Tag Archives: albums

2011 ➤ Wham!’s cunning plan for a Christmas No1 as climax to the 80s revival

❚ TWO REASONS TO CELEBRATE. Mother-of-two Shirlie Kemp has just exhumed a load of fab clothes from her heyday with Pepsi Demacque as the all-jiving all-singing girls in Wham! She has piled a load of glam photos of her stage clothes on to her otherwise sedately titled blog, No Place Like Home. We see her Melissa Caplan sheath from the 1982 Top of the Pops debuts of herself as Shirlie Holliman and of the clubland group’s single Young Guns in the lucky TV turning point [above] that broke the group after their first single Wham Rap! had initially failed to take off.

Shirlie Kemp, fashion, Kahn & Bell,Wham!

Shirlie’s bling leather top for Wham! It bears the Kahniverous label. Photo from shirliekemp.com

Shirlie also shows the cowgirl fronded suede top from American Classics in Endell Street, worn in an earlier incarnation of Young Guns.

Most eye-catching of all are those skimpy, gilded, blingy black leathers by the Brummie design duo Kahn & Bell who had shops in Birmingham and Chelsea. However, after a deep search through Wham’s YouTube videos as the first Western pop group into China, we find no footage of Shirlie’s claim that she wore them onstage there in 1985  — see below for Everything She Wants filmed live in China by British director Lindsay Anderson (which is wrongly dated). By then they had achieved three number-one singles in a row in the US with Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go, Careless Whisper and Everything She Wants, while the Billboard year-ending chart listed George Michael’s Careless Whisper as the US number-one song of 1985.

➢ Click pic for the fizzing Wham Rap! video in a new window

Above — “Man or mouse” Andrew Ridgeley establishes the  group’s clubbing credentials in the opening shots of their Wham Rap! video by reading The Face cover story, The Making of Club Culture, written by yours truly in the February 1983 issue

❏ The reason why we’ve been catching glimpses of Pepsi & Shirlie around the media is the second reason to celebrate. An explosive 25th anniversary comeback by Wham! themselves takes the shape of a 27-track 2-CD anniversary edition of The Final, their farewell compilation album from 1986, with its minimalist Peter Saville cover design. Embracing all four years’-worth of output, it contains six UK No 1 hits, plus both George Michael solo singles (Careless Whisper and A Different Corner). A deluxe edition includes a DVD of 13 restored videos.

Wham!, The Final, albums, Peter Saville The Final is such a double-whammy of greatest dancefloor hits that its November 28 release is a calculated pitch for the top spot in the Christmas chart. And with Duran’s magnificent comeback year all but spent musically, Wham!’s cunning plan will represent the last major chart assault by the 80s revival that has warmed our cockles for a full two years.

Wham! went out on a high 25 years ago with an eight-hour grand finale of a concert at Wembley Stadium which coincided with their farewell single The Edge of Heaven hitting No 1 in June, 1986. Pepsi says: “A lot of thought went into stopping when we did — we were at our peak, it was such a high and that’s why we can celebrate Wham! The Final now, because we all still have great memories and we’re all still great friends.”

➢ “Maybe George was going through a cowboy phase” — this week’s interview with Pepsi & Shirlie for RealMusic Blog

➢ Rich List puts George Michael top of the popstars
from the un-lucrative 80s


2011 ➤ Johnny Marr “very very happy” with Smiths Complete, despite grumbles from fans

Johnny Marr, Mark Radcliffe ,Stuart Maconie , 6Music, interview,

Johnny Marr at the BBC yesterday: Radcliffe and Maconie on their best behaviour

❚ HOW IS EX-SMITHS GUITARIST Johnny Marr taking criticism of his efforts to “remaster” eight albums by The Smiths, knocked out by the greatest British rock group of the 80s in four refreshing and prolific years? (Marr’s favourite Smiths album is Strangeways, Here We Come from 1987, the year they split amid rancour.) On October 3 Rhino Records UK releases The Smiths Complete, in a variety of formats priced from £35 to £250. One of the two credible Morrissey fansites, True-to-You, claims that the charismatic Smiths singer has had no input into the Complete project, “which has taken place without any approach to Morrissey from either Warner, Rhino, or Johnny Marr”. If so, how sad is that?

Let it be noted that the majority of fans seem thrilled with the new box set. Nevertheless, at The Smiths Facebook page this week a noticeable number of diehards are reacting angrily that Rhino’s marketing ploy swims in the face of the band’s ethos in the 80s, when they were “the antithesis of all this turgid corporate repackaging”. One fan calls the Complete package “another great rock ’n’ roll swindle”. Another asks “Is Johnny Marr skint or something?” Online at the Amazon store another quibbles over the omission of some Smiths tracks: “Why call it Complete when in reality some songs are missing?”

Yesterday Johnny Marr answered his critics — if only indirectly. On their 6Music radio show, Mark Radcliffe and Stuart Maconie had clearly been put on red alert to mention neither the name of Johnny’s former songwriting partner Morrissey, not once, nor the all-too-public fan criticism. With them on their anodyne best behaviour,  Johnny was geniality itself in conversation, as you’ll hear on the 16-minute clip at BBC iPlayer (available till Oct 5).

