Sunday, April 26, 2015

Diamond by Spandau Ballet

Spandau Ballet's Second Album - Diamond

Have you heard Spandau Ballet's second album - Diamond? I must admit that I loved the album back in the 80s when it was released, but the general public didn't really buy into it and it was not seen as a success. Trevor Horn was called in to produce their fourth single off of the album - Instinction - and he has received credit for turning Spandau's career around again following the flaying results from their singles Paint Me Down and She Loved Like Diamond.

I think this album was about trying not to get stuck in a particular pigeon hole of music - you can hear that Spandau Ballet are still experimenting with their sound and expanding beyond their club beat feel that they had in their first album - let's look at Diamond in more detail...

Diamond Album Tracks - Spandau Ballet

Spandau Ballet's second album, Diamond, had eight tracks on it and they were the following -

  1. Chant No. 1 (I don't need this pressure on)
  2. Instinction
  3. Paint Me Down
  4. Coffee Club
  5. She Loved Like Diamond
  6. Pharoah
  7. Innocence and Science
  8. Missionary

Chant No 1

Spandau Ballet's First Single From Diamond

Chant No 1 was the first single off of Spandau Ballet's second album - Diamond and shows a funkier side of the band. Gary Kemp (Spandau Ballet's songwriter) said that Chant No 1 was, in part, a homage to the soul clubs that the band used to enjoy going to when they were younger.

Unfortunately the funky 'white' soul sound of the album wasn't what the general public were looking for at the time and the album sales reflected this.

The album Diamond showcased a lot of experimental sounds, but it also helped to showcase the band, in particular Tony Hadley and Steve Norman.

Tony Hadley's voice was maturing and Chant No 1 has soulful undertones which were perfect to showcase Tony Hadley's voice. Chant No 1 was also great at showing how versatile a musician percusionist Steve Norman was. On the single Steve plays the Bongo drums as well as the Saxophone (little did he realize then that he would one day be remembered as the Sax player from Spandau Ballet).


Spandau Ballet's Fourth Single from Diamond

Although Spandau Ballet's first single off of this Diamond album was a hit the next two were disappointing and it seemed like the general public weren't enamored with the album either. The record company decided it was time to make changes so they called in music producer Trevor Horn and got him to work on Instinction with the band.

In the words of Martin Kemp (bass guitarist) -
We gave 'Instinction' to producer Trevor Horn who really turned it on its head. It became a monster.

Spandau Ballet were back from the uncharted waters of their previous two singles and were once again on the UK singles chart.

Instinction was the first of 11 consecutive top twenty hits for the 80s New Romantic group.

Paint Me Down

Spandau Ballet's 2nd Single from the Diamond Album

Spandau Ballet released the single Paint Me Down off of their experimental second album Diamond. The biggest attention the single got was from the picture that accompanied it and the video. Unfortunately I can't find this image in creative commons so I can't legally show it to you, but the five guys were all standing looking mournful in just gold swimming briefs. It looks rather tame these days, but during the 80s it was considered pretty hot.

The fans definately gave it the thumbs up for lust appeal, but the BBC censors did not approve banning it from being played on their networks.

The banning of their video on the BBC gave the Spandau Ballet boys some infamy initially, but the poor record sales did not make the record company very happy. Paint Me Down ended Spandau Ballet's run of Top Twenty hits stalling at number 30.
Paint Me Down pretty much sums up the excitement we were experiencing at the time while Chant No.1 was a ground-breaking record and is still played in clubs today.
Tony Hadley

Coffee Club

Album Track from Diamond

You can get glimpses of other singles to come, but the whole song seems to be a mish-mash of different sounds and was very experimental - quite unlike anything else available on vinyl at the time. Some people have commented on reviews that it has an African beat and I can hear that near the beginning, but then it just builds on it's brass, although there is chanting later on which could be what they are alluding to.

Unfortunately I do think that this song has aged now, it is definitely not one of their timeless pieces, but it certainly deserves more acknowledgement that this was a band that didn't want to stick to a formula and were unafraid of experimenting. Spandau Ballet had started their journey as a cult band and this song really seems to envelop that feeling.


Diamond by Spandau Ballet
Spandau Ballet - Diamond Album

Did You Know?

The album cover for Diamond was taken in London's famous Billingsgate fish market - it's true!

The market building has since been converted into offices, but in 1982 Spandau Ballet's album cover was shot there.

More on Spandau Ballet's Diamond album

Spandau Ballet's second album Diamond was released on May 25, 1982 by Chrysalis Records.

Four singles were released from this album - Chant No. 1, Paint Me Down, She Loved Like Diamond & Instinction.

