dirty martini

old music for new people

i love 1988: fresh and fly April 5, 2009

 freshfly1

yes, in 1988, even north london schoolgirls could rap. yes, that is michelle gayle. back then in junior school, we could only aspire to be as cool as grange hill hip hop act ‘fresh and fly’.

if there is one way to describe the music of 1988 though, fresh and fly just about does it. hiphop, slick wine bar soul and the birth of new jack swing.

to be honest, my school was more bros and debbie gibson in 88, but london, as usual, was infinitely cooler…

download 1988

al b sure – night and day

bobby brown – roni

bvsmp – i need you

five star – godsend

karyn white – the way you love me

loose ends – watching you

mac band – roses are red

mica paris – my one temptation

pebbles – girlfriend

prince – alphabet st

slick rick – mona lisa

today – him or me

 

tv heaven November 9, 2008

zammojackie

tv and music were once an unholy alliance. you didn’t get leona lewis, you got bonnie langford. actors who thought they could sing and songs used in adverts and tv themes populated the charts.

old skool tv tracks

babylon zoo – spaceman

once used in a levi’s ad, forever lodged in a nation’s consciousness. you’d forgotten it? well in 1995, people had forgotten about the jeans. each new ad was notable for the soundtrack and model, with jeans rapidly disappearing off the radar until flat eric and destiny’s child revived them complete with sequins and glitter a few years later.

five star – stay out of my life

a rework of this five star track moonlighted as the theme tune to citv game show ‘how dare you’, variously presented by playschool’s floella benjamin and bucks fizz alumni cheryl baker. it’s a hazy memory but i do remember a lot of gunge being thrown around.

brown sauce – i wanna be a winner

cheggers and soon-to-be but now ex-wife maggie philbin wrongly assumed that their presenting roles on saturday morning tv show the multicoloured swap shop implied any kind of musical talent. so, those of you who thought his career low point was baring his arse on ‘naked jungle’ were wrong. thank god for ‘cheggers plays pop’. i loved that, always wanted the yellows to win and they never did.

marlena shaw – california soul

kfc as soul food? genius. it’s not quite momma cherri’s but as close as a lot of people are going to get. soul food, like mexican and swiss cuisine, is way underrepresented in the UK.

dennis waterman – i could be so good for you

forget little dennis waterman in the little britain sketch, funny though it is. in the 80s, in ‘minder’, dennis was cool. this fell apart roughly around the same time as we found out that minger laura from eastenders was his daughter. you remember, the one who was married to ian beale, and in her 40s, played by someone in their 20s. yep, that minging.

dexy’s midnight runners – because of you

became the theme tune to popular 80s sitcom ‘brush strokes’ featuring the actor who has appeared in mr muscle adverts for the last ten years or so, as jacko. elmo putney and his pink wine bar…what happened to wine bars? in my not very legal drinking years the last few were dying out. this, and the one in ‘only fools and horses’ that del fell over in, are places I would have liked to frequent…for the kitsch value, naturally…

grange hill – just say no

yes, just a few years later on ‘the word’ the cast collided with the early 90s rave scene and undid all that good work…one of my favourite things about watching old grange hill episodes, apart from jackie and zammo, is the accents. no one speaks like that now! i’m not even sure they did then. they’re supposed to be cockneys!

v capri – haunting me

thought angry anderson was bad? this song featured in an episode, i think, where scott and charlene had split, but he raced to a bus station (always a bus station) to stop her moving to brisbane. cue lots of flashbacks of them playing on swings, slides, roundabouts..in other words the cheesiest bit of tv you’re ever likely to see. look it up on youtube.

cathy dennis – irresistable

used in a 1992 sky campaign. pretty sure the only reason it’s embedded in my memory is the fact that i – literally – watched cable for 20 hours a day back then. studs and full house on sky one, on the air with clive pearse on super channel, most wanted with ray cokes…good times.

joey scarbury – believe it or not

possibly the most 80s theme tune ever, from ‘the greatest american hero’. inspired later efforts for ‘cheers’, ‘the golden girls’ and ‘my two dads’.

robin beck – first time

everyone in coke ads was cool. even if they were in the middle of falling over, their first kiss, being hit by a tidal wave, whatever, because they were a) in slow motion and b) had a coke in their hand, the object of their desire still fancied them and they were unflappable. no wonder 80s kids are all in therapy now…

savage garden – truly madly deeply

ah yes, melted chocolate voiced savage garden, were a perfect fit with wet blanket dawson and the other improbably sensitive and articulate river kids. can’t remember if the song actually featured in the series or was just a channel 4 hookup.

