30 May 2012

November 4 1980: America Elects Ronald Reagan President

This was the election which set the 1980s on their course to becoming what we all remember them being..

From the Daily Mirror, 5/11/1980:

Heavy polling was reported last night in America's presidential election as President Carter sweated out what was probably his longest day.

The size of the voting was likely to benefit Carter. But the latest opinion polls showed him still trailing Republican candidate Ronald Reagan.

One last minute poll showed Reagan five points ahead - enough to give him a comfortable victory - while the President's own pollster put Carter at least one point behind.

The Democrat was pinning his hopes on a last-minute swing resulting from hopes for the release of the hostages in Iran.

Carter was close to tears and exhaustion after casting his own vote at his home town of Plains, Georgia. His voice cracked and his eyes watered as he told a crowd: "I am ready to abide by your judgement. I have tried to honour my commitment to you."

He was cheered by news of the heavy polling which meant that many Democrats who were expected to stay at home were voting after all.

Reagan was looking slightly worried as he voted near his California ranch.

"Let's just say I've got my fingers crossed," he said.

From the Daily Mirror, 6/11/1980:

Former cowboy actor Ronald Reagan was riding high with his top aides last night after his sensational Presidential election victory...

The staggering lurch to the right was reflected in the elections for Congress.

Liberal Congressmen were thrown out in seat after seat in the wake of the electoral massacre of President Jimmy Carter...

Reagan stayed at his California ranch yesterday, preparing his Whitehouse takeover on January 20th.

This is just before his 70th birthday, making him the oldest man ever to win the Presidency.

It gives his Vice-President, 56-year-old former CIA chief George Bush, the chance of succeeding to the top job if Reagan fails to last the four-year course because of death or illness.

Reagan will arrive in Washington soon to meet the beaten Carter, who has promised to do his best to ease him into the job.

Victory for the Republicans came after 12 years of trying to get the Presidency.

He told ecstatic supporters at a victory rally yesterday: "I give you my sacred oath I will do my utmost to justify your faith."

EUREKA '80! The Sunday Times Magazine - the year in pictures, December, 1980.

The Mobira Talkman

Meet The One Car Phone That Gives You Full Performance Without The Car...

The Mobira Talkman was released in 1984, and, after the first mobile phone call in England in 1985, we discover this trendy beast available "over here" in a 1986 magazine advertisement. Hefty, eh?

For the full '80s Actual low-down on 1980s mobies, simply click on the "mobile phones" label below.

28 May 2012

Talk Talk - Bringing Back The '80s...

Talk Talk formed in 1981, and their music has the ability to lead me back to my '80s youth... so that I can almost touch it. Almost be there.

But not quite.

Those rough-edged, highly turbulent but still much simpler days are gone.


Above you'll find Talk Talk's 1982 hit Today... I was seventeen... wore a donkey jacket for fashion... worked as an office clerk... played on the CB... smoked, went to discos and down the pub. I didn't have a ZX Spectrum. Nerdy rubbish. Computers were just a passing fad anyway...

And on to 1984... It's My Life... no more office clerking... now a Social Services Care Assistant... wanted to CARE, do something MEANINGFUL... I was idealistic AND cynical... booze, nightclubs and sex ruled my free time...

1985: Life was what I made it... great friends and loads of laughter, sex and music and dancing and booze and hair gel and cheap flash clothes - tweak those shoulder pads, push up those sleeves... Mobile phones? Yuppie toys - they'll never catch on!... pose at the Nite Spot... sink eight pints of Stella...

And then, suddenly, completely out of the blue, I fell in love - properly in love for the very first time - and my life slid totally out of my control...

Pump Up The Jam - Changing Charts Of 1989...

In the final year of the glorious decade, we saw Technotronic arrive. 

Formed in 1988 as the Pro 24's and changing their name to Technotronic the following year, this Belgian group wasted no time. Pump Up The Jam was released in 1989, based on their 1988 instrumental piece, Technotronic. The 1989 revamp came complete with the lovely (and sometimes blue-lipped) Felly as singer in the video, and the first album Technotronic, which contained other goodies such as Rockin' Under The Beat in November '89.

But the lovely (and sometimes blue lipped) Felly wasn't the singer. Ya Kid K was the one, and with that revelation, the picture of Felly on the album's cover was removed!

Pump Up The Jam reached No 2 in the UK hit parade in September 1989. Enjoy it by the magic of YouTube above!
Pump Up The Jam - The Album, released in November 1989. This one has the original cover photograph of fashion model Felly Kilingi, complete with her famous blue lips.

