dirty martini

old music for new people

forgotten soundtracks of the 80s June 24, 2008

a long time ago in a galaxy far away (let’s say, circa 1985), the internet didn’t exist.

music wasn’t free, it was only available in record stores, for those who had the £££. and let’s face it most ten year olds didn’t. those who didn’t have whsmith birthday tokens (books? yeah right) would spend hours hovering over the red record button on their ghettoblaster waiting for the songs they wanted to come on the radio. this could take days and you always missed the intro, and most of your summer holiday, if you were dedicated.

some clever, if clunky, editing was required to retain as much of the song as possible before the dj started smarming again. for the 80s preteen generation this was usually bruno brookes and mark goodier on radio 1, the former last seen presenting a fishing show on sky sports 3. what if the tape ran out before the end of the song, and this was before 1987 when tapes didn’t flip over to the other side automatically? don’t smirk, generation y, that was the height of convenience and technology back then!

add this to the equation – there were some songs that were never played on the radio. you’d have to fork out for the whole tape to get one song. there were even some songs that weren’t commercially available because they were used on a soundtrack which didn’t get released. so what did you do? you waited three to four years until the movie arrived on tv, that’s what you did, then you recorded it to video. then you played it back and shoved your ghettoblaster right up to the tv speakers. repeat process until you managed to get the whole way through the song before being interrupted by a rogue family member. if you were smart you locked the living room door.

for all of the 80s kids nodding along to this post, here are some of those songs in glorious, convenient mp3 format…

ten hard to get 80s soundtracksdownload here

can’t buy me love (1987)
atlantic starr – one lover at a time

randy hall – all night
the best john hughes movie that never was, and i think, the most underrated of all the 80s teen movies. the atlantic starr track is from the scene near the beginning when the cheerleaders are practising. i wanted this song so i could copy cindy mancini and co’s dancing. what happened to amanda peterson? she was a great actress, reversing the hollywood trend of twentysomething highschoolers, actually being younger, at 15, than her senior year character. the second track is the setting for ronald‘s public premiere of the infamous ‘african anteater ritual’ dance. a truly legendary moment – think david brent‘s ill-advised office high-kicks set to a high school dance. 

mannequin (1987)
belinda carlisle – in my wildest dreams
alisha – do you dream about me

 everyone knows the big tune released from this movie – soft rock singalong ‘nothing’s gonna stop us now’ by starship. it went to number one across the world but this wasn’t enough to warrant a full release for the soundtrack. belinda carlisle provided an unreleased track for the memorable cartoon intro that sees emmy transformed from egyptian spinster to 80s department store dummy. the second track is from 80s pop star alisha‘s second album, and was used in the scene where andrew mccarthy and kim cattrall scamper around the department store after hours. which i was so jealous of.

coming to america (1988)
levert – addicted to you
michael rodgers – i like it like that

back then, eddie murphy was a comic genius. as soon as you’d stopped laughing at his standup tales of ice cream vans and drunk uncles, he introduced you to soul glo, crazy barbers who argue about boxing champions and that reverend, jacked by countless comedians since (richard blackwood, i am so talking to you). the first song is from the club scene where akeem and semi find out that every woman in queens is severely unhinged. the second is from the scene where lisa receives the $500,000 earrings. while her sister prances about in big plastic earrings worthy of pat butcher, oblivious to the injustice.

 cocktail (1987)
leroy gibbons – this magic moment
jimmy cliff – shelter of your love
by the time this movie was released, tom cruise was invincible. (oh, this was way before he discovered scientology and keeping impressionable young women hostage…) which was just as well because as much i love it, the plot is sketchy at best. from what i can gather, tom visits an old bar colleague in jamaica and also meets elisabeth shue. then they dance and drink a lot. fair play to them. both of these songs are from scenes in balmy, outdoor clubs that make you want to head on over to www.sunshine.co.uk to book your next getaway.

 vision quest (1985)
madonna – crazy for you
madonna – gambler
fortuitously (or not, for the rest of the cast) this release coincided with the exact moment when madonna blew up in the uk. rosanna who? in the hot summer of 1985 holiday’, ‘crazy for you’ and ‘into the groove’ were simultaneously in the uk charts. i would boom them out of the living room as i kicked, spun and crawled across the carpet in leggings and fingerless gloves. i used to think my mum hated madonna. it turns out she was similarly impressed by her music, but was afraid of her effect on my behaviour. can’t think why…oops, we haven’t talked about the movie. despite her brief cameo as a nightclub singer, it was and still is, all about madonna.

update: 3 bonus tracks* – download here

randy hall – as long as i can last (can’t buy me love)

the system – coming to america / eddie murphy – i got it (coming to america)

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i love 1985: machine funk May 2, 2008

i loved 1985…what can i say? it’s probably year dot as far as my non-hazy childhood memory goes.

live aid, madonna, jheri soul, john hughes movies…it’s all in there. i did a post on the summer of 1985 about a year ago.

