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Early 1980 witnessed the birth of Modern Jazz, a four piece band consisting of three members from mod band The Crooks; Tim Parry (guitar), Micky Sparrow (drums) and Chris Broderick (bass).  The fourth member Andy O (singer)  from Braintree new wave band The Rave, completed the line up.  Shortly after forming, Chris Broderick left the band and was replaced by Mike Ansell on the bass, a new member David Wolfson was also added on keyboards.  The band were to be managed by The Crooks manager, the now infamous Jazz Sumers of Big Life Management.

Andy O - The Rave - 1979

Andy O – The Rave – 1979

Modern Jazz began to play their ‘atmospheric pop’ on the gigging circuit around London and the home counties.  Venues such as The Greyhound in Fulham Palace Road, The Moonlight Club,  The Rock Garden, The Marquee and many others were regular haunts.  In early 1981 the band signed to Magnet records home of  Alvin Stardust,  Bad Manners and Chris Rea.  The band went into RAK studios to record their first single with Calvin Most, son of music business legend Micky Most who co-owned the studio and RAK records.  The result was ‘I Shoot Sheep In My Sleep’ b/w Sheep dub.  The single caused quite a stir not least with Radio 1  DJ Dave Lee Travis who believed the sentiment of the song was doing a disservice to sheep.  A letter from the band, read out on the radio by DLT explained that the song was nothing more than a dream sequence, this sealed a good number of Radio plays and coupled with blistering live shows, the reputation of the band soared and spread fast.  Calvin Most later became Calvin Hayes and helped form another 80’s pop band Johnny Hates Jazz, who are still playing I believe.

Early Blue Zoo

Early Blue Zoo Pic by Sheila Rock

Blue Zoo rehearsed at Alaska Studios in Waterloo, damp, dank and real.  It was the owner of these studios, Pat Collier, original base player for punk band The Vibrators, who produced the bands next single, Ivory Towers, a nifty piece of pop filler b/w – the odd I’m in Reverse a favourite live song.  Between this and the next single the band decided a name change was in order and Blue Zoo arrived.  It was to be the bands third yet first single under the new name that captured the music medias attention, Love Moves In Strangeways, its wonders to perform, is an epic, soaring ballad that soaks you in emotion, then hangs you on the line to dry”.  Paul De Noyer  NME .   Love Moves In Strangeways b/w Chameleon Waves.

Love Moves-single cover

This initial version of Love Moves, which ran over 4mins,  was produced by Lawrence Diana as part of a collection of songs collated to form the bands first album, these songs were those that the band were performing live at the time.  Unfortunately, when presented to the record company the album was deemed not commercial enough.  This was to have serious repercussions on the evolution of the band and consequently its future.   Blue Zoo went back to the drawing board.  Track listing of the unreleased album as follows.

Could It Ever Happen – In Love & In Life – Face The Wall – John’s Lost – Statuette Set – The Attic – Falling – Love Moves In Strangeways – For All I really Care – Here I Am In Search Of Lifestyle – Still Life – Chameleon Waves.

Love Moves In Strangeways was re-released some months after the intial release, minus a picure cover and a verse or so, to bring the running time down to 3.5 mins, to appease the standard radio airplay time.

Blue Zoo’s first TV appearance (See below) was live on the Oxford Road Show in Manchester, sometime during late 1981 or early 1982 when they performed, Love Moves in Strangeways, The Attic and what was to be their third single I’m your Man.

A big highlight for the band during this period was playing two live shows with a pre-Boy – U2 at The Marquee and The Moonlight Club.’

I’m Your Man – b/w Fate – was produced by Paul Hardiman in early 1982 giving a glimpse of the dance aspiration/potential within the bands music, reaching 55 in the charts, gaining a lot of airplay and winning many fans, it was championed by Radio 1 DJ Peter Powell who became a big fan of the band as they progressed into 1982.  The year saw many more live shows headlining Polytechnics and Uni’s up and down the country.  With an ever expanding fan base and media attention the band thought hard about their next single .  It was around this time that keyboardist and songwriter David Wolfson left the band but he was never replaced, rather a series of  guest musicians would join the band on recordings, TV and live shows, the most frequent of these was Matthew Flowers who played and recorded with the band until early 1983.  Seen with the band on their TOTP appearances in November 1982.

