dirty martini

old music for new people

acceptable in the 80s January 23, 2008

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 in the 80s, if you ran out of adjectives to describe something or someone, you just made one up.

add that to the obsession for electricity, anything that sounded remotely robotic or computerlike, and bam, you have a hit record. you had to be crazy, bad, make no sense or all of the above. in the 00s peter andre tried to revive this trend by creating ‘insania’ but we just ignored him…

these tracks follow that formula, and are just SO 80s, i love it.

download here 

atlantic starr – freakaristic

this lot were better known for their ballads, so this was a welcome departure. those wild and crazy kids…

billy griffin – systematic

in the 80s everyone had a ‘system’.

brutus – excitation

not a real word. not brutus as in popeye – god who would name their kid brutus?

dazz band – joystick

very futuristic band, and the only example i could find of ‘joystick’. i mean, i don’t have to explain this euphemism do i?

gazebo – lunatic

hot on the heels of flashdance’s ‘she’s a maniac’ (think 118 118 ads). being a lunatic was a good thing back then.

general johnson – x rated love

if ‘love’ becomes x rated, it’s probably not ‘love’ but er, something else. but we still had some decency in the 80s.

kids from fame – hi fidelity

every kids from fame song is so 80s and none of them would survive in any other decade. not even in high school musical.

klymaxx – video kid

in the 80s, video meant video games. they’re just games now. in the 80s ‘games’ meant board games, buckaroo, connect 4 and hungry hippos.

midnight star – scientific love

scientific love…doesn’t sounds very exciting but we all lusted after those at home bunsen burner kits in the argos catalogue back then so, perhaps that was why.

phil collins – sussudio

apparently phil was criticised for trying to make this sound like prince’s ‘1999’. i’m not quite getting that, but, i do like it.

prince – shockadelica

prince can do what he wants anyway. so when he invented ‘shockadelica’ we didn’t argue.

zapp and roger – computer love

one of the first songs to advocate the idea that emotions and computers weren’t mutually exclusive.

 

i’m crazy for you, mr dj January 19, 2008

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the dj has enjoyed a good run of adoration that shows no sign of slowing down. and that is one serious jacket.

clearly, these artists didn’t frequent townie clubs where fat fortysomething djs led the crowd in chants of ‘who ate all the pies?’

see comedy dj ray von from phoenix nights for an example of the wedding reception dj those of us who grew up in the 80s had to contend with. though slowly becoming extinct they can still be found in their natural habitat – a chicago rock cafe.

shit…what is going to happen to pete tong and brandon block in the ‘010s?

download here

artful dodger – rewind

black magic – freedom

cassie – in love with the dj

che’nelle – i fell in love with the dj

destiny’s child – my song

indeep – last night a dj saved my life

jennifer lopez – play

lighter shade of brown – hey dj

rihanna – pon de replay

warren g – this dj

yvette michele – everyday and everynight

zhane – hey mr dj

 

whatever bitch January 15, 2008

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as long as the world keeps turning, girls will do each other down. fact.

top 5 mean girls

1. heather chandler (heathers) – so mean they made her drink bleach.

2. regina george (mean girls) – so mean she found herself under a bus.

3. benny (pretty in pink) – so mean people wished they would shrivel up and fall off

4. tom tom (13 going on 30) – so mean she aged really badly

5. taylor vaughan (she’s all that) – so mean she got dumped by a reality tv star

download here 

702 – where my girls at

finger waggling late 90s style. its a good job 702 had the attitude cos they sure as hell didn’t have the vocals. they inexplicably survived into the 00s.

blondie – rip her to shreds

the original bitch bash from deborah harry, who was old enough to know better even then.

blu cantrell – girl please

blu taunts beyonce about her former relationship with jay-z. i’m pretty sure she won’t be the last, especially if they have/do get married. mya has also reportedly bumped uglies with joe camel but he was apparently only one of many…

brandy and monica – boy is mine

teen bitch anthem. apparently these two were not particularly fond of each other in real life either.

destiny’s child – fancy

after letoya and latavia were ousted, and farrah proved a liability, the trio let rip on their third album and this one was clearly aimed at anyone who thought they were better than the queen bee and her army of skanks.

