dirty martini

old music for new people

the queen of hip hop soul? May 23, 2007

how have i got this far without doing a post on mary?

mary j.blige isn’t labelled the queen of hiphop soul lightly. when she arrived in 1992, the only artist that had even come close to what she did when she debuted were en vogue. they too mixed hiphop beats and soul vocals, but they did so without being street. en vogue merely used the beats – mary was the beats. she was hiphop, she just didn’t choose to rap.
growing up in yonkers, she was surrounded by pioneering hiphop such as run dmc and grandmaster flash. but the sentiments of these artists didn’t match the experiences of a teenage girl. mary sought solace in soul artists like anita baker who sang about realtionships and wanting someone you can’t have. it was the synergy of these two cultures that would later give mary her edge.
when i first saw ‘real love’ on mtv in 1992, everything made sense. i liked hiphop and i liked soul but they didn’t individually feel that relevant to me. i was too young to fully appreciate smooth soul productions and too far removed from the realities of hiphop lyrics. mary sang about things i could relate to as a 16 year old and added a touch of danger. it was a genre of music i had been waiting for, only i didn’t know it.
many fans have stated that mary produces her best work only when she’s suffering. true, her first two albums are my favourite but at the time i knew nothing about her personal demons. in fact her last studio album, ‘the breakthrough’ echoed those days, but she is now blissfully happy with producer kendu. i’m sure no one would really wish trainwreck kci hailey on her again…
ten lesser known mary tracksdownload here
you remind me
even though this was her first single, fans who joined the mary train later in the 90s won’t be so familiar. this remix captures the essence of 1992 and a summer day like nothing else.
reminisce
another hit from ‘what’s the 411’, remixed to feature pete rock and cl smooth and grab portions of ‘they reminisce over you’. see what they did there?
changes i’ve been going through
‘what’s the 411’ album track that really drilled the message home – this was not soul music in the traditional sense.
you don’t have to worry
411-era track from the ‘who’s the man?’ soundtrack. this is the soundtrack version, not the remix version that was more widely available.
love no limit
so ubiquitous you would have thought it was a single. bad boy remix that still gets played out today.
be with you
duet with lauryn hill originally intended for the ‘my life’ album. lauryn sounds young. at the time she had just released her first fugees album with pras and wyclef.
if i don’t love you this way
cover of jackson five classic from the ‘my life’ era. included on some international releases.
everyday it rains
from the 1995 ‘the show’ soundtrack. sounds like it could have been from either of the the sessions for the first two albums.
get to know you better
‘share my world’ album track. should have been released.one of my favourites.
he think i don’t know
from the ‘no more drama’ repackage.
 

more 80s soundtracks May 22, 2007

can’t get enough of 80s movies at the moment. nostalgia can be indulgent but sometimes you’re just fed up with the real world, or, you just prefer the music and movies of another time.

now that i have worn out and/or broken most of my sex and the city dvds, i find myself watching an 80s movie to wind down.
i wonder if, in the future, there’ll be a place you can go to where to all intents and purposes, it’s the 80s, or the 70s or whatever era you feel like living in. yes, one of the last 80s films i watched was back to the future.
ten more 80s soundtracksdownload here
beverly hills cop (1984)
junior – do you really want my love
**bonus**vanity 6 – nasty girl
forget ‘axel f’ i think we can safely say its forever ruined by a crazy frog. junior was a uk soul singer whose only real hit was the growly ‘mama used to say’. vanity 6’s biggest hit was, for purple reasons, left off the soundtrack. the film? well if the only eddie murphy you know is the sorry fortysomething player who fathers children with desperate spice girls, you need to get this and coming to america and find out why he’s even famous in the first place. get raw and delirious while you’re at it as well, i hear they just came out on dvd.
ferris bueller’s day off (1986)
yello – oh yeah

