Tag Archives: Blue Rondo a la Turk

➤ Sullivan the wag changes hats at the touch of his paintbrush

Chris Sullivan, Swinging Eighties, Carioca, Blue Rondo a la Turk, Wag Club

Carioca then and now: left, the cover for Chris Sullivan’s band’s 1982 single Carioca and, right, his new upfront reworking for 2019

Chris Sullivan,Leah Seresin, caricature,

Leah Seresin and mum Deirdre, newly painted by Sullivan

WHO IS CHRIS SULLIVAN THIS WEEK? That all-round creative dynamo who drove much of the Swinging Eighties and ran the influential Wag club for 19 years epitomised that New Romantic era by declaring “One look lasts a day”. Suddenly he is enjoying another creative spurt. Fans will have noticed a series of bold and comic painted caricatures of his friends appearing on Facebook this month. As affectionate portraits they speak for themselves. But then last week he posted one called Carioca, inspired directly by the 12-inch single sleeve for his band Blue Rondo a la Turk. It was included in their album Chewing The Fat which dates from 1982.

Fans will also recall that Sullivan as vocalist not only put the band together as a septet of crazy soul-jazz-latin musicians on a 0-to-10 sliding scale of eccentricity where all of them scored at least an 11 – but he also painted every one of their vinyl record sleeves in his own playful version of cubism. So here above we can now compare his restrained vamp Carioca from 1982 with her current rather more in-your-face madame for 2019. So what’s this all about, Chris?

➢ Hear Chris’s answers as we chatted during his Soho Radio show today (from 32 mins onward)

Bear in mind Sullivan was one of that gang of St Martin’s heroes who put London clubs such as the Blitz, Beat Route and the Wag on the map from 1980 on, and had studied on the college’s fashion course, not fine art. I am off to Soho to find out and will be reporting back. . .

Chris Sullivan,caricature, Soho, beats, art,

Sullivan caricatures: A pair of what the painter calls Beat Peeps, the second very much inspired by Christos Tolera


➢ Elsewhere at Shapers of the 80s:
Yours truly writes the first magazine feature about Blue Rondo a la Turk as they created a new buzz with Latin sounds and an extreme suited dude look – from New Sounds New Styles in August 1981

➢ Razzmatazz, the weekly pop show beamed out to 6 million ITV viewers from Tyne Tees TV in Newcastle


1983 ➤ Video gem unearthed from the Blue Rondo vaults

◼ AIRED TODAY AT YOUTUBE: A long-lost live performance by London’s Latin jazz-soul band Blue Rondo à la Turk on German TV in 1983 complete with classic dance breaks from Moses and Sullivan in Aubrey Beardsley hair-do. The line-up dates from about 1982–3: Chris Sullivan and Christos Tolera (vocals), Moses Mount Bassie (sax), Art Collins (sax), Peter Tsegona (trumpet), Geraldo Darbilly (percussion), Greg Parker (guitar), Robin Jones (congas/percussion), Kito Poncioni (bass) and Daniel White (keyboards).

At this time Sullivan says: “Mark Reilly had left to form Matt Bianco. Kito carried on for a few months as he needed the money.” Then he and Daniel White left to join Matt Bianco which enjoyed several UK hits. By the time Blue Rondo released its second album album, Bees Knees and Chicken Elbows in 1984, the band had sadly disintegrated. Their first album Chewing the Fat was easily the best new album of 1981 in terms of musicality and attitude. Sullivan of course went on to run Soho’s Wag Club for 19 years and make it a legendary showbiz rendezvous.


➢ Previously at Shapersofthe80s: How Blue Rondo à la Turk created a buzz in clubland

Blue Rondo à la Turk ,Chris Sullivan ,Chewing the Fat ,jazz,soul,double-CD ,Cherry Red Records,Swinging 80s,Christos Tolera ,
➢ In June 2014 a double-CD entitled Chewing the Fat was issued by Cherry Red Records (CDBRED621) – They include 29 tracks, which are all of the group’s recordings on the original album, and various bonus tracks, 7in and 12in specials, plus remixes.