I'm Your Man-Single Cover

I'm Your Man original pic

I’m Your Man – Pic for cover by Lawrence Watson

Fresh from the hit production ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight’ came Tim Friese Green and a turning point in the bands career.  The band went into Battery studios in Willesden Green with Tim and recorded two tracks, the provocative and alluring ‘John’s Lost’ and an insanely dance poppy ‘Cry Boy Cry’ the re-working of a song previously named ‘Turn and Face The Wall’.

Blue Zoo-82

The band then went into CBS studios over the following months with Tim Friese Green to produce an album.  The finished article was 2×2, a very eclectic mix of songs garnered from the un-released album and new songs, it didn’t quite work as a cohesive entity, although many of the songs were strong and well executed.  Love Moves In Strangeways, re-recorded for the album, lost its initial intensity and atmospheric edge, although it did boast a virtuoso  performance by  Danny Thompson on double base.  Cry Boy Cry was given the full treatment with singer Stevie Lange providing layers of wonderful harmonies for the chorus of ‘Cries’.  The album wasn’t received particularly well by the media or fan’s alike and didn’t get a sniff of the album charts.   Had the initial album produced by Lawrence Diana been given the green light, things may well have been different, a more cohesive album perhaps? Who knows? All conjecture, but with a piece of the jig-saw missing,  how on earth do you complete the puzzle?  Track listing of 2×2 as follows;

Cry Boy Cry – John’s Lost – Far Cry – (You Can) Count On Me – Love Moves In Strangeways – ( I Just Can’t ) Forgive and Forget – I’m Your Man – Open Up – Can’t Hold Me Down – Something Familiar.

Cry Boy Cry

‘Cry Boy Cry’ b/w – Off Too Market was rightly chosen as the bands fifth single.  The band were on tour when the single climbed to 21 in the charts and they watched their first Top of the Pops appearance from the comfort of the Aberystwyth Polytechnic, student bar.  Blue Zoo had arrived proper and that nights show in Wales was an ecstatic, sweaty mix of euphoria and anti English sentiment as the new hit ‘Cry Boy Cry’ moved the crowd into one big dancing throng.  An encore of the Bowie classic, ‘All The Young Dudes’ made famous by Mott the Hoople became a fixture and somewhat bawdy highlight of the show as Andy O clad in signature shredded T-Shirt, would sit reverse on chair with beer bottle in hand and swaying from side to side would deliver a gut wrenching rendition of the song, only leaving people wanting to hear more….

Video Directed by Tim Pope

Cry Boy Cry had reached No. 6 in Israel which took the band on a short tour of the country where they played a run of shows at the Coliseum in central Tel Aviv.  Actress Brooke Shields was to be seen in the audience of the first night.

Back at home the single had climbed to No. 13 and the bands second performance on Top of the Pops was introduced by the then Kid Jensen, now David of course.  David became a fan of the band and featured them on his own show based in Southampton, which featured a live performance of the follow up single to Cry Boy Cry, Loved One’s An Angel.  Pauline Black of the Ska band Selector was David’s co-presenter on the show and together they interviewed Andy O before the band took to the stage to do a live rendition of the new single.

Loved One’s An Angel b/w These Day’s didn’t climb to the same chart heights as Cry Boy Cry, although the band continued to appear on TV shows such as Saturday Superstore with Mike Reid, Get Set for Summer and Cheggars Plays Pop with Keith Chegwin when Blue Zoo shared the same show with The Police who performed Every Breath You Take.  Andy O recalled sitting with Sting and musing over the fact that they were wearing the same boots, Sting purchased his in New York, Andy from the Kensington Indoor market.  This performance featured the bands fifth single ‘Forgive & Forget’ b/w Shine which was more in the vein of ‘Cry Boy Cry’.    The following video is from that very show.

It was felt that by mid 1983 the band had reached an enpasse.  Never had there been a time in pop music when an artist was so judged by their last piece of work than in the 80’s and this was where Blue Zoo found themselves.  Directions within the band were also divided, be it cliche or not.  Still, the band went back into the studio, this time with Colin Campsie and George McFarlane of the Quick organisation and produced their best single since Cry Boy Cry the wonderfully entitled Somewhere in The World There’s A Cowboy Smiling b/w Don’t Walk Away. This should have placed the band firmly back on track but this wasn’t to be.  Apart from an airing of cowboy on the legendary TV show Crackerjack and an appearance on French TV,  Blue Zoo were suddenly no longer.  Behind closed doors it had been decided that the endeavor was over and it all came to an abrupt halt. And so what appeared to be a band with a very bright future, ended as if snuffed out of existence by some unseen force, leaving fans and media rather bemused.   Andy O was left to suffer the maschinations and inadequacies  of Magnet records, as a ‘Solo Artist’, whilst the rest of the band were released from their contracts to pursue another music project, Big Bam Boo.  Andy O was finally released from his Magnet Records contract in 1985.

