Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Goodbye David Bowie

Posted: January 11, 2016 in General

Not much more needs to be said so thought I’d share this fan video tribute. Ah, the stars will indeed look very different today…

 

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Ah, the New Romantics – the big hair, the makeup, the frilly clothes – and that was just the men. With my love of new wave music, I’m not sure why it took me so long to stumble upon the Blitz Kids, who originated the New Romantic movement. Those familiar with the Blitz Kids know how influential they were in this movement, and ‘80s culture in general. It was while researching the New Romantics that I became acquainted with this group of musicians, art students, and “unruly” teens who were so instrumental in shaping what ended up being the most dominant genre of music and fashion in the early ‘80s. Members of this prestigious set included Boy George, Marilyn, Steve Strange, members of Bananarama, and John Galliano, just to name a few.

Origins and Fashion

It all started in 1978 in London, where a club called Billy’s held regular Bowie nights. The themed night drew kids disillusioned with the punk scene, and art and fashion students from local colleges. After a few months the group moved on to the Blitz wine bar for regular Tuesday night gatherings. The crowds donned looks from the English Romantic period, Berlin Cabaret, to retro Hollywood, and androgyny ruled the day. The extravagant fashion was a rejection of the stripped down look of punk. Steve Strange (later of Visage) manned the door with an iron fist, and if you did not live up to his creative standards you were not getting through the door. If you were able to get in, you would get the chance to mingle with the likes of Siouxsie Sioux, Midge Ure, and Billy Idol. Below are photos that capture the fashion and attitude of those Tuesday nights.

A shot outside the Blitz

Blitz Club

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Steve Strange (middle) and Boy George (right)

Steve and George

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marilyn (left), DJ Princess Julia (Julia Fodor), Boy George (right)

Marilyn and George and Julia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Martin Degville, pre- Sigue Sigue Sputnik

Martin 2

The Music

But it wasn’t all about the fashion. It all started with the music. And the music at the Blitz was described as “electro-diskow.” This consisted of European disco (think Giorgio Moroder), German bands such as Kraftwerk, glam rock bands like Roxy Music and, of course, David Bowie. A favorite dance move saw partners hold hands, lift their knees up to their waist, and spin and hop in a new kind of jive, as seen in the video for Duran Duran’s “Planet Earth” (see the 2:53 mark). Duran Duran actually recruited some of their Blitz Kid friends for the shoot. David Bowie also had some Blitz Kids appear in the video for “Ashes to Ashes.” It wasn’t long before bands started to emerge from the scene. The most notable were Spandau Ballet, who got their start playing cabaret nights at The Blitz, and Visage. The heavy synth and electropop sound would dominate the airwaves well into the decade.

Legacy and Influence

Although nights at the Blitz only lasted a couple of years, the influence of the Blitz Kids and the New Romantic movement on music, club culture, and fashion could be felt for decades to come. Designers such as Vivienne Westwood based their whole collections on the New Romantic look, and the clothes were worn by such acts as Adam and the Ants and Bow Wow Wow. Bands such as Duran Duran, Depeche Mode, Heaven 17, Human League, and ABC, who were all heavily influenced by this movement, found regular rotation on MTV and helped shape ‘80s synthpop music. Steve Strange and his group also revitalized the London nightlife and created the idea of theme nights that have become a staple of club culture to this day. Oh, to be able to have just a peek at what went on inside the Blitz during those years. On second thought, I probably would have never made it through the door.

For more on the Blitz Kids, here’s a documentary from 2005.

 

30 Albums Turning 30 in 2016

Posted: January 2, 2016 in Albums, Alternative, General
Tags: ,

The folks at Sonic More Music took the time to put together a list of 30 alternative albums turning 30 this year. There are some true classics on here. What a great year for music!

I look for any occasion to get a group of ‘80s music lovers together, and NYE seemed like the perfect opportunity. Since we’re both not too keen on venturing out on NYE, my husband and I decided to throw a dinner party to ring out the year. Fortunately, all attendees either grew up in the ‘80s or had a love of ‘80s music. With that kind of crowd, I couldn’t help but put together a playlist of songs from the era that included old favorites, rediscoveries, and new music I’ve come across this past year. Oh, we also attempted to play some games but the music took over and our living room became a dance floor until the wee hours of the morning.

