Category: new wave

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On this day in music history: April 19, 1980 – “Call Me” by Blondie hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 6 weeks. Written by Giorgio Moroder and Deborah Harry, it is the second chart topping single for the New York based New Wave/Rock band fronted by lead singer Debbie Harry. Written as the theme song for the Richard Gere film “American Gigolo”. Moroder originally approaches Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac to co-write and perform the song, but declines when her label Modern Records will not grant permission for her to participate on the project. Next, Moroder asks Blondie lead vocalist Debbie Harry if she is interested. She agrees and begins working with the producer. Originally titled “Man Machine”, with a rough lyric written in by Moroder, Debbie feels the original words don’t transfer well to English. After looking at rough cut of the film, it gives the singer the proper inspiration to write new lyrics and melody. Harry writes the lyrics and records her vocals in just a few hours of studio time. Released in early February of 1980, the single is an immediate hit. Entering the Hot 100 at #80 on February 16, 1980, it climbs to the top of the chart nine weeks later. “Call Me” is ranked the top single of year by Billboard Magazine. Three versions of the song are released. The version released on the “American Gigolo” soundtrack on Polydor Records runs 8:04 and is also serviced as a promotional 12" single to club and radio DJ’s. Blondie’s label Chrysalis Records releases the single edit clocking in at 3:32, and the third being a Spanish language version titled “Llámame” released on Salsoul Records on a 12" single. “Call Me” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: April 2, 1985 – “Go West”, the debut album by Go West is released. Produced by Gary Stevenson, it is recorded at Chipping Norton Studios in Oxfordshire, Rooster Studios, and Sarm West Studios in London from Late 1984 – Early 1985. The British pop music duo consisting of lead vocalist Peter Cox and guitarist Richard Drummie begin writing songs for their first album in 1982 demoing them on a Tascam 4-track Portastudio. Those demos secure them a record deal with Chrysalis Records. The album features the duo supported by a number top British musicians including King Crimson and Alan Parsons Project saxophonist Mel Collins, bassist Pino Palladino (Paul Young), guitarist Alan Murphy (Kate Bush, Mike + The Mechanics, Level 42), and drummer Graham Broad (Roger Waters, Jeff Beck, Tina Turner). A success across Europe and their native UK, it spins off five singles in the UK (three in the US) including “We Close Our Eyes” (#5 UK, #41 US Pop) and “Call Me” (#12 UK, #54 US Pop). In spite of only modest promotional support from Chrysalis Records in the US, the videos for the singles receive significant airplay, marking the beginnings of a loyal fan base in the US, which lead to them reaching the peak their success in the early 90’s. “Go West” peaks at number eight on the UK album chart, and number sixty on the Billboard Top 200.

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On this day in music history: April 1, 1983 – “Too Shy” by Kajagoogoo is released (UK release date is on January 10, 1983). Written by Limahl, Nick Beggs, Jez Strode, Steve Askew and Stuart Croxford Neale, it is the biggest hit for the pop/new wave band from Bedfordshire, UK. Formed in 1978 as Art Nouveau, the original line up consists of bassist Nick Beggs, drummer Jeremy “Jez” Strode, guitarist Steve Askew and keyboardist Stuart Croxford Neale. Originally an avant-garde/electronic pop band, they release a one off independent single titled “Fear Machine” in 1981. In spite of being played on DJ John Peel’s radio show, it quickly disappears. Looking to change their sound, the band look for a new lead singer. Through an ad in the Melody Maker, they find Christopher Hamill, also known by his adapted stage name Limahl (an anagram of his surname). While Limahl is working as a waiter at the Embassy Club in London, he meets Duran Duran keyboardist Nick Rhodes. He gives Rhodes a demo tape, and within a couple of days, calls back and offers to help them get a record deal. The band change their name to Kajagoogoo, the new moniker being a spin on a baby’s attempt at speaking. The song “Too Shy” is inspired by a bass line created by Nick Beggs. Limahl writes the melody and lyrics, with Jez, Steve and Stuart helping complete it. The sly, poppy, funky track is recorded at Chipping Norton Studios in Oxfordshire, with Nick Rhodes and Colin Thurston producing. An obvious stand out, “Too Shy” is chosen as the first single from “White Feathers”. Legendary BBC 1 radio DJ and music columnist Paul Gambaccini also plays a major role in the bands launch, having them featured on his Channel 4 TV show “The Other Side Of The Tracks”. Their appearance coincidentally is just two days before “Too Shy” is released, giving it an additional boost. An immediate hit, the single quickly races to number one in the UK on February 19, 1983, spending two weeks at the top. It is also a smash across Europe, Asia and Australia. The single is released in the US by EMI-America Records, entering the Hot 100 at #81 on April 23, 1983, and peaking at #5 on July 9, 1983. Kajagoogoo’s success is short lived, when inter band tensions lead the er members to fire Limahl, feeling that his ego is out of control, and has become difficult to work with. They continue without him, and though manage to score a top ten hit in the UK with “Big Apple” (with Beggs on lead vocals), their popularity tapers off quickly. Limahl lands a hit in 1984 with the theme to the film “The NeverEnding Story” (#4 UK Pop, #17 US Pop), but his solo success is also brief. In time, “Too Shy” is regarded as one of the quintessential 80’s pop records, and continues to enjoy heavy airplay on radio today. In 2008, the original line up of Kajagoogoo reunites, with the band touring and recording again regularly.

