Tag: The Blitz Club (Page 2 of 3)

RUSTY EGAN PRESENTS Welcome To The Dancefloor

After many years of trials and tribulations, Rusty Egan finally presents ‘Welcome To The Dancefloor’.

rusty-egan-presents-wttdfIt’s a collection of thirteen songs that explore a varied range of topics, from the euphoria of clubland to the celebration of musical heroes to personal bereavement.

This could have formed the basis of the fourth VISAGE album had Egan not been constructively ousted by the then-puppet masters of the late Steve Strange during its recording; sensing a quick buck on the back of ULTRAVOX’s ‘Brilliant’ but failing to understand anything about the music that made The Blitz Club collective a much loved act of the Synth Britannia-era, the end result was the very disappointing ‘Hearts & Knives’.

Indeed, several of the songs included on ‘Welcome To The Dancefloor’ started off as recordings for the rebooted VISAGE. Chris Payne who co-wrote ‘Fade To Grey’ had submitted several compositions, but these great songs remained on the cutting room floor… until now. Also key to this album being fully realised is Nick Bitzenis, best known as NIKONN and one half of FOTONOVELA, the production duo behind MARSHEAUX.

Rusty+HookyContributing the album’s opening salvo is Peter Hook with ‘The Otherside’; comparisons with Hooky’s previous band are perhaps inevitable and the song’s melodic basslines again show how much his sound was a vital part of NEW ORDER.

Hooky’s vocals are delivered passionately, but exude a vulnerability that will be loved by some and disliked by others.

Another artist firmly associated with his band is Tony Hadley; but the sublime ‘Lonely Highway’ sounds nothing like SPANDAU BALLET. A prime example of classic synthpop, it begs the question as to how the Islington quintet might have developed had they not been soul boys? The first of five Chris Payne co-writes, Tony Hadley’s booming vocals are perfect for this catchy little tune.

The superb ‘Hero’ featuring the voice of Andy Huntley sees Egan exploiting a dancier groove, but is just a great song featuring the sort of memorable melodies and counter-melodies that are absent from much of today’s music.

rusty-egan-erik-steinErik Stein from post-punk balladeers CULT WITH NO NAME adds his voice to two numbers with the first ‘Love Is Coming My Way’ being a superb slice of machine pop.

Meanwhile, the second Stein voiced number ‘Ballet Dancer’ is a vocodered eulogy to Egan’s late ex-wife, laced with the most beautiful Polymoog Vox Humana synth lines from Chris Payne.

The air is taken down further with ‘Be The Man’ featuring the voice of Kira Porter; this serene orchestrated ballad with its spacey synth solo could easily have come from Midge Ure’s most recent long player ‘Fragile’.

The pace ups considerably and heads towards clubland with the ‘Welcome To The Dancefloor’ title track. Dynamically uplifting, it comes over like GIORGIO MORODER meets DAFT PUNK via THE HUMAN LEAGUE with the track’s root being an interpolation of TENEK’s single ‘Blinded By You’ from their 2010 album ‘On The Wire’.

With a new topline was co-written by Egan with Gerard O’ Connell, The Blitz Club’s legendary DJ said: “’Dancefloor’ is an example of how I have always worked. TENEK had an amazing bassline with synth stabs that grabbed me, but what I could hear was an electro style uplifting track and I wrote this on the roof of the villa in Ibiza … I just looked and thought ‘Welcome To The Dancefloor of THE WORLD’”

The slightly more rock flavoured ‘Evermore’ featuring NIGHT CLUB’s Emily Kavanaugh is another co-write with Chris Payne and features former ULTRAVOX guitarist Robin Simon. The end result comes over feisty and frisky.

The following ‘Dreamer’ is a track originally written and recorded by Arno Carstens. Appropriated by VISAGE for ‘Hearts & Knives’, the song was initially discovered by Egan while listening Carstens’ set at the Isle Of Wight Festival. But this improved reworking makes a misjudgement in keeping Carstens’ voice; grouchy singer/songwriters do not go well with synthpop! However, a newly composed bridge features Andy Huntley and based on this evidence, he really should have sung the whole song.

midgerusty-2012Chris Payne reunites with Midge Ure for ‘Glorious’ in a revisiting of the New European ethos that produced ‘Fade To Grey’. Attached to a triplet percussive mantra and Ure’s distinctive fret work, this is a seasoned anthem with gigantic choral pads and an honest vocal from the ULTRAVOX front man. To continue the mood, Anni Hogan contributes ‘Love Can Conquer All’ which includes a marvellously soulful vocal from Nicole Clarke and a cameo from Egan impersonating Dieter Meier from YELLO.

