Midge Ure vs. Mad World: A LIVE Event! 0

A Mad World Conversation With Midge Ure:

Ultravox, Visage, Band Aid & Beyond

Midge Ure is immortalized in Mad World as the Zelig of pop. He’s the star of, not one, but two chapters —  Ultravox! Band Aid! (There would have been a third if we had been able to extract enough info from Steve Strange on the two occasions that we got him on the phone for an interview re: Visage.)

Now, the very special relationship between Midge Ure, OBE, Duke of Ultravox, and Mad World reaches a new level of intimacy in the form of a live event at Brooklyn’s Rough Trade store.

Come and witness our fearless Mad World co-author and long-time Ure-ologist Lori Majewski as she interviews the prolific Scot about his lengthy career — including Visage (have you heard him singing his rendition of “Fade to Grey” on the Retro Futura tour?!). She’ll also ask him about co-writing and producing “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” — which turns 30 this November — and his first solo album in eons, Fragile. There will also be time for YOU to ask him a few questions, and straight after, there will be a Mad World book signing/meet-and-greet.

Memorize these details:

Date: Sunday, Sept. 14

Address: Rough Trade,  64 N 9th St, New York, NY 11249

Time: 5:00 to 6:30 p.m.

Admission: Free!

DJ: The Big PA spinning an all-Midge-all-the-time soundtrack

Please help to spread the word to fellow fans by sharing our Facebook event page and tweeting about it tagging @madworldbook and @midgeure1.

Then all you have to do is come along and meet the man responsible for all of this:

 And this:

 And this:

 And even this:

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Mixtape: A.K.A. Stage Names, Pseudonyms and Alter Egos 0

Charli XCX. Ty Dolla $ign. Zedd. Bobby Shmurda. We certainly don’t lack for creative stage names these days. Just creativity. Unlike the eighties, when we had artists whose music was as fascinating as their alter egos.

“Goody Two Shoes,” Adam Ant

What a malleable stage-name-for-all-seasons the young Stuart Goddard chose for himself. Adam Ant seemed all creepy and netherworldy when he was an underground icon, then when he was a mainstream favorite, it was exciting and alliterative. I wonder if Marvel will use this song on the soundtrack on the Ant-Man movie.

“Electric Co,” U2

It is easier for a camel to crawl through the eye of a needle than it is for me to find a U2 song I can halfway tolerate. However, we are here to celebrate the wise choice made by Paul Hewson when he renamed himself Bon O’Vox. And then O’Vo. And finally, Bono. Yes, he made himself a target for people like Bernard Sumner to refer to him as Bongo and for me to call him Bonio, after a once-popular brand of dog food, but its is also a name that crosses national boundaries.

“Miss Me Blind,” Culture Club

The roads of the record industry are built on the broken bones of unmemorable artists. George O’Dowd was not one of those. His look, his voice, his songs all stood out and so did his choice of moniker. Smartly anticipating the reaction of the nation’s parents who would be forced by their offspring sit through Top Of The Pops, his name was an answer to the UK’s– and soon the world’s– outraged mums and dads demanding of their TV screen, “Is that a boy or a girl?”

“Calling Your Name,” Marilyn

And after the world’s mums and dads were miraculously unaffected by their exposure to Boy George, there was a brief record company gold rush for another gender-ambiguous popstar. The resulted: long time George frenemy Peter Robinson aka Marilyn– a notorious figure –who, if the BBC biopic ‘Worried About The Boy’ is to be be believed, turned aan entire city of straight men gay– wound up in the UK Top 5 with this slice of fake Motown which predates the auto-tune era but comes smack-dab in the middle of the time when producers swamped thin voices with masses of backing vocals.

“Never Ending Story,” Limahl

If there’s been one sour note struck during the whole, generally positive Mad World:The Book experience, it’s...me! Some readers have taken issue with my sullen attitude and lack of blanket approval regarding every single act we covered over 36 chapters. To which I say, fair enough. You can’t please everyone. However. If I have one regret about my cynical nature, it’s perhaps over my commentary about the Limahl chapter in which I made a flip remark about shitting on his band. Now, I’m not a Kajagoogoo fan and I never presented myself as one, but Limahl gave me one of the best and most unexpected interviews in the book, which is why the chapter is so insanely long. I didn’t have to build a statue to his greatness but I also didn’t need to direct quite so much snark in his direction. So, I will take this opportunity to apologize to the former Chris Hamill and applaud this song which, I imagine he will agree, is the finest melody he ever sung.

“Imagination,” Belouis Some

I would like to see the list of names Neville Keighley rejected before deciding Belouis Some was the pseudonym that was going to rocket him to international stardom. I have to think that his choice is one of the main reasons “Imagination,” which was a hot record then and remains a hot record now, never took off. Bonus points to anyone who can make it all the way through this extended, uncensored, ridiculous video.

“Just An Illusion,” Imagination

See what I did there? Imagination’s lead singer John Leslie McGregor made what might have seemed an even more ruinous choice than Neville Keighley when selecting his stage name. He went with Leee John, the extra E completing the acronym, “Extra Erotic Energy”. Despite this, Imagination were a huuuuge influence on the British pop scene of the early eighties. In MW:TB, Gary Kemp talks of hearing them and seeking out their producers, Jolley & Swain, for the True album. Alison Moyet and Bananarama also used Jolley & Swain’s services. Imagination don’t benefit a whole lot from eighties nostalgia but they were the one of the premier UK r&b acts that wasn’t attempting to xerox what they bought from the US import bins, and for that they deserve that extra e in their singer’s name.