The Mail on Sunday (British newspaper) summed up this album with these words -

Kicking off the album is the classic sound of Spandau 'Chant No. 1(Don't Need This Pressure On), possibly the band's finest hour, a brilliant fusion of white funk and R&B encapsulating Soho in 1981.


She Loved Like Diamond

Third Single from the Diamond Album

Listening to She Loved Like Diamond you can get a sense of what was to come with Spandau Ballet's next album. Tony Hadley's voice is getting stronger in this commercially disappointing single off of their second album, Diamond.

Even listening to the single by itself without watching the video it is a very haunting song and although I haven't analysed what the lyrics mean I do find myself getting swept away by it and feeling quite sad at the end of the song.

I guess if I was looking for one word to sum up this song it would be - soulful.


Album Track from Diamond

Pharoah was never one of my favorite tracks off of this album back in the 80s when I loved it (the album), but when I listened to it recently the opening notes on the piano made me think of some of the early 90s murder mystery shows when they're building up the suspense and you just know something's going to happen!

After a few notes with just the piano the drums then come in ahead of the rest of the instruments and when all of the musical instruments are playing you hear the eastern influence of the track - in fact I almost expect to see a snake charmer - definitely more Indian than Egyptian despite the name of the song!

The first words that Tony sings by himself are "When the lights die down" and as his voice comes onto the track his tone is almost embracing of the snake charmer music that's in the background of large parts of the track.

Combine it with echo chant vocals from the others and like many of the tracks on this album it smacks of experimentation.

Then the track changes tack again and the 'heaven is weeping' vocal aspect of the song is reminiscent of some of their later singles like I'll Fly With You, as Tony imparts the same type of emotion with his voice.

As I said before definitely not my favorite album track but it does show that the band was not afraid of trying new directions with their music which was what the New Romantic movement was all about at the start.

Innocence and Science

Spandau Ballet - Diamond Album

The Eastern influence continues with this album track, I love the way they incorporated the sound of water into the music.


Album Track from Spandau Ballet's Diamond Album

The beats used in this track are great and seem to give an almost African feel to the song.

Underrated Peak of [Spandau] Ballet's Work

According to N. Bongiorno "proteanbounceback", a reviewer on Amazon. He also says The UK New Romantics were a unique and innovative force on the music scene-incorporating cosmopolitan Mod sensibillities, Motown/Funk bassline/horns & female backup vocals, and globe-trotting world-music influences.

He continues with - "Diamond" marks a great second step for the band, the melding of metronomic synth-pop minimilism and Sinataresque-vocals heard on "Journeys" is further expanded with full-sounding snappy horns, offbeat rhythms and forays into long ritualistic eastern-influenced opus' ala the 'Innocence/Missionary" diptych.

Really I couldn't come up with words that sound anywhere near as good as his except to say - I loved the album whatever the 'critics' said about it.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Adam & the Ants

Who are Adam and the Ants?

Adam & the Ants
From Wikipedia and used in accordance with fair use policy.
Adam and the Ants and their flamboyant frontman Adam Ant were a huge influence in the early 80s and are often thought of as a New Romantic group.

It comes as a surprise to many, then, that Adam Ant started off as a punk, in fact the Sex Pistols played the support act for his former band, Bazooka Joe.

This web-page will take you through Adam and the Ants short, yet theatrical musical career.

Through the line-up changes, Malcolm McClaren's influence and achieving number one status right through until the demise and Adam's solo career.

Adam and the Ants - The Early Days

Adam and the Ants front person was vocalist Adam Ant. Born Stuart Goddard Adam Ant was the bass player for Bazooka Joe when the Sex Pistols played their first concert in 1975. The Sex Pistols were actually the back up group for Bazooka Joe. Just after this concert Adam quit Bazooka Joe in order to form his own group.

He started a group called the B-Sides who were a wash out before he joined forces with Lester Square (guitar), Andy Warren (bass) & Paul Flanagan (drums) and Adam and the Ants were born. It was the beginning of 1977, by May the Ants had their first gig and also their first change of line up with Lester Square leaving before they performed.

Lester was to go on and form The Monochrome Set. The Ants' new guitarist was Mark Ryan, he too was replaced later that year and in October Johnny Bivouac became the latest Ants' guitarist.

Adam and the Ants - Radio 1 Recordings - John Peel Show

Adam and the Ants made their radio debut on Radio 1's John Peel show at the beginning of 1978. They also toured around the UK with punk band Siouxsie and the Banshees(see the above photo of Adam & Siouxsie on the road). They got their first record deal in 1978 when they signed with Decca (the label notorious for turning down the Beatles).

