NO ONE HAS A GOOD WORD TO SAY ABOUT THE 805. The Swinging ()()s have never been out of fashion. the ‘)()s are the era of Cool Britannia and. in recent years. the high priests of pop culture have even rehabilitated the dreary. bubble-permed. prog-rock nightmare that was the 70s.
But the upcoming appearance of 80s heroes Culture Club and Duran Duran in Glasgow has provoked a fresh torrent of abuse against the decade that gave us deely— hoppers and the Sinclair C5. Popular opinion has the 80s down as a time of greedy. right-wing. big-haired yuppies and there’s more than a morsel of truth in that — any decade that gives us Thatcher and Reagan. AIDS and Howard Jones owes the world a pretty major karmic debt.
Speaking of Karma. some of us are rather looking forward to this month‘s reappearance of Boy George et (1/ as a chance to celebrate a much reviled. but in truth rather glorious period of British pop. Come back with me to a time before satellite telly and New Labour. A time when the BBC considered the work of Dennis Potter and Alan Bleasdale. rather than Bullykissungel. acceptable Sunday evening viewing.
Musically. the early 80s were much more radical than they‘re often given credit for. In New York. Arthur Baker and Afrika Bambaataa. inspired by Kraftwerk. were creating electro —- the template for every dance genre that's appeared since. Grandmaster Flash And The Furious liive were bringing rap to the world and. back home. Cabaret Voltaire were turning out what. in retrospect. was obviously proto-techno.
Any decade that gives us Thatcher and Reagan, AIDS and Howard Jones owes the world a pretty major karmic debt.
How was it for you? New Romantic, old- school indie or acid house? Thatcher, the Falklands, the Miners' Strike? Over the next few pages, The List relives the 805 in all their pop-fuelled glory. We talk to Duran Duran and Culture Club, we remember JR Ewing and Flashdance. Just slip on those leg
warmers and . . . relax.
It was an era of mixing and matching. and this was just as true in the pop mainstream. After years of punk puritanism. the New Pop decided to glam it up. Eyeliner. ridiculous costumes and back-combing were in. alongside a ruthless desire for chart success.
The result was instantly hurmnable pop songs recorded by the most flamboyant pop stars since Bowie. Androgyny was hip. and pops long—term debt to homosexuality was never more apparent. It's hard to imagine. given tocl;ty"s testosterone—fuelled lad culture. HIM asking its readers ‘Would you sleep with this hoy‘." over a picture of Placebo‘s Brian Molko. as XMIi did with Boy George back in l983.
L'ltimately the musical merits of the early 80s have to be measured by what‘s on the vinyl. The Human League's Dare is the sound of school discos. while ABC‘s Leximn Of Love and l’rankie Goes To Hollywood’s lle/(‘mne 7}) The Pleasure Dome are the nearest pop has come to a modern version of Phil Spector.
80s pop maniacally chased the notion of fun and it left a bright dayglo smear on pop history. But. ofcourse. fun is the last thing we expect of pop in the late 90s.
Today we are inundated with shell-suited. slack-jawed dad—rockers and their necrophiliac obsession with the Beatles. Give me The Spice Girls any day. At least they know that pop music should. first and foremost. be a celebration of being young.
And that‘s the one thing. the one thing that still holds true . . . (Teddy Jamieson)
3 17 Dec 1998 THE lIST13