have sampled the Alex Metric Remix just mentioned. Today, another track is being streamed free at Facebook from DM’s upcoming album, with more to follow on future Mondays. Here’s a taste of Martin Gore’s 1987 number Never Let Me Down Again in its Eric Prydz Remix:
❏ On May 14 Martin Gore and Andrew Fletcher will be playing DJ sets at Short Circuit which is a two-day celebration at London’s Roundhouse of Mute’s influence as a label, featuring performances, workshops, screenings and installations by its artists who include Erasure and Alison Moyet on the Saturday. Friday May 13 has Mute founder Daniel Miller deejaying as well as Moby, plus Richie Hawtin, Recoil, Nitzer Ebb and other acts.

Depeche Mode, Dave Gahan, New York Times , Roberto Cavalli

Dave Gahan wearing Roberto Cavalli jacket, $4,615, and pants, $2,285, styled by Bill Mullen, photographed by Mikael Jansson for The New York Times T Magazine in 2011

➢ Visit Ballad of a Thin Man in The New York Times T Magazine, March 11 — more skinny looks on Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, Bryan Ferry, David Johansen and other godfathers of glam


1981 ➤ New Romantics have their day — rearranging the deck-chairs at the posers’ ball

People’s Palace, Valentine Ball, New Romantics

Valentine ball, 1981: last gasp for the New Romantics. Photographed © by Caroline Greville-Morris

❚ VALENTINE’S DAY 1981 was not so much the Woodstock of the New Romantics movement, but more akin to a Scouts and Guides jamboree in a giant ornamental wigwam in north London. Instead of boasting proficiency in camping and camouflage, a few hundred suburban Romantics fluffed up their frills and plastered on the Pan Stik to parade their skills in masquerade and maquillage. The “People of Romance”, as the tickets described them, paid £3.50 for a long evening starting at 5pm. They were expected to hold their own as stars alongside the cult’s budding bands at a venue renamed for a day The People’s Palace.

Astoria Finsbury Park, church, cinema, London

Andalusian fantasy: balcony view of the 1930 Astoria Finsbury Park, now restored. Photographed 2008 © hjuk/Flickr

An auditorium in Finsbury Park made the perfect backdrop. When it opened in 1930, the Astoria was one of Europe’s flagship cinemas seating 3,000 people. Its gloriously kitsch interior architecture depicted an Andalusian village whose rooftops and twisted barley-sugar pillars climbed towards a horizon and the starlit indigo ceiling way above balcony level. For a decade from 1971 the theatre had become a live rock venue, hippily renamed the Rainbow, where finally the stalls had been deprived of seats in favour of dancing audiences. Later the very year it hosted the People’s Palace, the place was to fall into disuse for a decade and a half, before being rescued and restored by a Pentecostal church.

People’s Palace, Valentine Ball, New Romantics, Steve Strange

Steve Strange at the People’s Palace, 1981: plus loyal acolytes Myra, Judi and Mandy. In a fleeting fashion show, Judi showed six outfits which along with others for Strange’s videos helped shape the New Romantics silhouette. Photographed © by Caroline Greville-Morris

Thirty years ago today, posses of over-the-top Romantics incongruously wandered its vast auditorium and bars and cavernous Moorish lobby in search of photo opportunities. It seemed at times as if photographers outnumbered the cast. Richard Young, king of London’s celebrity snapperazzi, had arranged two sheets to create an impromptu studio where he was immortalising the generation who relished calling themselves posers, garbed from top to toe in bejewelled, befeathered lace and velvet and ridiculous hats.

People’s Palace, Valentine Ball, New Romantics

Performance contracts for the People’s Palace, 1981: Shock were paid £500, Metro £250 and Depeche Mode £50. Source: Rusty Egan archive

The soundtrack throughout was the latest electronic pop, spun on Rusty Egan’s turntables as well as played live onstage. On this Saturday Ultravox were arriving at No 2 in the singles chart with Vienna, and here at The People’s Palace they were topping a bill booked by the event’s promoters, Egan and Steve Strange, to capture the zeitgeist, even as the duo planned their next clubbing venture following the closure of their Blitz nights.

