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.

More Eighties

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Few authors will confess to having a favourite amongst their own books. It’s almost an unspoken rule that such an admission is akin to admitting to having a favourite child. (On the off-chance either of my kids are reading this, I love you both the same!) However, with the forthcoming publication of my next book, I can show no such impartiality in my work, as this has been the most interesting, rewarding and fun to research and write.

The final book in my trilogy on Eighties’ popular culture, More Eighties will be published by Fabrian Books on 16th May, 2017. Featuring interviews with Eighties’ artists including Dave Ball, Martyn Ware, Pauline Black, Dave Wakeling, Eddi ReadCoverer, Suzi Quatro, Rusty Egan, Jona Lewie, Junior Giscombe and Nathan Moore, the book explores how the decade provided a backdrop against which creativity and individuality flourished.  The role and influence of the record companies is also examined, along with a look at why music from the era has not only endured but grown in popularity.

In addition to contributing his insights, anecdotes and recollections of the Eighties, former Lotus Eaters lead singer Peter Coyle has written the foreword for More Eighties, perfectly capturing the core of the book’s objective. Another reason this book is top of my list.

I will keep you posted about details such as when it becomes available for pre-order and outlets, but I am happy to be able to reveal the cover for More Eighties today. Look out for it coming your way soon.

 

 

Bring Back Pop Quiz

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Tonight, BBC4 aired the second of two episodes of Pop Quiz: The Comeback. Featuring original host Mike Read, the shows were a must-watch for all fans of the Eighties. With teams comprising of some of the decade’s best known faces, such as Steve Norman, Leee John, Mari Wilson, Ranking Roger and Toyah Wilcox, and favourite questions like the lyrics and intro rounds, the shows have been a delightful blast of nostalgic past. Unfortunately and unbelievably, only these two episodes have been recorded to date. An injustice if ever there was one!

So, I have set up a petition asking the BBC to record a full series of Pop Quiz, featuring 80’s artists. You can add your signature and support to the petition by clicking on this link. Let’s bring back Pop Quiz!

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From Top of The Pops to Tour Bus

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For many of us growing up during the Eighties, Top of The Pops was eagerly awaited Thursday night viewing. Some performances remain as fresh in our minds as the day we first saw them. Who can forget Culture Club’s debut on the show, and the subsequent discussions about Boy George’s gender the following day at school? Then there was Adam Ant’s performance of Goody Two Shoes, when he danced across the studio from stage to stage wearing those red leather trousers. For me, The Beat’s appearance in May 1983, when they first performed Can’t Get Used To Losing You on the programme, has always held a special place in my heart. As a 12-year-old girl watching Dave Wakeling perched on a stool, looking down the camera with a cheeky glint in his eye, I was left with an indelible imprint on my memory. You can imagine then how I was feeling when I stepped onto The English Beat’s tour bus to interview him for my next book.

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On  board the tour bus with Dave Wakeling

Any nerves I may have had soon disappeared as we got chatting … and chat we did, covering everything from politics, racism and Greenpeace to his Vox teardrop guitar, musical influences and songwriting. In fact, there wasn’t much we didn’t cover in our hour and a half interview, all of which you will be able to read about next year when More Eighties is published. Having finished our interview, I was delighted when Dave invited me to the band’s gig that evening.

Based in California, The English Beat were in Folkestone, Kent to headline the Skabour festival, as part of their current UK tour. Fronted by the Brummie singer, the band comprises Matt Morrish on saxophone, Kevin Lum and Minh Quan on keyboards, Nucci Cantrell on drums, Brad Engstrom on bass and, with apparently limitless energy, King Schascha toasting.

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After The English Beat’s gig at Skabour, Folkestone

Bringing us all The Beat’s favourites, such as Mirror In The Bathroom, Stand Down Margaret, Too Nice To Talk To and Save It For Later (or Save It, Fellator according to Dave’s schoolboy humour!), the band delivered a top notch set that had everyone singing and dancing along. So much so, that I didn’t hesitate to accept an invitation to the band’s gig the next night at The Forum in Tunbridge Wells.

A more intimate venue than the previous evening, it was the perfect setting to perform new material Never Die. One of the tracks from a forthcoming album to be released next year (I’ve heard a preview of a few of the tracks and they are A-Ma-Zing!), Dave wrote the song in memory of his late father. Beautiful both lyrically and melodically, the song demonstrates not only a huge songwriting talent but a rare insight into love and life. It’s already a firm favourite with me.