 

the hit factory October 25, 2008

if you are too young to remember the late 80s, or young enough not to question, you might be under the illusion that stock, aitken and waterman were cool. they were never cool.

almost no one over the age of 13 would have admitted to liking any of their music, apart from the artists who glossed over their involvement – princess, i do mean you.

all of saw’s artists had a story. kylie and jason were aussie soap stars who denied being an item, sonia was from liverpool and had starred in bbc comedy ‘bread’, rick astley had been a teaboy…etc

some of the music, surprisingly, stands up 20 years on. the reynolds girls, the twins and stefan dennis did not make this list. funny that.

download here

bananarama – venus

big fun – can’t shake the feeling

brother beyond – the harder i try

dead or alive – you spin me round

jason donovan – nothing can divide us

kylie minogue – je ne sais pas pourquoi

lonnie gordon – happenin’ all over again

mel and kim – flm

pepsi and shirlie – goodbye stranger

princess – say i’m your no1

rick astley – whenever you need somebody

sonia – you’ll never stop me loving you

 

crush on you September 21, 2008

 this nkotb reunion is making me feel 14 again – without actually having to be 14 again.

reasons to be thankful for not being 14:

  • that aching feeling you had all year
  • fancying totally unattainable men
  • being mortified by your parents
  • having to choose cool friends over friends you actually liked
  • having to wear the same outfit outside of school, for most of the year
  • hating your skin, hair, everything about yourself
  • having no cash

download nkotb

2 in the morning

call it what you want

don’t give up on me

girls

i wanna be loved by you

if you go away

i’ll be missing you come christmas

my favourite girl

never let you go

single

valentine girl

whatcha gonna do about it

 

the other side August 3, 2008

 

you know all those bonus tracks that surface once an album is released? we used to get them as b-sides. occasionally an instrumental would be bunged on there, or a remix, but in the 80s, you were pretty much guaranteed at least an album track if not something which didn’t make the cut.

for kids with only a few 7 inches to entertain them throughout the summer, this could mean that you were as familiar with an artist’s rarities as you were their hits.

some b-sides i miss:

karyn white – language of love (superwoman)

sister sledge – hold out poppy (frankie)

download here

five star – love gamesb-side to rsvp

janet jackson – he doesn’t know i’m aliveb-side to what have you done for me lately

madonna – pretenderb-side to material girl

mai tai – rules of love – b-side to body and soul

mel and kim – systemb-side to showing out

michael jackson – can’t get outta the rainb-side to billie jean

new edition – jealous girlb-side to popcorn love

nkotb – valentine girl – b-side to step by step

pepsi and shirlie – dreamingb-side to heartache

prince – 17 daysb-side to when doves cry

whitney houston – moment of truthb-side to i wanna dance with somebody

wham – where did your heart gob-side to edge of heaven

 

madonna should have retired in the 80s July 23, 2008

i’m updating this post as the download link expired.

i’m not even going to pretend or aspire to a real appreciation of anything that madonna did after 1989.

at the start of her career, madonna represented a backlash against society. it was punk for people who didn’t like punk music. madonna swore, acted stupid and girly, married a bad boy and wore what the hell she liked.

for me, things started to go downhill when she tried to morph into marilyn monroe for her true blue album in 1986. by the end of the decade she was making good music but the controversy she incited was planned, not accidental. the religion baiting ‘like a prayer’ was pepsi endorsed , ‘justify my love’ had a full length video by jean baptiste-mondino. there was none of the grit left of a girl who worked in dunkin’ donuts to support herself while she recorded a demo.

we loved the electric, synthesised beats, raw vocals and a unique style. we don’t need to see madonna in jean paul gaultier or d&g, anyone with money can wear those labels. messy dirty blonde hair, stretch lace, ripped tshirts and leggings – all of these were her signature style but after desperately seeking susan she seemed to distance herself from the very image that made her.

if madonna had retired almost twenty years ago in 1989, and lets face it she could afford to have done, would her legacy be greater? the erotica phase was an embarrassment, the little girls who had idolised her were rapidly growing into young adults and didn’t need to see their childhood inspiration acting like a depraved teenager. the whole kabbalah thing is a joke, and the marriage to guy ritche makes her seem more likeable, which was never the point of madonna.