On the squelch fest of ‘Wonderwerke’, Egan reclaims some of his lost history. “I have re-recorded this fantastic electronica I first made in Germany on my trip to Zurich to meet YELLO. In 1982 I first discovered a sampler in the studios of Wonderwerke and away I went.” he said of the track that was appropriated by TIME ZONE as ‘The Wildstyle’, “Now without the samples or the Afrika Bambaataa rap, it’s a fantastic electro beat”. Featuring Egan’s voicing in robotic Deutsch with reprogrammed drums and electronics, the track serves a similar role to ‘Falling Down’ on JEAN-MICHEL JARRE’s ‘Electronica2’.

rusty-egan-chris-payneThe wonderful closer ‘Thank You’ uses some ‘Endless Endless’ vocodered stylings and does what it says on the tin. Over layers of sweeping ambience à la MOBY and a gentle metronomic pulse, it is Egan’s list of musical heroes and associated beneficiaries in no particular order. Egan’s tone poem is a touching acknowledgement of that marvellous electronic music history. A simple yet highly effective idea, the beauty is in its realisation. Appropriately, it ends with a poignant “VISAGE… thank you”.

As JEAN-MICHEL JARRE put it recently “Electronic music has a family, a legacy and a future…” and for anyone to think that new electronic acts pop-up out of nowhere without any link to the past is naïve and ignorant.

There are some outstanding songs on ‘Welcome To The Dance Floor’. But despite the title, this is NOT a dance record. To all intents and purposes, it is a SYNTHPOP album! Unfortunately the general public will not listen to electronic stuff unless it is labelled dance, so Egan probably feels this is the only way to sell his product. This is the situation that the club-focussed mainstream music media has sadly created.

But fans of classic synthpop need not worry. Even the album’s club courting title track has its core root in synthpop, thus proving how much the genre is owed by the sniffy dance obsessed electronic music press…

emily-rustyRusty Egan has successfully united a range of talents to produce a highly enjoyable collection of work, like one of your favourite electronic music compilations, but curated with new(ish) songs. And in the veteran DJ / guest vocalist album stakes, ‘Welcome To The Dancefloor’ certainly beats GIORGIO MORODER’s 2015 effort ‘Déjà Vu’ hands down.

Yes, despite 38 years since The Blitz Club, synthpop still rules!

‘Welcome To The Dance Floor’ is released by Black Mosaic and available as a download from the usual digital retailers

Pre-order vinyl LP and CD variants plus more via Pledge Music at





Text by Chi Ming Lai
26th November 2016, updated 4th March 2017

TAYLOR SWIFT New Romantics

TAYLOR SWIFT New RomanticsA conceptual opus based around George Orwell’s ‘1984’ but looking at the spectre of ‘Big Brother’ five years on, TAYLOR SWIFT’s ‘1989’ sold over a million physical copies during its first week in the US.

This was a release which was confined to CD and digital download variants with no concessions towards streaming and, initially in the first few months of release, vinyl.

Moving away from her Nashville roots, tracks like ‘Blank Space’ and ‘Out Of The Woods’ flirted with synthpop in the manner of CHVRCHES.

Meanwhile ‘Style’ and ‘Clean’ took the electro mode even further, with the latter being a collaboration with modern day technology queen IMOGEN HEAP. One track that did not fit in with the ‘1989’ concept and therefore restricted to deluxe bonus track status was ‘New Romantics’. But the now New York based pop princess’ celebration of the most colourful of youth movements in the 20th Century has been released as a single in its own right.

Miss Swift’s opening gambit of “We’re all bored, we’re all so tired of everything” quite vividly references The Winter of Discontent, increasing unemployment and the onset of Thatcher’s Britain, although PET SHOP BOYS’ Neil Tennant recently referred to Swift as the “Margaret Thatcher of pop music”. With the social economic purge by the current Cameron government, these lyrics also resonate in the current climate.