The English Beat still have a week left of their UK Tour, so try to catch them before they head back over the Atlantic. The music is first class, the vibe is great and Dave Wakeling still has that twinkle in his eye.

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Roger’s Ranking High For Me, Full Stop!

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As you may have guessed from my previous post, last Friday I had the pleasure of interviewing Ska and Two-Tone luminary, Ranking Roger. As The Beat’s only remaining original member, Roger has performed with the band on and off for the past 36 years, since joining them in March 1979, at the age of 16. He heads a current line up of Steve Harper (guitar), Andy Pearson (bass), Matt Godwin (saxophone), Ocean Colour Scene’s Oscar Harrison (drums), and joining Roger on vocals is his son, Ranking Junior. Having witnessed the high energy and powerful dynamism between father and son, when they played The Quarterhouse in Folkestone later that evening, I can’t help but feel that Roger’s view “It’s great on stage. I’ve got no complaints. He backs me, I back him,” is typically understated.

Within minutes of meeting the Brummie musician, he has apologised for the late start to the interview, something for which he can hardly be held responsible. The band’s arrival in Kent was delayed by a traffic accident; the interview Roger gave to BBC South East Today, prior to mine, overran. Oh, and it was Friday the thirteenth! During the interview, we cover a range of topicsOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA, from politics, racism, and social change, to music, the 80s, and performing, plus much more in between. The full interview will feature in my next book, “Your Eighties”, out later this year, so you will have to wait until then to discover the errand David Bowie ran for Saxa, when The Beat supported the stylish singer on his Serious Moonlight Tour in 1983; or to find out what happened when, as part of Special Beat, Roger played to a crowd of “so-called Nazi Skinheads” in the former East German city of Jena. Believe me, the recollections are well worth the wait.

As we talk, it becomes apparent that Roger places great value on the fact that he remains without any sign of an inflated ego, despite spending over three decades under the scrutiny of the public eye. “I could never be rich enough to be a bighead, so therefore, I’m glad that I didn’t become a millionaire,” he reflects, as the pounding of drums, pulsating through the venue, signals the beginning of The Beat’s sound check. Not wanting to add to the band’s already time-pressured schedule, I reluctantly bring the interview to an end shortly afterwards. I was later to discover that I wasn’t the only one who felt the interview had ended prematurely.

About an hour later, Roger rang me to ask if I wanted to talk some more, now that the band had finished sound checking. Which is how I found myself to be in the somewhat surreal situation of sitting in a pub on Folkestone seafront, with Ranking Roger, at the same time as the BBC interview he had given earlier aired on the pub’s large TV screen! ??????????????????????Regardless of what had the potential to be a flashing neon alert to Roger’s presence, we were able to continue chatting uninterrupted. It was only as we returned to The Quarterhouse, that queuing fans inside the venue began to stare in disbelief, as they noticed the man they were lining up to see, strolling along the street. Earning the title of Most Grounded Man In Music, Roger then chose to enter the venue through its main entrance, talking with members of the waiting crowd, en route to his dressing room – there are no stage doors or airs and graces for this man.

This was further proven during that evening’s gig, when security failed to stop a merry, middle-aged Skinhead jumping up on the stage, during the band’s performance. When a security guard did finally make it to the stage, Roger stopped him from removing the uninvited guest, telling him to “let him dance with the band.” When they had finished performing the track, Roger put his arm around the stage invader, and announced to an elated crowd, “This is what it’s about…Rasta and Skinhead together.”

Then, of course, there was the music. With all The Beat’s classic tracks from “Hands Off She’s Mine”, “Too Nice To Talk To” and “Mirror In The Bathroom” to “Tears of A Clown”, “Rough Rider” and “Save It For Later”, alongside tracks from some of Roger’s other projects, such as “Return Of The Dread-I”, as well as Ranking Junior’s own creation “My Dream”, there was something for everyone. Looking at the audience, “everyone” was there – not only Skinheads, Rudeboys and Rudegirls, but people of all ages, out for a fun evening of good music. All I can say is, if you’re looking for the same, then The Beat are top ranking, full stop!

Too Nice To Talk To

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With the second Friday the 13th of the year looming just hours away, some of us may be feeling a little nervous. Touch wood, I’ve never been that superstitious! I have also been far too busy preparing for a rather special interview I have lined up for then, to worry about the date. Here’s a little clue as to who it will be too nice to talk to tomorrow (hint: it’s not Dave Wakeling). Wish me luck!