Band Aid 30: Midge Ure yesterday conducting the artists for a new version of the song Do They Know It’s Christmas? Photograph: Band Aid Trust/Brian Aris/Camera Press
◼ TODAY AT 8pm ON THE X-FACTOR BAND AID 30 airs the fourth version of its pop smash hit, Do They Know It’s Christmas? So let’s remember the lifelong contribution of the quietest man in pop, Midge Ure, who is the true brains behind the charity project. As Bob Geldof described him on This Is Your Life: “He’s a great guy, hilariously funny though you wouldn’t know it from his old New Romantic posing. He’s got a great heart and is a great all-round good bloke.”
Midge: “There’s no doubt the early 80s was a golden age of music made by real popstars who created themselves. It was more than just padded shoulders and asymmetrical haircuts. It was a pivotal moment in our cultural history when new tech mixed with new ideas to create something really good. All in the pressure cooker environment that was the Blitz club”
Visage Mk 1: Rusty Egan, Steve Strange and Midge Ure in 1978 searching for sounds and styles
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”.
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 (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).
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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
➢ WELCOME to the Swinging 80s ➢ THE BLOG POSTS on this front page report topical updates ➢ ROLL OVER THE MENU at page top to go deeper into the past ➢ FOR NEWS & MONTH BY MONTH SEARCH scroll down this sidebar
❏ 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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