Saturday, July 19, 2008

Blue Rondo a la Turk - Chewing the Fat

What if Pigbag had been led by Desi Arnaz, and he sang in English? That's what Chris Sullivan's band Blue Rondo a la Turk sounded like. With a postpunk take on Latin rhythms, a full horn section (see here for the complete band lineup), and vintage zoot-suit fashions, Blue Rondo in 1982 prefigured the swing craze that would reach full force over a decade later. (Oddly, they did not sound anything like Dave Brubeck's "Blue Rondo a la Turk.") Sullivan was quite the dandy; see this profile of him in which he details his fashion history, and even takes credit for starting the New Romantic fashion movement. To be fair, he is also a skilful songwriter, singer, and a painter as well: he painted the album cover art. Chewing the Fat, released in 1982, is full of infectious Latin grooves and more straightforward pop fare. High points include a fantastic cover of Luther Ingram's "I Spy for the FBI" and the originals "Klacto Vee Sedstein" (a single) and "They Really Don't;" even a bit of Spandau Ballet shows through in the guitar intro to the single "The Heavens are Crying." The UK and German releases of the album differ slightly: the German version includes the 1981 single "Me and Mr Sanchez," while the UK version replaces that with its B-side, "Sarava." I have the UK version, so that's what I've presented here, but I also have the 45 so I've added "Me and Mr Sanchez" at the end. The full track list is:
01 Change
02 I Spy for the FBI
03 Coco
04 The Heavens Are Crying
05 The Method
06 They Really Don't
07 Sarava
08 Klacto Vee Sedstein
09 Carioca
10 Me and Mr Sanchez

I found a Blue Rondo TV performance clip (of "Carioca:) on YouTube: just to the left of Chris Sullivan (your left, his right) in the center ring is Christos Tolero, who as far as I can figure was the Paul Rutherford of the group, with his trademark Mephistophelean mustache and goatee:

Get the Chewing the Fat vinyl rip here or here.


Jurjen said...

Thanks for this one. I'm also looking for: "Bees Knees & Chicken Elbows" and "To soon to come". Do you have any of these?

newelectricmuse said...

I've been looking for this album for years! It's not on CD and Ihaven't seen the LP since the 80s. Saw them live then, too. Especially looking forward to hearing the fondly-remembered Klactoveesedstein...
Many thanks,

Anonymous said...

After more than 25 years I had forgotten how good this was! Actually, back then my cool friends and me sort of liked it, but it was "too commercial". Today it's just great and fun and infectious (no chance to sit still) and sounding amazingly fresh. The songwriting is superb. Thank you!!

Doug said...

It is funny.Every now and again I think about the vinyl LPs I own that have never been issued on CD.I am down to only a few that I have not found.And today I find a long lost Blue Rondo a La Turk album.Many thanks!Much appreciated.I am still looking for Jimmy Pursey's 'Imagination Camouflage'.

Fantod said...

Wow, this has been an unexpectedly popular download. Chewing the Fat really was different from everything else at the time, it was quite special. Too bad about the follow-up, Bees Knees & Chickens Elbows (coming right up, by the way). I don't have Too Soon to Come, but that is just a compilation of the first two albums with no new material. And I'm afraid I can't help with the Jimmy Pursey request, either. Thanks to all for the comments!

Gster said...

Many, Many Thanks. Been looking for this for ages. Had the LP back then but it went missing ( I supect my best friend still has it). Saw them at Clouds in Preston - fantastic. Thanks again for the memories. Pure Gold!

Fantod said...

Oh, I do envy those of you who saw bands such as this one, that I missed due to being on the wrong continent!

David said...

Merci pour ce petit bijou, pépite baroque et luxuriante au milieu de toutes ces sombres groupes de cold wave. Really a good band for parties :-)
Thanks a lot !

discobunny said...

Many thanks for this. I have been looking for this for ages!

Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot for this. I've been going through a bunch of old cassettes, trying to digitize or replace what I could, and I couldn't find this puppy anywhere. I have fond memories of 'Me and Mr Sanchez', my brother featured it on a mix tape he made back in the day. Great stuff!

