❚ SHOCK NEWS TODAY: Robbie Vincent, the pioneering jazz-funk radio deejay of the 70s and 80s, is to leave Jazz FM after five years. His prerecorded weekly show this Sunday lunchtime will be his last and his flagship three-hour slot will be taken over by Jeff Young. Vincent broke the news this morning with a brief post at Facebook which said: “Sad news, this Sunday will be my last show on Jazz FM. I had hoped to do a final special show to thank you all for your loyal support but the station has decided that is not possible.”
Three hours ago Vincent posted a link to a news story at the industry website Radio Today which reports:
“ Robbie Vincent has been told he can’t record a final show on Jazz FM after he told station bosses he has decided to leave the station. Robbie has told Radio Today he’s leaving because he fears a ‘radio armageddon’ is on its way. “There will be news next week of further downgrading at the station,” he said. “Jazz FM has been such a difficult place to work at recently with it being so cash strapped. I offered to record a final show but management have declined my offer.” A spokesperson for Jazz FM confirmed Robbie wasn’t given a ‘final’ show saying “this is generally accepted practice” … ” / Continued at Radio Today
Since then Vincent has added a further comment at Facebook: “Perhaps when you read that it is ‘normal practice’ not to allow final programmes you will understand what high standards of staff care operate at Jazz FM. Ralph Tee and Steve Quirk were not ejected into space. These excellent broadcasters left with grace and good natured final programmes. The way it should be. Just a thought.”
The veteran presenter with Radio 1, Radio London, Kiss and LBC has hosted more than 200 of his Essential Rhythms shows since the re-launch of Jazz FM in October 2008. Station Manager, Nick Pitts, said today: “When I first started working at Jazz FM Robbie was one of the people I was looking forward to working with most. We are sorry that he has decided to leave and wish him luck and success in his future projects.”
UPDATE SUNDAY DEC 1 AS HIS SHOW ENDS…
“ I did invite ideas for the last programme but as JazzFM chose not to allow me to say farewell to my dear loyal listeners you will have noticed all reference to next week had been taken out. Not to worry, it’s James Torment time on Jazz FM now. Lots of news in the next couple of days to share with you. Hope you enjoyed the show. ”
❚ A CRACKLING EXCHANGE OF OPINIONS has given Facebook some edge this week. Legendary Wag club host, the deejay Chris Sullivan poured scorn on the term “jazz-funk” and its followers, igniting a barrage of responses from 70s fans of the Gold Mine, Caister and the Lacy Lady, sampled below.
➢ Chris Sullivan at Facebook, Nov 15:“ A friend of mine asked me what I played at Novikov every Sunday. I replied “jazz and funk” and he said “jazz-funk” and so horrified was I that anyone would think I play that rubbish, I recorded the start of my set for him and here it is… ”
Paul Carter: Nuthin wrong with jazz-funk at all – was the soundtrack to many young Londoners’ lives… The Gold Mine was one of the best clubs ever… When everyone was obsessed with punk and post punk, the really cool kids (black and white) were groovin to jazz-funk and soul. Just sayin.
Chris Sullivan: When I went to the Gold Mine it was funk but later came jazz-funk like Brazilian Love by George Duke and jazz-funkers started getting their hair permed and wearing dungarees and going to Purley All-Dayers… bloody horrible… Most true funk I love and jazz, especially Blue Note, is impeccable but jazz-funk is shite… and its emergence ruined a good little scene – remember the Cortinas with the car stickers “Wayne and Shirley” for example, and the furry dice.
Paul Carter: Bit of snobbery there I think… and it is an opinion Chris, no more… I remember some incredible nights down the Gold Mine with Chris Hill, Pete Tong, and the rest of them – a lot of wedges but not a perm in sight – just great music – I think it’s a real shame that it’s been written out of club culture in favour of Northern soul (dull dull dull) and the West End scene in which you played such a large part. I was in both scenes and I always loved that the suburban scene was just about the music, not about the width of your turn-ups (much as I loved Le Beat Route and the rest). Oh and it was far more racially mixed too… / Continued at Facebook
❚ “YOU KNOW WHAT MEN ARE LIKE when they get a new bit of kit — it’s like Christmas.” This is Spandau Ballet sax player and all-round percussionist Steve Norman reliving his teenage kicks. “I’m loving my latest toy. It’s a guitar pedal-board with all the bells and whistles. As a guitarist, when you’ve got sounds at your feet — in literally one stomp of the box — you can go from the driving funk of the Isley Brothers to the more soulful sound of George Benson.”
We tend to forget that Steve was playing rhythm guitar as a co-founder of Spandau when they became the Blitz Club’s house band in 1979 with synthesisers well to the fore. Ten years of international chart fame saw him picking up almost any instrument that was needed in the five-piece outfit, most notably the saxophone, on which he was self-taught. His solo breaks became as much a part of Spandau’s stadium sound as Tony Hadley’s bel canto baritone. By the time they were belting through their 2009–10 reunion tour, Gary Kemp was introducing Steve as “The most soulful saxophone this side of Young Americans”!
Right now Steve has three reasons to be jumping. He’s back in training for the first Cloudfish gig in ages: this is his five-piece band with Shelley Preston, ex of Bucks Fizz, partnering on vocals. Second, his new box of tricks is beefing up his funky guitar-playing with “all those wa-wahs and overdriven solo sounds”. And third, he’s back in the songwriting groove, and audiences at the Cloudfish gig in Holland in November will be the first to hear some numbers that have not yet been recorded.