26 May 2012

Memories Of The Summer Of 1983 - The First Picture Of You...

Ah, the summer of 1983... hair gel and break dancing, young love - and lust, the last fleeting days of being seventeen (I turned eighteen in the October)... and The First Picture Of You by The Lotus Eaters.

The song is so tangled up in my memories of that summer. It fitted the mood exactly and now causes me so many nostalgic pangs whilst still fitting perfectly (in a peculiarly 1980s way) with modern bouts of summer weather.

The Lotus Eaters were Peter Coyle and Jeremy "Jem" Kelly, who met in 1981 and formed the band in 1982. They recorded a session for John Peel on BBC Radio 1 and from that came The First Picture...

It's a beautiful song.  And far from being purveyors of a one-hit wonder,  The Lotus Eaters are now revered as creators of an '80s classic.

Included here from YouTube is the twelve inch version. If you're lucky enough to be enjoying a lovely sunny day, open a window, whack up the volume and step outside.

Seeing the flowers scream their joy... 

One of the YouTube comment thread people says: 

My soul will drift back to the '80s when I'm gone.

Hope mine does too...

22 May 2012

1989: Dancing Flowers

In 1989, the year that the World Wide Web was invented and the Berlin Wall came down, we plebs were hugely excited by what we called Dancing Flowers - AKA Rock 'n' Roll Flowers - ("copyright 1988"), from a company called Takara. My cousin bought one for her children and we... oops... sorry, I mean "they" were thrilled with it, bellowing their heads off with laughter as it jiggled ... er... I mean "danced" around to Technotronic ("Pump Up The Jam, Pump It Up..."), or whatever.

But it didn't have to be major dance hits of 1989 that got this little beauty grooving.

It even "danced" to my uncle's Charlie Pride LP.


1989, like the rest of the 1980s, was not, as LP Hartley once wrote about the past, a "foreign country". It was a foreign planet!

21 May 2012

1987: Star Trekkin' Across The Universe - On The Starship Enterprise Under Captain Kirk...

Look-In, 18 July, 1987: Lt Uhura - "There's Klingons on the starboard bow, scrape 'em off, Jim!"
Ah, the glories of pop chart music in 1987! One of my favourite years ever. No, I'm not thinking about H..H...H..House Nation, Pump Up The Volume or even the mighty It's A Sin, although I loved all three. Nope, this post is dedicated to Star Trekkin' by The Firm. Yep, there are definitely Klingons on the starboard bow, starboard bow, starboard bow...

 Mr Spock: "It's life, Jim, but not as we know it, not as we know it, not as we know it, it's life, Jim, but not as we know it, not as we know it, Captain."

This brilliant novelty song made Number 1 in the UK pop charts and was simply a great larf. Sorry, I mean laugh.
It was the work of The Firm - Grahame Lister, John O'Connor and Rory Kehoe, who had brought us the sublime Arthur Daley ('E's Alright) in 1982. The group turned their attention spacewards in '87 and the result was a whole lot of fun.

 Starship Captain James T Kirk: "We come in peace, shoot to kill, shoot to kill, we come in peace, shoot to kill, shoot to kill, men!"

No record producers were interested in the song, so The Firm released it themselves on O'Connor's Bark Records label. Ya cannae change the laws of physics, and the song shot into the stratosphere, spending two weeks at No 1 in the UK and selling over a million copies worldwide.

Dr "Bones" McCoy - "It's worse than that he's dead, Jim, dead, Jim, dead, Jim, it's worse than that he's dead, Jim, dead, Jim, dead."

A lovely summer and a great novelty song contributes to making 1987 (which would later send a terrible gale across part of England and a stock market crash which caused reverberations worldwide) now seem such a sweet memory...

Incidentally, Star Trek itself was going great guns at this time. The film series (which had begun so dismally in my humble opinion) had matured into a thrilling blend of must-watch adventures and droll humour, mixed with a few topical messages. My favourite, The Voyage Home, released in 1986, featured a strong environmental theme. Just as exciting for Trekkies, in America in 1987, Captain Jean-Luc Picard (so English-seeming with his cups of tea and played by English actor Patrick Stewart although the character was apparently - and I thought very puzzlingly - French!) was setting out on his first adventures with the Star Trek: The Next Generation TV series.

The Firm really "cleaned up" with Star Trekkin'...  And by the miracle of YouTube take a perilous voyage back to 1987 below - BRIDGE TO ENGINE ROOM, WARP FACTOR NINE!  ("I cannae give it any more, Captain! She'll blow!")