➢ Hear Johnny Marr talking to Radcliffe and Maconie and singing The Healers’ Down on the Corner

The Smiths Complete, boxset, remastered,Frank Arkwright,Johnny MarrWe hear a brisk clip of Moz’s vocals on Nowhere Fast from the Meat is Murder album, “remastered” by Johnny and the respected engineer Frank Arkwright who painstakingly located all the original half-inch tapes. Johnny prefers to say: “Restored is probably more appropriate. I didn’t add anything. Remastering sounds mysterious, but actually I was taking all the ‘nonsense’ off the original records. I knew we sounded better than that.”

What did the nonsense amount to? “When the greatest hits came out in the late 80s as CDs they were jacked up with loads of top end and hardly any bass. I made it really, really natural. I didn’t fall into that trap that a lot of modern bands have fallen into recently — it’s got to sound louder than the new Green Day record. I’m very very happy.”

Johnny talks first of the current live dates by his new band The Healers, both in Manchester tonight at the Night & Day Cafe, and at the Deaf Institute on Oct 4 and 6, New York City on Oct 13 and “wherever we want to go”.

➢ So far only Uncut magazine offers a “review” of Smiths Complete. — Curiously, it does not amount to a review. Instead David Cavanagh actually writes an excellent discussion of The Smiths’ recording landmarks, 1984–88, while offering only one lukewarm sentence appraising the newly remastered set. Is he damning with faint praise?

➢ Johnny Marr’s fab new website has a huge gallery called Guitar Orchestra plus a ripping biography that rattles through his career’s twists and turns (including our hero as visiting Professor of Music at Salford University)

❏ Smiths to reform? “If this government stepped down then I’ll do it. It’s a fair trade isn’t it?”

❏ iPAD & TABLET USERS PLEASE NOTE — You are viewing only a very small selection of content from this wide-ranging website on the 1980s, not chosen by the author. To access fuller background features and topical updates please view Shapersofthe80s.com on a desktop computer


➤ Lest we forget: man has changed his ways since Peter Wyngarde cracked the sickest joke on vinyl

Peter Wyngarde, Jason King, Department S, The Prisoner,TV series, RCA,

From villainous to tasteless: At the age of 32 Peter Wyngarde was distinguished enough to guest-star as the sinister Number Two in the epic TV series The Prisoner (1967). Two years later he created the novelist-cum-sleuth Jason King in Department S

❚ EMMA PEELPANTS is a keen-eyed blogger who plunders magazine and retail archives in search of 60s clothes and the whole vulgar, vibrant style of that swinging decade. Once in a while, she has a mensday and today she exhumes that male stereotype, “the heel” — the overbearing, amoral lothario who 40 years ago fancied himself rotten and treated women as playthings. Miss Peelpants publishes a hideously recognisable illustration of a heel from a copy of the teenage magazine 19, dated 1972, where one such sophisticat is grinding his heel into a bevvy of scantily clad girls. 19’s Guide to Recognising a Heel shows the just-got-out-of-bed coiffed hair, the bandito moustache, the whisky-and-cigarette in one hand, plus total absence of a smile, which he would have deemed too uncool.

To anybody of a certain age, the dandy in the illustration is all too visibly based on the actor Peter Wyngarde who shot to fame playing exactly this kind of international playboy in two late-night TV espionage series at the dawn of the 70s, Department S and Jason King. These expressed notions of contemporary glamour by being set in airports and beside Riviera pools. Their action-hero won awards as the “Best Dressed Man In Britain” while Sun readers voted him the “Man With the Sexiest Voice on Television”.

When Sex Leers Its Inquisitive Head , RPM, recording, CD,comedy,Peter Wyngarde What Emma links us to is possibly the most offensive song ever recorded by a star considered suave in his day. The one-off “comedy” album for RCA in 1970 was titled Peter Wyngarde and billed as dwelling on “the darker side of human behaviour”. It was said to have been withdrawn from sale after four days. Unbelievably it was re-released on RPM in 1998 retitled When Sex Leers Its Inquisitive Head with a “Don’t buy this” warning on the sleeve. As a model of appalling bad taste it not only leaves no innuendo unturned, but contains one track actively celebrating rape.

Lest we doubt that political correctness has delivered a few benefits over the years, the Lipstick Thespians have posted this number on YouTube. For those who wish to avoid hearing Wyngarde’s ripe spoken-word rendition, the Thespians have posted the full wince-making lyrics (words and music by Hubert Valverde and Peter Wyngarde). Many people feel that the actor met his just desserts when he wrecked his career in what politicians euphemistically call a moment of madness in 1975. He’s still alive and kicking and signing autographs, now aged 77.

Now feel the pain of date rape

Rhoda Dakar, The Boiler, 2-Tone Records, The Special AKA, ❏ RHODA DAKAR (left), lead singer of The Bodysnatchers, but here as The Special AKA, made The Boiler the strongest single of 1982 in this writer’s opinion, and deeply chilling. Despite being shunned by the safe daytime BBC radio deejays, it was well played by John Peel and spent five weeks in the UK singles chart, reaching No 35. The rare video below has ropey vision but good audio and it pays to listen right to the end.

Jerry Dammers formed The Special AKA, along with Dakar and John Bradbury, after The Specials announced their break up in 1981. Their first single release was The Boiler by Rhoda with The Special AKA (written jointly by the band and produced by Dammers on 2-Tone Records in Jan 1982).


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