Much as Midge Ure protested about his band qualifying as New Romantics, in February ’81 any band toting synths ticked the box. Among supporting acts the then unknown Depeche Mode opened the live sets for a handsome fee of £50 in their first major performance off the clubbing circuit, one week before releasing their debut electro-single Dreaming of Me.

Metro band, pop, Future Imperfect, record sleevesPeter Godwin revived the new-wave band-name Metro, surfing in on the strength of their 1980 album Future Imperfect, followed by the dance troupe Shock, dressed by Birmingham’s Kahn and Bell, as exponents of the robotic dance-style across Britain’s clubland where their single Angel Face was a dancefloor hit.

Steve Strange had hoped to stage a splashy fashion show too, though according to Judi Frankland — who had featured with her outfits in Bowie’s Ashes to Ashes video the previous summer and is visible second from right in the masthead for Shapersofthe80s — “The other designers pulled out at the last minute and as I was still under Steve’s spell he made me carry on and do a ‘show’ alone with a mere six outfits. When he pulled me onto the stage, ohhh that still makes me cringe! However the one good thing I got out of it was being on the same stage as my faves, still to this day, Depeche Mode. I keep bumping into lovely Dave Gahan every few years in the most unexpected places.”

Meanwhile most of the original Blitz Kids — who had animated the Bowie credo that behind a mask you can be anyone you wish — wouldn’t be seen dead at The People’s Palace. In the wake of chart success by Spandau Ballet and Visage, they were competing in a calculated dash towards fame and fortune in clubland, glossy mags and the music biz, whose singles charts by the summer of 1981 welcomed Landscape, Depeche Mode, Soft Cell, The Human League, OMD, Level42, Duran Duran, Heaven 17, Altered Images and Imagination.

Like Midge, we can argue ad finitum whether these acts all technically counted as the New Romantics bandwagon, but they did play dance music, not rock — which defines the reformation that fundamentally vanquished rock to change the sound of the 80s charts — and all benefited from the momentum, as ABC’s Martin Fry later acknowledged. Most of them would, however, set about shaking off the hollow Romantics label in favour of their own musical tastes as soon it had served its purpose. For the moment, like the Titanic heading unwittingly towards its iceberg, the preening Lord Foppingtons and Lady Buxoms at the Rainbow were unaware that theirs was the last real gasp of The Cult That Had Gone Too Far. By Valentine’s Day 1982, there were so many new fashion factions that they would never have turned up for the same ball.

People’s Palace, Valentine Ball, New Romantics, Astoria Finsbury Park

Frills, tassels and hats: Arrivals at the New Romantics ball, 1981. Photographed © by Caroline Greville-Morris


1981 ➤ Birth of Duran’s Planet Earth — when other people’s faith put the Brummies into the charts

Duran Duran, New Romantics

Duran Duran in 1980: Birmingham’s fluffiest New Romantics

Planet Earth, Night Version, Duran Duran◼ 30 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 this week the writer Steve Jansen claims that “inside of three short years, Duran were officially the biggest band on the planet”. He celebrates Duran’s birthpangs with a freshly researched three-day survey of their origins titled Switch It On! – Planet Earth & The Launch of Duran Duran, online at Jansen talks to all the main players involved during the run-up to the band’s chart debut — here are a few tasters from his epic story, published with permission…

Extracts from Switch It On! – Planet Earth & The Launch of Duran Duran:

❏ Bass player John Taylor recalls himself and Nick Rhodes, both Birmingham-born, founding Duran Duran as “young punks; we just wanted to get involved. To us, music was like a commodity. It was this word-of-mouth thing that brought you together with people; it made you your friends — and some of your enemies. It was the mixer.”

❏ Jeremy Thirlby, who was childhood friends with Rhodes, remembers: “None of us — John, Nick or me was gay — but that whole Kahn & Bell scene [around their fashion boutique] was very appealing to people like Nick because there was something going on; plus he’d always been into the slightly more surreal end of Bowie… Nick had always been single-minded, so it didn’t turn his head. He wanted to get somewhere else, and at the time Kahn & Bell was it.”

Michael Berrow, Paul Berrow, Duran Duran

The management, 1980: Michael and Paul Berrow. Photographed © by Paul Edmond

❏ Duran’s co-manager Paul Berrow: “That unique relationship between [Duran’s] rehearsal room upstairs and the club — which was pumping six, seven nights a week down below — John and Roger, all they had to do if they were running out of inspiration was walk down one flight of stairs and they’d find themselves in a club with four or five-hundred people, with a very loud sound system.”