➤ Blue Rondo’s fat has been a long time a-chewing but May is now the month

Blue Rondo à la Turk,Chris Sullivan,remix, ,British, Latin-funk,1980s, dance music,

Me and Mr Sanchez: 1981’s debut chart hit for Blue Rondo à la Turk with cover art by former Wag club host Chris Sullivan

❚ PROMISES! PROMISES! All-round clubbing maestro Chris Sullivan has been faffing away for a year since he got his hands on the original master-tapes of his stand-out Latin-funk dance-band of 1982, Blue Rondo à la Turk. Going public on Facebook today, he dares to promise a re-release of their first album Chewing The Fat this spring (having originally mooted it for last spring), meanwhile posting online a punchy fresh mix of their debut chart single, Me and Mr Sanchez.

Sullivan said: “This is a remix we’ve done for our forthcoming bonus remix CD to accompany the first ever CD release of Blue Rondo’s first album Chewing The Fat on May 5.” Then comes the killer punch: “We’re looking to license it to a TV company for the World Cup… any ideas? It’s a no brainer and the original was used in Brazil by Globo TV for the 1982 World Cup but this is a better mix.”

A year ago he was downloading the whole Rondo catalogue fresh off the original tapes, saying: “First time anyone will have heard them digitally – other than disc dubs, of course. Looking back and listening to the tunes (especially the Heavens are Crying mix) what astonishes me is the f***-you-we’ll-do-our-thing approach.”

Since then Sullivan has released a handful of mixes from the putative new album, including an earlier mix of Mr Sanchez about which he acknowledged that the dean of swing, ex-Rondo guitarist Mark Reilly, “did the lion’s share”.

➢ Blue Rondo breathe fresh life into Mr Sanchez

➢ A brighter Bluer Rondo for the 20-tweens

➢ Sullivan and his hinterland 1982–2012


2012 ➤ A brighter Bluer Rondo for the 20-tweens

Chewing the Fat, vinyl, Blue Rondo à la Turk, 1982, albums,pop music, Latin funk,Wag club, Chris Sullivan, Change, Club Mix,

Picture sleeve painted by vocalist Chris Sullivan, 1982

❚ TWO VINTAGE MUSICAL GEMS appeared online this week, casting a fresh magic spell. They are two tracks from Chewing the Fat, the debut album by the image dance-band of 80s clubland, Blue Rondo à la Turk. In the view of Shapersofthe80s, the 9-track stereo vinyl LP was then and remains now the standout pop album of 1982 for sheer verve and originality. Chris Sullivan, the band’s driving force who went on to run Soho’s Wag club for 19 years, has been remixing the Diable Noir masters which became available only a few months ago.
This week we heard the sparkling Change Club Mix 2, an original Poncioni-Sullivan composition tagged as “Afro-Latino funk”, and only released previously on the album. Sullivan says we can download the remix as a 58MB Wav file from Soundcloud so it plays right away through iTunes. “We’ll leave it up for downloads for a week,” he said. “Blue Rondo recorded this over 30 years ago and remixed it this year… Still shakes it.” At Facebook, Rondo fan Michael Feasey agrees: “Good stuff Chris – love that samba percussion coming up to 4:00 and the gritty sax. Hell, it’s all good.”

vinyl, Blue Rondo à la Turk, 1982, albums,pop music, Latin funk,Wag club, Chris Sullivan, Klacto Vee Sedstein,Oxford Road Show,TV,

Picture sleeve painted by vocalist Chris Sullivan,1982

The band’s second chart single was the witty Klacto Vee Sedstein. (“It’s got to mean something, it can’t be a dream” – Well, the title was inspired by Charlie Parker’s 1947 number, if not the tune itself.) Rondo’s track enlivened the top 100 for nearly six months, and its “mutant funk” has now emerged from the glitz of Godley & Creme’s 80s production. As Sullivan says: “This is how we’d have liked to have done the song initially but all we’ve done is clean it up a bit and take it back to the original idea… This was recorded 31 years ago.” Verdict at Mixcloud from Mark Huxley: “Lovely stripped down mix!”