Their first single was "Young Parisians" and was a flop, after this the band were dropped by Decca and went through more line-up changes before settling on Adam Ant (vocals, guitar), Matthew Ashman (guitar), Andy Warren (bass guitar) & Dave Barbarossa (drums).

You can actually still get Adam and the Ants Complete Radio 1 Recordings on CD from Amazon.

Dirk Wears White Sox

Adam and the Ants First Album

In late 1979 Adam and the Ants released their first album (under the label Do It Records) called "Dirk Wears White Sox". The album gained a cult following and actually reached number 14 in the album charts, but Adam wasn't happy.

Malcolm McLaren's Influence

Adam Ant decided to reach out to Malcolm McLaren who had managed the Sex Pistols and see if he could get them more commercial success.

At this time the line-up comprised of Adam Ant (vocals, guitar), Matthew Ashman (guitar), Leigh Gorman (bass guitar) & Dave Barbarossa (drums). Malcolm McLaren convinced the band members (except Adam) to leave Adam and the Ants and form Bow Wow Wow. So much for helping them reach the level of stardom that Adam had been after.

He did however make some suggestions regarding the image and it is claimed that he is responsible for them wearing pirate inspired costumes for their next album.

Kings of the Wild Frontier - Adam and the Ants 2nd Album

Another new line-up ensued, this time however it would become even more successful. The line up was Adam Ant (vocals), Marco Pirroni (guitar), Kevin Mooney (bass), Terry Lee Miall (drums) & Chris Hughes (drums).

The band signed another record deal this time with a major label CBS Records who already had big acts such as ELO and Pink Floyd on their books. Their album Kings of the Wild Frontier became a number one hit in the UK and the Ants were on their way.

Kings of the Wild Frontier
With this album they embraced the beginnings of the New Romantic movement that was emerging in the UK with their flouncy pirate-inspired costumes, while still showing their punk roots with a kind of "glam punk" look. Adam sported a white stripe across his nose and this was soon being copied by boys across suburbia.

I can vividly remember going Christmas shopping with my brother who would've been about 11 and he came downstairs sporting "the stripe," I was mortified!!!

Prince Charming

Adam and the Ants - Album Number 3

Adam and the Ants released their next album in November 1981. Hits off of this album included "Stand and Deliver" and "Prince Charming" and continued to cement their chart success, with both of these going to the number one spot.

Prince Charming
The videos off of this album showed the band camping it up with Adam playing his version of Dick Turpin (Britain's infamous Highwayman) for the song "Stand and Deliver." The start of MTV came at the right time for the band as they hammed up for the screen which was what helped to get them noticed in the US.

They finally had the commercial success that Adam had craved when he had turned to Malcolm McLaren in 1980.

Adam and the Ants - All Over Now

In early 1982 Adam and the Ants were nominated for a Grammy for the category of best new artist, however by March they had disbanded. Adam decided to pursue a solo career and released "Goody Two Shoes" on his first solo album, although the single was credited to Adam and the Ants.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Band Aid, 1984

Band Aid

The story of Band Aid is legendary, a sick musician (Bob Geldof) watching television in bed gets moved into action when watching a documentary about the famine in Ethiopia. He gets together with a fello muso (Midge Ure), they write a song (Do They Know It's Christmas) and coerce their fellow musician mates (Band Aid) to record a single to raise money for charity.

Band Aid: The Beginnings

The musician in question was Bob Geldof who at that stage was best known as the lead singer of the Boomtown Rats. The Boomtown Rats had hits such as Rat Trap and I Don't Like Mondays.

Bob Geldof was later to come up with the idea of Live Aid and would eventually become knighted for his charitable efforts.

In his autobiography (Is That It?) he is quite frank about not being a saint even though he is referred to as Saint Bob since his charitable efforts in Africa.

On October 24th 1984 Michael Buerk started his report on the Ethiopian famine for the BBC's 6 o'clock news. It was this report that touched Bob Geldof as he was watching and gave him a new purpose and direction for his life.

Michael Buerk's report started with the words, "Dawn, and as the sun breaks through the piercing chill of night on the plain outside of Korem it lights up a biblical famine, now, in the Twentieth Century."

It was the plight of the Ethiopian children in particular that moved Bob into action.

Michael Buerk has won every major award in journalism while working for the BBC and in his autobiography - The Road Taken - he outlines not only the famine in Ethiopia but also the Falklands War, Lockerbie and the Flixborough chemical plant fire.

His fellow musician was Midge Ure. At the time of Band Aid Midge was best known as lead singer for Ultravox who had hits such as Vienna.