But on the packed dancefloor of The Blitz Club, people were forgetting their troubles and “too busy dancing to get knocked off our feet”, while with eyeliner in abundance (and that was just the boys!), Miss Swift recalls the “tears of mascara in the bathroom”. With “trains that just aren’t coming”, the lack of all-night public transport for club goers in London back then was only too apparent. And it is a problem that sadly still afflicts the capital today.

taylor swift 1989 deluxeClosing with the profound line “The best people in life are free”, it is a reflection of the creative spirits that emerged from within the outrageously attired clientele like VISAGE, SPANDAU BALLET, CULTURE CLUB and LANDSCAPE. And of course “every night with us is like a dream”.

Coupled to a classically rigid Linn Drum derived beat, if Miss Swift’s inherent Americanisms were not so apparent, this enticing electropop number could easily be mistaken for the dreamy allure of Scandipodean twins SAY LOU LOU, thanks to the input of Swedish producers Max Martin and Shellback.

It was LANDSCAPE’s Richard James Burgess who first coined the term “New Romantic”. And with this historic narrative on The Blitz Club, ’New Romantics’ has become the original resident DJ Rusty Egan’s favourite TAYLOR SWIFT song.

‘New Romantics’ is available on deluxe edition of ‘1989’ via Big Machine Records

TS US GPTAYLOR SWIFT plays the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas on Saturday 22nd October 2016




Text by Chi Ming Lai
16th April 2016

RUSTY EGAN vs TEC in Düsseldorf

German music formed a large part of RUSTY EGAN’s DJ sets at The Blitz Club between 1978-1981.

The legendary Blitz Club DJ and The Electricity Club’s Chi Ming Lai recently participated in a well-received discussion about how German electronic music influenced the New Romantic movement at the ELECTRI_CITY_Conference in Düsseldorf.

Including other international acts such TELEX, SPARKS, YELLO and YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA, The Blitz Club‘s soundtrack cocktail was to prove highly influential on the UK music scene and spawned a wider movement that led to the success of acts such as VISAGE, SPANDAU BALLET, LANDSCAPE and ULTRAVOX who formed part of the clientele.

The discussion formed part of a wonderful three day event which co-organiser Rudi Esch said was to “honour the global importance of Düsseldorf’s pop-cultural heritage”

Taking place in front of a live audience, the amusing chat focussed on Düsseldorf, Berlin, DAVID BOWIE, KRAFTWERK and NEU! while Motorik beats and modern DJ culture also formed part of the spirited conversation.

RUSTY EGAN and The Electricity Club have previously worked on several projects together including the TEC002 live event and a successful 25 week radio show series. Egan’s current radio show Electronic Family Tree broadcasts every Friday night / Saturday morning on internet dance station Mi-Soul Radio.

Screenshot 2015-11-02 13.34.10RUSTY EGAN’s Electronic Family Tree Radio Show series can also be heard online at:





Text by Kerstin Key
Photos by Tom Steinseifer
4th November 2015

STEVE STRANGE 1959 – 2015

BlitzSteve2011aSTEVE STRANGE, lead vocalist of VISAGE and the face of the New Romantic movement has sadly passed away, aged 55.

A statement on the VISAGE Facebook page said: “We are extremely saddened to announce that Steve Strange died at 11.15 local time on Thursday 12th February, in Sharm El Sheik International Hospital, Egypt. Steve died in his sleep, of Heart Failure. Steve’s family, band members and friends are all distraught at this sudden news of his untimely death. Steve’s family request privacy at this extremely difficult time”.

Born Steven John Harrington in Newbridge, Caerphilly, he headed for London to seek fame and fortune after he saw THE SEX PISTOLS play in his hometown.

Courting controversy almost instantly, he formed a punk band called THE MOORS MURDERERS who recorded a song called ‘Free Hindley’. He then joined THE PHOTONS with whom he wrote what would become ‘Mind Of A Toy’, before working as an assistant for THE RICH KIDS whose members included Midge Ure and Rusty Egan.