“One Better Day,” Madness

Graham McPherson probably didn’t think he was going to be lead singer of Madness for life when he called himself Suggs but it seems like it’s going to work out that way. The name is evocative of a kind of minor Dickensian villain which is appropriate seeing as the band have come to embody a timeless London seediness.

“When You Were Mine,” Bette Bright & The Illuminations

We couldn’t feature Suggs and not shout out his wife, could we? Bette Bright, born Anne Martin, was one of the focal points of Liverpool’s Deaf School, a highly-touted art-pop band who were utterly annihilated by the rise of punk. Regrouping as Bette Bright & The Illuminations, she banged out a series of cover songs, all of which were awesome and none of which came close to being hits. This is her version of Prince’s “When You Were Mine” which–and I might be wrong here– predates the Cyndi Lauper cover.

“Ashes and Diamonds,” Zaine Griff

Known to his parents as Glenn Mikkelson, this Bowie imitator obviously had a bunch of people convinced of his star potential because he kept pumping out records. He came closes to a hit with this one, produced by Bowie’s frequent right-hand man, Tony Visconti.

“Can’t Stop Running,” Space Monkey

Okay, Paul Goodchild, the awesome news is, the guy who discovered and signed both Wham! and ABC thinks you’ve got what it takes to go the distance. the less awesome news: he thinks you should rename yourself Space Monkey. (It probably didn’t go down like that at all. It probably happened more like Dirk Diggler coming up with his porn name in Boogie Nights.)

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Mixtape: Call The WAAAAAMBULANCE. Songs About Crying Sobbing And Tears 0

“I can’t see them comin’ down my eyes, so I gotta make the song cry”, said Jay Z and here’s a whole bunch of tear-stained songs from eighties artists who knew that it was unhealthy to keep your emotions bottled up.

“Stop Your Sobbing,” Pretenders

I was watching a little bit of the Australian X Factor the other day–what do you mean, too much time on my hands???– and one of the contestants did a not-completely-horrific version of Michael Jackson’s “Working Day And Night” from “Off The Wall”. Irish crooner Ronan Keating, who has the role of the tough judge on the show, said, and I’m paraphrasing,”I wish you’d done a more familiar song”. This is where we are. This is why the people who make music are so timid. They’re told the audience is dumber than dirt and they cater to them accordingly. Which is to say, that Teenage Me and, clearly several countries worth of Teenage Me’s did not know this Kinks song that The Pretenders dragged out of cold storage for their debut single. But we reacted to the song and to the way it was delivered. In a lot of ways Teenage Me WAS as dumb as dirt but I was never scared of an unfamiliar cover version.

“Boys Don’t Cry,” The Cure

Some people heard this song and fell so much in love with The Cure and Robert Smith’s writing that they willingly endured Pornography, The Head On The Door, Disintegration et al because they never gave up hope of another perfectly realized three-minute pop classic. Others heard “Boys Don’t Cry” and, even though they found it sappy and too easy to sing along with, hung in there because they knew something darker and more challenging was just around the corner. And that is my simplistic explanation of the enduring appeal of The Cure.

“Suffer The Children,” Tears For Fears

The cryingest, saddest, sufferingest sob story of all TFF’s early output. Only a statue with a stone heart could get through this tragic narrative of a neglected child without braking down in a weeping heap.

Reward,” The Teardrop Explodes

The best and most memorable of The Teardrop Explodes brief run of hits. Fantastic intro and one of the best climaxes of any song to come out over the entire course of the decade! You think it’s cute that the pitiful new Taylor Swift single has horns on it–no TS hate, I’m a fan of the beanpole but that players-gonna-play-haters-gonna-hate hook is WAY beneath her– let me tell you THIS song has horns!

“Tears Run Rings,” Marc Almond
Whether he’s singing Russian folk ballads about consumption or torrid flamenco songs of death, Marc Almond knows his way around a good tune. This is no exception.

“Cry,” Godley & Creme

Weirdly topical because G&C’s old band 10cc’s greatest hit, “I’m Not In Love” is the first song featured in Guardians Of The Galaxy whose soundtrack album was number one last time I looked. While in no way the intoxicating emotional experience, “I’m Not In Love” still is, “Cry” is constructed from the same DNA and that video was a mindbender at the time it first premiered.

“Willow Weep For Me,” Carmel

As Duffy was to Amy Winehouse so Carmel was to Sade. Except considerably less successful. Nevertheless, Sade’s high profile opened the doors of the early eighties british pop media to a plethora of vocalists who fancied themselves hipster chanteuses. Carmel, whose biggest hit “Bad Day” we’ll get to in the fullness of time, was heavily hyped in the salivating pages of the music press but even though she was unafraid to belt out a standard or two, quickly faded from view.

“Cry Me A River,” Mari Wilson

As Iggy Azalea is to Nicki Minaj, so Mari Wilson was to Alison Moyet. Maybe? Not sure that quite holds water. Anyway, my point is, Mari Wilson was another high-profile throwback eighties singer briefly beloved of the print media. Her sky-high beehive is a clue towards the campy nature of her output. Sadly, this faithful rendition of Julie London’s “Cry Me A River”, while sincere, lacks the zip of her few hits.

“Cry Boy Cry,” Blue Zoo

Last week, we ended with Classix Nouveaux. This week we sink even deeper inside the junkyard of forgotten new wave footnotes. Blue Zoo, whose singer I don’t even need to Wikipedia to remember was called Andy O,were one of the great, derided also-ran bands of the early eighties. They got radio play, they were covered in Smash Hits, they even made it onto Top Of The Pops but somehow success was fleeting. When LM was gearing up to interview Nick Rhodes for the Duran chapter of MW:TB, I told her to tell him that, before “Girls On Film” changed things for them, they could have been another Blue Zoo. He was not thrilled with the comparison.

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