In my book, Debbie Harry can do no wrong. Whether with Blondie or as a solo artiste, Ms. Harry has made this little planet of ours a much better place—even if it is for just for 3 minutes of pop heaven at a time. Here the talented and iconic singer gives an excellent interview to Annie Nightingale—who is no slouch herself, and was the British first female DJ on BBC radio 1. Interviewed for the series One to One while promoting her album Def, Dumb & Blonde, Ms. Harry allows access to all areas of her career, and gives Nightingale some very honest and revealing answers.
I still remember where I was when I first heard this incredible record.
It’s not THAT impressive really, as it was only around three months ago in a friend’s kitchen. It was played as part of a Siouxsie Sioux BBC Radio 6 special, wherein Siouxsie chose an hour of her favorite music from (roughly) the punk era. A lot of her choices were, surprisingly, disco tracks, and when ‘The Force’ came on all casual conversation in the kitchen stopped ,and we all simply HAD to know who sang this incredible song.
Nancy Nova is, apparently, the daughter of British TV personality and Blockbusters game show host, Bob Holness. Her real name is Carol Ann, and her sister Ros was a member of the uber-camp 80s girl group Toto Coelo (who are best known for “I Eat Cannibals”.)
“The Force” is simply epic, a gothic disco-pop song that oozes menacing, spooky appeal, the kind Alison Goldfrapp would kill for. It really does sound like it comes form another bizarro planet. Like the best horror movies, it’s scary, thrilling and exciting all at the same time. Bass heavy disco production, reminiscent of Kid Creole’s best, Broadway-inspired work, is topped off by celestial choirs that could lure passing astronauts to their rocky doom, while a spare arrangement, that hints at the then-burgeoning goth movement, makes the most of Nova’s stunning voice.
Ah yes, THAT voice. Nancy Nova is one of those singers with a startling, unique vocal style that should be irritating but actually works. At times reminiscent of Betty Boop, at others quite similar to Noosha Fox of the band Fox (previously covered on Dangerous Minds here) it really is one of a kind, and guaranteed to beguile the listener.
So impressed were we by Nancy Nova and ‘The Force’ that we based Tranarchy‘s Hallowe’en ‘Zombie Pride’ video around it, in effect creating a pop video for a song that didin’t have one, but needed it. A surrealistic tale of drag initiation (featuring stunning make-up work by star witch Grace Oni Smith) I’d like to think that we have done the song proud, and that if Nancy Nova were to see it, she would approve:
Ian Dury looked like he could have been your Dad. Well, that is if your Dad was cool enough to front a band, and write songs that stuck in the head like a needle in the groove. I suppose it was because he looked like an old geezer and sounded like a cab driver that made him look like your Dad, but in truth Ian Dury was the Poet Laureate of Rock ‘n’ Roll. The Cor-Blimey Bard of Pop Poetry, whose exuberant lyrical dexterity at writing short memorable couplets, made him one of music’s best loved and most respected writers and performers.
In 1977, it seemed everyone had or had heard a copy of New Boots and Panties!!, the album that gave Punk and New Wave its very own T S Eliot, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Edward Lear or W H Auden. We went in-and-out of class rooms reciting “Clevor Trever”:
“Just cos I ain’t never ad, no, nothing worth having
Never ever, never ever
You ain’t got no call not to think I wouldnt fall
Into thinking that I ain’t too clever
And it aint not having one thing nor another
Neither, either is it anything, whatever
And its not not knowing that there ain’t nothing showing
And I answer to the name of Trever, however.”
Or, singing “Billericay Dickie”:
“I had a love affair with Nina
In the back of my Cortina
A seasoned up hyena
could not have been more obscener.”
It made a change from singing “Sha-na-na-na-sha-na-na-bop-de-diddle-de-bop, baby.” And if there had been an O’Level in the lyrics of Ian Dury, then we all would have passed ‘A’ band one. It wasn’t just that The Blockheads’ songs were the bollocks, it was Dury, who was the most literary thing that had happened to music since Ron and Russell told us about “Khaki-colored bombardiers…” over Hiroshima, or, Vivian sang “Sport, Sport, masculine sport. Equips a young man for society.”
Here is Ian Dury and The Blockheads with ex-Dr. Feelgood guitarist Wilko Johnson in the line-up giving it their all and then some in Paris 1981.
01. “Wake Up (And Make Love To Me)”
02. “Sink My Boats”
03 “Delusions of Grandeur”
04. “Dance of the Crackpots”
05. “What a Waste”
06. “Hey! Hey! Take Me Away”
07. “Hit Me (With Your Rhythm Stick)”
08. “Sweet Gene Vincent’
There was a moment back in the late-seventies / early-eighties, when Simple Minds could do no wrong. From their debut album Life in a Day, through to New Gold Dream, 81, 82, 83, 84, they were the likely heirs (by-way-of Kraftwerk) to fill the space left by Bolan and Bowie and even the Velvets, with their mix of pop (Empires and Dance) and experimentation (Real to Real Cacophony). But by 1984 and the release of Sparkle in the Rain, the Minds were a stadium band, with their own rock sound, vying with U2 for world domination.
