dirty martini

old music for new people

90s r&b boybands: the wannabes November 9, 2007

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somewhere online, on websites dedicated to mp3s from long forgotten artists, somebody somewhere might be requesting a track by one of these no-hit wonders. and i don’t mean that as an insult. when the music industry was booming, labels clamoured to replicate the latest success story, and after boyz ii men and blackstreet hit the big time, there was no shortage of pretenders to their crowns.

only the strong survive. these boys will be remembered fondly for one or two songs, by three or four people. well hopefully a few more than that. i wonder where they are now?

also check out the a list, b list and happy to be on any list.

download here

1-900 – oh

love this, bumpy. no idea who they are/were.

art and soul – dog in me

an al green sample and sub-blackstreet lyrics gave this group a club hit in 1996.

bubba – i like your style

very little info about this band online – assuming it was a band and not a solo effort with backing vocals?

coming of age – my side story

well tq was part of this band so we know at least one of the members is still in the industry – just about.

imajin – shorty

if a live website is evidence that the group is still going, then…they are. but it was last updated in 1999.

in essence – you’ll never find

again, has website, will travel. in essence performed with fellow canadian keshia chante two years ago…since then, who knows?

in the mix – dial me baby

no idea. this mp3 is all over the internet though.

lo-key – i got a thing for you

nice slow jam from 1993, and a minor hit.

riff – judy got a boyfriend

part of the new jack swing movement and i’m not aware of any other releases from this group.

rude boys – written all over your face

possibly too successful for this list, they had several club hits and even made an unprecedented third album.

 zhype – used to be your lover

new jack stomper a la johnny gill. no album.

z’looke – can you read my lips

actually started in the late 80s. held on till 91 but still no album.

 

90s boy bands: the smooth selection September 10, 2007

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I already did a post on the anti-boybands of the 90s, that is, those that were successful enough to publicly distance themselves from the tag and make the kind of music they wanted to be associated with.

these boys would probably have run with either tag. they had some success, but would most likely have sold out given a major label opportunity. virtually all of them are now in the wilderness, awol.

and these c listers would have bitten your arm off for a taste of the big time. and these z listers, i wouldn’t like to say

download here

after 7 – can’t stop

slightly girly vocals, but a quality group. never quite bettered this, their first hit. there is a really funny old skool bootleg of this that speeds the vocals up to helium ballooon proportions, called cooking with delia. don’t ask me how i know these things…

damage – love to love

young british band from the mid 90s who were intermittently successful. everyone fancied bad boy coree, who has since been in prison. lead singer jade jones has been going out with spice girl emma bunton for about ten years, and they recently had a new baby.

dru hill – you are everything

i never really got the whole dru hill thing and sisqo, to me, is not attractive and i don’t even think he can sing. that whole thong song thing was ridiculous but did rule the summer of 2000, especially the garage remix. but i did like this track.

intro – let me be the one

fairly successful band in the early 90s – not as successful as blackstreet, not as sugary as boyz ii men and just kind of…there. which was a problem for pretty much all of the groups on this list.

next – butta love

did the whole bad boy thing far more convincingly than dru hill. ‘too close’ was of course huge, and then…i’m not sure if they still record or what?

shai – if i ever

hailed as the new boyz ii men, when they came out with this track. volume of material appeared to be a problem as this was remixed and released many times. i can just about remember two other tracks they did.

silk – hooked on you

i wonder how these groups feel when british boybands like another level take their signature tune (freak me, in this case) and have the hit they never could? i hope they get paid well, but i fear the only person who laughs all the way to the bank is the songwriter.

soul for real – every little thing

after candy rain, many people sat back and waited for a dismal sequel. to be fair, this did almost as well, perhaps better in the uk, and they squeezed out a few more hits form their debut and as far as i know only, album.

today – him or me

riding the new jack swing wave in the very early 90s, but never quite challenged teddy riley supergroup guy.

troop – sweet november

one album wonders, but this is a sweet cover version. have no idea how successful it may or may not have been in the US, but in the UK it did squat.

