Go on, I'm listening....
DARE focusses on 1979-1982 and takes a look back to the dizzying excitement of this time in Pop Music.
After the endless drab and grey of the 70s - microchips were suddenly everywhere: in the home, on your wrist and powering the Synthesizers that changed everything in Pop.
The Top Twenty filled up with all kinds of weird and wonderful hits, week after week. Each new Smash Hits and the Top Of The Pops was an unmissable feast for the eyes and ears.
It really felt like the sic-fi future was finally arriving.
How so, David?
A handful of ambitious electronic albums from David Bowie and Kraftwerk in the late Seventies, coupled with newly affordable computer technology, forever changed what it meant to be "In A Band" and taught Pop Music a whole new language.
This is the tale of how Synthpop rendered Rock’n’Roll redundant almost overnight and how Britain fell in love with the Bleep.
The unprecedented genius of The Human League, New Order, Simple Minds, ABC, OMD, The Cure, Japan, Duran, Depeche Mode et al achieved what Punk had failed to. A massively successful and largely British musical revolution, packed with freaks and weirdos that redrew the generation gap and took Pop on a much needed quantum leap into the future.
This New Pop reached its dizzying creative peak in 1982 as band adfter band rocketed from the relative obscurity of a John Peel session into the flashbulb glare of Top Of The Pops. These Pop peacocks were splashed in brilliant technicolour over the covers of both Smash Hits and NME and soon set their sights on America...but at what price?
This very entertaining book describes how the exotic and enduring records of this incendiary Year Zero changed everything and continue to inspire your favourite new artists today.
Are you in the book, then?
No. Not really. OK, a little bit. Music has been my life and this period changed everything for me. I was 14 in 1982, living in an endlessly damp, grey South Wales. This glittering New Pop music blew my mind week after week and led me down the rocky path to becoming an A&R Man and running my own record label.
I'll tell the story of this computerised musical revolution, examine the records and the effect they had and continue to have. I'm an "insightful Music Biz veteran" now, with a fresh perspective on the art and business of Pop, but still addicted to buying new records every week and still very much in touch with that wide-eyed teenager.
(I've included the Foreword to DARE below these chapter breakdowns).
01. “HEROES” 1974-1978: The Back Story Of Modern Pop Music.
KRAFTWERK NEU BOWIE MORODER BLONDIE SPARKS
02. DAWNING OF A NEW ERA 1979-1982: After the grey Seventies, dour English eccentrics start to reach for the fun, the colour and the glamour.
THE JAM, THE SPECIALS, ADAM AND THE ANTS :
03. THE SOUND OF THE CROWD 1979-1981: Synthpop arrives. Pop Music takes a quantum leap into the future.
GARY NUMAN, OMD, ULTRAVOX, SOFT CELL, THE HUMAN LEAGUE
04. TEMPTATION 1981-1982: Funk Gets Serious, Disco Is Exhumed. How Synthpop, Funk and Disco hypnotised all the cool guitar bands
ORANGE JUICE, NEW ORDER, PiL, GANG OF FOUR + NEIL YOUNG
05. MAD WORLD 1982: The floodgates open; brilliant new Pop groups spring up all over Britain. Smash Hits bounces them into the Top Twenty.
ABC, ASSOCIATES, TEARS FOR FEARS, YAZOO, TALK TALK
06. GHOSTS 1982: The Top Twenty welcomes all sorts of odd things. How did these non-singles become massive hits?
JAPAN, MONSOON, GRACE JONES, LAURIE ANDERSON
07. FLOORSHOW 1980-1982: Even Goth’s moths are drawn to the bright light of the Top Forty.
BAUHAUS, THE CURE, THE SISTERS OF MERCY, SIOUXSIE & THE BANSHEES
08. DUCK ROCK 1981-1982: Punks import Hip Hop and Electro from New York. Black culture freshens up Pop music. Again.
MALCOLM MCLAREN, AFRIKAA BAMBAATA, THE CLASH
09. NEW GOLD DREAM 1982-1984: Rejecting Rock’n’Roll, The Big Music, Shimmering & Modern. The new European Canon tilts at stadiums.
SIMPLE MINDS, THE BUNNYMEN, U2, PETER GABRIEL, KATE BUSH
10. AVALON 1982-1985: In Pursuit Of Production Perfection. Months in Montserrat. Luxury as commodity. The real Eighties kick in.
