Friday, 7 December 2012

A Brilliant year!

Well, it's certainly been the year of Brilliant, what with the Ultravox album of that name; a later, sumptuous clear vinyl two LP set of the album; a download single of Live with extra tracks; their 27 song strong UK tour dates, and the special tour CD released just days after their Hammersmith Apollo gig at the end of September!

And it's been a fun year for re:VOX magazine as well; not only with trying to keep up with everything that's been going on, but also in providing some fresh features to provide some variety and surprises along the way. As ever, a huge thanks must go to everyone who's contributed photos and text over the past year's four editions!

And in celebration of our twelfth birthday (just wait until our terrible teens at the end of 2013!) not only do we have a choice of two covers on the front of the new issue that's just gone on sale today (although don't worry, the other image appears on the back cover too) - wherein Stephen Lipson talks about working with the band on their latest album - but we've also tipped in a free fold-out A3 photo poster too!

Next year? Well, unless there's some major development - and frankly you can never tell with Ultravox these days - then we'll be taking a publishing break until the late spring, with a view to publishing just three editions culminating in a very special 13th birthday edition for #21, which (numerically, at least) will see re:VOX become the longest running magazine about Ultravox... although if we're talking about the number of years an Ultravox magazine has been in print, well, we do have a few more years to go until we've passed the legendary goldmine that was EV magazine.

That's the plan :)

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

A Soho Story (promoting The Promoter)!

THE PROMOTER (76 minutes)
Friday 5th October 2012

Preview screening – Soho Sanctum Hotel – first showing @ 7.50pm

The first ever public showing of The Promoter was preceded by a frenetic, barely scripted introduction given by the subject of the film himself – wherein Robert Pereno (pronounced 'Pear-Eno', just in case you've always wondered) gave out quotations to be read out by selected members of the audience, many of whom where close friends at this first screening (a second followed later the same night).

After a few technical hitches at the start, the subsequent documentary might best be described as a study in how to avoid the pitfalls of the entertainment industry. Produced by the husband and wife team of Ed and Sam Edwards for their own Jagged Crow company, their latest documentary is both funny and poignant in equal measures; and sometimes at the same time too! It’s also extremely personal and revealing, allowing the singer/club promoter/raconteur to tell his own story (mainly seated, cigarette in hand, in several long B&W sequences), supported by talking head cut-aways – with some noticeably tightly shot close-ups – as well as by selected photographs as the story unfolds. And what a story it is!

Born in Calcutta – which he notes was the same year that Seve Ballesteros and Osama Bin Laden were also born (musings on the single-mindedness of dictators being an occasional, running theme in this particularly narrative) – the young Robert found himself organising parties for friends as a way to gain the attention it seems he craved. This extended through into his adult life, through an interchanging mix of bands (such as Shock, and later Pleasure and the Beast) and club promoting – "the money was far better", he wryly notes at one point – with various tabloid encounters, breakdowns, fall-outs and abandoned projects detailed along the way. Indeed, towards the close of the film – shot during a tumultuous year when his latest marriage collapsed suddenly – Robert reveals some self-awareness of being the agent of much of this misfortune. "Did I dedicate myself to being in a band?", he asks. "Not really. Did I dedicate myself to being an actor? Again, not really" admitting that, after so many years of doing so "I can't run away anymore, I'm so stuck with myself".

The film closes with one-time protégé Old Fashioned Daisy (Daisy Tallulah Johnson), performing a soulful version of Hotel California on a miniature acoustic guitar. It seems a rapprochement must have occurred, as Daisy features strongly in the latter half of the film. Several full song performances are showcased, along with clips from a dub-heavy reggae take on Anarchy in the UK film at the Soho Festival back in 2011, a soul-tinged acoustic guitar version of that Sex Pistols classic, and a duet of the same song between herself and Adam Ant shot in the same film club that this screening was being held in – a venue that Robert ran for some years before walking away from the club last year (and considering this is also where this screening was held hints at another significant clearing of the air). Possessing a strong voice, and with audiences still hungry for this style of music, she clearly has a future and given the tight focus of the documentary this film very generously gives her plenty of space to shine.