Together Bob and Midge wrote a song Do They Know It's Christmas?. Bob Geldof wrote the lyrics and Midge Ure wrote the music. Next it was time to get their fellow musician's on board.

Bob wanted to insure that he had famous, "hot" acts of that time to make sure that the single would sell. He contacted people and nearly everyone said yes straight away.

In one interview Bob Geldof told people that he asked Simon Le Bon (lead singer of Duran Duran) and as he was wavering he mentioned that Tony Hadley (lead singer of Spandau Ballet) had already said yes. Spandau Ballet and Duran Duran were the battling "super bands" of the time in the UK. Of course, Duran Duran became suddenly committed as well. Bob was certainly sneaky!

Band Aid: The Name

The name Band Aid was chosen as a pun as well as the fact that the musicians were working together as a band in order to aid others. The pun was the well known brand of adhesive bandage, indicating that they were trying to put the bandage on the problem.

Band Aid: The Song

The song has been re-recorded by top British and Irish performers four times, but I am only talking about the original 1984 version.

School children curse the stars of the early 80s as they are now 'forced' to perform the song at Christmas performance! Do They Know It's Christmas has really become a Christmas Classic.

Bob Geldof approached Trevor Horn (former Buggles and big time 80s record producer) to produce the song. Trevor Horn was unavailable and so Midge Ure ended up producing the single - Do They Know It's Christmas?

Trevor Horn did however give them the use of his recording studio SARM West free of charge for 24 hours. Trevor Horn also produced the B side of the single which featured messages from various top artists, some who were at the recording and some who couldn't make it.

The date that Bob was given the recording studio for was 25th November 1984.

The stars turned up on foot, in limos and in beaten up cars. The whole thing was recorded and used to promote the single. Some bands and artists were overseas and flew back specifically to record "Do They Know It's Christmas?"

Band Aid - The Result

Band Aid: The Tax Battle

The day after recording the studio Geldof appeared on Mike Read's morning show on Radio 1. I listened to this show every morning and can remember him promoting the single and making a pledge that every penny would go to the cause.

The Conservative Thatcher Government were not happy with this comment and refused to waive the VAT on the record. Bob Geldof and Margaret Thatcher (the British PM) were in a stand off.

Judging the public opinion correctly the government decided to back down, a win for democracy.

Launch Date

The single was released on 3rd December in time for the Christmas sales boom. It entered the charts at the top spot and stayed there for five weeks. Everywhere you turned the song could be heard playing.

It became the biggest selling single of all time and was only usurped by Elton John's tribute to Princess Diana - Candle in the Wind in 1997.

The Band Aid Story in Video

Do They Know It's Christmas?

Written by Bob Geldof & Midge Ure

It's Christmas time
There's no need to be afraid
At Christmas time
We let in light and we banish shade
And in our world of plenty
We can spread a smile of joy
Throw your arms around the world
At Christmas time
But say a prayer
Pray for the other ones
At Christmas time it's hard
But when you're having fun
There's a world outside your window
And it's a world of dread and fear
Where the only water flowing
Is the bitter sting of tears
And the Christmas bells that ring
There are the clanging chimes of doom
Well tonight thank God it's them instead of you
Feed the world
Let them know it's Christmas time
Feed the world
Do they know it's Christmas time at all?
And there won't be snow in Africa
This Christmas time
The greatest gift they'll get this year is life
Where nothing ever grows
No rain nor rivers flow
Do they know it's Christmas time at all?
Feed the world
Let them know it's Christmas time
Feed the world
Let them know it's Christmas time again
(Here's to you) raise a glass for everyone
(Here's to them) underneath that burning sun
Do they know it's Christmas time at all?
Feed the world
Let them know it's Christmas time (repeat & fade)

Band Aid: The Musicians

The original band aid participants in sleeve order were:

