Tag Archives: Madonna

2019 ➤ The nerve of Neil Matthews! Offering bunny ears to those oh-so cool Eighties pop stars

Photography, book launch, exhibition, pop music, Neil Mackenzie Matthews, Jealous Gallery, Take That,

Take That in 1993: cheering to camera for a Smash Hits shoot by Neil Matthews

ANOTHER FAB BOOK OF PHOTOS capturing mainly the 80s pop scene came out this week and it’s a bit of curio. We who were there know how British music and fashion utterly transformed youth culture during the decade from 1980 onwards and among the 110+ new acts who dominated the sales charts in the first four years probably the majority achieved international fame and fortune. But Neil Mackenzie Matthews, in his beautifully printed 192-page book, titled Snap: Music Photography, also reminds us of the names of many acts we have forgotten and who had limited success.

It has become a truism that soon after the Beat Route’s Friday club-night opened in Soho and Spandau Ballet entered the singles chart, both in November 1980, virtually every young guy you met in the club was “putting a band together”, usually managed by another young guy of his own age. For every 110 new-wave acts across the UK who won the standard one-album-and-two-singles deal from a grateful record industry which had lost its way, there were probably 1,000 more who didn’t – yet they too were a vital part of the great collaborative force that was helping to reshape entertainment and media in the Eighties.

At Thursday’s book launch in Shoreditch’s Jealous gallery, Neil described how his own good luck was in attending the same Islington school as the Spandau Ballet posse, Dame Alice Owen’s, and at the very moment he missed getting a first job at the BBC, Spandau invited him to St Tropez on their first foreign booking so he took a camera along and taught himself how to shoot.

Photography, Nick Heyward ,book launch, exhibition, pop music, Neil Mackenzie Matthews, Jealous Gallery,

Neil Matthews and Nick Heyward photo-bombed by Neal Whitmore of Sigue Sigue Sputnik. Just in shot at left, Heyward pictured in his woolly leggings period with Haircut One Hundred. (Photo by Shapersofthe80s)

Click any pic below to enlarge all in a slideshow

As luck had it, within months Tim Lott and Barry Cain’s chirpy new music magazine Flexipop decided its irreverent role was to prick the egos of their mates, the newly jumped-up pop stars, and Neil as its photographer was expected to rewrite the rules of the game. This appealed to his own wild ways and because he was invariably working against the clock, he injected a note of spontaneity into popstar shoots by inventing a box of larky props with which to confront his celebrity models and expect them to respond on camera. Result: pix of Toyah Willcox all smiles in floppy bunny ears, and Ian McCulloch contemptuously prodding the matching bunch of carrots after he declined to wear the bunny ears. There’s also Edwin Collins canoodling a rubber chicken and Jaz Coleman delivering a blunt message in a book to his rivals.

Impromptu set-ups catch Suggs at a fruit and veg stall on the street, Tim Burgess atop a packing case in Tesco’s, and Malcolm McLaren doing business on the phone. The book features several candid snaps following the rise of Spandau Ballet and the New Romantics including an exclusive of Steve Norman sporting speedos at home in the lounge between his fishtanks and Harry Dog. Neil offers very few live performance pix but the two best capture Little Richard bantering atop his piano and a fleeting glimpse of Nick Heyward closing his eyes in an Albert Hall performance.

Some of Neil’s best straight portraits take a traditional approach and yet clearly capture a shared moment of trust between subject and lensman: we see sexy candid shots of Madonna relaxed, of Betty Boo sultry in leopardskin and of Beyoncé Knowles as a very come-hither 17-year-old before she dropped the surname. For me the two cracking shots in this book show Take That snarling something worse than “Cheese!” at the camera (top), and Jay Aston of Bucks Fizz seated on the loo in her hotel (below). If that doesn’t testify to trust what does?

PS: Sorry, Neil, I have to reveal that I scooped you with the “first” kiss between Jon Moss and Boy George wearing Westwood a full year before Culture Club and your own shot where they both wear Sue Clowes.