Somewhere In The World There's A Cowboy Smiling-Single Cover

Somewhere In The World There’s A Cowboy Smiling-Single Cover

Andy O – Singer-Writer-Frontman- went on to form various bands such as Sky West and Crooked and The Motherhive,  throughout the mid to late 80’s into the early 90’s, he secured a publishing deal with Warner Bros.  He then left the music business to concentrate on his newly found passion of fungi.  In 1996 he formed ‘fungi to be with’ which takes people on fungi forays and beginners workshops in fungi.  He is currently completing surveys for the Royal parks.  You can hear songs from the Motherhive at, http://www.myspace.com/atomouk or  http://www.myspace.com/andy0

Subsequently Andy was been instrumental in the reformation of Blue Zoo in 2010, who played their first show in 30 or so years at the Ginglik in Shepherds Bush.  Since then the band have visited the Philippines and Germany, have played many more shows in London and have played Andy’s home town of Braintree for the first time since 1982.  The bands album, 2×2 has also been re-issued on CD by Cherry Red Records.

Tim Parry – Guitar-Writer- Initially went into production but then turned his interest toward management and joined forces with Jazz Sumers to form Big Life records and management.   They attracted big acts such as The Orb, The Verve, Snow Patrol and more recently La Roux and London Grammar.

Michael Arthur Sparrow – Drums and Percussion- Continued palying the drums for various music projects including Big Bam Boo, teamed up with old Modern Jazz keyboardist David Wolfson.  Now working with the Stranglers singer Paul Roberts

Michael Ansell – Bass – Apart from his invlovement with Big Bam Boo following the Blue Zoo split he left the music business to pursue a career in property.

Blue Zoo and their final TV appearance on Crackerjack with Somewhere in the World There’s A Cowboy Smiling.

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9 Comments

  1. i saw blue zoo at heven in the 80s they were fucking brill xx

    • I remember it well. Pleased you liked the show. Keep an eye on here for upcoming shows and newly recorded tracks on iTUNES. Website on the way. bluezoo.org.uk

      Thanks

      Andy O

        • Daniel Oswald
        • Posted October 18, 2016 at 6:28 pm
        • Permalink

        Love Moves in Strange Ways! One of the best songs to come out of the 80’s. This was such a dynamic time for music as new genres were being created and the musical window was open to those willing to take their shot. Blue Zoo had the “it” factor for sure. Andy O, such a classic 80’s voice that stood out and should have been heard by the masses. I do thank you for making music that I will always hold close. Great music stand the test of time and with that so does Blue Zoo.

        “They talk about nothing….Forgets what is said….Watch television.” Brilliant.

        • bluez00
        • Posted October 19, 2016 at 12:14 pm
        • Permalink

        Thanks for your kind words and support Daniel.
        Why not come see us play Camden Dingwalls on a Friday Jan 6th 2017.
        We will be playing most of the single including Love Moves in Strangeways.
        Plus we will be playing some new material, the first we’ve written in decades.
        Thanks again
        Andy O 😉👍

  2. Love 2×2! What synth was used for the ghostly sounds on Open Up?

    • Hi Ritchie,
      I can’t remember what keyboards were used on Open Up to be honest.
      Thanks for your interest. I’ll ask the lads if they can remember.

      Ta Andy O
      A

  3. Ha ha. Came across this when looking at some 80s music for a friend ..linked through from stuff on Blue Zoo. Brought back memories of Camden Palace, W Hampstead, mutual friends and a holiday in Portugal. Great to see that you reformed and your other fungi pursuits. Stacey x

    • Hi Stacey,
      Thanks, yes all remembered fondly. Hope you are well. Best Andy.

  4. Great to read the blog. The keyboard I played on Open Up on 2×2 was a Celeste. Matt Flowers, keyboards for blue Zoo from late 1981 until early 1983


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