The Promoter was well-received by the audience, garnering both warm laughs and applause both from friends and acquaintances of Robert and other interested parties. Quite how this film will play to audiences not so familiar with Robert Pereno or his work is less clear, although the documentary is certainly absorbing enough to keep the viewer anticipating what the next unexpected twist in the journey might be. One can only commend Robert for allowing such a deeply personal look at his life an airing. It's a genuinely brave act to endorse such a candid expose, and I did find myself wondering alter what other stories couldn’t be included in order to keep within the film's running time.

In my walk back through Regent Street in the Friday night drizzle I came away with the impression that, in reality, it isn't that Robert doesn't care enough about the most important things in his life, it could well be that he actually cares far, far too much. Perhaps it’s this thought that scares him enough that he pushes those things away lest they get too out-of-control, leading to a repeating chain of regret, despair and eventually new-found enthusiasm for another new project. It explains a lot that Robert only recently discovered that he suffers from a degree of Bi-Polarity, and one can only hope that the rollercoaster life he's led so far has finally levelled out on to a more even path.

If you get a chance to catch The Promoter at a future film festival, and hopefully eventually on a download or commercial DVD release, I'd definitely recommend you take the time to sample it, although I think I’d make sure that any impressionable youngsters were kept well out of the way, not only due to some of the riper language, but the mild nudity in the dream sequence towards the end (some surreally out-of-place models imitating Old Master poses). Thanks to Sam for very kindly inviting me to sample an evening in the company of Robert Pereno. It's a night I shall never forget. We’ll update you on future plans for the documentary as and when they're firmed up.

(A longer version of this review will be printed in #18 of re:VOX magazine, due in December 2012)

Friday, 21 September 2012

Robert Pereno - 'The Promoter' documentary uncovers his story!

Once upon a time in the early 1980s there was a group called Shock. they cut across various disciplines - combining dance, performance art, robotic dancing and electronic music to create a fushion that went down well in the clubs, but some how never quite crossed over in to the 'mainstream' pop charts despite the best efforts of musical collaborators Rusty Egan (Visage) and Richard Burgess (Landscape).

Some of you may recall that back in #12 of re:VOX we spoke to two of the members of the group - Tim Dry and Barbie Wilde - but while we later spoke to LA Richards for a feature still to be scheduled. But while this was happening it turns out that another memeber of the group, Robert Pereno, was being filmed throughout much of last year for a documentary about his own extraordinary life. It's called The Promoter, and here's the exclusive story (with many thanks to producer Sam Edwards for taking the time to answer all our questions) from re:VOX#17, out now...

When film producer Sam Edwards screened Stealing Elvis at the Film Club in the Sanctum Hotel, Soho in London, she had no idea that showing her first award-winning feature there would lead to her working on a film about the man running that very club, Robert Pereno; previously mentioned in these pages (back in #12) for his work as part of the early 1980s pop/dance troupe Shock.

"Robert is an old friend of mine, getting on for thirty years", Sam Edwards told us, and "I offered to help out at the Film Club". It was then that a strange confluence of events came together. At the same time, Sam now reveals, "My husband, and director, Ed Edwards was eager to start on a new feature film. When Robert asked if we would come and film on his birthday 4th April 2011 – so he could have a record of the day – his home and the film club was full of so many interesting people that we've all known through the years. Robert himself is such a vibrant, charming and funny character with an intriguing past and I said to Ed, ‘this is it, our next film – I think we should make a documentary about him".

Fortunately, Pereno thought it was a "great idea", and they began to film him every week before a film screening at the club, building up a selection of cinéma vérité sequences. "Robert would think of scenarios which he would film, and he would prepare speeches, quotations and pieces to camera about his life". More conventional interviews with Adam Ant, Rusty Egan, LA Richards, Mark Fuller and Eve Ferret were then captured to further "illuminate his story", Sam adds. "It was an eventful year, one that saw Robert go off the rails, his marriage end and for him to have to reinvent himself once again". In the end, the documentary – made for Ed and Sam’s own Ragged Crow production company (formed in 2008) – took over a year to complete up to close of post-production this summer.

