And so we arrive at the dark heart of the eighties. Much maligned as the era of bland corporate rock, it was soundtracked in my student world anyway by New Order, The Sisters of Mercy, The Smiths, The Cramps,The Fall and The Pogues. I think in the original Word magazine I mentioned in the obits to Lux Interior about club The Coven next to Oxford Ice Rink, when on goth night we would tot up the Cramps v Sisters plays. Happy days indeed for indie fans, and for Def Leppers (see below). Oh and a certain Prince Rogers Nelson became a global superstar with Purple Rain. Frankie goes to Hollywood ruled the UK charts and scandalised the nation. Some headlines from the NME Rock N Roll Years to get you going, and the rules as ever are anything and everything from the year in question.
And finally, people who appeared on the Band Aid single included Jody Watley and Kool and the Gang. David Bowie provided a spoken-word message on the B-side.
As Christmas approaches, the British charts become a battle ground for television-promoted albums. Mega-labels CBS and WEA alone are promoting ten albums between them this year, while television specialists Telstar pitch in with heavyweights Stevie Wonder, John Denver and chris De Burgh.
More controversial however are the compilations ‘Now That;s What I Call Music 4’ from EMI and ‘The Hits Album’ from WEA and CBS.
These collections of singles are the highest climbing albums of the month and seem likely to be symptomatic of a trend where compilations will monopolise the top places in Christmases to come – not to mention the possible adverse effect on singles sales.
Going Def for A Living
Sheffields’s heavy metal heroes Def Leppard may be popular in their native land – but they’re even bigger in the States.
The Gallup YOuth Poll, a nation wide gauge of opinion, recently revealed that they are the most popular group in Merida, finishing higher than The Rolling Stones, The Jacksons and Culture Club. What’s more, their ‘Pyromania’ album has sold nearly 7 million copies and rising in the States alone. The band are currently in Holland recording the follow-up – and it can be revealed tat the producer they are working with is none other than Meatloaf Svengali Jim Steinman.
Video A Go Go
After Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ directed by John Landis and The Stones’ ‘Undercover’ by Julian Temple comes the video to top them all ‘Screaming Lord Byron’ a 22-minute promo based around David Bowie’s ‘Blue Jean’ single. Its release prompts the question: where do videos go from here?
The answer is the cinema, where the video will be shown as the support feature to The Company of Wolves from September 14. Its drug scenes are unlikely to endear it to television, which makes the raisin d’etre soemwheat unclear.
Directed by Julien Temple, the video sees Bowie playing two distinct roles – the rock idol of the title and a fan who tries to attract the girl with the promise of meeting Lord Byron himself.
Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s Two Tribes, is described ‘as the first genuine protest song for eight years, picking holes in the Official Secrets Act’.
Echo and the Bunnyment have frequently gone about things the unconventional way. The Liverpool quartet have been known to send coachloads of fans to mysterious mountain venues, tour Scotlands Outer Hebrides and other distinctly non-rockiest venues.
To promote their fourth album ‘Ocean Rain’ , they decided on an all-day extravaganza in their home town of Liverpool, including a boat trip on the river Mersey (as popularized by another famous group, Gerry and Pacemakers).
The Crystal day, as it was known, included a cycle ride around Liverpool, an organ recital at Liverpool Cathedral and drama from the local Chinese community Centre.
Thankfully, most fans had the energy left for the concert in the evening at the St George’s Hall, where the last rock band to play was…the Beatles.
The 24th National Rock Festival, due to be held at Reading, was cancelled after a proposed move to Lilford, Northamptonshire fell through.
Heads were shaken and tears shed at Milton Keynes Bowl on 21 July when Status Quo finally said goodbye to live performance.