When Chris De Burgh’s eyebrows were totally on fleek

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thewriteromantics

It’s funny isn’t it, how hearing a certain song can take you back to a time and place in a way almost nothing else can? Every time I hear Chris De Burgh’s ‘Lady in Red’ (deeply uncool I know), I’m reminded of my first ever slow dance. Yes, that magical night when Justin finally asked me to dance! I can’t remember his surname now but, whatever it was, I’d spent at least a term writing Mrs Justin …… all over my text books at school – extra uncool points, but that’s just the type of girl I was.  I was a bit of a late starter and, if you want the real story, even this turned out to be a false start. Justin almost immediately danced with one of my friends who also liked him. Turned out he wasn’t interested in either of us, but just wanted to be…

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The Week That Was

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It has been quite a week, with the publication of More 20170516_122253Eighties on Tuesday, a radio interview on Thursday, a gig on Friday, and throughout all of that trying to learn the art of vlogging – no mean feat for a Luddite whose technical prowess peaked at the vertically split black and white TV screen, when adjusting the tracking on our Betamax video recorder!

As I mentioned in my last post, I marked the new book’s launch with a celebratory lunch with some fabulous friends. While we were in Dover, I visited Banksy’s latest offering and could not resist a little step up the ladder. I also recorded one of my vlogs there, which you can see below, along with the one I recorded at the gig featuring Jona Lewie and The Blockheads. All my vlog posts are available via my  YouTube channel or my website, which also includes the link to the recording of my radio interview. Enjoy …

 

Ladies That Launch

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Tomorrow sees the launch of the third and final book in my trilogy on 80’s popular culture, More Eighties. Available in paperback or kindle version, the book exCover imageplores how the decade provided a backdrop against which creativity and individuality flourished, the social and political factors which shaped the music of a generation, the changing role and influence of record companies, and why the era remains a golden age for so many of us.

Reflecting the diversity of the UK charts during that time, More Eighties offers recollections, insights and observations from those at the forefront of British music during the most exciting, transitional period in its history, and features interviews with David Ball (Soft Cell), Martyn Ware (Heaven 17), Dave Wakeling (The Beat), Pauline Black (The Selecter), Eddi Reader (Fairground Attraction) Rusty Egan (Visage), Jona Lewie, Suzi Quatro, Junior Giscombe, Ian Donaldson (H2O), Karel Fialka, Andy Kyriacou (Modern Romance) and Nathan Moore (Brother Beyond), along with a foreword and commentary by Peter Coyle, former lead singer of the Lotus Eaters, songwriter, and the man responsible for introducing karaoke to the city of Liverpool, completing the eclectic mix. Having recently received and read his copy, Peter remarked that More Eighties “is a gem of a book”. I hope you will think so too.

To mark the book’s release, I will be having a celebratory ‘launch lunch’ tomorrow with friends, whose support has been invaluable during the writing of More Eighties, followed by more radio interviews later in the week. Details and photos to follow on social media.

When Eurovision Went One Step Further

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Continuing lasSATt week’s glimpse back at 80’s Eurovision with Johnny Logan, I was delighted to chat recently with Sally-Ann Triplett. Hugely popular amongst listeners of Absolute 80’s Forgotten 80s’ radio show, for her role as the female half of Eurovision duo Bardo, Sally-Ann first entered the contest in 1980 as a member of the group Prima Donna. I knew that her double appearance in the Eurovision Song Contest made her the perfect interviewee for a Eurovision feature in this year’s 80’s annual. However, until we spoke, I was unaware of the fabulous tales she had to tell about my favourite decade and some of its most famous faces.

Currently living in New York, the former pop songstress was walking through Central Park as she told me how she went from panto to Eurovision to the West End and Broadway. Those recollections are wonderfully entertaining, but then Sally-Ann went one step further (see what I did there??) and spoke about hanging out with Limahl, lending a helping hand to Samantha Fox, and snogging Sting. The fact that she also loves the Eighties as much as I do meant our interview was every bit as fun as you would expect from someone whose hip-wiggling, high-kicking dance routines were copied by a generation of forty-somethings.

Although you will have to wait until November, when The 80’s Annual, vol. II is published, to read Sally-Ann’s interview, you can see our 1982 Eurovision favourite in action in the video below. Just be careful you don’t pull something trying to copy the routine!

Logan’s Running Back On Track

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While the media is bursting at the seams with coverage of the imminent local and general elections, it is important we do not forget about a much more entertaining evening of voting which takes place in under two weeks’ time. I am, of course, referring to the Eurovision Song Contest which will take place later this month on 13th May.  Who better to comment on the forthcoming popfest than Mr Eurovision himself, Johnny Logan? Having twice won the contest for Ireland during the Eighties with ‘What’s Another Year’ in 1980 and the self-penned ‘Hold Me Now’ in 1987, the singer/songwriter went on to write the 1992 winning entry ‘Why Me’, sung by Linda Martin. It is no wonder he jokingly told me “Someone once asked me what it was like to win the Eurovision. I said ‘I don’t know, I’ve never lost one!’”

Johnny Logan (11 von 120)

Photo: Manfred Baumann

My memories of Eurovision are predominantly of the Eighties, when what seemed like a golden age of songs and fun dominated. It feels like a far cry from today’s predictably political scoring and uninspiring entries.