Anonymous said...

glad to see all this- we have just got our masters back do expect a CD release of the originals and remixes as well as lots of new You tube post of live performances that we have-.I just have to get them transferred and posted .


Best wishes , Chris Sullivan

Anonymous said...

Hi Chris
Can't wait to see those live performances.
I'm digging since years to get hands on live tapes, your cover paintings or other rare Blue Rondo stuff (with limited success). Looking forward to the CD release.
Cheerio, Bernd

geofjarvis said...

thank you sooo much for this - brilliant album, fantastic memories.

Geof, London.

D. Haagensen said...

Many thanks for making this album available. I have it on cassette, but the quality is not great, so very happy to have this.

Donovan, Johannesburg.

Simon said...

I remember seeing this group perform live at Leicester Poly back at the end of 1982 or early 1983. Great act live and great album. I had the album on cassette until recently when I had a clear out, closed my eyes and donated all my old cassettes to a charity shop. Been looking for a CD / digital version for ages.

I see a couple of tracks have finally popped up on Itunes. 'Carioca' is on 'Lounge Stories 3' and 'Me and Mr Sanchez' on 'The New Romantics'. You'd think in this digital ages they'd get round to re-releasing the complete album. It the meantime thanks for doing this.

I read somewhere that some of the group went on to form Matt Bianco. Is this true?

Anonymous said...

Thank you very very much I'm looking for this for many many years ....


tonyontyne said...

Join my crusade for the reissues - the time is now

Anonymous said...

I have all 3 albums plus 12-inch singles of "Me and Mr. Sanchez" and "Klactoveesedstein". Guess I should do something about ripping them!!

Did anyone hear the last (proper) Matt Bianco album with Reilly, White and Basia? Very good.


the saucer people said...

Thanks so much for sharing this and in the unlikely event that Kev (the post above me) gets back, it would be really appreciated if he could do a rip of all the albums and the two 12 Inches as its really hard to find their material on the net(apart from here of course!).

Is always great when a member of the band posts and it was cool to see read from Chris Sullivan that there is going to be a re-issue of some of their back catalogue (well overdue)...has anyone got news about when its due?

I have been listening to the extended version of 'Heavens Are Crying' and it still sounds astounding nearly thirty years later...if they were from New York and not the UK it would be championed as a definitive post-punk no-wave funk track a la Liquid Liquid, Konk, James Chance & ESG (sometimes having a "hit" and being popular at the time can paradoxically have an adverse effect on how you are remembered!)
Having said that, it is clear from the posts that many people do remember them with very fond memories.

I have also been listening to Klacto Vee Sedstein a lot recently and its still as sonically addictive as it was when it first came out; it seeps into your neurochemistry and before you know it "that" vocal sound at the beginning just loops around and around and around!

PS> someone told me recently that "Klacto Vee Sedstein" was a type of shampoo?!? Surely not!

Neil - Australia said...

Absolutely brilliant. I've been looking for this for ages, used to have it on cassette but that died yonks back. Thanks heaps.

Anonymous said...

Thanks! I've just spent a couple of hours looking for this in various complicated ways and then I found by just googling the band & album title, d'oh! Brings back memories.

MagicAlex DJ's said...

haven't thought about this band for nearly 25 years and then, drunkenly last night stumbled across a bbc clip on youtube.

sounds daft, but if this band were to come out now they would KILL.

thanks for posting the record, next time i dj these are getting played for sure

SymbianSimian said...

Love it, can't believe I finally found this, My (older) brother bought this in 1984? and I have been looking for it for years, my collection is all digital, so wouldn't know what to do with vinyl!!

Unknown said...

Fantod, The links are invalid, could you please upload them again??? Thank you in advance!

kosmikino said...

Cannot believe it's been over four years since I wrote my praise of the band in the comments under my "saucer people" profile name!

I remember you being so kind back then to post the albums and as soon as I saw that a double CD was reissued with pretty much all the tracks on, including the mix of The Heavens Are Crying by John Luongo Mix I was waxing lyrical over!

Anyway, for anyone who stumbles across this here is the link:

I can't believe just how much music I still listen to came from this blog, you were and always be a blogstar in my memory!

Hope you are well and all that, definitely miss this blog.