isyss – oh no she didn’t

isyss were a marginally successful group who can best be described as ‘sub destiny’s child’. edit: oh ok they were a bit better than that but fell foul of the early 00s music industry download panic.

lucy pearl – don’t mess with my man

well, with the recent controversy between dawn robinson and her husband this seems relatively tame. if en vogue can be compared to the original destiny’s child, dawn is beyonce, terry is kelly, maxine is latavia and cindy is soooo letoya.

michelle – you don’t know michelle

….i’m going to go with electro. i don’t really know how to describe this. like a cross between freestylers, deejay punk roc and 80s hiphop girls carmen.

mokenstef – he’s mine

i could never quite get my head round this one. you know someone has slept with your man but instead of dumping him you focus on her? sack him!

salt-n-pepa – i’ll take your man

…and they would. you didn’t mess with salt and pepa in the 80s. or spinderella for that matter.

teedra moses – you better tell her

apparently too cute to fight. again, why stick with a man with other women on the go?

toni braxton –  he wasn’t man enough

not content with having dumped the man, toni’s needling his new girlfriend. oh we’ve all done it…

 

only when i laugh January 13, 2008

 nice orange leather catsuit.

every once in a while, a song comes along that actually injects some humour into the lyrics. its the artist’s stand up moment. it’s not that hard…why doesn’t it happen more often?

top five stand up:

  • eddie murphy and the ice cream you can’t afford
  • peter kay and the walking onto the dancefloor dance. and the ‘fine rain that soaks you right through’
  • al murray ‘was never confused’
  • chris rock and er, men who want credit for taking care of their kids…and not being in prison
  • ricky gervais when he isn’t being smug

an honorable mention* must go to lisa moorish. yes, lisa moorish, primrose hill bike, had a career in the 90s and had one vaguely amusing hit ‘mr friday night’, which poked fun at the white shirt brigade. apparently the sales of three cd singles is enough to finance a house in primrose hill and ensure you never have to work again. oh no wait, she actually made sure she got pregnant by someone with a bit of cash – liam gallagher – so she could keep up with kate moss. and fellow oxygen thieves meg and sadie.

*not so much of an honourable mention

download here 

alexander o’neal – fake

even in the late 80s, weaves, fake nails and coloured contacts were in abundance. alex calls them out. cos…yeah, i bet he really goes for the au naturel look….not!

amy winehouse – addicted

starting to lose her spot as the most fucked up celeb on the planet thanks to britney’s latest antics. how long can it be before her PR steals her shoes, pours a bottle of gin down her throat and chucks her out of a cab in the middle of camden again?

cypress hill – insane in the brain

let’s face it they even sound funny. i once knew someone who could do a great b-real impression if you gave him a wig and a baseball cap.

jay-z – 30 something

jay lays it down for all his fellow 30 somethings who know better than these young whippersnappers…um….wait a minute, isn’t jay pushing 40? didn’t he need to make this track, like, ten years ago?

jean grae – how to break up with your girl

jean ingratiates herself with females everywhere by reminding our men how crap our behaviour is. don’t you just know jean is one of those annoying tomboyish women who hate every girl their male friends come into contact with?

john legend – used to love you

well, i think john’s sales have probably edged his finances closer to jay and puffy’s now, so what a difference four years make…i’m pretty sure whitney and bobby were broke aready by 2004 so i’m not sure where that idea came from.

kanye west and jamie foxx – gold digger

now a staple of chicago rock cafes up and down the uk. danced to by women who can’t really pull off the whole gold digger thing anyway…

positive k –  i got a man

box favourite from 1993. the girl who participates in the call and response has a really annoying voice. surely they could have got someone better? or maybe that was the point.

skeelo –  i wish

skee-lo was vertically challenged. and like all shortarse men he wanted to emphasise this with a tall girlfriend. what is that all about? at least carlton banks knew his place.

slick rick – mona lisa

like b-real, slick rick sounds funny even before you hear the lyrics.

streets – don’t mug yourself

tower block humour. ‘mugging yourself off’ has become a national pastime and helped to propel essex boy brian belo to bb8 victory.

tony toni tone – my exgirlfriend

supposed to be about an ex who turns out to be a hooker. but the first time i heard: ‘my exgirlfriend is a hoooooooooo…’ i laughed out loud, and still do.