19801981198219831984

download here

alexander o’neal – innocent

alex is mad as a bag of ferrets these days, but in the 80s he was funky. his backing tracks were artifical, over produced and all the better for it.

bar-kays – she talks to me

fab prince-lite with that bubbly mechanical bass.

bb&q band – dreamer

one of the finest exponents of jheri curl soul, which really took hold in 85. grown ups looked scary back then.

cherrelle – artificial heart

better known these days for smoking crack with whitney, back then she was alex o’neal’s default collaborator and had a pretty good career of her own.

five star – all fall down

this was five star’s first big hit, and the video was so 80s – ivory marble effect set, the band in clashing blue catsuits and cartoon inserts…

kokopop – ulterior motive

a b list new edition…in fact there were a few of these, maybe i should do a post…

leroy burgess – heartbreaker

still going, leroy was a member of disco group black ivory and also related to kool and the gang’s robert and ronald bell.

lillo thomas – i’m in love

lillo and his impressive moustache were fond of heavily produced polyfunk.

o’bryan – tenderoni

wonder who first coined the term ‘tenderoni’ as pioneered by o’bryan, chromeo and bobby brown?

paul hardcastle – don’t waste my time

brit computer geek but don’t let that put you off…oh and don’t let ’19’ out you off either…

rochelle – my magic man

loved this and thought she was a one hit wonder, but apparently there was another one – which i now have to find.

sexual harrassment – k.i.s.s.i.n.g

charming name for a band….not…every bit as nasty as ‘i need a freak’. nasty like prince, i mean.

 

the summer of 1985 June 8, 2007

if there’s one summer from my childhood that i remember fondly, it’s the summer of 1985. not just because it was an actual summer, with sun and heat (not humidity – there’s a difference). before global warming screwed up the weather and i had to get on the year round sauna they call the london underground, summer was anticipated as an enjoyable season.

if the weather was like it is today – that’s torrential rain and dismal temperatures, for non-brits – the summer holidays were spent inside or shopping. but for most days, we had a beach hut, and every day I would get up early to watch tv-am with roland rat, and most importantly, the weather forecast, to see if we’d spend the day at home or go down to the beach.

i’d put on my jelly shoes, grab my jelly bag and we’d set off. not in a car, that would have been too easy. we had to walk for about 30 minutes to the right bus stop, then get a hot, sweaty bus to the seafront. back then children didn’t rule the world, so I’d probably have to stand or some miserable old bag would literally glare you out of your seat.

on arrival, we checked who else was there. the hut was only really big enough to house a kettle, a portable radio, some folding chairs, a windbreaker and a hula hoop. why we sacrificed valuable space for a kettle, in the height of summer, i’ll never know. why do parents panic at the thought of not being able to drink tea every five minutes? mine were always making excuses not to do something because they ‘hadn’t had a cup of tea yet.’ and still do.

so if no other kids were there, I would cut lonely figure, playing with my little ponies, hula hooping, and trying to catch butterflies in a fishing net. my mum would lie there in the blazing hot sun, with her cup of tea, listening to radio victory and tuning me out. me and my friends wandered pretty much wherever we wanted, across the road to the beach, to the lake, the playground, the fair. you could do things like that, back then.

i suppose these days most kids would get bored going to same place about four or five times a week. in the 80s there really wasn’t much point staying at home unless you wanted to watch why don’t you… all summer.

so this is the soundtrack to those hot sunny days at the beach. yes, there are dance routines to all of these songs which i am often tempted to break into when i hear them. it was probably the same dance routine for nine year old girls all over the UK.

now that’s what i call the summer of 1985…download here

amazulu – excitable

the 7″ single was a cool transparent blue vinyl, which looked a frisbee. amazulu were a pop/reggae band who had a string of hits in the mid 80s, their biggest was a cover of ‘too good to be forgotten’ originally by the chi-lites (although I was completely unaware of this at the time).


cameo – single life

cameo, before they became infamous for ‘word up’ and that red codpiece, made quality 70s and 80s funk. cameo always did have some humour, it just wasn’t as outlandish earlier on. i can’t believe this hasn’t been sampled yet?


cool notes – in your car

the cool notes had already been lovers’ rock legends and post-disco soul stars by the time the mid 80s arrived but this incarnation as jheri curled poseurs proved their most successful yet. i remember hearing this song on the top 40 and deciding it would be the next single i bought. five star – love take over

god i loved five star…i saw past the dodgy matching catsuits, crispy fried hair and scary eyeliner. and that was just the boys. in this video they danced poolside before piling into a jeep, no storyline. didn’t need one.


madonna – into the groove

this was the moment, for me, when madonna became the biggest star of the 80s. this song gave me a clue as to what the older kids were doing. drinking and dancing in smoky underground clubs. the dance she did in this video, with her hands clasped above her head, was immediately imitated by millions of precocious pre-teen girls. mai tai – history

mai tai were a german soul trio who sang all together and so had a fairly unique sound. bananarama did the same, for a different reason. they sounded like a cat scratching a tin individually. this track, like many uk tracks, doesn’t feature in many round ups of 80s soul classics as it’s not by a us artist. travesty.

prince – raspberry beret

possibly my most favourite prince song ever, but definitely the one i’ve loved for the longest. i like how the lyrics aren’t trying to be clever, they just tell the story. there’s no hidden meaning and unlike a lot of other 80s songs, I don’t understand it differently now that I’m older.

princess – say i’m your no.1 to this day I don’t know how a cheese factory like stock aitken and waterman managed to produce this classic. it’s a shame they didn’t focus on making more music like this, alongside the hugely successful pop conveyor belt.

sister sledge – frankie
this song was just made for little girls. how old was frankie though? we hoped he was 15, and sister sledge were 12, as per the lyrics, but there was a strange old man in the video….and the sisters were pushing 30.

steve arrington – feel so real

steve arrington was the lead singer of slave but i didn’t know of them at the time. this song just sums up that summer as far as, it was just everywhere. it wasn’t necessarily my favourite song but i always think of the beach when i hear it.

tears for fears – everybody wants to rule the world

you couldn’t move for this song in 1985. safari suits and mullets, hmmm…

whitney houston – how will i know

pastel knitwear and pixie boots whitney, while stylistically challenged, was a lot more fun and made better music than crack addict whitney in her velour tracksuit. i remember arguing about the lyrics to this song with an unbearable kid called sally who thought she knew everything. I was right.