Phil Collins (Genesis)
Bob Geldof (The Boomtown Rats)
Steve Norman (Spandau Ballet)
Chris Williams (Iron Static Overdrive)
Chris Cross (Ultravox)
John Taylor (Duran Duran)
Paul Young
Tony Hadley (Spandau Ballet)
Glenn Gregory (Heaven 17)
Simon Le Bon (Duran Duran)
Simon Crowe (The Boomtown Rats)
Keren Woodward (Bananarama)
Martin Kemp (Spandau Ballet)
Jody Watley (Shalamar)
Bono (U2)
Pinky and Perky (singing porcine puppets)
Adam Clayton (U2)
Paul Weller (The Style Council, and previously The Jam)
James "J.T." Taylor (Kool & The Gang)
George Michael (Wham!)
Midge Ure (Ultravox)
Martyn Ware (Heaven 17)
John Keeble (Spandau Ballet)
Gary Kemp (Spandau Ballet)
Roger Taylor (Duran Duran)
Sarah Dallin (Bananarama)
Siobhan Fahey (Bananarama)
Sting (The Police)
Pete Briquette (The Boomtown Rats)
Francis Rossi (Status Quo)
Robert 'Kool' Bell (Kool & The Gang)
Dennis Thomas (Kool & The Gang)
Andy Taylor (Duran Duran)
Jon Moss (Culture Club, former member of Adam and the Ants)
Rick Parfitt (Status Quo)
Nick Rhodes (Duran Duran)
Johnny Fingers (The Boomtown Rats)
David Bowie (who contributed via a recording that was mailed to Geldof and then dubbed onto the single)
Boy George (Culture Club)
Holly Johnson (Frankie Goes to Hollywood)
Paul McCartney (who contributed via a recording that was mailed to Geldof and then dubbed onto the single)
Stuart Adamson (Big Country)
Bruce Watson (Big Country)
Tony Butler (Big Country)
Mark Brzezicki (Big Country)

Band Aid: The Next Step

The Next Step for Bob and Midge was to be Live Aid. Band Aid would be re-released (with different artists performing) in 1989,2004 and 2014.

Live Aid (4 Disc Set)
The American's would also do their own version of Band Aid called We Are The World and raise awareness of Ethiopia's plight
Band Aid raised everyone's awareness of what was happening to ordinary people in Africa and provided ordinary people everywhere else to help by merely purchasing a record (which they would probably have done anyway!).

Band Aid was the day that Music united against poverty.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Soft Cell

Soft Cell
Soft Cell

David Ball and Marc Almond are Soft Cell!

Many years ago I went to school with David Ball, for two years we sat in the same classroom..........okay, okay it was a different David Ball and NOT one half of the duo known as Soft Cell, but it would've made for a great story!

Soft Cell were formed in 1980 and became internationally known for their cult hit single Tainted Love which went to number one around the world in 1981.

Soft Cell consisted of Marc Almond on vocals and David Ball on synthesizers. The group were at the forefront of synthpop along with groups such as Human League, although Soft Cell preferred to show a darker side. Their inspiration was taken from soul music (as were a lot of other early 80s bands such as Spandau Ballet). In fact Tainted Love was a remake of a 60s northern soul song, but we're getting ahead of ourselves.

Soft Cell - The Beginning

Let's go back to 1980s Leeds. Marc Almond and David Ball were both art students and got together to write music for theatrical productions. It was actually a self-financed EP called Mutant Moments that kickstarted their chart career. Funded by a loan of £2,000 from David Ball's mother (a very wise investment) the boys, under the name Soft Cell had 2000 vinyl copies pressed. Copies of this EP are now highly prized collector items.

The EP brought Soft Cell to the attention of the head of Some Bizzare Records who had bands such as Depeche Mode and The The signed to them. He then enlisted Daniel Miller (founder of Mute Records) to produce their first singles - 'A Man Can Get Lost' and 'Memorabilia'.


Memorabilia became a cult club hit, although Soft Cell were still unknowns.

Tainted Love

The next single was 'Tainted Love' and this was to turn the unknowns into International chart toppers. 'Tainted Love' was a reworking of a classic 1964 Northern Soul song sung by Gloria Jones. Tainted Love would make Soft Cell a one hit wonder in many countries around the world.

What many people do not know is that they nearly recorded a different song, but more on that later.....

Soft Cell - The Look

Soft Cell drew on their theatrical and visual arts background when they produced their videos as well as on their live performances. The birth of MTV and their natural theatrical side helped to complete the package so to speak.

Marc Almond with his androgynous look was a flamboyant vocalist whilst David Ball appeared to me the more introverted member of the duo. The andogynous look was very 'right' for the time as the Blitz kids such as Marilyn and Boy George were also gaining fame.

Guyliner was a definate with Marc Almond!


This was one of my favorites, I used to play it up loud and sing along dreaming of living in a bedsitter by myself instead of being a school age teen living at home! - I didn’t really get what the song was saying at the time!

Say Hello, Wave Goodbye

This is a great, great song, another one that I used to play along with Bedsitter and, of course, Tainted Love.

The Night

When the boys were recording Tainted Love they had to chose between Tainted Love and The Night..........obviously they chose Tainted Love, but after they reunited in 2003? They decided that they should, finally release The Night.

They definitely made the right choise as The Night doesn’t have the pull factor that Tainted Love had it’s something about the ‘boom boom’ factor in Tainted Love that gets you bopping in the chair or up onto the dance floor and singing along. My hubby doesn’t like Soft Cell (but I forgive him), but if it comes onto the radio when he’s driving he can’t help but bang the wheel when the ‘boom boom’ part comes on.