 

i love 1981: the last days of disco January 12, 2008

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legend has it that 1981 saw the very last days of disco, as documented in the 1998 film. of course, there is a huge flaw in this statement as costa-bound brits discoed until the late 80s. it was 1977 in spain until about 1991 everywhere else.

one of the very first bars i went to in the early 90s –  a wine bar, no less – played disco and boogie. at the time i thought it was a quirk of soundtrack similar to amusement parks, where law dictates that all music played must be at least 7 years old. it was actually because i was 15 and i wasn’t supposed to be there.

the music was for the older crowd – the disco crowd. the ones who had probably wished they could dance on illuminated dance floors a la saturday night fever but had to settle for that funny 70s slightly glittery flooring they used in shopping centres. but encrusted with disco dirt and littered with fag ends, at their local ritzy.

the last days of disco may be a pretty accurate account of those days, i don’t know. its quite bleak for a disco movie, i suppose no one quite knew what to expect after the excitement of a new decade died down. its not as depressing however, as the reality of the uk in 1981 which was majorly depressing according those who remember. as a five year old i was oblivous to the riots, strikes and nuclear warnings i have since viewed thanks to ‘i love 1981’.

the disco sucks movement, perpetrated by greasy rednecks in lumberjack shirts, finally won in 1981, and disco became boogie…

download here and visit 1980 here

aurra – nasty disposition

the duo started as aurra at the tail end of disco, and passed through the mid 80s jheri soul movement to become deja by the time new jack swing hit.

bb&q band – starlette

better known for their mid 80s tinkly jheri soul efforts.

class action –  weekend

this was reborn as a house anthem later in the decade and remixed in the 90s by todd terry.

coffee – casanova

ravers baby d made their cover version the follow up to the huge ‘let me be your fantasy’. there was a nice jungle remix.

earth wind and fire – lady sun

not as obvious as ‘let’s groove’…

evelyn champagne king – if you want my love

not as obvious as ‘shame’!

inner life – moment of my life

imagine this on the dancefloor at studio 54.

madagascar – rainbow

perfect late disco classic.

patrice rushen – haven’t you heard

patrice might just be the most sampled artist ever.

rose royce- magic touch

proving she, and disco, still had it in 1981.

sharon redd – can you handle it

the line between disco and boogie was thin, at best.

slave – watching you

slave spawned steve arrington, who summed up the mid 80s with ‘feel so real’.

 

cool britannia January 5, 2008

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watching ruby turner on jools holland the other day was further proof of the abundance of underappreciated talent we have in the uk.

this is a selection of new and old uk talent, worth investigating.

download here 

terri walker -flirtin’

sadly, terri will at best be underrated in the beverly knight tradition for the rest of her career. her three albums are ten times better than anything mya has ever put out…

soul ii soul – love enuff

new age funksters who retained their peace and love vibe well into the mid 90s when everyone else had given up.

loose ends – choose me

those that know revere loose ends as the 80s soul band to end them all.

five star – rsvp

family group who turned out to have more in common with jacksons than we thought possible – a veritable mountain of plastic surgery. this song is from their first album, when they had their own noses and steadman didn’t look like a circus freak.

light of the world – no1 girl

named themselves after a kool and the gang album, and had several hits. after splitting in 1981 some members went on to form beggar&co, who also had some success.

heatwave – super soul sister

ok only the keyboardist was british, the band was in fact, international. heatwave were responsible for standard ‘always and forever’ and countless 70s funk gems.

cool notes – i forgot

originally part of the young south london lovers’ rock scene, then a jheri soul success, by uk standards, with several top ten hit.

central line – you’ve said enough

another success, and singer camelle hinds is still active.

leona lewis – suga sweet

a pre-fame remake of juicy’s 1985 jheri soul hit ‘ sugar free’. some more midtempos like this would have sat well on ‘spirit’…i hope she gets back to this style for her second album. leona had the biggest selling uk album of 2007 so even in this uncertain era for the music industry, this hopefully means a sophomore effort is a dead cert!

celetia – special

the uk’s answer to brandy and aaliyah in the 90s – sadly without the success but happily without the drama. this was from her second album, ‘runaway skies’.

shola ama – who’s loving my baby

still waiting on that comeback, shola. and sister sadie’s debut for that matter….what’s going on ladies? shola had the biggest selling r&b album in the uk, of all time.

lemar – fresh

things have also gone a bit quiet on the lemar front, after three successful albums. apparently a radio DJ in barbados mistakenly announced his name was ‘lemar bedingfield’  and now the population, or at least those listening, now believe he is related to those tiresome, delusional big-toothed horrors….as if!