Photography, book launch, exhibition, pop music, Neil Mackenzie Matthews, Jealous Gallery, Jay Aston

Jay Aston 1984: caught at her hotel by Neil Matthews

➢ Neil MacKenzie Matthews’ career went on to embrace fashion, international celebrity and advertising, but his book Snap: Music Photography (Red Planet, £30 in hardback) focusses essentially on the music scene

➢ Neil Mackenzie Matthews’ prints are visible online and for sale at the Jealous Gallery, 37 Curtain Road, EC2A 3PT

➢ View Neil’s wider portfolio at his own website

HEYWARD THE LEGEND BACK ON THE ROAD

Nick Heyward, live, Gibson Sunburst

Nick with his Gibson Sunburst 330, 1967

❏ One incidental pleasure at the gallery was to catch up with Nick Heyward for the first time since I snapped him with his sidekick Les as Wag club regulars a lifetime ago. Today he features in a daffy trio of Neil’s pix of Haircut One Hundred from 1982 and he’s as friendly and talkative as his ever-present smile suggests. He has been on the road this year with his UK Acoustic Tour, a series of intimate dates where audiences were treated to hits from his breezy and escapist seventh solo album, Woodland Echoes, plus others from his entire career. The album is a distinctly musical treat which Pop Matters reviewed as “a timeless, infectious gem”, adding: “He looks like that cool college professor all the students want to hang out with – and he seems to be at peace with his status as a 50-something indie pop legend”. More news at Nick’s own website .

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➤ Steve Strange: deciphering the pen portraits of the man of masks

Toyah Willcox, Steve Strange

Click on image to view BBC vintage video from 1981: Toyah Willcox interviews Strange in Robin Hood guise

◼ ONE OF STEVE STRANGE’S TALENTS was persuading the press to believe in his latest wheeze, however fantastic. He had a way of convincing himself that a story was already written and a mission achieved before he had pressed the accelerator and set off. This irritated as many journalists as it amused and many were consequently very sceptical of his next big announcement – like saying he’d booked a big American star to do her first live promotional performance in Britain at his crowning glory, the Camden Palace, capacity 1,410. But in fact he had and she did, and in June 1983 the unknown Madonna was launched singing to backing tapes for half an hour.

The myths surrounding Steve were always the stuff of self-promotion. Today, he would say, I am Robin Hood, tomorrow Ruritanian Space Cadet, the next day Marionette with the mind of a toy. A compulsive man of masks presents a tricky subject for the scribblers obliged to capture that life once it is spent, so we must tiptoe through the obituaries like a minefield, and beware of tripping over Steve’s much-spun versions of history that were pure fantasy. Even national newspapers seemed to fall for many of the dreams he spouted, as well as the exceedingly vague memories committed to his 2002 book, Blitzed.

➢ Read extracts from the obituaries inside Shapersofthe80s: As the mainstream writers lead you through those New Romantic years, see if you can spot the porkies

BOY GEORGE’S OWN TRIBUTE TO HIS RIVAL

➢ At Shapersofthe80s: Original Blitz Kids say farewell to Steve Strange, their host, pivot, style icon, friend

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➤ Material Girl Madonna pops up in LA

Material Girl ,Madonna, Macy’s

Material Girl retrospective at Macy’s LA

➢ Sneak glimpse on the Material World blog of the Material Girl Collection on display at Macy’s Los Angeles – “We just got back from our Material Girl Madonna Pop-Up Fashion Exhibit. Where should we start? From Madonna’s iconic never-before-seen fashion pieces like Jean Paul Gaultier’s iconic corset, to the blasting music, to the amazing crowd of Material Girls and Boys – it was a night we’ll never forget”

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➤ Super Bowl’s gilded Madonna deconstructed as Babylonian goddess and emblem of illuminati

Madonna,Indianapolis, Super Bowl ,Halftime Show ,Babylon, goddess, Ishtar ,Illuminati

Super Bowl entrance: Madonna enthroned and hauled by hunky soldiers clad as if from ancient history. (Videograb from TheHumanSlinky)

❚ MADONNA ASTRIDE A GOLDEN THRONE made a spectacular entrance into the Indianapolis Super Bowl stadium on Sunday, hauled by 50 plumed soldiers in ancient Mesopotamian uniform. The Halftime Show at the most important football game of the year is the most viewed event on American TV. Most normal viewers would have recalled one great cinematic image — Cleopatra’s processional entrance into Rome in the 1963 epic starring Liz Taylor as the Queen of ancient Egypt.

Liz Taylor ,Cleopatra,Joseph Mankiewicz

Entrance into Rome: Liz Taylor as Cleopatra in Joseph Mankiewicz’s cinema epic, 1963

But no. The diehard conspiracist who blogs as The Vigilant Citizen has penned this fabulous dissection of Madonna’s 13 minutes of pop screened on TV around the globe…

Her first performance was highly influenced by ancient Egypt-Sumeria-Babylon and Madonna’s costume recalls an ancient Babylonian goddess. Ishtar was a powerful and assertive goddess whose areas of control and influence included warfare, love, sexuality, prosperity, fertility and prostitution… Laced with profound imagery, Madonna’s halftime performance was a massive Illuminati ritual, one that was witnessed by billions of viewers. On this Super Bowl ‘Day of Atonement’, Madonna, the High Priestess of the Illuminati industry, entered the Holy of Holies of America and delivered a 13 minutes sermon that was heard by all… but understood by few… / continued at VC

➢ Madonna’s Super Bowl Halftime Show: a celebration of the grand priestess of the music industry, by The Vigilant Citizen — One conspiracy theorist’s take on 13 minutes of pop

➢ The Bavarian Illuminati — an Enlightenment-era secret society founded in 1776. A modern version is alleged to mastermind events in order to establish a New World Order.