If you just buy one synth-pop album in your life, make it this one. The Very Best of Soft Cell is the closest CD I can get which is like the vinyl record I played over and over (Soft Cell- The Singles, released in 1986).

Did you enjoy Soft Cell's dramatic synth-pop style of music, the very dark and theatrical side? Or were you more of a happy 'Walking on Sunshine" style fan?

Wednesday, February 18, 2015


Wham!, the Story of a Band

1984 Wham! music poster
Wham! was a fantastic group made up of a couple of Young Guns by the name of George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley who wanted to make it big. These bad boys got together to record Wham Rap, the first of their many singles. While staying at Club Tropicana Andrew urged George to Wake Me Up Before You Go Go. Careless Whispers of Freedom caused problems with their Last Christmas and before you know it George is saying I'm Your Man to a solo career. Andrew decides that Everything She Wants will make him happy too and settles down into married life. Fans were devastated by the break-up and have been On The Edge of Heaven waiting for a reunion ever since.

The Origin of Wham!

The pre-Wham History

Born just a day apart George Michael (then Yorgos Panaiotou) and Andrew Ridgeley met when they were at Bushley Meads School, Watford. They first performed together in a band called the Executive which was a rock and roll band.

The change of name coincided with the signing of a record deal and Wham! had taken their first step towards superstardom!

Wham!'s Fantastic Days

The First Album

Their first album was Fantastic and this spawned the singles Wham Rap!,Young Guns, Bad Boys and Club Tropicana.

Their first single released was Wham Rap!(Enjoy What You Do) in June 1982, it was a double A side single with a Social Mix and an Anti-Social Mix. The profanities on the Anti-Social Mix saw it becoming banned in the UK and it only reached number 45 in the UK Single Chart.

Their second single was Young Guns(Go For It), the Wham boys got lucky with this song as the Top of the Pops program in the UK scheduled them for a performance while their single was still outside of the Top 40. With their good looks and their great performance the single climbed the charts climaxing at number 3.

FantasticCheck Price
Following on from the success of Young Guns Wham decided to re-release Wham Rap in January 1983. It was a hit!

Both of Wham!'s singles told stories and the video's told stories which appealed to the audience and contributed to their success. Wham Rap was about a leisurely life with no work or commitments. Young Guns is a story about a guy (played by George) pleading with his friend (Andrew) not to throw his life away on an early marriage.

Before their next single was released George and Andrew lost one of their original back-up singers D C Lee, they replaced her with Pepsi DeMacque. Pepsi and original back-up singer Shirlie Holliman continued to be in Wham until the group split up when they formed the duo Pepsi and Shirlie.

Their third song was about a rebellious teenager and his worried parents. The single was Bad Boys and it reached number 2 in the UK charts and even entered the US Hot 100 at number 60.
In July 1983 Wham! released a send-up of the Club 18-30 scene with their single Club Tropicana. This song made it to number 4 in the UK charts. By the end of 1983 Wham posters were adorning bedroom walls all over the UK and were talked about in the same tone as Duran Duran and Culture Club.

Wham!'s Legal Problems and a Change of Direction

Andrew Steps In

It was around this time that Andrew Ridgeley became conscious of legal problems with their recording contract and Wham! decided to take action against Innervision and Mark Dean (the record company's founder). Eventually Innervision admitted that they had shortchanged Wham! with their royalties and ended up dissolving soon afterwards.

Andrew then decided that Wham! needed a change of image, so out went the denim jeans and leather jackets and in came the more fashionable clothing. The posters also started to show them laughing and smiling instead of the moody, contemplative looks of the "Fantastic" days.

Wham! Make It Big

May 1984 saw Wham! release the first song off of their Make It Big album the song was Wake Me Up Before You Go Go. This song saw Wham! get their first number 1 single and not just in the UK, but in the USA, Australia and Ireland as well.

It also saw George, Andrew, Pepsi and Shirlie in the famous white t-shirts declaring CHOOSE LIFE and GO GO.

The hit song was apparently inspired by a note from Andrew to George. Staying in a hotel, Andrew left a note to George

To George

Don't forget to wake me up up before you go go.


The rest is history.

Up until now George had been the group's songwriter, but the next song released was co-written by Andrew. The song was Careless Whisper and was a solo release for George (although in the US it was released as Wham featuring George Michael).

Careless Whisper was a number 1 hit around the globe as well and rumors of the Band splitting up started to do the rounds

October 1984 saw the band release their next single Freedom. They then released their second album Make It Big which reached number 1 in the Album charts.

