|New Romantic was a fashion movement that occurred primarily in the United Kingdom during the early 1980s. The term was coined by Richard James Burgess, member of Landscape and producer for the band Spandau Ballet. The main musical and stylistic proponents of the New Romantic movement were Spandau Ballet, Visage, Japan, Ultravox, Landscape, Adam & The Ants, Culture Club, and Duran Duran, especially during the period from mid-1979 to mid-1982. Others include (to some extent) Simple Minds, A Flock of Seagulls, Kajagoogoo, Classix Nouveaux, Naked Eyes, and ABC.|
The genre's genesis took place largely through clubs such as Billy's in Dean Street, London, which ran David Bowie and Roxy Music nights in the aftermath of punk. This evolved into the highly successful and elitist Blitz Club in Great Queen Street, and later Hell, which were hosted by Steve Strange who was also the doorman and Rusty Egan who was the DJ and in many ways defined the sound of the movement. Boy George was the cloakroom attendant who was sacked by Steve Strange for stealing money from a customer's purse. The club spawned a hundred suburban spin-offs in, around and outside London, among which were Croc's in Rayleigh, Essex, and The Regency in Chadwell Heath, where Depeche Mode and Culture Club had their debut gigs as fledgling bands.|
The movement rapidly spread as far as Barbarella's Club in Birmingham, while it was still underground, shaping the newly formed Duran Duran.
The New Romantic phenomenon was similar to that of glam rock during the early 1970s, in that (male) New Romantics often dressed in caricaturally counter-sexual or androgynous clothing and wore cosmetics in the New Wave extension of (or reply to) punk fashion, with frilly "fop" shirts of the English Romantic period, or exaggerated versions of upscale, tailored fashion and grooming. David Bowie was an obvious influence and interestingly his 1980 single "Fashion" was influenced by and was simultaneously considered to be something of an anthem for the New Romantics, as were Brian Eno and Roxy Music. However, as with many art school-based youth movements, by the time this 'anthem' was pronounced, the movement itself, although successfully projecting many new stylish futuristic ideas and visions (with lots of various references to sci-fi), had been seized upon by commercial forces, and watered-down versions were being cheaply reproduced for the High Street.|
Of the many differences from glam, however, was that instead of guitar rock, the music was largely synthesiser-based electronic music, and rhythmically driven, layered with moody synth-produced melodies. Writing and musical composition tended towards emotionally romantic, mood and place evocative, again echoing the English Romantic artistic period. Culturally separating the New Romantic from original Romanticism was the embrace of the present (technolog), at least musically speaking, rather than the rejection of it. German electronic innovators such as Kraftwerk and Can were cross cultural musical influences as were American urban dance music, rap, funk and R&B music genres. Major British influences included the futuristic sounds of computer-synthesiser experimenters such as Landscape and Ultravox intelligently introducing innovative and experimental sounds. Rhythm machines were introduced into wide use by this movement largely due to the experiments of drummers Richard James Burgess (Landscape), Warren Cann (Ultravox) and Rusty Egan (Visage). Jim Fouratt of Danceteria, New York City spotted the burgeoning movement in London and was an early champion for what would become the second British invasion. Spandau Ballet visited New York in 1981 for a landmark performance at the Underground. By the mid 1980s the genre had its feet firmly planted in America. On the west coast in California its moniker saw a slight shortening and "New Ro" (pronounced newro) became a trend among teens looking for a synthetic medium between the surf and ska inspired "Mod" category, and the rougher guitar-based Punk scene.
The movement hit Los Angeles in the early 1980s, when Henry Peck and Joseph Brooks (original Proprietors of Vinyl Fetish) opened The Veil club in Los Angeles and ran it from April 1981 to August 1983. On a memorable evening, Steve Strange showed up where the club was held at Club Lingerie in a horse-drawn carriage. Brooks and Peck went on to open several other clubs including: the one of the earliest Goth clubs (The Scream Parlour was first, though it was heavily influenced by Brooks and Peck via Vinyl Fetish) in Los Angeles, the Fetish Club, modeled after London's The Batcave; TVC15; and The Glam Slam.
In the mid-1990s, New Romantic was revived in England as a movement called Romo in clubs like Club Skinny. Orlando is generally seen to have been the most successful Romo group. Early in the 21st century the short-lived Electroclash scene revived many stylistic elements of the new romantic period; Fischerspooner and other bands were briefly popular. The scene is sometimes credited with paving the way for the success of the Scissor Sisters.
1. ^ Malins, Steve (February 2001). Interview with Robbie Grey and Steve Walker. Beggars Group. Retrieved on 2007-06-11. |
2. ^ "This is when Scissor Sisters were born, emerging from Manhattan's electroclash scene." in McLean, G. "Sisters under the skin" 9 September 25, 2004 (retrieved 19 May, 2007).
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