“It’s still great fun to watch if people can look at it for the fun of it,” answers Johnny “and just vote for the countries you like, but even the songs that are written are no longer written by people from their own countries. I think the Irish entry this year is written by a Swedish guy. It’s just a group of songwriters who get together and write songs for all over Europe. There was a time when you had to have a song written from your own country, and couldn’t release it before the contest. It wouldn’t really be heard before the contest, it wouldn’t be played before the contest. Now, all that’s gone.”

I suggest that it is part of a bigger picture in which we are very much part of a ‘fast food’ culture, where no one is prepared to wait for anything.

“That’s just where we are,” he replies. “That’s just the world we live in now. There are lots of things about the old way I miss, but there are lots of things about the new way I like. I think I’m a bit like an á la carte human being. I like to look at the menu and be able to choose what I want.”

Choosing what he wanted was something Johnny was able to do when putting together ‘It Is What It Is’, his forthcoming album, which is out on 5th May.

“I think, what I’ve had the chance to do with this album is, what I’ve discovered over the years, is the music I really enjoy playing for my audience. The stuff that’s fun to play and I can have fun with the audience, and I can actually express myself.”

That expression is not limited to his choice of tracks but also how the album will be made available, reflecting Johnny’s opinion of the current state of the music business, an industry which has strangled artists’ ability to make a living through recording music.  It “really needs people like me and people with a career in the industry to fight and try to get some of the music industry back for the artist,” he says. “When I did this album, I funded it myself and I’m releasing it now through Universal. They will distribute it but I will have my own record label [Shake It Easy] and it will not be streamed. You will have to buy the album in its entirety from Amazon or my website johnnylogan.com. There will be a web shop open on the 5th [May].  I’m going to make a limited edition of vinyl, but just need to discuss with the pressing plant the best way of doing this. First of all, I wanted to set my record label up and make sure it was ready on the 5th for all the fans in Scandinavia and Germany, and all over Europe. I want the same option to be available in England and Ireland as well because it’s been so long since I had music out there. It would be nice to have it out and if anyone wants to buy it, that’s great.”JL Ireland Flag

I am sure those of us who remember his Eurovision successes will be only too eager to purchase Johnny Logan’s latest tracks. As the man says: “It’s probably the best thing I’ve ever done, to be honest, and I’m really very, very proud of it. It is what it is.”

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Read more on Johnny’s thoughts and memories of Eurovision and the Eighties in The 80’s Annual, vol. II, to be released later this year.

Books & Bank Holiday Treats

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The final book in my trilogy on Eighties’ popular culture ‘More Eighties’, out on 16th May, is now available for pre-order. See my website for more details. Those of you pre-ordering the Kindle version this weekend may also want to add ‘Your Eighties’ to your basket as it will be FREE for the entire bank holiday weekend (29th April to 1st May). There is no need to miss out if you haven’t got a Kindle. Simply download the Kindle conversion app to read ‘Your Eighties’ on PC, Mac and mobile.

Have a great weekend!

Added To Favourites

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I can’t remember the last time I played an album ‘to death’, but that is exactly what I have been doing with Cutting Crew’s latest offering ‘Add To Favourites‘. My first play of said album was travelling home from interviewing the band’s lead singer and songwriter, Nick van Eede, a couple of weeks ago. Driving along in tAdd To Favouriteshe spring sunshine, I lost myself in a roller coaster of emotions, listening to the wonderful sounds coming from the car’s speakers.

From the ridiculously catchy ‘Till The Money Run$ Out’ (I guarantee you’ll be singing ‘doo ra lan, doo ra lan’ in no time at all) to the skillfully crafted power ballad ‘As Far As I Can See’, to ‘Berlin In Winter’, a song that not only has an Eighties’ Cutting Crew sound, but has story-telling lyrics evocative of the decade, every track is finely honed to perfection. Each time I play the album, I choose a different favourite, although the pure elegance of ‘(She Just Happened To Be) Beautiful’ is always near the top of the list. But then, there is ‘Already Gone’, which has a style and vocal tenderness reminiscent of Roy Orbison, and not forgetting ‘Kept On Lovin’ You’, a jazz-infused track that takes me back to the early Nineties, when Curtis Stigers was riding high in the charts. It is impossible to choose a favourite from ‘Add To Favourites’, but then what else would you expect from the man whose talents brought us ‘(I Just) Died In Your Arms Tonight’?

The day before I met Nick, h20170316_155832e had been presented with a BMI (Broadcast Music, Inc.) award for selling over 4 million copies of the 1986 UK Number 4 hit single. He had been due to collect the award four months earlier, but his attendance was thwarted by some home maintenance: “November last year was the official ceremony they had at The Dorchester [hotel],” explains Nick. “My all-time idol, ever since I was eleven or twelve, Sting, was being given the lifetime award or something. It wasn’t in the main ballroom but sort of a half ballroom, so it would have been like from here to that fridge away [a distance of about 30 feet]. Sting would have been on my table because I’m published by Sony, and I fell off a f**king ladder! Living here in the country and doing all the stuff … and I’m very proud about doing most of the stuff … I was up a ladder cleaning out the gutter, when I fell and smashed my knee to pieces, so I couldn’t go.” Not meeting his musical hero has not dulled Nick’s delight at receiving such an award,  as is clear from the above photograph. Well deserved recognition of a great song and songwriter.

Read how Nick has evolved his songwriting skills since Cutting Crew’s heyday, his early days in the music business, his thoughts on the Eighties and much more in The 80’s Annual Vol. II, due for publication this autumn.