When THE RICH KIDS disbanded in 1978, Ure and Egan started developing an interest in electronic music while simultaneously, Strange and Egan started a club night at Billy’s in Soho where art students, hairdressers and fashion designers could gather to a soundtrack of DAVID BOWIE, ROXY MUSIC and KRAFTWERK. First called ‘Bowie Night’ and then ‘A Club For Heroes’, the evening eventually moved to The Blitz in Covent Garden. While Egan DJ-ed, Strange acted as host with a strict door policy of admitting only “the weird and wonderful”. The clientele were initially labelled by the press as The Cult With No Name and The Blitz Kids, but were eventually dubbed The New Romantics.

Steve Strange+Midge Ure+Rusty Egan by Smanatha Reynolds

Photo by Samantha Reynolds

As work progressed on Ure and Egan’s electronic project now named VISAGE, Strange was recruited as vocalist while Billy Currie from ULTRAVOX and MAGAZINE refugees Dave Formula, John McGeoch and Barry Adamson also joined.

Recording an album at Martin Rushent’s Genetic Studios in Reading, VISAGE released their first single ‘Tar’ in 1979 on Radar Records. Business problems at the label stalled any potential ‘Tar’ had, but the single attracted interest from Polydor Records.

Due to all the other VISAGE members being contracted to other labels, a complex arrangement was brokered through THIN LIZZY’s management company Morrision-O’Donnell with Strange being the sole signatory on the eventual deal.

VISAGE BlitzMeanwhile in 1980, noticing some kindred spirits, DAVID BOWIE paid a visit to The Blitz to recruit extras for his ‘Ashes To Ashes’ video; among the chosen ones was Strange. The New Romantics had now gone mainstream. It was not long before VISAGE finally released their self-titled debut album and the iconic single ‘Fade to Grey’ was a hit all over Europe, becoming a German No1 in March 1981.

Further hits such as ‘Mind Of A Toy’, ‘Visage’ and ‘The Damned Don’t Cry’ followed and the success of both VISAGE and The Blitz allowed Strange and Egan to move into the 1500 capacity Camden Palace in 1982 for their next club venture. But it was here than the perils of fame and fortune started to manifest themselves. When Ure, Currie and Morrison-O’Donnell bid adieu to VISAGE, it severely left the band in a fragmented state musically and managerially. Meanwhile the pressures of keeping such a large club venture profitable, while surrounded by the tempting excesses of the era, took their toll with Strange succumbing to drug related and mental health issues in the following years. There was also a fall-out with Rusty Egan.


Photo by Richard Price

Strange revived VISAGE in 2004 as a live act for the ‘Hear & Now’ nostalgia tours and did his public profile no harm when he won reality TV show ‘Celebrity Scissorhands’ in 2007.

There were attempted reconciliations with Rusty Egan on Living TV’s ‘Pop Goes The Band’ in 2009 and The Blitz Club Reunion event in 2011, but to no avail. Indeed, Egan had alleged that Strange misplaced VISAGE royalty payments owed to himself, Dave Formula and the estate of the late John McGeoch.

Meanwhile, a 2013 comeback album ‘Heart & Knives’ and subsequent tour featuring Strange as the only original VISAGE member drew mixed responses. Controversial right to the end, at the time of Strange’s passing, Universal Music had launched legal action for appropriating parts of the original VISAGE recordings for the recent reworked best of album ‘Orchestral’.

Chris Payne, who had co-written ‘Fade To Grey’ with Billy Currie and Midge Ure said: “I have been forthright in my criticism of the new VISAGE, but it is very sad to hear about the death of Steve Strange. I had never met him personally, although we shared something in common with the song ‘Fade to Grey’”.

What does remain of STEVE STRANGE’s legacy is his very significant contribution to popular culture. In addition to VISAGE, ‘A Club For Heroes’ spawned bands like SPANDAU BALLET and CULTURE CLUB, while others regulars such as Dylan Jones, Peter Ashworth and John Galliano made their names in writing, photography and fashion respectively. MADONNA played her first UK concert at Camden Palace in 1983 while ‘Fade To Grey’ was voted ‘Song of the Decade’ on the prestigious German music show ‘Hit Giganten’ during an 80s special in 2010.