❏ EMI’s A&R man Dave Ambrose travelled to Birmingham to catch Duran in October 1980. Could he honestly have seen so much in Duran so early? “Honestly. Yes. I swear. This was going to be a very, very important band; I could see them being the next Queen. Simon was like this Elvis figure. Andy was a great craftsman, a really solid musician. There was John, this cool bass player. Roger, a still under-rated drummer. And then there’s Nick, like this Andy Warhol figure; and I thought, what an incredible combination.”

❏ In 1980 Beverley Glick was aka Betty Page at the now-defunct UK music paper Sounds. Paul Berrow invited her to Birmingham to meet his unknown band. Page had doubts: “I thought, do I really want to go all the way up to Birmingham to do this? [Berrow] didn’t even offer me a tape.” Upon arrival, Page was forced to reassess: “I’d never met a bunch of people who were so confident and focused, who knew exactly where they wanted to go; even more so than Spandau Ballet [London’s rival New Romantic band]. It was a kind of youthful arrogance that was quite appealing at the time. I don’t think they ever thought coming from Birmingham was going to stop them — in fact, I think they used it to their advantage really.”

Rod Stewart, Da Ya Think I’m Sexy

Inspiration for Planet Earth: Rod Stewart’s UK number one and US number one single Da Ya Think I’m Sexy was released in December 1978. Most of the music was written by drummer Carmine Appice, and its disco-like arrangement was seen by fans as a betrayal of Stewart’s rock roots at a time when he gyrated onstage wearing tight spandex. The song has a further history. Its refrain was similar to the melody in the 1972 instrumental, Taj Mahal, by Brazil’s popular singer-songwriter Jorge Ben Jor. In an ensuing lawsuit, Rod agreed to donate the profits from his song to UNICEF

❏ Andy Taylor, Duran guitarist: “The essence of Planet Earth came from Da Ya Think I’m Sexy? [from December 1978] which Rod Stewart reckons was brilliant. The synth-guitar hook line that kicks off the tune is played on the same scale and key; the first two chords Dm7 & F are the same, so the melody/ counter melody lines are interchangeable.”

❏ Michael Berrow remembers Bob Lamb who produced Duran’s demos back in 1980: “Bob did a great job on Planet Earth. Bob’s arrangement is pretty well what made the final recording.” When EMI came into the frame, however, Lamb was laid off in favour of Colin Thurston. Lamb said later: “Colin was more fashionable than me at the time. I bumped into him at a studio in London and Colin said to me – and I quote – ‘I owe you a house’ (laughs) — which I’m still waiting for!”

❏ Graphic designer Malcolm Garrett reveals why the 12-inch sleeve of Planet Earth (the Night Version) looks different from the regular 7-inch version: “Economics. I don’t think they had much money, and they didn’t expect it to sell. Hence, they only gave me two colours to print with.”

➢ Read Steve Jansen’s full text of Switch It On!
— Planet Earth & The Launch of Duran Duran

Duran Duran, video, Planet Earth

The New Romantic Jive: Rum Runner regulars Gay John and Lavinya (aka Patrick Black), dressed to the hilt and dancing in Russell Mulcahy’s official 1981 video for Planet Earth


1981 ➤ How Adam stomped his way across the charts to thwart the nascent New Romantics

Adam Ant, 1980,Kings of the Wild Frontier

Not really Romantic: Adam Ant in his 1980 guise as a warrior-hussar

◼ THE ELEPHANT IN THE NEW ROMANTIC ROOM in January 1981 was Adam Ant. The previous autumn Spandau Ballet and Visage had ignited the ambitions of other clubland bands (Duran Duran, Depeche Mode, Soft Cell) who were to splash romance across the charts by the spring. Yet on this January day 30 years ago Adam and the Ants had, incredibly, two singles and two albums in the UK pop charts: on Jan 17, Antmusic hit the No 2 spot while Young Parisians was at No 23. In the album charts Kings of the Wild Frontier was at No 3 (rising to top the chart next week), while Dirk Wears White Sox entered at No 67 (a re-release from the first Ants lineup of 1979). This isn’t all. In the charts for week beginning Jan 24, TWO MORE SINGLES arrived to exploit demand, Zerox and Cartrouble at Nos 68 and 69 (reissues from the Dirk album).

