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.”
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
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
DEC 3: MUTANT DISCO UPDATE
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.
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].