This process of reinvention is also very much the hook around which The Promoter revolves, as its promotional material stresses. "Robert Pereno should be a household name", it begins, "however every time he is on the verge of greatness, he somehow manages to mess it up.  This is his story.
An infamous club promoter, actor and singer who describes himself as a bi-polar, loquacious narcissist, Robert Pereno is a seductive, charming and brutally honest man.  The Promoter follows a year in his life… Robert gives an overview of his past from a privileged up-bringing in ex-pat Calcutta during the 60s, to his foray into music, acting and club land."

The film will now be submitted to various key film festivals, with a website now live at: www.the, where a trailer should now be running too. Various other activities are planned for Facebook, Twitter and You Tube. Robert will soon be starting his own blog for the movie, as a "keen diarist and a great blogger" anyway, and once a film festival premiere has been arranged, this will be followed by on-line flyers, trailers on YouTube, Vimeo and by "promotion with contacts we have in the local and national press". You can also view their award-winning Wardance, and their most recent short film Crossfire – a love story filmed against the actual backdrop of the London riots in 2011, which opened recently at The London Independent Film Festival 2012 – at

You can never win them all!

One of the joys of running a printed magazine - okay, perhaps 'joy' is the wrong word - is that there will inevitably be an extra bit of news that appears just after you go to press, even after sneaking in a few very last minute extra items before hitting the deadline to go to print. Such was the case, in as many issues, with the latest edition of re:VOX. Only two days after the first issues were printed came additional details about the vinyl release of Ultravox's new Brilliant album, which is to be released in clear vinyl and with early copies also including an exclusive poster.

Clear vinyl releases were first adopted by Ultravox in 1980, after being signed to Chrysalis, when they realised that clear vinyl was always pure vinyl, and so the highest quality, whereas the tradition black vinyl would inevitably contain recycled elements. For Ultravox using clear vinyl for the first pressings of a single was another way of maintaining the high quality threshold that they set themselves, but strangely although their twelve inch releases were also later pressed up on clear vinyl too, this practice was never extended to their albums.

Their Lament picture disc was the exception, though. This, very unusually, used two seperate clear vinyl sides with a double-sided picture sandwiched between them. At the time picture discs were generally created using a much harder vinyl, with a markedly inferior playing quality, and so they were only ever really suitable for display rather than play. This made the picture disc for Lament an unusually high quality item.

This makes the vinyl edition of Brilliant a doubly special one, and its a really nice touch from the band, and one that will be cherished for years to come. It's only going to be available from Townsend Records, so do check out their website when you get a moment.

I'm very pleased with the latest issue of re:VOX. I was worried that it was going to seem a little disjointed, but Issue 17 has come together far better than I hoped, not least because of some excellent photos from a wide variety of contributors - some regulars and some new to our pages - but also thanks to Chris Cross for taking the time to talk to us about the new album, and Vladimar Kruglov for allowing us to run a compilation of the reams of chart data he spent several years collecting and posting up on the forum over at the official Ultravox website at:

Look out for more Brilliant-themed content in re:VOX over the next few issues, alongside various other items being hatched up. It almost doesn't seem possible, but we've been going for almost twelve years now and yet there's still more to cover in the future. I can't wait.

And if you've booked tickets for the tour, which started in Bristol tonight, I hope you have a great time - the two-gig-in-one format should be a phenomenal spectacle in terms of the material they can play, both old and new.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Over the line... but the race is far from over!

I feel like I've run a marathon these past few months, but now I've finally got over the line I have to immediately start contemplating the next round already. I am, of course, talking about re:VOX, my magazine about all things Ultravox related. and I promise you that's all the (seemingly) obligatory Olympic metaphors dispensed with now!!