 

barbecue soul and an underage drinking session July 27, 2007

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ok, i don’t want this post to be premature, especially as its raining right now….but, we had a good weekend before last. sunny, reasonably hot and a red sky at night which enhanced our all day in the garden pimms drinking experience.

now i’m waiting on the next one. how sad that we’re reduced to hoping for one more summer’s day in this total washout. more importantly, there are thousands of people who have been evacuated from their homes due to flooding. whilst the uk crisis can’t be compared by scale to what happened in new orleans, for those affected its every bit as devastating. for once i’m lucky to live in a flat, miles from any water. like many natural disasters, those far removed from the flooding are carrying on with business as usual, transport permitting.

oh for reliable summers, not too hot like last year, and not hot and humid like 2003, just warm and sunny with the occasional scorcher. the summer of 1991 was significant for many reasons, and one particular barbecue party stands out.

i don’t actually remember there being any food, although there must have been, what i do remember is the drinks table. piled high with super strongbow, budweiser and k cider. various lurid hip flask bottles of 20/20 fruit wine. my favorite was the coconut one for the ridiculous blue colour. the most drinkable were the orange and green – kiwi? numerous spirits from which we mixed lethal concoctions.

long forgotten drinks of the 80s/90s – taboo and mirage. low % spirits for girls, basically. taboo survives but i haven’t seen mirage since about 1993. pernod and black – why did anyone drink this? that peach wine they used to sell in clubs. snakebite premixed in a bottle. thunderbird – people used to debate whether the red or the blue label was best; they were both horrible

test tube cocktails anyone? i had a particularly eventful 17th birthday thanks to 9 or 10 of these deceptively small treasures. the forerunner or vodka bars and trays of sweet inspired shots.

anyway, copious amounts of alcohol made for a messy night. it was a warm summer night and the dangerous combination of 30 or so 15 year old girls competing over half as many slightly older boys/men (never quite sure what to call them at that age) could have caused carnage. but it was a peaceful night. these days someone would probably get shot. 

somehow we were all out into the early hours – must have used the age old trick of everyone staying at someone else’s house and for once no one’s mum called and unraveled the decepeton. so we sat under stars, on blankets, just having a laugh and chilling out all night.

1991 summer party groovesdownload here

hi-five – i like the way

after 7 – after 7

r.kelly – she’s got that vibe

janet jackson – alright

st etienne – only love can break your heart

jazzy jeff – summertime

color me badd – i wanna sex you up

prince – gett off

natural selection – do anything

ll cool j – around the way girl

de la soul – ring ring ring

heavy d – now that we found love

 

jack your body June 1, 2007


for the under 25s, new jack swing is a hazy childhood recollection. it’s a young will smith running on the spot as the fresh prince of bel air, dwayne wayne after a few too many alize’s at the campus club in a different world.
new jack swing was the natural progression from slick yet laidback jheri soul, thrown into the 90s by adopting faster beats for crowds getting used to the more hectic pace of the house and garage scene.
of all the retro revivals, its difficult to see the flat top, loud clashing hammer pants and two tone shirts making a comeback to the fashion world. although it would be a laugh to see desperately trendy 16 year olds looking so ridiculous in the pursuit of fashion. i would definitely invoke the ‘if you remember it the first time round…’ rule and leave the girls’ lycra minidress and bubble perm well alone.
the music however, was the most futuristic that r&b had sounded until timbaland turned the entire genre on its head in the late 90s. it was criticised at the time, like jheri soul, for being over-produced, and strangely, sounds about right listened to now. anyone who’s anyone tried their hand at the sound though, and there’s nothing that date’s a genre so effectively as joey lawrence, nkotb, debbie gibson and those damn turtles.
for the real deal, check for those reruns of house party, in living color and new jack city.
twelve hi top fade anthemsdownload here
al b sure – if i’m not your lover
fondly remembered, mostly for this track and the dreamy/bouncy late 80s track ‘night and day’. about to launch a radio show called ‘the secret garden’, full of slow jams and celebrity insights. sounds unintentionally hilarious, i can’t wait!
basic black – she’s mine
almost one-hit wonders, this is the remix club version. also check out ‘special kind of fool’, a popular ballad.
bel biv devoe – do me
now the new edition veterans were all grown up, and claimed their rightful place alongside bobby brown as new jack swing pioneers, with this, their second single after the hugely successful debut, ‘poison’.
father mclisa baby
popular track, in its remixed form, from the band known mostly for ’69’. yes that masterpiece of subtlety. father dropped the ‘mc‘, like hammer before him, and went on to duet with a young mary j blige.
guy – i wanna get with you
so many guy tracks, so little time. the band were established by the time this was released, having practucally invented new jack swing a few years earlier.
keisha jackson – mama told me
one of the few girls on the new jack scene, before swv, tlc and jade came along and were labelled as the new jill swing invasion. i actually wasn’t sure that keisha was a girl, until recently….oops! in fact i’m pretty sure i used to confuse her with tevin campbell.
mantronix and jade trini – don’t go messin‘ with my heart
hiphop and electro were kurtis mantroniks comfort zones but even he got in on the action in 1991. this track, more obviously than keisha‘s somewhat masculine effort, gave a much needed injection of girlieness to the proceedings.
mariah carey – someday remix
mariah was new to the scene in 1990 and whilst she was gaining a reputation for her soaring vocals and that whistle register, she already had one eye on the club scene and drafted in shep pettibone, 80s remixer extraordinaire.
ready for the world – yo that’s a lot of body
a brash yet bubbling bassline and jacking beats give way to vocals that creep and you can just imagine rotfw bogling next to you in the club…still, can’t imagine a njs set without it.
rythm syndicate – p.a.s.s.i.o.n
had two hits then disappeared. used to get regular play on mtv and like so many others before and since, labelled as ‘that group who sound a bit like prince‘.
samuelle – so you like what you see
originally part of club nouveaux, samuelle released one solo new jack album in 1990.
today – him or me
had actually been recording as ‘the gents’ during the 80s, but a chance meeting with new jack supremo teddy riley proved fortuitous after years of flops.
 

