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SOUNDS OF THE SCENE – 4O ESSENTIAL TRACKS

FROM SPANDAU AND VISAGE TO TELEX, ENO, SOFT CELL, GINA X, CAN, SPACE AND – HONESTLY – THE SWEET, WE RECREATE THE PLAYLIST YOU’D HEAR DURING THE MOST CRAZILY-DRESSED AND UNFORGETTABLE NIGHT OF YOUR WEST END CLUBBING LIFE…
Creating a new teenage revolution to some sometimes very unlikely sounds at Blitz, 4 Great Queen Street, London, circa 1981
© PYMCA/Photoshot

Bowie’s Heroes was the Blitz kids’ anthem, but those that managed to get past Steve Strange’s ruthlessly elitist door policy were treated to a much wider palette of sounds. DJ Rusty Egan offered everything from the cutting-edge sounds emerging from mainland Europe to tracks from Iggy Pop and Roxy Music, Grace Jones or the Theme From A Clockwork Orange. All were afforded the same respect; there were no rules whatsoever. If it got the kids moving, then it was fair game. “We played Hi-NRG, electronic and up-tempo disco,” Egan told us. “I played movie soundtracks and David Bowie, which was the one pre-punk thing that everybody savoured. Then I’d drop in some glam rock like The Ballroom Blitz by The Sweet. It was a fun, party mix-up of all your favourite records.”

And what of New Romantic bands? It’s hard not to put Strange and Egan’s Visage, Blitz ‘house band’ Spandau Ballet, and Birmingham’s poster boys Duran Duran under the New Romantic umbrella, but that’s pretty much the size of it. Beyond the looks and the preening, the beating heart of the movement lay not in the records of those thrust under that all-encompassing marquee terminology, but within the carefully-concocted playlists that flooded the dancefloors of Billy’s, Blitz, Club For Heroes and Camden Palace. These truly defined the sounds of the Cult With No Name – call it what you want. Rusty Egan’s record bag has a lot to answer for.

Here, we assemble 40 of the finest moments from the Blitz era (one track per artist) and a few of the tunes that ensured success for the bands at the sharp end of the movement.

HELDEN, THE SUPERIOR GERMAN LANGUAGE VERSION OF HEROES, WAS A REGULAR SPIN AT STEVE AND RUSTY’S CLUB NIGHTS. AN ANTHEM FOR THE NEW ROMANTICS

O1 HELDEN (HEROES)

DAVID BOWIE

Bowie was inspired to fashion this compelling portrait of lovers resolute in a bitterly divided city by catching sight of producer Tony Visconti embracing his girlfriend near the Berlin Wall. Co-authored with Brian Eno, the track was recorded in Berlin’s Hansa Tonstudio, aka “Hansa by the Wall” – holy ground for Iggy Pop, Depeche Mode, Siouxsie Sioux and more. Helden, the superior German language version, was a regular spin at Steve and Rusty’s club nights. An anthem for the New Romantics.

O2 TO CUT A LONG STORY SHORT

SPANDAU BALLET

Prior to the soul-pop stylings of the True era, Spandau were hip delegates for the Blitz, peddling their ‘White European Dance Music’ from its doors. With a krautrock-inspired primitive Yamaha CS-10 synth motif and Tony Hadley’s operatic chimes, this song landed them a No. 5 hit, in part thanks to a Top Of The Pops slot with the band in full tartan and a video shot in the London Dungeon. “A forgettable piece of self-regarding fluff”, sneered Melody Maker. How wrong they were.

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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!