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Blondie cover shoot by Roberta Bayley

for the album Parallel Lines (1978)

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On this day in music history: December 6, 1983 – “Japanese Whispers”, the fifth album by The Cure is released. Produced by Robert Smith, Chris Parry, Steve Nye and Phil Thornalley, it is recorded from November 1982 – April 1983. The set is a compilation put together by the band’s UK label Fiction Records (released in the US initially on Sire Records), and collects their recently released singles “Let’s Go To Bed”, “The Walk” and “The Lovecats” along with their respective B-sides. It remains in print for many years, until it is deleted when compilation albums “Standing On A Beach/Staring At The Sea” and the B-sides box set “Join The Dots”, include all of the material featured on “Whispers”. However, due to its long standing popularity with Cure fans, it is reissued once more on CD in 2006 (Europe only). “Japanese Whispers” peaks at twenty six on the UK album chart, and #181 on the Billboard Top 200.

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On this day in music history: December 2, 1986 – “Mad, Bad And Dangerous To Know”, the third album by Dead Or Alive is released (UK release is on November 21, 1986). Produced by Mike Stock, Matt Aitken and Pete Waterman, it is recorded at PWL Studios in London, UK from Early – Mid 1986. Achieving worldwide success with their second album “Youthquake” and “You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)”, Dead Or Alive begin work on the follow up in early 1986. Intent on maintaining full creative control, lead singer Pete Burns insists that their label CBS Records keep a hands off policy. Executives are not allowed to hear any of the new material, until it’s completed. The title “Mad, Bad And Dangerous To Know”, comes from a statement by 18th century Anglo-Irish aristocrat Lady Caroline Lamb, when describing her affair with poet and politician Lord Byron. Issued in the UK first in September of 1986 is “Brand New Lover” (#31 UK, #15 US Pop, #1 US Club Play). Its narrative about a man leaving his partner, feeling they’re too “predictable and safe” for someone who is “more exciting”, is considered somewhat controversial. Some feel that it is endorsing promiscuity at a time, when panic against the AIDS pandemic is at an all time high. In spite of this, it fares much better in the US, becoming Dead Or Alive’s second highest charting single, hitting the US top twenty and rising to the top of the dance chart. The follow up “Something In My House” (#12 UK, #85 US Pop, #3 US Club Play), is the highest charting single in their home country. The music video pays homage to French filmmaker Jean Cocteau’s “La Belle et La Bete (Beauty and the Beast)”. The gothic themed picture sleeve for the single also attracts more controversy. It features Burns standing at what appears to be a satanic altar, with an inverted cross. One of the 12" remixes features samples of dialogue from “The Exorcist”, “Day Of The Dead” and other horror films. In the UK, the album spins off two more singles including “Hooked On Love” (#69 UK) and “I’ll Save You All My Kisses” (#78 UK). The album marks the final time Dead Or Alive work with Stock, Aitken & Waterman. After their time with Burns and company, they become a virtual hit factory, turning out hits for Kylie Minogue, Jason Donovan, Sinitta, and Rick Astley to name a few. Following the release of their third album, Tim Lever and Mike Percy leave, becoming successful remixers and producers. Among the artists the pair work with, include S Club 7, Blue, and Robbie Williams. Out of print on vinyl since its initial release, “Mad” is remastered and reissued by Music On Vinyl in 2018. The LP is pressed on standard black and limited edition white vinyl. “Mad, Bad And Dangerous To Know” peaks at number twenty seven on the UK album chart, and number fifty two on the Billboard Top 200.

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On this day in music history: November 29, 1980 – “Autoamerican”, the fifth studio album by Blondie is released. Produced by Mike Chapman, it is recorded at United/Western Studios in Hollywood, CA from Summer – Fall 1980. Following the musically diverse “Eat To The Beat” released thirteen months before, Blondie looks to push their musical and creative boundaries even further beyond its punk and new wave roots. Their fifth release explores various musical genres including rock, funk, jazz, blues and rap. Producer Mike Chapman insists on a change of locale, with the band pulling up stakes from their New York City base and recording in Southern California. The album features a number of guest musicians including Howard Kaylan & Mark Volman (aka “Flo & Eddie”) (backing vocals), Tom Scott (saxophone), Ray Brown (bass), Wah Wah Watson (guitar), Ollie Brown, Alex Acuña (percussion), and Jimmie Haskell (horn and string arranger). It spins off two singles, including a cover of The Paragons reggae classic “The Tide Is High” (#1 Pop) and the Hip Hop influenced “Rapture” (#1 Pop, #33 R&B). On its original release, some Japanese pressings of “Autoamerican” are packaged with a bonus 7" of the Spanish language version of “Call Me”. It is backed with the band’s live cover of David Bowie’s “Heroes” recorded at the Hammersmith Odeon in London on January 12, 1980, and features guitarist Robert Fripp. Both tracks later resurface on “Blondie – The Singles Box” in 2004 (“Call Me” also on “Grandes Exitos & Remezclas” in 1995). The album is remastered and reissued on CD twice. The first reissue in 1994 features the extended mixes of “Rapture” and “Live It Up”, and the 2001 reissue again include the extended mix of “Rapture” along with the full soundtrack album mix of “Call Me” and “Suzy & Jeffrey” (the non-LP B-side of “The Tide Is High”). Out of print on vinyl since the late 80’s, it is remastered and reissued as a 180 gram LP in 2015. “Autoamerican” peaks at number seven on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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