90s male r&b groups – don’t call them boybands May 13, 2007

male soul groups in the 90s were destined never to replicate the success of their pop counterparts. pop requires a manufactured yet individual, who’s-your-favourite type image. soul groups are usually quite similar. only fans can tell the difference. there’s no cute one, sporty one, fat one, funny one – and if there is, it’s real not a product of an over-zealous marketing department.

what also set these groups apart was their ability – robbie williams and jordan knight couldn’t hold a candle to these vocalists. the mass market, for the most part, seemed slightly threatened by this fact. they succumbed to some of the music, boyz ii men’s ‘end of the road’ a notable example, but swept the rest under the carpet where it couldn’t draw unflattering comparisons with their pin up popstars.

check out the b list and the c list too. and now, the z list.

ten boybands who could actually singdownload here



guy – do me right
kings of the new jack swing era, comprising teddy riley, aaron hall and his bro. pioneers of the sound in the late 80s they deservedly held the crown as the scene took off. aaron went to moderate solo success a few years later, and teddy



blackstreetbooti call
…from the ashes of new jack swing, teddy riley created blackstreet. possibly the biggest true male r&b act of the 90s, they had huge success with their first two albums and collaborated twice with swv ,who were somewhat their female counterparts. started to fall off after a tinny duet with weak-voiced mya for the rugrats movie. dave hollister has become a credible yet underappreciated solo artist.

boyz ii men – please don’t go
clean cut boys who met at performing arts school in philadelphia. first achieved worldwide recognition with ‘end of the road’ in the video for which they sang earnestly whilst wearing knee length shorts. the group sold itself on heartfelt ballads and released few uptempo numbers. their wholesomeness possibly allowed member wanya to get away with a relationship with then-underage brandy in the mid-90s.



jodeci – come and talk to me
jodeci were the bad boys of r&b from 1991 to 1996 and provided a sleazier alternative to boyz ii men. kci hailey has long been tarred by his troubled relationship with mary j blige. despite the group being a sorry shadow of their former selves today, their swing mob collective did launch the careers of missy, timbaland and ginuwine amongst others.

tony toni tone – my exgirlfriend
raphael saadiq and co were always the slightly less sleazy and more conscious act of this genre. several successful albums in the early to mid 90s then raphael went solo, and the other two…anyone’s guess. raphael has since discovered a penchant for very young girls and is rumoured to be dating joss stone, 23 years his junior. which goes to show its always the quiet ones you have to watch….
hi-five – i like the way
sweet new jack swing for the ladies, this hit the top of the billboard on release in 1991. the group split in 1994 and never really strayed from this tried and tested formula. now back together and releasing an album – how old must they be now???