1984 Kit Kat Ad: "Alien Invasion, What On Earth Are We Going to Do?"

This brilliant Kit-Kat chocolate bar TV ad is entitled "Pop Band" and dates from 1984. I love it. I actually like the tune as well! Gets me tapping my feet! Similarly, I liked the sound of Not The Nine O'Clock News' 1982 ditty Nice Video, Shame About The Song ("Let's spend our honeymoon in East Berlin...") - and could quite happily have bopped around the dancefloor if a full-length version had ever reached my local nite spot!

Back to the ad: "You can't sing, you can't play, you look awful. You'll go a long way..." Sounds like me in the '80s.

Apart from the last bit (sigh).

UPDATE 21/5/12

Thanks to my readers who have provided further information about this ad. It was filmed at Wembley in 1984, the band member on the far left has "1984" emblazoned on his T-shirt, and the agent is played by actor Gavin Richards, who has featured in many television productions over the years, including EastEnders (as Terry Raymond) and 'Allo 'Allo as  Captain Alberto Bertorelli. Carol Smillie also features (second left).

The ad was beautifully done. Just look at the band: by 1984, the New Romantic scene was just about dead, although it had left its influence. The guy on the far left in the band has a modest version of the A Flock Of Seagulls quiff, with the uplifts at the side; in 1983 and 1984 Bananarama were big news and the two girls are 'nana clones, obviously happily embracing the brave new worlds of hair gel and mousse; the guy on the right is your typical trendy dude, whilst the dapper agent with the pink tie... well, need I say more? 1984 lives!

14 May 2012

Brighton Nudist Beach - 1980: The Beginning...

1 April, 1980, April Fools Day, and England's - and in fact the whole of Britain's - first official naturist beach opens. Brighton will now seem a little breezier for some. I hope they at least kept their flip flops on - that shingle beach can be murder on the old plates of meat!

From the Daily Mirror, 5th April 1980:

A town's new nudist beach was the hottest holiday attraction in Britain yesterday.

Crowds flocked to the beach at Brighton for a peep. The 180-yard stretch of shingle was packed with picnickers while neighbouring beaches were deserted.

Hundreds of sightseers also lined the promenade railings, many of them with binoculars. A road leading to the signposted beach had the town's only traffic jam...

04 May 2012

Depeche Mode - Get The Balance Right!

Formed in Basildon in 1980, Depeche Mode were one of the bands that made 1980s music great. Personally, I find it impossible to pick an absolute favourite track, but this one has to qualify as a definite contender. Remember:

Be responsible, respectable,
Stable but gullible
Concerned and caring, help the helpless
But always remain ultimately selfish...

03 May 2012

Miami Vice

Debuting in the States in 1984 and in England in early 1985, Miami Vice was an instant hit.

Duran Duran in the 1982 Rio video - note the prototype Miami Vice gear. Jacket sleeves had begun to be pushed up as a fashion trend around the turn of the decade - and the trend grew more and more prevalant as the decade got underway. Shoulder pads began to grow (courtesy of the likes of Joan Collins and, judging by this picture, John Taylor) and everyday men began to wear bright colours.

Miami Vice had pushed-up sleeves, pastel shaded clothing and obvious shoulder pads, but it also had designer stubble, docksiders with no socks, pastel painted buildings, two stylish cops called Sonny Crockett (Don Johnson) and Ricardo Tubbs (Philip Michael Thomas), a soundtrack of top-notch rock music and an alligator called Elvis...

The show's groundbreaking and highly distinctive look was created by its executive producer, Michael Mann.

Tubbs advises Crockett to cool it...

Crockett and Tubbs battled against evil Miami villains. The show had a hard edge.

And it also had some weird quirks - like Elvis, the aforementioned alligator, who shared Crockett's houseboat.

The guys worked hard, often finding their lives in danger...

... but occasionally found time for romance - and once even marriage. Crockett got hitched to a British pop star - the lovely Scot Sheena Easton.

Unfortunately, her character was quickly bumped off.

Serious about crime. Serious about style.

Crockett and Tubbs look-a-likes featured in the "Sun", July, 1985.

Here in England, Crockett and Tubbs clones abounded. Including me. Designer stubble made me look distinctly seedy - like an associate of Arthur Daley or Gilbert the alien. I was well into the "no socks" routine. Never try it with canvas shoes. Take my word for it - it's agony, rubs all the skin off your feet.

I was already into the pushed up sleeve look - and the colourful jackets were a delight, as were the exaggerated shoulders!

Miami Vice is remembered as one of the most iconic television shows of the 1980s. I'll certainly never forget the show's ultra-stylish presentation - nor the impact it had on my fashion sense! 