Samantha Reynolds, a regular club goer from back in the day said to TEC: “I remember Steve from those days with nothing but affection, he was always kind to me, I cried on his shoulder many a time. Peace be with him. X”

Text by Chi Ming Lai
12th February 2015

RUSTY EGAN Speaks Out…

rusty modelThere is a new VISAGE album but the majority of its founder members have not been involved.

John McGeoch passed away in 2004 and although Barry Adamson played on the first two albums, he gave up his equity in the collective after the first single ‘Tar’.

Whilst Dave Formula has contributed one song ‘Dairies Of A Madman’, Midge Ure and Billy Currie did not participate.

The collective’s original catalyst Rusty Egan did take part in the initial stages as musical director of the project, but withdrew due to artistic differences and disagreements over production values.

Then in November 2012,  Steve Strange announced on German TV that he was writing songs with Midge Ure which proved to be incorrect while various sources reported on the fallout to confirm that all was not well.

Thus Steve Strange is the only ingredient from the original Blitz Club days who appears throughout the resultant album entitled ‘Hearts & Knives’. Although there are guest appearances by notable players from the scene such as ex-ULTRAVOX guitarist Robin Simon and ex-SIMPLE MINDS keyboardist Mick MacNeil, this album to many ears is not a real VISAGE album.

Rusty Egan spoke to TEC about the background of ‘Hearts & Knives’ and how he intends to pursue his own musical interests in the future…

How did the idea for a new VISAGE album come about?

I was consulted about the possibility of a new VISAGE album on the basis that royalties due to me, the estate of John McGeoch and to Dave Formula had been misappropriated by Steve Strange over a period of eight years. The proposition was that the only way to recover the misappropriated royalties was to produce a fourth VISAGE album and pay Steve Strange a reduced royalty share until the misappropriated funds were restored. I was only willing to be involved in the production of an album that would do credit to the heritage of VISAGE. I spoke with all the members to establish their willingness to reform which was a tough call, and one by one they all declined.

So what did you do then?

I then thought “If I was going to form VISAGE today, who would I invite?” I talked with Chris Payne who co-wrote ‘Fade To Grey’ for writing and keyboards, SPANDAU BALLET’s Steve Norman for sax and percussion, ex-ULTRAVOX guiarist Robin Simon, Didier Marouani of SPACE and as producer, Brian Tench who had worked with KATE BUSH and OMD as well as VISAGE.

But some might say your concept for a new VISAGE is no more valid than this solo Steve Strange version?

Of course, a VISAGE album without a contribution from Midge would be crazy. When the team started to come together, Midge kindly offered a song called ‘Become’.

But early in the production cycle, it became clear to me that the company who were funding the production had no intention of meeting my production values nor matching the quality of the team that I had pulled together with an album that would show them or the VISAGE heritage in a good light.

So why is ‘Hearts & Knives’ not a VISAGE album then in your opinion?

Midge Ure and I alone came up with the concept for VISAGE. That is a matter of historical fact. VISAGE was and is our intellectual and emotional property. The album has been produced and released without the consent of Midge or myself.

‘Hearts & Knives’ I presume alludes to love and death. Well I loved VISAGE, but this album is the death of everything that VISAGE represented. This collection of songs/music does not represent the heritage and musical values of VISAGE. It is a Steve Strange album. I believe that no-one would be interested in a Steve Strange album so using the name VISAGE is the only way to market the album.

So what have you thought about the end result?

Given this background, I have really struggled to be impartial about this album. ‘Lost In Static’ is the only track on the album that actually works, just because it’s simple. It has a decent drum and bass track. There’s one song ‘Never Enough’ which was very SIMPLE MINDS; but it could be good if we worked on the lyrics, got some great guitar and pumped that bass… the final version sounds like a home recording that was submitted as a demo. The production company has only added some guitars.

VISAGE Blitz‘Shameless Fashion’ is OK but does not sound like VISAGE. ‘She’s Electric’ is also OK but nothing special; the ‘Fade To Grey’ CR78 drum track has been copied as an intro. The thin drums once again sound like a demo as if the producer has said “We’ll do the drums later” but never got around to it. I hate the vocal delays. ‘Diaries Of A Madman’ is the only song written by Steve and he had recorded it a few years ago with Dave Formula.