Since the unplanned year delay between #14 and the new super-sized, magazine format #15 (a few months ago now), I'd been planning to begin (now, very belated) photo coverage of the 2010 Ultravox tour in a similar manner to what we previously did for the 2009 tour previously in the magazine. But with so many photos to choose from, thanks to so many kind folks allowing me free reign to use their shots, it took me a good while to get every their material filed away in concert sequence and then to actually set out the first instalment of the final feature.

#16 of re:VOX - which went on sale at the start of last week - is the result of all this effort, and I'm really happy with the way it all came together in the end. It brings together much of the content from an issue originally planned for May (which would have centred around the 'Rockerazzi' interview with Midge Ure and Warren Cann, as featured right here) and newer material, with the cover now trailing the issue's main feature, an exclusive behind-the-scenes interview with Billy Currie on the journey they undertook to record Brilliant - the band's first new album in the line-up since 1984's Lament album!

Once again I've been very lucky to secure various interviews connected with that new album - although these are by far the only interviews in the planning stages right now - so look out for future interviews concerning Brilliant with both Chris Cross and producer Stephen Lipson, the full results of a poll conducted on the official Ultravox forum over at (a site I definitely urge you to check out if you haven't done so before) which I just couldn't sqweeze int the present edition, and then there's the ong overdue start of Vladimir Kruglov's feature cataloguing the international chart activity of Ultravox (and most of their offshoots) since the mid-1970s.

In the meantime, well, there's plenty of other things going on! I haven't even been working on my Marvel UK book at all of late, yet some useful new material is still reaching me for inclusion into the pages of From Cents to Pence - as mentioned elsewhere on this Blog of late - for which I'd particularly like to thank Robert Menzies; a fellow comics enthusiast that I was first put in touch with by Michael Eury, when he approached us both to write features on various aspects of Marvel UK for an up-coming issue of Back Issue magazine.

Now all I need to do is keep this Blog more up-to-date :-)

Sunday, 29 April 2012

re:VOX #15 - phew, there in the end!

It's been a pretty busy week here at A Distant Beacon. Not only have we just mailed out the majority of pre-sold issues of re:VOX, but I've just this afternoon despatched an e-mail containing a long sweated over VIBS - that's a Very Important Book Submission to me :) Finger's crossed they'll be something interesting to add here in a few months time - if not, it was worth a shot. I really do believe that, by the way, if there's something you'd like to do, then do it. Better to fail than not try at at all.

Amazingly it's been just over a year since the previous issue of re:VOX came out. What a difference a year makes! Last time around we were reporting that Ultravox had started recording a new album in late 2010, and now the results of thse efforts will be with us within weeks. I think that it's going to be worth the wait judging by the all-out, brain-sticking catchiness of lead single and title track Brilliant... as indeed I hope our present issue was too. Hopefully you'll find the new format allows us a bit more space to present photos more attractively than before.

Anyway, I have other projects already shouting out for my attention, and more than a bit of pre-prep to do for the next issue of re:VOX (so we have a main feature to hang everything else around), so I'll catch you all soon, and in the meantime... keep talk-ing!


Thursday, 29 March 2012

When Marvel reprints became more than mere filler

Since 1990, or thereabouts, I've been working on a book about Marvel's own line of British comics, as still published today by Panini. It didn't start out as a book at all. I was just trying to find out what stories hadn't been reprinted in the UK - besides the obvious lack of Western, War or Romance stories - so that I could purchase those issues that interested me. One rather large pile of notes later, I realised I had far, far too much material just for a personal want's list, and so decide to turn it into the UK version of those wonderful George Olshevsky Marvel guide books.

There was precious little material out there on the history of the company back then, and not much more on USA Marvel's history in the days before (the greatly missed) Comic Book Artist, Alter Ego and Back Issue et al. Repeated attempts to expand a sketched out skeleton chronology, well, repeatedly faltered. That was until I took a look back through a few boxes of old fanzines and comics magazines I'd hung on to, and discovered that I'd had some useful slivers of background material sitting there all the time. With this as a foundation, and with various comics folk spurring me on to delve deeper, I began writing to various US comics magazines, and started to receive replies from creators and editorial folk who'd previously worked on the UK comics on both sides of the Atlantic.