MADONNA’S HALFTIME SHOW IN FULL

MORE SATANIC SYMBOLISM DECODED ON VIDEO

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➤ 19 gay kisses in pop videos that made it past the censor

❚ CENSORSHIP! OH DEARIE ME! Digital Spy reports this weekend that the lavish video for Firework — the single currently No 4 in this week’s UK chart by American singer-songwriter Katy Perry — has been censored for British television channels. The ludicrous widescreen promo, which they say “plays out the song’s message of self-belief” (yuk), shows fireworks shooting from Perry’s chest, and from the bodies of prancing extras. More shocking, apparently, are the pyrotechnic depictions of a mugging, a cancer patient, a woman giving birth and two men kissing. The two-second “gay kiss” has been pixelated, presumably to save embarrassing the children, in a version of the video directed by Dave Meyers for delivery to TV channels under a cross-promotional deal with Deutsche Telekom. The European telecommunications group recruited fans from all over Europe to appear in the video when it was shot in Budapest.

It’s all too much. Why, this weekend too, fansites have been twittering that Katy Perry and BFF Rihanna got into an argument over Katy’s new hubby, the amoral buffoon Russell Brand (double yuk). The only good news is that Katy has at least vowed never to strip for Playboy.

Katy Perry, Firework, pop video, censorship,gay kiss,

Fireworks in Firework: British TV viewers see only a pixelated version

According to the star herself, Firework is influenced by Jack Kerouac’s novel about male bonding, On the Road. Digital Spy’s reviewer Nick Levine even accords the song the accolade of being a “straight up self-empowerment anthem”. Pass the sickbag, James.

OK, OK, boys and girls. In Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s immortal words, relax. For any TV viewers feeling deprived of the knee-trembling kiss in the Perry video, which is of course viewable in full 1080p HD on YouTube, there’s plenty more where that came from. The web is replete with more pop videos flaunting gay kisses than mum and dad might wish for. The following links round up the most notorious from both genders — four are viewable only behind age-restricted gateways. And because it’s so darn funky, Shapersofthe80s has thrown in the Pet Shop Boys’ most notorious Bruce Weber video for Being Boring, which contains naughtiness on any number of levels, but you’re going to need gimlet eyes to spot the gay kiss. You’re very welcome to propose your own favourite pop kisses. Thanks to Jobe, we’re up to 20 vidz now.

Lady Gaga, Telephone, pop video, gay kiss

Lady Gaga: a jailbird’s perk in the video for Telephone

Lady Gaga, Stephen Gately, Boyzone, Blink-182

Pop smackers: Lady Gaga in Lovegame, Stephen Gately in Boyzone’s Better, two vamps in Blink-182’s I Miss You

♫ Christina Aguilera’s Beautiful

♫ Lady Gaga’s Lovegame

♫ Lady Gaga’s Telephone

♫ Blink-182’s I Miss You

♫ Peter Doherty’s Last Of The English Roses

♫ Black Eyed Peas’ I Gotta Feeling

♫ Yehonathan’s On a Hot Summer Night

♫ Adam Lambert tongue-diving in concert

♫ Tatu’s All the Things She Said

♫ George Michael’s Outside (uncut)

♫ Matt Alber’s End of the World

♫ Kylie’s All the Lovers

♫ The Strokes’ Juicebox

♫ Paul Oscar’s International

♫ Madonna’s American Pie

♫ Scissor Sisters’ Filthy/Gorgeous

♫ Boyzone’s Better

♫ Pet Shop Boys’ Being Boring — a film by Bruce Weber (below)

LATE ADDITIONs

Pink, Raise Your Glass, gay kiss, pop video
♫ In at No 19 (thanks, Rob): Pink’s Raise Your Glass — “Don’t be fancy, just get dancey”!

♫ And one more makes 20 (thanks, Jobediah Ingram): Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’s Same Love

++++++

➢ Read on in the New York Times:
For Gays, New Songs of Survival

“These artists represent a new wave of young (and mostly straight) women who are providing the soundtrack for a generation of gay fans coming to terms with their identity in a time of turbulent and confusing cultural messages.”

➢ Update Nov 2011: Firework falls out of UK chart after 58 weeks

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