‘Dreamer I Know’ appears to have some potential…

That song is the one that I am most upset about. I met Arno Carstens at the Isle Of Wight Music Festival after I saw his performance. I just had to ask him about this song, he said it had been released but without any great take up. “I love it” I said, “It is like DEPECHE MODE, can I use it for VISAGE but make some changes?” Arno said “Sure, just do it and let me hear it”. I hope he does NOT EVER hear this VISAGE version… I had nothing to do with it. I have done this song the justice it deserves.

So what are you going to do music wise?

I have continued to write with Chris Payne and an amazing writer Gerard O’ Connell who co-wrote ‘Welcome To The Dancefloor’. We have done an amazing job on ‘Dreamer’; Youth co-wrote that with Arno, I have to say the mixes are simply wonderful.

I have six more amazing songs co-written with Chris Payne and other songwriters. Didier plays his style keys, Steve Norman plays some nice sax which is very ROXY MUSIC.

Now I must say I am so much more content now to just do ‘Rusty Egan Presents…’ and release some tracks AFTER this album has gone away.

You’ve previewed ‘Welcome To The Dancefloor’ which is a collaboration with TENEK. It’s like GIORGIO MORODER meets DAFT PUNK…

Well, collaboration is really the way forward. TENEK, Robin, Gerard , Didier, Brian Tench… there are many talented people I come across. If you listen to the radio show there are some amazing new bands that I would love to work with; SIN COS TAN really do it for me, METROLAND and KARIN PARK too.

Rusty & Tenek‘Welcome To The Dancefloor’ is an example of how I have always worked. TENEK had an amazing bassline with synth stabs that grabbed me, but what I could hear was an electro style uplifting track and I wrote this on the roof of the villa in Ibiza… I just looked and thought “Welcome To The Dancefloor of THE WORLD”. It’s here and as a DJ, I am and always was inspired in Ibiza and will head there again this summer and write some more… we wrote that track and recorded it very simply and then sent it to Robin Skouteris who did the final mixes.

I first came across Robin when I heard his amazing ‘Wonderful’ mix featuring HURTS. We just clicked and he did exactly what I wanted with the finished mixes… we are working on every track together first, then some friends want to remix. We are speaking with Paul Oakenfold, Richard Grey, Michael Gray and Tim Overdijk. And I’m excited to be in contact with METROLAND.

Although you did the deep backing vocals on VISAGE songs like ‘Fade to Grey’ and ‘Night Train’, you’re not known for singing. So will all the songs be vocodered like ‘Welcome To The Dancefloor’ or do you have other plans?

Rusty & KarinI always did backing vocals on everything and I sung ‘Dancefloor’ then got Gerard to do it pre-vocoder. On ‘Night Train’, I do the whole answer verses and on all my current stuff, I just sing it badly and then Gerard does it better.

I could sing it but it would be in the Bowie/ Iggy low baritone and I love that style but I am not a frontman. I would love VIKTORIA MODESTA rather than me.

Once I have the songs recorded… well, all I can do is make some calls and hope people like them. I would just love KARIN PARK to sing on them, I have two songs that I know would suit her and also Theo from HURTS or the guys in MIRRORS. There are so many perfect singers out there.

So now I just want to get the songs and the music right, the only good sign I have is that when I ask people to work with me, they hear the simple music and say “YES I love it, let’s do it” … that is the way I know I am doing something right.

Are there any other plans for the project?

I hope to play drums with RRussell Bell and Chris Payne in DRAMATIS so I hope there is a need for RRussell’s guitar… I have Robin Simon playing on one song and it’s perfect, he just sounds like the Robin of the ‘Systems Of Romance’ era.

How are you finding doing the radio shows?

I say “Less Talk, More Music” as I really think The Electricity Club is about the NEW MUSIC and the inspired classics. I am just the link… people love the tracks I select and that’s always been the case. I find bands / songs / music and say “I love this”… success!

It may take a year or four albums like with SIMPLE MINDS and ULTRAVOX but I can hear it, first time… and my track listings will show that we have found great talent; it may take time… but it’s QUALITY!

The Electricity Club gives its warmest thanks to Rusty Egan

Additional thanks to Art Bennett

RUSTY EGAN’s radio shows can be listened to on Mixcloud at





Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
29th May 2013, updated 18th June 2013

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