Best revelation from Sullivan also came this week: “Expect a digital re-release of our album Chewing The Fat in the spring. I’m quite shocked by how well it’s aged.” He’s not wrong there.

♫ Listen to Klacto Vee Sedstein 2012, as it was meant to sound

Live Performance on Oxford Road Show

➢ 2012, Blue Rondo breathe fresh life into Mr Sanchez – “Mark Reilly did the lion’s share,” says Sullivan, referring to Rondo’s guitarist

New Sounds New Styles, 1981

First published in New Sounds New Styles, August 1981

➢ 1981, Blue Rondo create a new buzz with Latin sounds – unveiled in New Sounds New Styles by Shapersofthe80s


Michel Esteban, Michael Zilkha, ZE Records,

Michael Zilkha and Michel Esteban: label founders combined their initials into ZE

♫ Sullivan also offered an hour-long Mutant Disco mix for a recent Mark Jones show on BBC 6Music – The party kicks off with Contort Yourself (August Darnell remix from the 1979 US 12-incher) by No Wave pioneer James White & The Blacks on ZE Records, the boutique label based in Paris and New York which recharged the disco genre with edge and credibility while Manhattanites pursued dance-oriented rock and Euro-disco wandered its own byways, both folkloric and electronic.

No Wave, Mutant Disco, dance music, James White & The Blacks, ZE Records
Launched in 1978 by British-born old Oxonian and Mothercare heir Michael Zilkha, and French graphic artist Michel Esteban, ZE selected style-leading eccentrics of the day to redefine upfront New York disco. The Sullivan mix includes ZE artists such as Lizzy Mercier Descloux, Kid Creole & The Coconuts, Was (Not Was), Coati Mundi, Material, though alas no Cristina. The title of ZE’s witty vinyl cocktail of acts tagged “A Subtle Discolation of the Norm” put the term Mutant Disco into the language in 1981, and acted as soundtrack to the first Blitz invasion of the US that spring.

Sullivan explains, Dec 3: “Here’s a live mix straight off the decks I did for Mark Jones Back to the Phuture show on BBC 6Music. Kinda all that early 80s electro Ze records stuff we loved and still do … They’ve edited some of the mixes but still it’s a bit of a gas … With a few exceptions this is what I played at Hell” [the Blitz crowd’s breakaway club of 1980].


➤ Ain’t no stoppin’ Chris Sullivan as hashtag_coolest_DJ_in_town

Chris Sullivan,zoot suit, Wag club, dancing, mixtapes,clubbing, DJ, Soho,pop music, Blue Rondo a la Turk,

The Sullivan brand: Arguments raged in the 80s with his Wag co-host Ollie O’Donnell over who had designed/drawn/ordered the first zoot suit

❚ AS PROBABLY THE MOST INFLUENTIALshaper of the subcultural 80s, it’s hard to disassociate Chris Sullivan from his 19 years hosting the seminal Wag as the coolest black-music club in Soho. Today he’s a mighty standing stone on the shingle beach of club deejays, and much in demand on the society circuit. This week, however, he took stock: “A pal said to me, ‘I didn’t know you played music that was made past 1990’, so I, rather taken aback, did this mix that, although somewhat Latin and very me, is still very ‘modern’. Point is, I play mostly new stuff but hide it behind the patina of antiquity so no one ever notices.”

To surprise his pal, he’s posted this 73-minute hip-shaking and arm-waving mix at Soundcloud. You’ll find more there when you click through, plus the kind of mind-boggling CV of his life as, variously, a deejay, author, nightclub host, pop star in Blue Rondo à la Turk, painter, style commentator, entrepreneur and fashion designer today cutting a dash in a goatee. Find even more at Shapersofthe80s through the links below.


➢ 1981, First review of Blue Rondo as they create a buzz with their new Latin sounds — from NSNS August 1981

➢ 1981, Hot days, cool nights, as Blue Rondo join the new Brits changing the pop charts

➢ 1976–1984, Creative clubbing ended with the 80s and We Can Be Heroes tells the tale