The Ants had six records charting in the same month!!! January very much belonged to Adam.

Now, Shapersofthe80s has always drawn a clear distinction between Adam Ant and the New Romantics. As does Marco Pirroni, the Ants guitarist and co-writer of many of their hits. “Adam is glam-punk,” he told me emphatically at the bar of the Wag when Ant’s first solo single Puss ’n Boots was storming the chart in Oct 1983. “Americans don’t understand he was never a New Romantic.” In fact right now on his perambulation through our capital city billed as “The Good, The Mad And The Lovely World Tour Of London 2010/11”, Adam declares himself from the stage to be “the last punk rocker”.

What we have here is a re-run of the old dispute over differences between Bowie versus Slade, glam versus glitter. While true glam tends to fuel as much a fashion revolution as a musical one, Adam does tend to sit atop rock’s glittery party-music tree.

Adam and the Ants, AntmusicIn spite of Adam’s flash and camp and dressing up in daffy costumes and wearing tribal facepaint that every kiddie from six upwards wanted to copy, his roots were firmly in rock, whatever Wikipedia seems to think (wrong again). If anybody was advertising rock as pantomime in the aftermath of punk, it was Adam, who raided the wardrobes of the past for his colourful swashbuckling outfits.

In his first life in Adam and the Ants 1977-79, he was styled as hardcore punk, hooded in a rapist mask, by Jordan (née Pamela Rooke) who virtually singlehandedly invented the uniform for punk with her many shockers such as rubber stockings. She was an inspiration as well as a natural sales assistant and model for Vivienne and Malcolm’s boutique, Sex, and for a year or so actually managed Adam’s band until she grew disllusioned with punk.

Malcolm McLaren himself was adrift after the Sex Pistols imploded, and Adam tells the tale: “He said, Everybody’s wearing black, boy. Colour, heroicism, that was what it was about. Look at Geronimo, boy. Look at pirates, boy. Go. He said, Give me a grand [£1,000], don’t tell no-one, and I’ll manage ya. And he gave me an education.”

Things backfired when McLaren stole the Ants to create Bow Wow Wow. So Adam regrouped with the trusty Marco Pirroni and a new lineup, and on the back of an “Antz Invasion” tour of the UK, May-June 1980, they signed to CBS and released the single Kings of the Wild Frontier which charted humbly in August.

Yet despite its heavy Burundi-style tribal drumming, Kings [above] was not a dancefloor record, that’s the point. War-dance, maybe. Watch the hopelessly uncoordinated video where the band lurches shambolically around a studio, and just gawp at the way Adam goes hoppity-skippiting in circles for heavensake!!! Like the proverbial embarrassing dad getting on down at your party.

The video to Antmusic was just as eye-watering. There was his group, playing live in a “disco”. (London’s first uplit starburst glass dancefloor betrays the location as Yours or Mine in Kensington, where back in the early 70s it was the coolest glam haunt on Sundays, frequented by Ossie Clarke, the Bowies and the Jaggers. But by 1980 disco was not cool, at all.) The rent-a-crowd extras in this video must have been the least stylish Londoners within earshot of the Blitz club. Gawp again at how these kids can’t dance either! Not one person in this video would knock Ann Widdecombe off Strictly Come Dancing.
➢ View ♫ original video for Antmusic

Contrast these two with the carefully art-directed videos of Visage and Spandau Ballet in 1980 and Adam’s efforts score 5 points for energy, 5 points for fun, by all means. But for creative content, Nul points, and for style, Nul points! Where’s the artsy pretension, where’s the wordly irony? Where is style? These videos reveal exactly how Adam’s crew didn’t have a handle on the New Romantics ethos at all, which was about the ineffable pursuit of glamour. And their bass-heavy music was totally danceable — by diehard clubbers.