The "Miami Vice" theme by Jan Hammer charted here in December 1985.

A 1986 advertisement for a "Miami Vice" computer game produced by Ocean Software, Manchester, England.

"Crockett and Tubbs, the only cops to have Pierre Cardin warrant cards..."

A review of the "Miami Vice" game from "Your Computer" magazine, October 1986 and, below, a further advertisement.

01 May 2012

Dynasty: Joan Collins, Alexis, Shoulder Pads And Leg Warmers...

First came Dallas. These were rich folks, yet somehow gritty. A ranch. Cattle. Offices that looked vaguely 1960s. Clothes... well, the odd fur coat, odd nice frock, but well... let's face it, nothing to really write home about. But then Dallas had JR with his wicked grin and stetson. So, who needed more?

Then came Knots Landing - not particularly dressy in its early days, but with its nice big houses (you could have fitted our kitchen into Karen's kitchen about five times) there was plenty for your average non-rich English viewer to boggle at.

And then came Dynasty. And suddenly clothes were a big thing - particularly after Joan Collins made her debut as Alexis Carrington.

Dynasty had clothes that absolutely screamed "WE'RE RICH!" And they were classy. By '80s standards. Sometimes bizarre. Often very camp. Frills, bustles, Nissen hut-sized shoulder pads...

And Dynasty influenced the other American soaps of the '80s, with the actresses howling for (and getting) higher dress budgets.

And there's no doubt that English actress Joan Collins, who made her debut as Alexis in the second season of Dynasty, had a lot to do with setting the pace.

Joan made her UK Dynasty debut on New Year's Day, 1983.

Sunday Mirror of May 15 1983 contained a fascinating interview with our Joanie, revealing that one of the scenes which sealed her Dynasty fame featured her apparently with no clothes on at all, between satin sheets...


Joan Collins shrugged her shoulders when she was offered a part in TV's Dynasty. "What is that?" she said.

She thought it was just another soap opera.

It was low in the ratings - the show had failed to grip the imagination of American viewers. But Joan was persuaded to read the script.

She liked it and accepted the role of bitchy Alexis Carrington. Later she discovered that almost every actress in Hollywood had wanted the part..

Few of them could have guessed that Dynasty would race to the top of the U.S. ratings, bringing Joan a success she had never dreamed of.

What really turned her into a superstar was a sizzling bedroom scene that shocked some viewers, delighted others - and made Joan giggle.

"I was wearing leg warmers, tights and a strapless bathing suit," said Joan. "It was hilarious."

"Lloyd Bochner, who played Cecil, and I were writhing around under satin sheets. There seemed to be thousands of people on the set, including a censor, and I kept on breaking up into gales of laughter.

"Yet when the episode was shown it was called the hottest thing ever. The Daughters of the American Revolution tried to get it banned."

The publicity over the episode - which will be shown in Britain shortly - was enormous.

Suddenly Joan was one of the hottest properties in show business. She could no longer walk down the street without dozens of people going up to her.

Thousands of fan letters began to arrive each week.

"Now I am told that in the US my picture on the cover is the biggest seller of tabloid newspapers and magazines after Princess Diana," she said.

"I wasn't even first choice for the role. The pecking order was Sophia Loren, Raquel Welch and then me."

When the offer was made, Joan had just sold her Los Angeles home and moved back to England...

Joan has coped with the explosion of interest in her career and private life remarkably well.

How has she succeeded where so many others have been driven to the analyst's couch?

"Well, I'm a mature woman now and realised the pitfalls from the start," she said.

"To begin with, I don't believe my own publicity, good or bad. A magazine says I am one of the ten most beautiful women in America and then a newspaper will say I am the biggest bitch that ever walked. I don't believe either of those things.

"I'm very conscious of being privileged, doing a job I adore and being successful. The knocks I have to take are part of that. On a scale of one to ten I think I score about nine-and-a-half in terms of luck."

Joan dislikes the gossip surrounding Dynasty.

"People make up fueds between Linda Evans or Pamela Sue Martin and myself," she said.

"The truth is we all get on better than any other television 'family'. I've known Linda for a long time - she is an old friend and she is great. As for John Forsythe, he is the most wonderful, charming guy.

"I've no idea where some of the stuff printed about me comes from."

I walk with her out to her car and suddenly she turns and says: "You know what? Life is like a game of Monopoly. Throw a dice and you get a job in Dynasty. Throw another dice and the ratings fall and you go back three spaces. But I do believe you finally get what you deserve from life and, without being big headed, I think I have earned my success."

And off she speeds along the Monopoly board.