In November George Michael contributed to the Band Aid single, although this usurped their own chance of a Christmas number 1 that year.

Wham! at the airport poster

In December 1984 Wham! released a double A sided singe with Last Christmas and Everything She Wants. The single reached the number 2 spot behind Band Aid's Do They Know It's Christmas. It actually made a record for being the highest selling single ever to peak at number 2 in the UK charts. Wham! donated all of their royalties from this single to the Ethiopian famine appeal.

In 1985 Wham! went on a world tour including China. It was reported in the UK at the time as being the 1st Western pop group to ever tour the country, but in fact Wham! were beaten into number 2 space by a little known Kiwi band called Spyz (they toured in 1982).

Both George and Andrew performed at Live Aid in 1985, but not as Wham!.

In November Wham! released the single I'm Your Man, having waited for nearly a year their fans snapped up the single and it went straight to number 1 in the charts. During 1985 the boys had both been busy.

Andrew had met Keren Woodward from the girl group Bananarama. George apparently introduced them and they are at the time of writing still together. Andrew also took up rally driving making the news for crashing a car at the end of this year.

George had started to lend his voice to other singers this year as well, providing backing vocals for Elton John's Nikita and Wrap Her Up.

Last Christmas was re-released again in 1985 and made it's way to number 6 in the charts.

Edge of Reason - Wham!'s final album

In 1986 both Andrew and George decided that they wanted to take their lives in different directions so instead of allowing frustrations to build they decided to end the group and keep their friendship.
Music From the EdgeCheck Price

They released a double A sided single with The Edge of Reason and Where Did Your Heart Go along with their final album, also called The Edge of Reason. They also planned a big farewell concert at Wembley Stadium. June 28th 1986 at Wembley Stadium, London the boys said good-bye in a concert aptly named The Final.

George Michael went on to solo chart topping success, Andrew Ridgeley wasn’t able to find success as a solo artist, but has been lucky in love. Wham’s two back up singers and fellow actors in the videos went on to taste fleeting success as the duo Pepsi and Shirlie.

Wham! Reunion

There were rumors running amok about a Wham! reunion taking place at Christmas 2007, this did not eventuate. According to Wham! fansites Andrew is the sticking point as he is not ready to perform again. Having said that when he was interviewed in 2007 he refused to rule out a reunion ever occurring which just adds fuel to the fire.

Were you a Wham! fan?

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The New Romantics

New Romantics - An 80s Music Genre

The New Romantics were a music genre in the 1980s generally considered to be a sub genre of the New Wave movement. Duran Duran were probably the biggest New Romantic band on an international level.

The New Romantic movement began in the UK right at the beginning of the 1980s. Sparked in part by the influence of television and fuelled by the advent of MTV. The New Romantics are synonomous with the 1980s.

Where Did The New Romantics Come From?

There are some differing thoughts as to why the New Romantic movement started, but there is a general consensus that the movement began in the UK. The London New Romantic movement began with the Blitz Kids.

The Blitz Kids

The Blitz Kids as they became known were a group of younsters that were tired of the punk movement. They were working class, but wanted to look more glamorous.

They dressed to make a statement (although alot of their clothes were handmade) and wore excessive amounts of make-up.

Some of them originally met at a London nightclub called Billys, but they soon migrated to The Blitz nightclub where they earnt the name The Blitz Kids.

Five of the Blitz Kids were Tony Hadley, Gary Kemp, Steve Norman, Martin Kemp and John Keeble who formed the pioneering New Romantic band Spandau Ballet. Both Gary Kemp and John Keeble have said in interviews that they were sick of the way the established music press operated. The Blitz Kids decided to do something about it.

The Blitz Kids all knew each other so when they would say "hey we're doing a gig at so and sos" they would all go along to create a buzz. Spandau Ballet decided that they wouldn't invite the Music Press to their concerts, they would invite the National Press. The Blitz Kids all showed up and the invite only gigs proved to be a success which led to Spandau Ballet getting a recording contract.

The Blitz Kids included Steve Strange, Boy George, Marilyn, Princess Julia and Rusty Egan as well as the Spandau boys.

New Romanticism Around the UK

Clubs emulating The Blitz Club started to pop up in different parts of London as well as outside of London. They included The Regency in Chadwell Heath where two other New Romantic bands got their debut gigs - Depeche Mode and Culture Club.

In Sheffield a group called The Human League had been around for a while. Around the beginning of the eighties when the New Romantics started, their sound had evolved. The Human League were now following the New Romantic blueprint.