the only songs i have really liked from madonna post-dick tracy have been ‘deeper and deeper’, ‘take a bow’ and ‘don’t tell me’. but i could have lived without them. and then – i contradicted myself by listing ten songs by madonna post-gambler that i don’t hate

download madonna originals here

get up

very early 80s pop, almost post-disco soul with a blondie inspired copycat rap at the end. possibly penned as an ode to her time in new york pre-fame. its a long way from this to abba-sampling on ‘hung up’. now that was something i never expected…

crimes of passion

could have fitted easily into ‘like a virgin’ but wasn’t really dancey enough for her debut i suppose. if this had been leaked in 1985 we’d have been in raptures.

don’t you know

this song, recorded in 1981 along with ‘stay’ amongst others, was eventually incorporated into the version of ‘stay’ on the ‘like a virgin’ album. i like this demo, it’s bouncier and has nice zaps and bleeps.

ain’t no big deal

recorded to be madonna’s first single, but left off the album entirely due to a dispute with ex-boyfriend stephen bray, but later rerecorded and used as a b-side.

lucky star – original 12″ mix

posted in its full glory as you can’t have too much ‘lucky star’. one of my favourites and deceptively child friendly which is probably why my parents let me buy it. i wasn’t allowed to dress like she did in the video though. 

spotlight

we didn’t hear this until the ‘you can dance’ remix album in 1987, but it was recorded for the ‘true blue’ album. of course these days it would leak along with the album. makes you wonder what else exists. back then we literally only heard what artists wanted us to.

burning up – original uk version

when i bought ‘the first album’ on cd i was confused. i thought i remembered ‘burning up’ being better, and dancier, than this. it seems in the US and rest of the world, they used a guitar driven mix that I’d never heard. on the UK tape version, we had what was apparently used on only early vinyl copies. its so much better. but the demo version, which i recently discovered, is nice and sparkly, rather than grungey, as well.

physical attraction

i love the bleepy almost aquatic sound to this track. or maybe its because i got back from swimming on the day i was bought ‘the first album’ as an early birthday present and that’s just the association i’m making…this is the full album version cos i love the spoken bit in the middle. i was too young to understand or appreciate the sentiment.

borderline – first album version

again, the version those of us in the UK will be most familiar with as it was on our version of ‘the first album’. i really love this song, more so now.

gambler – dance remix

many people seem to forget about this track as unless you were going to buy the ‘vision quest’ soundtrack, and let’s face it no one was, you could only get this on vinyl. but it’s madonna at her best, the exact reason why we loved her and parents didn’t. at the point this was released, madonna could have sneezed and gone top 10.

crazy for you – soundtrack version

the perennial end-of-the-disco favourite. this song, along with ‘into the groove’ and ‘holiday’ was in the top 10 for most of the summer in 1985 and i played them incessantly. i was in my first year at junior school and madonna was like nothing else we’d seen before. this version goes on a bit longer than the single version i had, i think that’s the only difference

into the groove – original version

it took a while for me to realise that the version on the ‘immaculate collection’ is not the original. its obviously different, and utter crap, but we weren’t so finely tuned to recognise remixes back then. anyway, once i realised, i got rid, and replaced it with this far superior original. shep pettibone should be ashamed of himself.

dress you up – formal mix

this is a very 80s 12″ – ie. a bit longer, some extra beats, a few sound effects. its appeal has been tarnished somewhat by featuring in a gap ad but don’t let that put you off.

angel – 12″ mix

another very 80s 12″, but this one provides some much needed oomph, much as i loved the original.

 

i’ll house you July 18, 2008

i can’t believe house music has been in the charts for 20 years now. in that respect, it has lasted much longer than so many other genres.

when it first arrived in the mainstream, circa 87/88, scenes of loved up club kids dancing in warehouses were completely alien, especially to those of us who weren’t old enough even to have experienced sticky carpet clubs of the 80s and view the contrast.

i love how so much of the music can be played today in any club, and clubbers of all ages seem to know it. a lot of it sounds even better now that it did back in the day. but is that because back then it was a dodgy three minute version on a deep heat tape?

download 80s acid house mix

wee papa girl rappers – heat it up

krush – house arrest

tyree – hip house is the style

black riot – a day in the life

nightwriters – let the music use you

tyree – i fear the night

tyree – turn up the bass

petra and co – just let go

ralphi rosario vs richie rich – you used to salsa

reese and santonio – the sound

deskee – let there be house

bam bam – give it to me

minute men – ok alright

turntable hype – i’ll bass you

landlord –  i like it

voodoo doll – women beat their men

28th street crew – i need a rhythm

jungle brothers – i’ll house you

lnr – work it to the bone

de-lite and oscar child – wild times