 

‘…sounds a bit like prince…’ January 4, 2008

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 as a new artist, or even as an established artist, one of the greatest endorsements is to be labelled as sounding ‘a bit like prince’.

the saving grace of lazy journalists everwhere, these few words can rescue a flopping album, even if they are only bestowed upon one or two tracks. now that prince himself is more rock-fixated, the promise of just one or two scraps reminiscent of his 80s prime can be sufficient to spark interest amongst the musical cognoscenti.

to a lesser extent, this peculiar brand of retro copycat hype has previously been applied to artists lauded as the new ‘stevie wonder’ or ‘madonna’. there isn’t going to be a new prince, and it turned out out that those artists were similarly irreplaceable. the excitable, yet totally unreal, music journalism of the the late 90s has given way to a more considered approach.

we don’t need a new prince – clearly the man has produced gargantuan amounts of music and yet more could be unleashed at any point (please). the accessibility of retro music means that we don’t need rafts of exciting new artists – gone are the days when you had to pay a premium to get hold of music that was no longer in the charts.

we just need a few new songs every now and then. and they should sound as much like ‘when doves cry’ as possible.

download here

alicia keys – like you’ll never see me again

debuted with an album containing a prince cover – a b side no less, to show her fan credentials.  on this track, not only the production, but the vocal style and lyrics ooze purple. a lesser artist could be accused of bandwagon hopping but alicia has already proved herself.

chris brown – take you down

chris brown, however, has clearly been advised that the tumble tots r&b will only take him so far and is trialling a new, more adult musical direction – prince. job one should have been to work on that childish feature in his voice that makes him sound like he’s not old enough to form singular vowels – evidence: ‘you make me say yeeeeeoooooaaaaaawwwwww’. shit, my cat forms better vowels than that.

the dream – fast car

i like what i’ve heard from the dream so far, which isn’t a lot. but this and album track ‘nikki’ do reek of ‘obligatory prince-esque production’ to hook gullible and lazy journalists and perk up enthusiastic but clueless PR. basically this is ‘little red corvette’ not-so-updated for the 00s.

erykah badu – honey

an interesting detour for ms badu. i love her music but neo-soul artists can often fall into the dull and worthy trap, making their albums unlistenable by the time they get to their fourth outing.

justin timberlake and beyonce – until the end of time

the influence is slightly more subtle here, but those ‘when doves cry’ instruments are there, just slower, and the overall vibe is classic prince slow jam.

kevin michael – liquid lava love

like robin thicke with a curly afro and arguably more soul. expect big things from this one.

ne-yo – sex with my ex

ne-yo got a lot of stick for allegedly being gay. then when he fathered a child, he got a lot of stick for being ugly. now he’s getting a lot of stick for churning out a raft of soundalike tracks for the artsts he produces for. with all this abuse perhaps he’ll soon have more in common with craaaaaaig david.

p diddy and keyshia cole – last night

an absolute, straight in your face ‘erotic city’ ripoff so blatant that you can’t really argue. as ever, diddy’s montone adds little to the proceedings.

ryan leslie – i-r-i-n-a

ryan leslie’s productions have more than a whiff of purple about them but his own album was fairly narrative and self-celebratory which isn’t prince’s style. prince’s lyrics are cute and playful and focus on the subject rather than the protagonist and so i’m talking production similarities here – there’s no parallel in terms of subject matter, although this is the closet r-les gets to purple greatness.

snoop – sensual seduction

the video and lyrics are classic prince, but the production?  not like anything i’ve heard from prince, but perhaps i’m missing something. the synths are straight out of early 90s chillout, i’m pretty sure they’re too floaty and random for the machine funk of the 80s. nice combo though, me likey.

sterling simms – nasty girl

sterling jumps right back to late 70s prince while everyone else tries to recreate the 80s.

van hunt – hot stage lights

i only just listened to van hunt after hearing his name for years. and now i have a new musical crush. the only good thing about discovering artists late is that there is usually plenty of material to whet your appetite.