The growth of the internet, and the introduction of e-mail, greatly accelerated this, and I've been very fortunate to have spoken to a whole host of people right across the creative spectrum. The result of all this effort is that the history part of the book, which eventually settled with the title "From Cents to Pence!", now far exceeds the number of pages occupied by the indices that started the whole perishing thing off!

A work in progress cover (2011)
For various reasons, it's taken a little longer than I anticipated to come to a point where I can finally tie everything together (as far as you ever can with a reference work), but the advantage of this was that I finally managed to get in touch with the one person whose role in the story of Marvel UK's earliest days has never been told - Ray Wergan. What he had to tell me (and the level of detail was quite astonishing) far exceeding what I'd long hoped for, entailling a hefty re-write and expansion of what I'd managed to put together thus far on his involvement.

It wasn't so much that what I had written previously was wrong, it's just that there was so much more to it than that, and there were other factors which actually connect a lot of seemingly disparate events, on both sides of the Atlantic, together... but I'm telling you all the plot!

The icing on that cake came while doing some additional research (into a few specifics of elements that had surfaced through my conversations with Ray) when I stumbled across an on-line inventory for the Stan Lee archive at Wyoming University. It's an amazing treasure trove of material that I've only scratched for my immediate purposes, although I've just learnt that Danny Fingeroth (who also figures strongly in "From Cents to Pence!") has also made very good use of other parts of this archive for his own, recently published (by TwoMorrows), Marvel-ous book "The Stan Lee Universe".

Over the rest of this year I will be continuing to assemble, and then re-design, all the final material that I need to insert at the appropriate junctures in-between working on some of the other projects you will be reading all about on these pages. In the meantime, Back Issue will be running a little something from the book early next year :)

It's going to be a hectic, but very enjoyable, year ahead!

I'll try to keep you updated whenever there's something a little more concrete that I can tell you.

Nuff said for now :)


Back when I started re:VOX Ultravox, in it's third and fourth incarnations, had long gone. No one would have ever dreamed that the 'classic' 1980s iteration of the band would ever meet in the same room again, let along go on tour - twice! - and then almost as quickly dive into the studio. I've admitted before now that I wasn't one of those waiting for such a day, as it seemed such a remote and unlikely outcome. More fool me :)

So here we are, some eighteen years after Lament - their final album with Warren Cann keeping the beat sweet - with the long-awaited news of the first Ultravox album since Ingenuity. I had to gasp, though, when the press release whizzed across the world at 10am BST today. Calling the album Brilliant is an extremely self-confident statement. They've obviously enjoyed making it - the tweets and Facebook posts attest to that - but, and there is a but, that title is going to be such an irresistable target  for those who still have an axe to grind at the mere mention of the U-word.

But now isn't the time to worry about that. Once this blog has posted I have a new issue of re:VOX to assemble. I know, it's been a long time coming, but it will be worth the wait, and we have some exclusive interviews once more, with more to follow over the months to come, and I have some big plans for the magazine. Keep watching the blog and the re:VOX Facebook page for more info as, and when, I get time to post it!

I'm not going to wish the time away until the end of May - it'll go quickly enough with everything else going on here right now. Let's savour a little anticipation. We've waited this long to discover the results of the sessions, a few more weeks won't hurt :)


Thursday, 1 March 2012

Now we're getting somewhere!

Hi again!

You'll now find a set of links below that will send you across to a whole set of pages on Facebook now in the works. I'll gradually start adding some basic content to each page over the next few weeks, and very much welcome comment and suggestions for anything you feel I should include.


Wednesday, 29 February 2012


A new home for all my projects!

I'm learning this from scratch, so do bear with me as I slowly nudge this towards my ultimate intention for a one-stop internet portal. More soon!