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VISAGE

WHERE WOULD THE NEW ROMANTIC MOVEMENT HAVE BEEN WITHOUT VISAGE… OR VICE VERSA? THE BAND’S SELF-TITLED DEBUT ALBUM WAS THE RESULT OF AN ALMOST SUPERGROUP-LIKE MEETING OF TALENTED INDIVIDUALS. AIMING TO FORGE A NEW BRAND OF ELECTRO-DISCO VIA CHILLY, BOMBASTIC SYNTHS AND GLAM ROCK GUITARS, THEY DREW UPON EVERYTHING FROM EUROPEAN FILM NOIR TO SPAGHETTI WESTERNS AND COSSACK CHOIRS…

We now look back at Visage, the band, as some kind of 80s supergroup, because so many of the musicians involved in it later went off to enjoy huge success in other projects. Guitarist Midge Ure and keyboardist Billy Currie, of course, later joined forces to rejuvenate Ultravox; Rusty Egan and Steve Strange notoriously invented clubland, and bassist Barry Adamson went on to become a successful musician, writer and filmmaker.

However, at the time, Visage was really the coming together of a loose collective of musicians, all dabbling in at least one other project, seemingly waiting for one of them to be successful. And when they came together, that success certainly happened in the form of Visage: the founding stars of the New Romantic movement would produce an album from that scene, for that scene and to announce that scene to the whole world.

In 1978, one of the three founding members of Visage, Midge Ure, was between successful bands. He’d enjoyed big hits with Slik and ‘Oh Vienna’ was to come later, but back then he was playing and locking horns with Glen Matlock in The Rich Kids – an act Matlock had set up after being thrown out of The Sex Pistols. Rusty Egan was in the band as well, and siding with Midge over wanting to take the band in a more electronic direction. Steve Strange, meanwhile, had done his best to become a face in the London punk scene while fast becoming the face of a new scene, but was singing with a short-lived band called The Photons. It was this band’s final showcase gig that led Ure and Egan to invite Strange along to record in some studio sessions at Manchester Square Studios, using some studio time owed to them by The Rich Kids’ record company.

You’ve got the brains, I’ve got the looks: Steve Strange and Rusty Egan
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About Classic Pop Presents

In our latest Classic Pop Presents special, we immerse ourselves in the flamboyant world of the New Romantics. From the scene's origins as an underground movement born out of the Blitz Club in Soho through to the worldwide surge of popularity that led to mainstream success for some of the major players who made their musical mark, such as Boy George, Spandau Ballet, Visage and Duran Duran. Inside we tell the story of the Godfather of the scene, Steve Strange, and explore his pioneering band Visage with the help of Blitz DJ and band member Rusty Egan and fellow band-mate Midge Ure, who moved on to front Ultravox. We chat to Spandau Ballet's Steve Norman, who guides us through the making of their game-changing debut album Journeys To Glory, plus we head up to the Midlands to the Rum Runner club, which gave rise to another of the scene's major success stories, Duran Duran. This issue has plenty more to be enjoyed, including an exploration of David Bowie's influence on the movement plus eye-opening interviews with some of the scene's faces to get their side of this fascinating era, including Toyah, Princess Julia and Mark Shaw. Raconteur, author, DJ – and Soho's Wag Club founder – Chris Sullivan shares his hilarious memories of the times, and we strut the cat-walk with Blitz Kids, fashion designer Judith Franklin and photographer Graham Smith for our New Romantic fashion feature. Also inside, there's our Top 40 Essential New Romantic playlist, the design styles and artwork of the scene's many fine releases, and all with stunning photos throughout!