In Birmingham a band called Duran Duran had been formed in 1978. They had been playing to the club scene around their city and signed their record deal in 1980. With their looks they soon acquired the term "the prettiest boys in rock." As with other New Romantic bands the Duran Duran boys were very aware of their image and had their own inate sense of style.

The 'fab five' as the press referred to them recorded their first album, the self titled Duran Duran in December 1980. Andy Taylor once commented that the whole band found it hard to concentrate after the assassination of John Lennon at the beginning of December.

The album Duran Duran was released in 1981 and reached up to number 3 in the UK album chart. It didn't do very well in the US until it was re-released in 1983.

Their first single Planet Earth was incredibly catchy and reached into the UK's Top 20. The second single was Girls on Film and it was the video that accompanied this single that really caused a stir.

New Romantics - What a Name

The music press did not know how to classify the Blitz Kid's music, the amalgamation of image and synth pop, catchy dance beat and experimental sounds. In some places the term futuristic as given to them and in others they were merely New Wave.

Face Magazine wrote an article about the early New Romantic groups and also included the groups Adam & the Ants and Bow Wow Wow as though they were the same. The article was entitled The Cult With No Name.

Musician and producer Richard James Burgess is credited with coining the phrase New Romantics. It is said to have been used because of the historical frilly costumes that were popular in the Blitz Club at the time. Also the use of wigs and make-up by some of the groups.

After this any early eighties band that produced main-stream pop with synthesizers who wore make-up or dressed glamorously were classified as New Romantic.

Adam & the Ants V Duran Duran & the Blitz Kids

Although they were all classified as New Romantic Adam & the Ants (and the former Ants that made up Bow Wow Wow) had their roots firmly stuck in the Punk movement.

Adam Ant's previous group had actually played support for the Sex Pistols and Adam & the Ants played support for Souixsie & the Banshees.

Adam & the Ants' album Kings of The Wild Frontier transformed them into the realm of New Romantics. Malcolm McLaren's influence got Adam (a natural showman) to look at his image. The black leather trousers and black t shirts went out and a pirate/highwayman look came in.

His look reflected the romantic historical look that the Blitz Kids were wearing at the time. Coupled with this when Spandau Ballet released their first video they were wearing kilts which Adam Ant had already done.

The industry had lumped them together and as much as they hated it they would forever be New Romantics together.

Were the New Romantics New?

There has been debate about whether the New Romantics were a new musical genre in their own right or whether they were merely a natural progression of the punk era. The fact that it is hard to define the differences between New Romantic, New Wave & Synth Pop does not help the debate.

In the punk corner people say that the New Romantics were simply the natural progression that took place as punk became glamorized. They point to bands such as Adam & the Ants to back up their argument.

In the New Romantic corner they claim that the movement was born out of a working class background that was highly influenced by television. Being brought up on television as opposed to radio led to bands wanting to be the whole package looks as well as sound.

Unlike the punk look, New Romantics wanted to look glamorous and to stand out and shout 'look at me' much as the future rappers would wear their bling, the New Romantics wore their heavy make-up and 'outfits.'

Sunday, May 19, 2013

You Knew You Grew Up In The 80s If

As a child of the eighties you remember a time before the internet and mobile phones, dvds and cds. We've all seen those emails 'you know you're a child of the 80s when......' On this page I've got another selection for you, please add your own at the end.

You Knew You Grew Up in the 80s if........
You know all the words to Bon Jovi - Shot Through the Heart.

You remember when mullets were even had a mullet.

You owned a banana clip........maybe you still do.

You remember when Neil Patrick Harris was a doctor.

You remember ending your sentences with not..........and you still sometimes do!

You also used to say Bonus!

You remember when Alyssa Milano was Tony Danza's daughter

You remember cassette tapes and you used to record the top 40 off of the radio every week.......some of you would've made mix tapes or at least received a mix tape off of a member of the opposite sex. (I still have the only one I was ever given, I no longer have a cassette recorder though!)

Are you still singing Shot Through the Heart??

If you were also from the UK - you know who the father of Michelle's baby is

You remember when Michael Jackson looked 'normal' and was just a great performer.
You remember when Madonna first started out, maybe you even took some of her fashion ideas - lace gloves anyone?

You had a pair of Jelly Shoes..........I worked in a shoe shop during the summer holidays and we couldn't keep up with the demand, I think I personally had every color they made.....even orange!

You wore legwarmers as a fashion statement......."Fame, I'm going to live forever, baby remember my name....."
If you didn't want to wear legwarmers there was always......slouch socks!!!
You had big hair and you looked F A N T A S T I C !

You used to say 'What cha talkin' bout Willis'.....maybe you still do?

You know who shot JR.

You know the words to the theme song of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air