dirty martini

old music for new people

mr loverman….shabba! August 11, 2007

summer-90s.jpg

so, i thought i should get this one in sharpish before the weather collapses! 

by the time it was the 90s I was old enough to enjoy my summers unsupervised. ibiza and uk club culture were kicking off and novelty summer records were more likely to be one off pop crossovers from reggae artists than grown men in animal suits. thank GOD.

i haven’t included any of said tracks, as at the time, i wasn’t so keen. now i can appreciate ‘sweat’ by inner circle for its escapist genius, but back then it was part of comedy hour in the dismal local nightclubs i was forced to frequent before i ‘escaped to london’. an oxymoron if i ever heard one. still, i will do a reggae pop post at some point, as an excuse to post ‘shy guy’ by diana king.

 i was 14 in 1990 and 23 in 1999 so the early summers of this decade were spent chasing boys, getting pissed on one can of super strongbow (later archers, then came the alcopops invasion) and trying to secure myself as much time in the sun as possible. late 90s,  trying to wangle time outside the office when it was hot and being pissed off at those tinted office windows that make you think its cloudy, until you go outside at lunchtime and realise its blazing. i seem to remember the weather being pretty good most years. not as steaming hot as 2006, but hot enough and sunny, not humid.

don’t laugh at the glenn medeiros track – bobby negates any cheese factor, and anyway, glenn is hawaiian and therefore IS summer. st etienne are a dancey indie act but i love this tune – 1991 was balearic its pointless trying to avoid that fact. the janet and luther track is the r&b soundtrack version which didn’t see the light of day in the UK. the version of ‘dreamlover’ i’ve posted is a r&b remix that was overshadowed at the time by the huge david morales house remix. and the lighthouse family track is also a funkier remix, not the plodding original. enjoy!

 the sounds of summer in the 90s – download here

1990 – bobby brown and glenn medeiros – she ain’t worth it

1991 – st etienne – only love can break your heart

1992 – janet jackson and luther vandross – the best things in life are free

1993 – mariah carey – dreamlover

1994 – joe – i’m in luv

1995 – lighthouse family – ocean drive

1996 – ll cool j and total – loungin’

1997 – puff daddy, mase and notorious big – mo money mo problems

1998 – next – too close

1999 – destiny’s child – jumpin jumpin

 

our reggae music May 19, 2007

reggae and jamaica are inextricably linked. but in the mid 70s, south london took reggae, added a dash of brixton and sent it back across the airwaves. disenfranchised black britons found an identity and an alternative to the us-led soul scene.
in contrast to the political protest of 70s island reggae, lovers rock dealt with the same issues as 70s soul, but to a different beat. not since this movement has british culture influenced the entire reggae scene to such an extent.
the south london soundsystems provided a haven and identity for inner city teenagers and clubgoers of all races. as such, many of the artists were very young, especially the girls, who provided a realistic and honest outlet for the romantic and sometimes plaintive lyrics.
i was just a baby when this music was popular and it was one of the last truly underground urban scenes – i can’t imagine many outside of london were aware of it even at the time. i had no exposure to it whatsoever but when i first heard them, most of the tracks were instantly familiar and perfectly encapsulate the mood of the nation in the late 70s and early 80s.
now in their 40s and 50s, the lovers rock massive recently welcomed many of the genre’s stars back into the limelight as part of the soul britannia concerts held at the london barbican centre. though the distinction between reggae and lovers rock became blurred with the advent of dancehall in the mid 80s and later ragga, its legacy survives today.
ten lovers rock classics – download here
the cool notes – i’ve got to let him know
not all of this group’s listeners would be aware that they started their careers as part of the lovers rock movement. in the 80s they were true jheri soul artistes, albeit with a british edge, and had sizeable mainstream success. their most popular lovers tune was the era-defining ‘my tune’, so I’ve included a lesser known 1977 cut.
bob andy – honey
established reggae artist bob was one of many jamaican acts swayed by the new british sound, and this 1983 track cemented his new and successful direction. prior to this he served as part of bob marley’s band, and since he has become a respected stalwart of the reggae scene, taking up the mantle at bob marley’s tuff going empire.
15 16 17 – if you love me smile
one of several lovers rock girl bands, and named after their respective ages when they formed. they didn’t change their band name as they got older – in fact they weren’t around for very long. they covered soul classics to great effect but also sang sweetly on their own compositions.
john mclean – if i gave my heart to you
a true child of the lovers rock era, john grew up in 70s south west london and started singing with the black starliner sound system at the age of 16. it was another decade before he gained meaningful success with this song, which topped the reggae charts in 1987.
portia morgan – let me be your angel
in the early 80s, the influence of ska has become more prominent. the contrast of hopeful lyrics against a typically melancholy backing track sums up the restlessness and fear of urban britain in 1981.
junior brown – long time me call
more upbeat example of the genre from the mid 80s on the ubiquitous fashion label. not much info can be found by googling this artist…could possibly have recorded under another name?
brown sugar – hello stranger
like 15 16 17, brown sugar were schoolgirls at the peak of their success. if you thought caron wheeler was fresh faced when she hooked up with soul ii soul in 1989, you might be surprised to learn that a 14 year old caron and friends carol simms and pauline cattlin were making music back in 1977.
musical youth – heartbreaker
best known for their no1 hit ‘pass the dutchie’ which escaped the moral majority despite being very obviously about smoking weed. the shamen got away with a similar act ten years later with ode to ecstasy ‘ebeneezer goode’, no1 during national drugs week, no less. its easy to forget that musical youth weren’t just a novelty act, they also made proper lover rock – like this.
louisa marks – caught you in a lie
by now you know the score…15 year old louisa marks was arguably the first lady (ok, girl) of lovers rock in 1975. she was the first british artist to score a reggae hit.
winston reedy – dim the lights
early 80s example of the genre from popular reggae artists winston, who had several successful albums. still doing his thing.