Steve says: “One’s called Kinda Wonderful and another is called Star. It’s a bit dancey — mad for blues guitar, mad for a groovy drumloop. Everything I do tends to have soul running through it. Even if there are heavy guitar riffs, there’s always an element of soul in there. I’d call it funky lounge music. There’s a lot more edge to Cloudfish these days. These songs are groovier. We’ve moved away from the chillout thing.”
Making funky lounge music: Steve Norman and Shelley Preston as Cloudfish
Steve reckons his return to England after living on the sun-soaked Mediterranean island of Ibiza for 12 years has cranked up the Cloudfish tempo.
“I had this conversation with Paul Tucker of the Lighthouse Family and he agrees with me. Living in Ibiza takes the edge away and makes everything fluffier! I noticed when I got back to the UK I got drawn towards more urban sounds and lo-fi and started messing sounds up for the sake of it. Shelley likes that on her voice, too.”
The outing on November 6 is a toe in the water, proposed by a promoter based in Arnhem who feels Holland and neighbouring Germany have been starved of the Norman talent for too long. It’s bad luck that Cloudfish’s regular percussionist Joe Becket has a prior date in London and can’t make it — his friendship with Steve goes back before Spandau’s 1990 tour. (Steve’s longstanding mate Deuce reminds us that Steve met Joe at a legendary Sunday clubnight called Passion at La Valbonne in Maidenhead in 1988. As host Deuce had the bright idea to invite Joe, “through the haze of strawberry-flavoured smoke, to play along with the deejay’s tunes, to maybe make things more danceable. And thus, ‘Joe Bongo’ was born”. )
For Arnhem, Steve says: “It turns out our bass player Joe Holweger is also a fantastic drummer so he’s stepping in, and we’ve gone for Kerim Günes on bass. Henry Broadbent on keyboard is another mainstay — he’s done a fair bit with Kula Shaker, too — which makes five of us onstage, as usual.”
With the gig being on a Sunday evening, British fans keen to sample the new Cloudfish sound will need to overnight in Arnhem (last week Shapersofthe80s worked out the cost of three ways to get there), but the good news is that it’s a beautiful part of Holland for a sightseeing weekend. Tasty beer too.
Nevertheless, the burning question remains: What about a UK gig? To which Steve says: “Definitely, you’ve got to play your home town. But we want to see how this one goes first.” Right, we’ll take that as half a promise.
❏ Sep 21 update: Next week Steve will be in Arnhem, Holland, on promotional duty for his Cloudfish show at Max Brothers on November 6. Fans can meet him at a meet-and-greet session 19:00–20:00 hrs at the Cafe De Schoof, Korenmarkt 37 on Thursday Sep 29. The next day, you can hear a live interview with Steve on Optimaal FM between 09:00–11:00 hrs, also available via webplayer at Optimaal FM
❏ Sep 21 update: The competition to meet Steve in Arnhem in November is to be decided today and the winners wll be announced online at Six Degrees Promotions
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MORE INTERESTING THAN MOST PEOPLE’S FANTASIES — THE SWINGING EIGHTIES 1978-1984
They didn’t call themselves New Romantics, or the Blitz Kids – but other people did.
“I’d find people at the Blitz who were possible only in my imagination. But they were real” — Stephen Jones, hatmaker, 1983. (Illustration courtesy Iain R Webb, 1983)
“The truth about those Blitz club people was more interesting than most people’s fantasies” — Steve Dagger, pop group manager, 1983
“See David Johnson’s fabulously detailed website Shapers of the 80s to which I am hugely indebted” – Political historian Dominic Sandbrook, in his book Who Dares Wins, 2019
“The (velvet) goldmine that is Shapers of the 80s” – Verdict of Chris O’Leary, respected author and blogger who analyses Bowie song by song at Pushing Ahead of the Dame
“The rather brilliant Shapers of the 80s website” – Dylan Jones in his Sweet Dreams paperback, 2021
A UNIQUE HISTORY
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❏ Header artwork by Kat Starchild shows Blitz Kids Darla Jane Gilroy, Elise Brazier, Judi Frankland and Steve Strange, with David Bowie at centre in his 1980 video for Ashes to Ashes
VINCENT ON AIR 2022
✱ Deejay legend Robbie Vincent returned to JazzFM on Sundays 1-3pm in 2021… Catch Robbie’s JazzFM August Bank Holiday 2020 session thanks to AhhhhhSoul with four hours of “nothing but essential rhythms of soul, jazz and funk”.
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UNTOLD BLITZ STORIES
✱ If you thought there was no more to know about the birth of Blitz culture in 1980 then get your hands on a sensational book by an obsessive music fan called David Barrat. It is gripping, original and epic – a spooky tale of coincidence and parallel lives as mind-tingling as a Sherlock Holmes yarn. Titled both New Romantics Who Never Were and The Untold Story of Spandau Ballet! Sample this initial taster here at Shapers of the 80s
CHEWING THE FAT
✱ Jawing at Soho Radio on the 80s clubland revolution (from 32 mins) and on art (@55 mins) is probably the most influential shaper of the 80s, former Wag-club director Chris Sullivan (pictured) with editor of this website David Johnson
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