how does matthew broderick look the same now as in 1986? anyway, who can forget this scene – battered and defeated headmaster, ed rooney, resigned to catching a school bus. earlier he declared, ‘i did not achieve this position in life by having some snot-nosed punk leave my cheese out in the wind’. like the breakfast club before it, ferris delighted in watching authoritative adults sink under the delusion that they were smarter than sassy 80s kids. i loved the character cameron in this movie. check out jennifer grey before dirty dancing and that nosejob as ferris’s sister jeannie.
ghostbusters ii (1989)
bobby brown – on our own
copyact sequel, but an opportunity for young bobby to cement his growing popularity. this track hasn’t engraved itself on the memory like ray parker jr’s effort but it was huge in 89. he did provide another song for the soundtrack but…its awful. and i’m a huge bobby fan. don’t try to track it down. think vanilla ice and those ninja turtles and be glad you left well enough alone. the film is exactly the same as the first ghostbusters – bill murray, big marshmallow baddies who threaten to eat new york. ok there might be slightly more to it than that…but not a hell of a lot.
krush groove (1985)
sheila e – a love bizarre
kurtis blow – if i ruled the world

if you’re a fan of 80s hiphop, this soundtrack is worth seeking out, although it probably doesn’t exist on cd. the story follows def jam’s early days and features sheila e, ll cool j, beastie boys and new edition amongst others. it also stars a young blair underwood. as in the fit doctor miranda dates in the last series of sex and the city. the fit, rich doctor who can cook but also buys her pizza and a cookie that says ‘i love you’. which sends her running back to broke barman steve. i’m sorry, i loved that show but COME ON that would never happen. he was too good for her – oh, ok i’ll calm down now….
top gun (1986)
teena marie – lead me on
the rest of the soundtrack was eclipsed by ‘take my breath away’ but its actually a good representation of mid 80s power pop, especially ‘danger zone’, the likes of which just wouldn’t work in the 00s for so many reasons. this was before living in an inner city was indeed like ‘living in a danger zone’ as per this song. this teena marie song is the most soul-oriented track. many a ten year old girl developed a crush on tom cruise thanks to this movie, and cocktail, that has carried into later life. until katie holmes and scientology, obviously, at which point he visibly lost it.
who’s that girl (1987)

duncan faure – 24 hours
scritti politti – best thing ever
madonna filled this soundtrack with four of her own tracks, naturally, and most fans bought it for these and skipped the others. i copied from a friend as i wouldn’t spend £5.49 on a tape with only four madonna songs. not when i could spend 70p on a blank tape and a bag of kola kubes to bribe said friend. we didn’t share msuic quite so freely in those days. scritti politti were a great 80s blue eyed soul band with breathy vocals and this is a good example of their offerings. duncan faure? one hit wonder if this even counts. I used to think this was sung by the male lead in the film, griffin dunne.

body rock (1985)
maria vidal – body rock


fabulous example of mid 80s legwarmers-and-headband dance music, hot on the heels of fame and flashdance. i haven’t seen the movie in years, but i’m not sure its really necessary, to guess what its about. this song was a favourite of sadistic p.e. teachers up and down the UK, looking to motivate lazy 16 year olds into aerobics, well into the 90s. why was all the music in those lessons at least 10 years old?? another favourite was the pointer sister’s ‘jump’ for trampolining (arf…) and i also remember being forced to do aqua aerobics to elton john’s ‘i’m still standing’. funny cos i don’t remember the p.e witches having a sense of humour…



bright lights big city (1987)

prince – good love

from one shortarse to another, prince contributed this rare track to michael j fox’s 1987 movie. as i remember, this is almost exactly the same as ‘the secret of my success’. michael, previously playing teen roles in teenwolf and back to the future, made the apparent leap to twentysomething hotshot within the space of two years. like ralph macchio, he was a good ten years older than most of his characters. which must be like the ultimate affirmation of hanging on to your youth, I presume. good for them.

