1991 ➤ Supercool video found of Bowie duetting with Morrissey

❚ MORRISSEY WAS SUPPORTING BOWIE at the L.A. forum in June 1991 when unexpectedly Bowie’s voice suddenly announced his arrival on-stage during Morrissey’s set as he embarked on Cosmic Dancer, written by Marc Bolan. This tear-jerker of a video was exhumed only this month (in 2020) showing the evident affection between the singers. Morrissey himself explains:

We hadn’t rehearsed the song. David called me at my hotel and we tried to duet down the phone, which became very funny because David couldn’t remember the words, but on the night it was me who forgot and David remembered. You can see a slight disapproval from him when I repeat and repeat the wrong lines … His look says ‘You shouldn’t be singing that bit again’. This clip is my 4th favourite memory of David. It’s nice that Ron and Russell [Sparks] are in there too, but Russell looks irked … I expect he was missing the concluding sequel of that night’s Columbo. – Morrissey 30 June 2020

David Bowie, Morrissey,  duet, LA Forum,

Newly discovered video from LA Forum 1991: Bowie catches Moz’s eye in mid-song

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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 ➤ UK Madheads re-invent the Madness hit Our House

❚ NO OF COURSE MADNESS HAD NOTHING to do with the New Romantics but in the indolent UK pop scene of 1980, where most acts and record companies were as dull as ditchwater, only the bands on the cool Two-Tone label would really catch your eye and ear. Who could resist tapping a toe to this zany North London ska combo who scored nine Top Ten singles during the first two years of the 1980s, kicking off with One Step Beyond?!

Among even more hit singles, Our House made the UK Top Ten in November 1982 and became their biggest US hit. Today, during the Covid 19 Lockdown, the Madness boys have released a frantic #MadheadsOurHouse version after asking fans to have a go at re-creating the original Our House video [above]. They declared it “a thing of beauty!”.

Click any pic below to enlarge the Madheads in a slideshow


➢ The Madness website

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2020 ➤ Star drummers salute Ringo Starr in an ear-opening demonstration of his gifts

80
YEARS
ON

❚ HAPPY 80TH BIRTHDAY, SIR RICHARD STARKEY, aka Ringo from the Beatles… “Four drums that’s all Ringo needed”… “He’s a song drummer”… “He used his kit in a very different way”… “Ringo was the king of feel”… “Very innovative”… “It’s a Ringo swing: he washes the windshield on your high-hats”… “It’s that sloppy, swampy, falling down the stairs kind of sound that’s the coolest thing ever”.

Watch some of the world’s greatest drummers – including Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins of the Foo Fighters, Stewart Copeland of the Police, Questlove of the Roots, Tré Cool of Green Day, Max Weinberg of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, and Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chili Peppers – all salute Ringo Starr from behind his famous Ludwig kit.

➢ Celebrate Ringo’s 80th birthday with The Big Birthday Show on YouTube 5pm PST

anniversary, Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney, Ludwig drums,

Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney: the surviving Beatles go on celebrating together. (Photo: Fred Duval)


➢ Previously at Shapers of the 80s:
1961, No wonder The Beatles changed the shape of music after 456 sessions practising in public

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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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