Of course Adam wasn’t a New Romantic. Nor did he tick the register by dropping into any of their clubs. Romantics were clubbers, the Ants were rockers. Yes of course Kings of the Wild Frontier went on to become one of the great slapstick albums of its time. No dispute. And with characters like Prince Charming and Puss ’n Boots, Adam treated us to year-round pantomime. If he left the rest of us all humming a bunch of glorious rumpty-tump tunes, actually living the buccaneering life affected Marco the guitarist more deeply. Last year he told Uncut magazine rather mystically: “I’m still untouched by the ordinary world, thanks to Kings of the Wild Frontier.”


Charge of the Light Brigade,David Hemmings,Tony Richardson,film

Charge of the Light Brigade, 1968: David Hemmings rides into the Valley of Death in a gilded hussar jacket identical to one that later became Adam Ant’s. © MGM

Adam Ant, Jordan, Jubilee, 1977

Instinctive punks, 1977: Adam and Jordan at the premiere for Jubilee. (Photo: Richard Young)

◼ IT WAS a post- punk Jordan who returned to style Adam’s second life with the new-wave Ants in upbeat 80s mode, but as the most iconic punkette of all, her roots lay in anarchy. Look at the pair of them in this picture from the premiere of the 1977 film Jubilee with Jordan showing her actual knickers — facepaint and no hint of coordination spell pantomime, in capital letters. Commedia dell’arte this is not.

The one stroke of genius about his revamp was Adam’s own — it was his choice to adopt the gilded hussar’s jacket that branded his reincarnation for Kings of the Wild Frontier. It saw him right through his first year, on stage and in videos, until he turned into a highwayman. This dashing 19th-century cavalry uniform had a heritage all its own. Adam says he found it at the London costumier Berman’s & Nathan’s who had acquired it in 1968 from Tony Richardson’s scathing anti-Establishment movie, The Charge of the Light Brigade – though if Berman’s had one such officer’s jacket in stock it probably had dozens. Despite this jacket bearing no resemblance to the style worn by the real-life 15th Hussars, one adorned the romantic young film star David Hemmings, playing the ill-fated Captain Louis Nolan who carried the order to charge before one of the most careless tragedies in British military history. The poet laureate Tennyson’s phrase “someone had blunder’d” was prompted directly by the eloquent eye-witness report by William Russell of The Times. It makes a thrilling read still. And Adam’s gilded hussar jacket undoubtedly had a romance all its own.

Adam Ant, 2011,World Tour Of London

“The last punk rocker”: Adam Ant on his World Tour Of London, 2011, photographed © by Alex Alexander

◼ TONIGHT ADAM’S NEW SHOW WAS BEING FILMED at Madame Jojo’s Club in Soho, with tickets priced at £75. His outings before Christmas have impressed some critics, by various accounts being underpinned by wayward sexuality and bad taste, but none the less galvanising for that. His message has long been raunchy and savage and tonight one fan declared on Facebook that “Madame Jojo’s was on fire!!” A two-night stand has yet to happen at the 100 Club on January 26-27.


2010 ➤ Index of posts for December

Duran Duran, 80s, pop

The early Duran Duran: discovered by invitation in 1980

➢ 80s shapers win 2010 New Year Honours for fashion, music and walking in space

➢ 1980 secrets revealed about the SAS, arming Afghanistan and death of the tanner

➢ 1980, As Spandau play in Heaven, all around we can hear the new sounds of 1981

➢ 1980s, So many shapers shaped the decade that people think was all down to Margaret Thatcher — key books of the year

John Lennon death, Daily Mirror, people magazine, 30th anniversary
➢ What larks! Festive fun and games and British ways to make merry

➢ A jolly festive tree by Andrew Logan

➢ 2010, Duran no turkey: here’s the Bacofoil video and two new tracks premiered at East Village Radio

➢ 1980, How Duran Duran’s road to stardom began in the Studio 54 of Birmingham

➢ A feast of Bowie-ana served in waffeur-thin slices

➢ Whatta they like? Essex reality stars shake their vajazzles in the face of Hollywood

➢ 1980, The Lennon we knew: unfulfilled talent with a genius for making friends the world over

Adam & The Ants, David Bowie, Swinging 80s,Top Of The Pops
➢ 1980, The week the Swinging 80s clicked into gear

➢ Live online now, mad hatter Stephen Jones

➢ This £5m iPhone has to be a spoof! Yes, that’s $7.8m or €6m or 52m Chinese Yuan or 245m Russian Rubles