Tuesday, November 1, 2011

1982: Men wearing lipstick

Blue Rondo A La Turk.

Was there ever a more pretentious name for a band. It's SO 1982, isn't it? One of those bands you read endlessly about because they were so cutting edge and cool, never heard their music at all, but eventually caved in and bought the single on a whim, perhaps while it was full-price chartbound or probably more likely when it got discounted into the Woolies record bin.

I did this a lot. Gave in, that is, and bought at full price. I was no stranger to the bargain bin though, and always made time to flip through the ex-jukebox singles on the counter at the newsagent once a week. Some gems to be had there. But at that impressionable age, if I was told something was brilliant again and again I'd believe it and eventually have to have it. This what happened with Blue Rondo A La Turk.

They were held up by countless magazine as the epitome of the new. With their retro look adapted for the New Romantic sensibility of the time that could be found in parts by regular trips to War On Want, and their latin-infused jazz funk pop they were yet another in a long line of Next Big Things. They never were of course, though it must be said this song is a corker, despite the dreadful production. With Blue Rondo, it was a case of fur coat and no knickers, style over substance and we saw through that. Though not immediately; I bought their next two singles as well.

Another of this ilk was Weekend. The amount of times I stood staring at their album cover in the record shop. I never heard their 'hit' The View From Her Room but thought that perhaps I should just buy the album instead, and I wasn't a big album buyer at all in those days. But I did resist and forgot all about them until I came across TVFHR in a junk shop about seven years ago. I couldn't wait to hear it. It was lilty and forgettable with sub-Marine Girls vocals and laden with whimsy. No great shakes then, as I should have known. I'm glad I saved my money. If only I'd done more of that at the time.

That said, if I hadn't been that way inclined, I'd never have discovered what was to become my favourite single of all time, Uncertain Smile by The The (the non-album, non-Jools Holland version). That song was written about my life. Just thinking about it gives me goosebumps. But that's another story.


  1. Much of Blue Rondo a la Turk evolved later into Matt Bianco, of course, who were very likeable.

  2. They were a bunch of 'faces' from a few of the notable early 80s clubs...very full of themselves but quite a good laugh. I have lots of happy memories of dancing on hot nights to 'Klaktoveesedstein' - their best, in my view, by a mile.

    I've still got a soft spot for a man in a zoot suit.

  3. Typically anything Robert Elms or The Face fawned and faffed about was one to swerve - but the Turks were worth the investigation. Sort of Sub-Spandau and club-cool Modern Romance.. I even bought some elasticated, metallic, gambler arm bands and a charity shop demob suit I was so impressed...

    Amazing how quick fashions and fads moved then

    I met Chris Sullivan of the BRalT Friday before last - he was doing a Q and A with Leee Black Childers on his (LBC's) new photo expo...

  4. We all know them, then. Funny, because today, with such a fuss and a bit of airplay that would be a big hit.

    I bought some of those arm bands too Mondo, and a Forties tie.