In the early 80s there was a small club in London called the Blitz Club. Boy George was the coat check boy and the bouncer and the DJ made a band called Visage. The Blitz Club was, for a while, dreadfully fashionable and cool, and attracted all the New Romantics (who were called about five other things, but New Romantics seems to have stuck). Visage weren’t much chop really, but they did have one stonkingly good track called Fade to Grey.
The lead singer was called Steve Strange. He liked to dress up. Before Visage he had been in Bowie’s Ashes to Ashes video. I think it would be fair to say that Steve was a touch influenced by Ashes to Ashes when he created his own look.
Although Steve pushed the envelope a little further,
and then still further,
Until the director took some sensible action, and created this look for Steve:
Which I think works really well.
One sequence in the video strikes me as both hilarious and as a possible new version of the lyrics.
Instead of: “ahhhhh, ahhhhh, we fade to grey, fade to grey”, we could have “ahhhh, ahhhhh, we paint ourselves as snakes and go insane, go insane”.
You may laugh, but haven’t we all known someone who has faced this problem at some point in their lives? For several dark years I painted my hand as a badger. This was mostly alright, until the mating season.
Naturally for someone as insanely silly as Steve Strange Smash Hits magazine were there covering all the moments that mattered:
It is pretty irritating when you talk about sleeping and clothes and pierrot dolls and climbing coconuts, and people just don’t take you seriously when you say the rioting poor should open nightclubs.
But, let’s be frank, no one was really interested in what Steve had to say, they wanted to look at him, and it’s easy to see why.
You may have noticed that some of the words to this song are in French. This was Steve’s contribution to the song. Not writing the song, or writing the French, but saying “hey, you know what would be cool? Some hot French chick saying stuff in French.” It is cool, but it’s also odd to see him in a documentary complaining that no one gives him credit for helping to “write” the song. Which he didn’t. Which is why no one gives him credit for it.
Still it explains something about the French words which I have loosely “translated” for you below:
That stupid git with the daft hair cut
didn’t write this song.
Dude your face is melting off!
You think you’re hot stuff now, but:
we fade to grey