mint condition – so fine
along with tony toni tone, revered as one of the more talented and credible groups from the 90s. originally tried to appeal to the new jack crowd but their harmonies were more suited to classic soul and they had many hits in this genre. still recording today, minus keri lewis who left the group to produce, most notably for his wife, toni braxton.
112 – only you
bad boy creation that went global thanks to a remix featuring then hot rappers mase and notorious big, shortly before his death. they have since made a living as members of the bad boy family despite possessing not much vocal talent and zero individuality. but their willing participation on infinite tribute songs keeps them on the payroll and in the recording studio, intermittently.

another level – be alone no more
uk lads who cheekily, like all good authentic cockneys, nabbed their name from a recent blackstreet album. bobak kianoush, dane bowers and the other two were fairly hot uk property in the late 90s. bobak mumbled alongside dane‘s surprising vocals and er, the other two who no one can remember. dane then disgraced himself by following victoria beckham around like a puppy dog for several years after a one-off uk garage collaboration.

jagged edge – let’s get married
twins brian and brandon are often credited for distracting letoya and latavia from the destiny’s child duties whilst touring together in the late 90s. the group have had reasonable success ever since but have the odd knack of making their songs impossible to pinpoint by year. i often hear a track of their and think its old, only to discover its new. hmm.

 

boys don’t cry – new edition go solo April 25, 2007

if there was ever a gender stereotype that was true, its that girls can’t get along. so when female band mates part ways, the media holds their breath for the name calling, backbiting and never has to wait for too long. a lot of women would rather eat nothing but salad for the rest of their lives than see a former female friend do their thing.witness beyonce and kelly‘s unceremonious dumping of destiny’s child cohorts letoya, latavia and farrah at the first sign they wouldn’t toe the line. and now, not content with daddy hampering kelly and michelle‘s solo ambitions since the dc3 finale, beyonce is now rumoured to be sabotaging newly famous solo star letoya‘s efforts. recently she allegedly demanded letoya be removed from a soundtrack project before she would participate and made herself look like a petulant child when she flew into london for last year’s mobo awards only to boycott it when the organisers refused to strike letoya from the lineup.

boy bands just never seem to have all these problems. seemingly, they’re happy just to be there having a laugh with their friends. and if one leaves, they wish them well and even make guest appearances on their new solo material. which may well be the clue to why every member of new edition found solo fame – karma.

ten reasons i can’t decide if i prefer new edition together, or apartdownload herebobby brownevery little step, don’t be cruel, roni, rock witcha
bobby wasn’t always the village idiot. before reality tv uncovered the madness that led him to yell at plastic fruit, bobby was the most successful of all the former new edition boys. although the erratic behaviour that led to his eviction from the group would resurface in later years, he pretty much held it together from 1988 to 1994. in 1988, at the age of 19 he hit pay dirt with ‘my perogative‘ and never looked back.

bell biv devoe – poison, do me, in the crib
hot on the heels of new edition’s ‘heart break’ tour, ronnie devoe, michael bivins and ricky bell formed bell biv devoe and has instant success with new jack swing classics ‘poison’ and ‘do me’. in 2002 they returned with a new album, and ‘in my crib’. all are still active as part of new edition and ronnie devoe is married to shamari fears of blaque, who is probably not old enough to remember the boys in their early days…

johnny gill – rub you the right way, there you go
unlike the others, johnny had been successful prior to joining the group, with three albums already under his belt. after, he had one of the biggest hits of the new jack era, ‘rub you the right way’ and went on to record five more albums and joined forces with gerald levert and keith sweat to form lsg in the late 90s. ‘there you go’ was one of the highlights of the popular 1992 soundtrack to the eddie murphy film ‘boomerang’.

ralph tresvant – sensitivity
wacko soundalike ralph was slightly more cautious about striking out on his own. ‘sensitivity’ is his biggest hit although his collab with bobby brown on ‘stone cold gentleman’ comes close. like johnny, he is still part of new edition but has had consistent solo success and is still recording today.