Buddies who found fame in the Swinging 80s: deejay Gary Crowley with singer Andy Polaris at BBC Radio London today
◼ WOOOH! JUST COMING DOWN from a breathless hour of lunchtime radio today as Andy Polaris very nearly talked the hind leg off deejay Gary Crowley – which is quite a feat! The BBC Radio London host was inviting former Animal Nightlife singer Andy to reminisce about his life in the metropolis and to pick six landmark tunes that still matter to him. Of course his teen years were dominated by pop, but apart from the obvious gods such as Bowie, Andy surprised us by bigging up those feisty strong female bands of the late 70s who were muscling in after punk imploded. Andy spent weeks following Siouxsie and the Banshees round the country to catch her gigs.
He says: “The women singers like Poly Styrene, the Slits and Siouxsie were way ahead of the guys. The guys were doing more clichéd macho stuff. The women were doing more arty things.
Siouxsie Sioux at the Vortex in October 1977. (Photo: Romany WG)
“Siouxsie you would see at a Bowie concert, and at a Roxy concert. The Slits you’d see at reggae concerts. Their music was fantastic: those albums Cut and The Scream and the X-Ray Spex first album – they’ve stood the test of time.
“Imagewise as well they were way ahead of everybody else – I loved that stuff to do with cinema, Poly Styrene with The Day the World Turned Day-Glo, and talking about recycling. She was well ahead of her time.”
ANDY’S SIX KEY TRACKS
Dr Buzzard’s Original Savannah Band – I’ll Play The Fool, 1976
David Bowie – Golden Years, 1975
Siouxsie and the Banshees – Hong Kong Garden, 1978
Sylvester – You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real), 1978
Grace Jones – I’ve Seen That Face Before (Libertango), 1981
Michael Kiwanuka – Black Man In A White World, 2016
➢ Click picture to run video in new window — Today at Guardian online Adam Ant gives a video interview in the strand: How I wrote … Stand and Deliver, his chart-topping hit from May 1981. When he starts strumming the tune, why not try cueing up the video below by Marco Pirroni, his onetime lead guitarist in the Ants and songwriting partner, then compare the results? Adam and Marco shared an Ivor Novello Award for this number
❏ Adam explains the song’s mix of images… “I very much like the 18th century, and the traditional sayings that everyone knows like ‘Stand and deliver’ and ‘Drop your drawers and ten bob’s yours’.” Adam says he wove together various other themes in the song: a touch of Tommy Steele’s Where’s Jack? based loosely on DickTurpin, plus Native American Indians and a bit of piracy. Result: “The lyric wrote itself. It was really a manifesto of what was to come… I knew I’d cracked it when the window cleaner round my house was singing it and changing the lyrics and didn’t know it was my flat… I was very flattered by that.”
❏ As Adam’s songwriting partner in the Ants, Marco co-wrote five number-one singles, a further four top tens with him, their two number-one albums, plus many more songs during 20 years together. When Marcella Puppini asked about his songwriting with Adam, Marco said: “I don’t think it’s something I really want to talk about at the present time.” Of his input into the music, he said: “I don’t write lyrics generally. I work with riffs and you keep playing. You have a moment when you think I really like playing this and the person you’re working goes: ‘It’s really good’. There are no rules. John Lennon’s tragic death kept us off No 1 [in Dec 1980], then I remember doing Stand and Deliver and thinking that’s going to happen. We weren’t going to be No 1 with just anything. I thought that’s catchy, that’s going to work.”
THE ANTS Mk3 ‘WON’T INCLUDE MARCO’
Early 80s: Adam and Marco in happier days
➢ Adam Ant: back from the brink— in today’s Daily Telegraph Andrew Perry listens to Adam like a respectful fan while interviewing Stuart Goddard with the care of a concerned parent…
“ After numerous tribulations, he’s to make a dramatic comeback to music next month, with his first full tour in more than 15 years. A couple of years ago, Goddard gradually withdrew from antidepressants, and the songwriting came back… He’s recorded a double album, which he plans to release himself in January 2012, entitled ‘Adam Ant is the Blueblack Hussar in: Marrying the Gunner’s Daughter’.
Goddard, now 56… talks of fronting an association for misdiagnosed bipolar sufferers, and of an album he’s writing for a third version of Adam and the Ants, which won’t include Pirroni. (“He did something to me which I won’t forgive him for. I’ll never go on stage with him again in my life.”) It’s equally difficult not to worry that all this hare-brained scheming is merely a manifestation of the old “manic” self. Now he’s off the medication, can he cope with those desperate mood swings? … He says: “You’ve got to be crazy to be a rock-and-roll singer”. ”
➢ Tour dates for Adam Ant & the Good, the Mad and the Lovely Posse — 25 stages in a stately, historic progress from Nov 10 at the 850-capacity Cheese & Grain (the 19th-century Market Hall) in Frome, Somerset… to Jan 22 at the 900-capacity former Art Deco cinema, “The Tiv” nightclub in Buckley (once famed for its brickmaking), Flintshire… while taking in on Nov 20 the 2,661-capacity Grade II listed Troxy (view online the virtual tour of this fabulously renovated Art Deco cinema, designed by George Coles) in East London… Somebody has been thinking about these things.
‘ZIGGY PAVED THE WAY FOR JOHNNY ROTTEN’
Siouxsie and the Banshees debut at the 100 Club punk festival, 1976: with Steven Severin, Marco Pirroni and John Ritchie (later Sid Vicious) on drums. Photograph by Ray Stevenson
❏ A lynchpin of the UK punk scene, Marco Pirroni became an integral part of Adam and the Ants in 1980 as lead guitarist and co-songwriter, until they went their own ways 20 years later. Today he is a songwriter, producer and guitarist in a rock-and-roll garage band called The Wolfmen, along with another ex-Ant, Chris Constantinou, making a sound described by Mojo magazine as “exuberant filth — Chris and Marco do growing old disgracefully with style”.
“ Q: So it would have been stuff like Roxy Music that inspired you to play guitar?
A: Yeah, Roxy and Mick Ronson. Aladdin Sane made me want to play. Q: How important would you say glam-rock was to the advent of punk?
A: It was really really important. The glam thing laid the ground rules and maybe the foundations. I know there are lots of punk fans out there that say it’s nothing to do with it, but you can see direct parallels between Ziggy Stardust and Johnny Rotten. ”
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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”.
SEARCH our 800 posts or ZOOM DOWN TO THE ARCHIVE INDEX
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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