Along with the usual suspects (Depeche Mode, Duran Duran, The Smiths, etc.), the playlist included songs from bands I had forgotten about over the years. Bands such as The Members (“Working Girl”), The Producers (“She Sheila”), Wire Train (“Chamber of Hellos”), and Felony (“The Fanatic”) found a much overdo spot on the playlist. Although sharing forgotten songs with the group was enjoyable, it was the unearthed gems I was most looking forward to playing. For a few, it was the first time hearing some of the songs and for others they brought back fond memories.

One of the bands I recently rediscovered is The Bolshoi. I knew of The Bolshoi back in the day but embarrassingly had never listened to any of their songs. My current favorite (and one I can’t seem to stop playing) is “Can You Believe It?” off their 1987 LP Lindy’s Party. It features an addictive, bouncy synth line and a heavy drum bass. I’ll definitely be seeking out more from them for a future post.

 

Another band discovered this past year is The Monochrome Set. From what I’ve come across they were favorites of Morrissey and Johnny Marr. This is another band that I’ll be exploring and posting about in the New Year. The song “He’s Frank” was first released as a single in 1979 and re-released as a slightly different version years later. I prefer this version, in which they sound like a cross between the Violent Femmes and The Velvet Underground. Just as above, there was no official video for the song available.

 

I’ve been away for a while but am looking forward to sharing more classics and overlooked songs of the ‘80s in 2016!

Best of the ’80s Lists

Posted: September 17, 2014 in General

It’s always fun to stumble across 1980s music “best of” lists. I’ve never attempted to make a list of my own. It’s too daunting, especially as I continue to discover new bands. Following are some of the lists I’ve returned to more than a few times in my search for ‘80s gems. See if your favorite songs or albums made the cut.

NME – 100 Best Tracks of the Eighties: http://www.nme.com/list/100-best-songs-of-the-1980s/266358/page/1

Pitchfork – Top 100 Albums of the 1980s (2002): http://pitchfork.com/features/staff-lists/5882-top-100-albums-of-the-1980s/

FACT Magazine – The 100 Best Albums of the 1980s (2013): http://www.factmag.com/2013/06/24/the-100-best-albums-of-the-1980s-100-81/

My Soundtrack of the ’80s

Posted: September 8, 2014 in General

Ah, the eighties. The decade of big hair, videogames, teen cinema, fear of the mushroom cloud, and some of the most diverse music of any era. Being a teen in the eighties, sure I was caught up in the awful fashion (some of the most outrageous looks, in my opinion), and looked forward to every John Hughes movie, but it was the music that really made this period special. I was one of those kids who was glued to the TV on August 1, 1981 to watch the launch of MTV, and I was hooked! My sisters and I would watch for hours eagerly anticipating what Martha or Alan would play next. Growing up in the suburbs, the airwaves were flooded with top 40 hits. This was fine until I got a glimpse of the Split Enz, The Pretenders, David Bowie, The Specials, Kate Bush, etc. To be clear, the early years of MTV were pretty eclectic and there seemed no rhyme or reason to what they threw up on the screen, but it was the new wave and synth bands that grabbed my attention and never left.

As the decade wore on and videos became more mainstream, I rarely missed an episode of 120 Minutes to get my fill of alternative music. Bands like The Jesus and Mary Chain, Sonic Youth, R.E.M, The Smiths, The Cure, and Concrete Blonde filled my tape case. I thought I was pretty well-versed in the new wave, synth, and alternative genres until I recently started scouring the internet for lost and overlooked gems of the eighties. After having spent several nights and countless hours going down the rabbit hole that the internet can be, I found there was much to explore and discover about this decade I thought I knew so well. The intent of this blog is to be a place where I can share some of these overlooked songs, revisit some classics that deserve some renewed attention, and share news on current happenings from bands/artists from this unique period in time.

I hope you enjoy!