For me amongst the highlights of being a student in the early eighties was the thrill of listening to I Travel, Chelsea Girl and Theme For Great Cities, played loud, late at night, with friends in shared apartments and rooms, listening and talking, expectant for the life to come. It all came too soon, and sadly much of Simple Minds’ early innovation and brilliance has been too easily forgotten.
Here then is Simple Minds at Hurrah’s Club, New York City, October 1979, performing “Premonition”, “Changeling” and “Factory”.
Simple Minds - “Premonition”
Bonus - “Chelsea Girl” - Simple Minds
More from Simple Minds, plus extra tracks and early interview, after the jump…
The Germs’ Pat Smear & Lorna Doom get touchy-feely with lead singer Darby Crash in The New Wave
“Not exactly wholesome, you might say,” notes slick & laid-back narrator Andrew Amador at the end of this weird and rather incomplete look at the burgeoning new music scene in Los Angeles.
Inexplicably opening up with the highly New York sounds of Patti Smith’s version of “Gloria,” The New Wave seems to have been a quick segment put together by erstwhile TV host Amador and shot by someone called Andre Champagne. I wonder if and where it actually aired. It’s an interesting enough artifact in that it features:
Footage of The Germs with Darby Crash in full feathered-and-waxed Bowie mode
A Sunset Strip marquee within the first 30 seconds featuring Pasadena’s Van Halen!
A bit too much footage of The Quick’s heartthrob lead singer Danny Wilde dreaming of stardom. He’d later do the music scene proud by forming the Rembrandts and recording “I’ll Be There For You,” the fittingly excruciating theme for the TV show Friends.
It’s been a bad week for music with the passing last week of Gil Scott-Heron, and on Friday Andrew Gold. Now we have the sad news that producer Martin Rushent has died at the age of 63.
Rushent was one of the most influential producers of the late 1970s and 1980s, who created the soundscape that defined the era. If you turned on the radio back then, you were guaranteed to hear a Rushent-produced track within minutes, for Rushent was the touch of genius on some of the best work released by The Human League, Altered Images, The Stranglers, Generation X, The Associates and The Buzzcocks.
Though Rushent may be best remembered for his work producing (and performing on) the Human League’s album Dare and its hit single “Don’t You Want Me”, for which he won Best Producer at the 1982 Brit Awards, his influence was not kept to one band.
There was a trick I once heard, which claimed: if you ever travel around London, vaguely point in the direction of old churches and say Hawksmoor, you’re bound to be right, so prodigious was that architect’s work. The same can be said for Martin Rushent, hear any track from the late 1970s and especially the early 1980s, and if you can’t name the band just say, Martin Rushent and you’re bound to be right, for so prodigious, and impressive, was his output.
Rushent also produced The Stranglers first three albums, which as Louder Than War states:
Rushent, born in 1948, produced the Stranglers first three albums – creating that classic sound that was clear, punchy, dark and sleazy and groundbreaking all at the same time. With The Stranglers third album, ‘Black And White’ Rushent with engineer Alan Winstanley created a soundscape that was post punk before the term was even thought of.
He had a trademark sound. Each instrument had its place. he could make the complex sound simple and harnessed The Stranglers weird imagination and pop nous into something totally original and very commercial making them the best selling band of their period with a bass sound that launched a generation of bass players.
In an interview with Uncut Rushent recalled recording The Buzzcock’ biggest hit:
“Pete [Shelley] played me ‘Ever Fallen In Love…’ for the first time and my jaw hit the floor. I felt it was the strongest song that they had written-clever, witty lyrics, great hooklines. I suggested backing vocals-to highlight the chorus and make it even more powerful. No one could hit the high part-so I did it. I’d sung in bands in my youth and I also worked as a backing singer.”
Before his career with Punk, New Wave and Electronic bands, he worked on records by T Rex, David Essex and Shirley Bassey.
Rushent was said to be working on a 30th anniversary edition of Dare at the time of his death.
A Facebook page has been set up by Martin Rushent’s family to collect memories of the great man, which you can add to here.
The Stranglers - ‘No More Heroes’
Human League - ‘Open your Heart’
More Rushent-produced classic tracks, after the jump…
Dangerous Minds is a compendium of oddities, pop culture treasures, high weirdness, punk rock and politics drawn from the outer reaches of pop culture. Our editorial policy, such that it is, reflects the interests, whimsies and peculiarities of the individual writers. And sometimes it doesn't. Very often the idea is just "Here's what so and so said, take a look and see what you think."
I'll repeat that: We're not necessarily endorsing everything you'll find here, we're merely saying "Here it is." We think human beings are very strange and often totally hilarious. We enjoy weird and inexplicable things very much. We believe things have to change and change swiftly. It's got to be about the common good or it's no good at all. We like to get suggestions of fun/serious things from our good-looking, high IQ readers. We are your favorite distraction.