 

the true sound of miami May 21, 2007

what’s freestyle? even if you think you aren’t familiar, chances are that if you have more than a passing interest in hiphop r&b soul or even house and garage, then you will have heard several of its exponents.

originating from miami in the mid 80s, freestyle can best be described as a straight mashup of electro, hiphop, r&b, house…anything goes. hence the name. it became hiphop for girls. yes, female rappers such as roxanne (both of them) salt-n-pepa and jj fad were doing their thing, but this was much sweeter and more accessible.sometimes, it was so plaintive as to be almost offkey and out of tune but I think that adds to its charm, and is more honest than giving cassie, britney and mya recording contracts and manipulating their weedy warblings. freestyle sounded like it had been made on a casio keyboard, and it most probably had been. the studio version without the ‘wake me up before you go go’ demo button though. vocals that sounded like they had been recorded into a handheld tape deck gave the whole affair a more dangerous edge.

the look? quintessential late 80s styling with a latin edge. big backcombed curls, big earrings…and relaxed pastels for the heat. freestyle itself could perhaps be summarised with the above image – aspirational neon cocktail. totally 80s, totally miami.

when I visited florida a few years ago, I didn’t expect to hear any freestyle. i thought that one of the things that had made me want to visit miami for so long would be long gone, a distant memory of twenty and thirtysomethings now fully immersed in the house or r&b scenes. but it was everywhere!

 


crunk had just exploded but from the local radio stations, you’d never guess. we cruised happily up and down the a1a, and in and out of walgreens and taco bell, to the sounds of freestyle for two weeks. i highly recommend florida to anyone needing some sunny late 80s nostalgia…

ten sounds of party 93.1 south floridadownload here


lil suzy – take me
well, if i hadn’t known this track before i went to florida, i certainly did by the time i arrived home. played about four times a day and considering we didn’t spend that much time in the car listening to party 93.1, you can safely assume this was a dj favourite…

stevie b – spring love
uk peeps may only know stevie b for his dreary 1991 hit ‘because i love you’. it seems the only reason he got away with releasing that dirge was that he had already established some credibility on the freestyle circuit. and promptly flushed it down the toilet.

nice and wild – diamond girl
no pic exists for this group, who had several freestyle club hits – this is my favourite. perfect example of electro meets hiphop meets 80s jheri curl soul.

expose – let me be the one
i do remember expose being hyped as the next big thing in smash hits in the late 80s. well, they didn’t take off in the uk but appear to have done well natively and are fondly remembered. i think when en vogue arrived i was slightly confused then realised they were a completely different group.cover girls – show me
like expose, touted as the next big thing but the uk didn’t really get freestyle so they sank without trace until they shifted direction. i seem to remember they covered ‘wishing on a star’ so they must have had some success over here.

lisa lisa and cult jam – i wonder if i take you home
electro favourite that was hard to categorise at the time. lisa lisa and cult jam continued to have success, with ‘all cried out’ (later covered by allure and 112) and c&c music factory remixed ‘let the beat hit em’ (heard that on the radio last week – still sounds amazing). lisa went solo in 1994 with album ‘LL77’ to rapturous reviews but uh, it was all a bit alternative and grey for me…i much preferred the colourful nonsense of the 80s.

shannon – let the music play
perhaps the first freestyle hit, apart from freeez‘s ‘iou’, which i’m not sure counts as they were from london, not miami. plus, ‘iou’ was a wedding reception favourite even back in the day, which surely disqualifies them. anyway, this track along with madonna’s poppier ‘holiday, changed the face of dance music in 1984.

 

 

 

joyce sims – all and all
this song was doing nothing and going nowhere until kurtis mantronik picked it up and laid the vocals over his ‘bassline’ instrumental. suddenly it was everywhere and not everyone realises its a remix – a bootleg at that.

debbie deb – when i hear music
one of the biggest freestyle hits. i had to include a more recent photo of debbie as she looks awful in her 80s shots. circulation defying skintight bleached jeans, sausage in a condom style boob tube, blonde hairdo that looks like it would come off in one piece…ick…sometimes i’m glad i wasn’t really old enough to pick all of my own clothes in the 80s. 

 

seduction – two to make it right
much like expose and the cover girls, assembled to cash in on their success. probably wore the least clothes out of the three and had the least hits as well…