ROXY MUSIC, DURAN DURAN, SCRITTI POLITTI DARE:
11. THRILLER 1983-1985: Economies Of Scale. Kajagoogoo vs Prince. Corporate Pop, CDs, Now That’s Not What I Call Music.
MICHAEL JACKSON, MADONNA, PRINCE, CDs, MTV
12. MANY HAPPY RETURNS 1980-2014: The persistence of Duran Duran and the perpetual Eighties revival
LCD SOUNDSYSTEM, LA ROUX, HOT CHIP, THE KILLERS
The Lunatics Are Taking Over The Charts
They say the music that you are surrounded by in your turbulent teens stays with you forever. The sounds and sights are preserved perfectly in your mind, undimmed as the years fall away. The opening bars to dozens of favourite songs remain vivid enough to send Proustian tingles down your spine, flashbacks all the way back to your youth.
I was thirteen in 1981 when I heard Ghost Town; the game-changing swansong from my favourite band at the time, The Specials. As catchy as greed, it was a despairing state-of-the-nation address, set to wonky Mariachi Reggae. Britain made this eerie, doomy record #1 for a month that summer.Strong choice, Britain.
Terry Hall chose that moment in the spotlight to break up the band and launch himself into Fun Boy Three. Trying something new, colourful and fun was too much for many of the fans. Their hearts hung heavy at the Specials’s demise and they just could not make the jump with Terry, Lynval and Neville but such abrupt ch-ch-changes were everywhere at the outset of the Eighties.
Pulse-quickening Pop singles in the late Seventies’ Top Forty had stood out like dayglo lifeboats in a sea of grey AOR but, starting in 1979 and building through 1980 and 1981, a synthesizer-led explosion of ex-Punks and oddballs with DIY attitudes and what-if ideas hijacked the charts.
The lunatics really did take over the asylum, just as Fun Boy Three had suggested.
By the end of 1982, this creative quantum leap had changed Pop Music forever.This was not just the belated birth of Eighties music, it was the start of the whole modern era in music.A brand new timeline that had no roots in The Sixties. Was the Sci-Fi Future we’d seen on TV for decades finally starting?
For the first time since the Sixties, Pop music was hip, experimental and unpredictable.The freaky New Pop stars, emboldened by David Bowie, empowered by Kraftwerk and embodied by The Human League, Simple Minds, ABC, The Cure and Japan, spanned the covers of both Smash Hits and NME.
Back then, Smash Hits was my lifeline to somewhere more colourful and the evening Radio One shows let this new gold dream of Pop music spill out into my world. Watching the new bands being fast-tracked from John Peel session obscurity into The Big Time was fantastically exciting to keep up with, full of life-changing moments and truly staggering records.
1981 and 1982 gave us The Lexicon Of Love, Sulk, Dare, Architecture & Morality, New Gold Dream, Rip It Up, Movement, Prince Charming, The Fun Boy Three, Porcupine, The Dreaming, Rio, Pornography, Combat Rock, Duck Rock, The Hurting, Tin Drum, The Party's over, Songs To Remember, Speak And Spell, October, Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret, Nightclubbing, Vienna, A Kiss In The Dreamhouse, Peter Gabriel 4, Kissing To Be Clever, Avalon, and 1999. Oh, and Thriller.
This was music of quality and distinction with mass appeal that would restore the generation gap and be so unquestionably great that it would take over the world.
And for a time it worked.
Risks and challenges
I have worked at record labels for 20 years, and run my own, Something In Construction, for the last 10 years.
Running an independent label forces you to think on your feet and teaches you that a good idea is better than a big budget (although both are ideal) and it is possible to get people's attention on a project for a fraction of what EMI spend.
I am going to try and use these skills in publishing DARE.
The hard part is done. The book is written and finished although I do drop in the odd juicy new fact now and then, when I come across one.
I received support and encouragement from writers I admire including (but not limited to) Keith Cameron, Simon Reynolds, Richard King.
After doing research and talking to other authors I feel I have a grip on the technical side and budgeting of the whole project. I have received a lot of technical advice and inspiration from authors and friends, Adrian Levy and Cathy Scott-Clark.
The books should take about 3-4 weeks to arrive with me, once the target is achieved. And then a week or less to arrive with you.
I am used to dealing with production deadlines and it should all run pretty smoothly.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (39 days)