dirty martini

old music for new people

i love 1988: fresh and fly April 5, 2009

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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.

 

i love 1987: love don’t cost a thing June 26, 2008

i love the john hughes movies, all of which gave my pre-teen self a fascinating window into the lives of the older girls and boys. of course, not only did things change by the time i reached a similar age in the mid 90s, but these were american, not british experiences.

can’t buy me love, starring patrick dempsey aka dr mcdreamy and long lost actress amanda peterson, wasn’t a john hughes creation, but it was perhaps the best of the genre. if the stereotypes the other films had drilled home were true, ronald miller was too cute to be considered a real geek and cindy mancini was too nice to be a real cheerleader but it just worked. they were believable as a couple.

the whole movie is exactly as i remember 1987 or at least, what i aspired to. a pastel coloured bedroom, curly hair, the cheerleader/high school prom experience. its almost as though i didn’t see the sulky uk teenagers smoking fags outside circle k and realise that was what was really in store for most of us.

i know the rumours about a pretty in pink sequel have been doing the rounds for years, but patrick dempsey has said this is the only sequel he would consider. amanda must need the cash by now surely?

download here

alexander o’neal and cherrelle – never knew love like this

donna allen – serious

exotic – i’ve got to be your lover

five star – made out of love

georgio – sex appeal

jellybean and elisa fiorillo – who found who

jets – curiosity

karyn white – facts of love

lisa o – so delicious

michael jackson – the way you make me feel

narada michael walden – divine emotions

starpoint – object of my desire

i love 1986

i love 1985

i love 1984

i love 1983

i love 1982

i love 1981

i love 1980

 

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.

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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.

 

crazy is as crazy does December 23, 2007

lightning.jpg

 artists like to sing about being crazy -and over the christmas period their claims to insanity may be more valid. families can send you nuts.

download here

chaka demus and pliers – love you like crazy

became a bit of a comedy reggae act in the 90s after a pointless cover of ‘twist and shout’.

corina – loving you like crazy

freestyle artist corina is still going strong – this track is from 1990.

dream – crazy

teenage girls do not make for a harmonious group – lineup changes led to their second album, ‘reality’, being shelved. a shame, as this, and some of the other tracks sounded a lot better than their debut.

five star – crazy

i loved this video, which followed the group as they rampaged through an empty fairground. very low budget ie classic 80s.

mark morrison – crazy

actually mark’s first single before ‘return of the mack’. is he in jail again? not heard from him for a while.

missy elliott and beyonce – crazy feelings

a restrained effort from beyonce here, thankfully. missy’s midtempo tracks are actually very good.

mj cole – crazy love

lushly produced uk garage, bound for the lounge rather than the club. vocals are by uk urban mainstay elisabeth troy.

musiq – halfcrazy

nice slow jam from the soulchild.

occasions – crazy world

gospel meets 90s r&b and the results are impressive.

paul davis – i go crazy

downtempo weepy later covered by jazz vocalist will downing.

trellini – crazy about you

90s girl trellini wasn’t hugely successful but her one and only album (i think) was nice.

yvette michele – crazy

yvette started off singing about being crazy about a dj, then just decided to be crazy. then decided to sing about a dj again…she only had one album.

 

the uk’s answer to the jackson five…?? April 18, 2007

five star – a family r&b group comprising five siblings – were touted as the uk’s answer to the jackson five. in 1985. come on, back then there was definitely a delayed reaction as we responded to musical and cultural missives from across the atlantic, but 16 years?deniece, doris, lorraine, delroy and steadman were just teenagers when they burst onto the scene in 1984 with their brassy bleached hair (the girls) and jheri curls (the boys). plus braces all round. their first single, problematic, failed to make an impression despite landing the plum performance spot on pebble mill at one. actually maybe that was the problem…before they enjoyed chart success and proved the old adage that money can’t buy taste, five star, despite their tender ages (ranging from 14 to 21) produced classic 80s brit soul a la loose ends. seriously, that good. they had their own label, tent records, and ok, like the jackson five and later beyonce, their dad, buster pearson, was pulling the strings.

the obvious family schtick aside, their careers took off because deniece had a great voice. the others found roles for themselves beyond backup, ‘why don’t you’ style. delroy was the, er, baby. (actually this is sounding more like the spice girls). steadman was the oldest and ‘looked a bit like michael jackson‘. doris was the choreographer and ‘looked a bit like janet jackson‘. lorraine, brainwashed by blue peter, felt compelled to make mock ups of their video sets out of old cardboard boxes. and dated eddie murphy, briefly. you can decide which of these achievements is greater.

so their first album, ‘luxury of life’ was a triumph of slinky mid 80s electro soul replete with bubbling basslines, sweet vocals and summery instrumentation. so much so that an unprecedented seven singles were released, with moderate success right up until the last one, a song about being mechanically manipulated – ‘system addict’. someone in a&r (probably buster) had finally noticed that in 1985, we were obsessed with futuristic gadgetry and convinced that by the year 2000, computers would rule the world.

but soon they were bonafide popstars and commerciality struck resulting in the music becoming more hit and miss quality-wise. they bought more cars than their romford home could accommodate and started wearing matching catsuits. yep, including the boys.

so, if you’re too young to remember what they looked like, don’t look too closely at the image at the top of this page. it’ll only put you off, just listen to the music…

ten five star tracks you need to owndownload here hide and seek
lots of people think this is a new edition song that five star covered – in fact its the other way round. this was their first proper single and the dancing in the video is hilarious….

let me be the one
the five star track most likely to be mis-labelled as loose ends if you try to download it from limewire.
all fall down
a big hit stateside and a popular choice to accompany majorettes (remember wanting to be one of those?) and aerobics classes nationwide.
love take over
hmmm. either five star‘s music videos are intended to have nothing to do with the song or there is a genius undercover message that I can’t decipher. five star gatecrash an empty country house and prance about.
find the time
actually, I seem to remember the video for this track had lots of clocks in it, cos of the time thing. there goes my last theory.

if i say yes
another upbeat track that I didn’t appreciate at the time. I think partly because in the video they wore awful oversized grey suits and pranced about a haunted house.
show me what you got for me
best track on their second and most successful album, ‘silk and steel’. perhaps because as a non-single, it was not sullied by live performances in matching shoulder padded frightsuits with a dance routine in which poor delroy looked increasingly unwieldy, what with him being in the throes of puberty and all.
whenever you’re ready
the first single from 1987’s ‘between the lines’ album. more polished, but still good with nice bubbly sound effects.
strong as steel
a great slow jam from 1987 that has been covered by gladys knight amongst others.
rock my world
from their last commercially successful album in the UK, ‘rock the world’. different again, but worth a spin.