dirty martini

old music for new people

around the way girls May 17, 2008

female rappers are still seen as a bit of a novelty sometimes – but they’ve been in the game almost as long as the men.

the principle change since the 80s has been that female rappers no longer are required to dress like rottweilers in order to be taken seriously. like the new jill swingers of the early 90s, who were forced to rock the then unlikely pairing of lumberjack shirts and doc martens with visible underwear and heavy matt makeup. this was way before all saints made boyswear cute.

if they have anything in common at all with the female rappers of the 90s and 00s, it would be with jean grae and missy rather than foxy brown and lil kim. this was resolutely not about sex – it was about competing with men on a level playing field, rather than resorting to stereotypes.

roxanne vs roxanne was thankfully, not as intense as east vs west coast but at the time it was every bit as sincere. i don’t think girls are as bothered about which coast they’re from…this is why we run things.

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b-beat girls – for the same man

carmen – throw down

finesse and synquis – soul sisters

jamaica girls – rock the beat

jj fad – supersonic

le tigre – we like the cars that go boom

neneh cherry – buffalo stance

the real roxanne – bang zoom

roxanne shante – roxanne’s revenge

salt-n-pepa – i like it like that

two sisters –  b-boys beware

wee papa girl rappers – wee rule

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love it when you call February 19, 2008

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if you are under 25 then you have no idea how far phones have come since, say, 1983. or if you watch any old skool tv then maybe you do?

i can barely imagine myself using the antiquated phone we had in my early childhood. but i did – it was one of those heavy plastic things BT used to give out in standard issue red, cream or dark olive green. it had the letters of the alphabet printed on the piece of cardboard behind the clear plastic dial, next to the numbers. this hinted at the availability of a US style phone system where you could easily memorise commercial numbers, but as far as I remember this didn’t happen in the UK, where we like to make everything as difficult as possible. put it this way, you couldn’t dial 0800-TESCO.

we even managed to memorise numbers, it is possible. at a push, i can still remember the numbers for all of my friends and family up to about the age of 12 but probably couldn’t more than three of the numbers in my blackberry today under pain of death. perhaps the most famous number of all was the number for swap shop – 01 811 8055. ironically then, it was easier to contact the bbc in 1982 armed with that knowledge, than it is to find their number on a website designed to discourage calls.

phones then, were integral to relationships. an iconic image of the 80s is that of a girl on the phone with a suprised expression on her face…i couldn’t find one though! she was probably surprised she was allowed to use it…phone bill battles were so commonplace that neighbouring friends often succumbed to old tin cans on a string trick. i have no idea if that even worked….

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blackstreet – booti call

bootsy collins – what’s a telephone bill

cheyne – call me mr telephone

good girls – just call me

junior brown – long time me call

in the mix – dial me baby

loose ends – dial 999

new edition – mr telephone man

portrait – i can call you

prince – how come you don’t call me anymore

ryan leslie – promise not to call

sheena easton – telephone

sherrick – just call

teairra mari – phone booth

tony jay – telephone line

 

eat me February 13, 2008

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food is love and love is food.

valentine’s day restaurant rant alert: why do you have to have a set menu? full of the blandest and cheapest crap on the menu? it’s valentine’s day and i want to choose!

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all saints – black coffee

very chilled coffee house track from the girls, which was an image departure after nic and nat’s early days of falling in and out of the met bar.

anthony hamilton – cornbread fish and collard greens

well anthony does like his women to eat.

d’angelo – devil’s pie

from ‘voodoo’ – yes the album with that cover.

hil st soul – bag of chips

can’t quite understand why this track wasn’t a bigger success.

labelle – lady marmalade

labelle actually weren’t the first group to record this enduringly popular song about hookers – it was a disco group called eleventh hour.

little milton – grits ain’t groceries

for years i thought grits were like big crisps cos thats what they sold at butlins when i was a kid…now i’ve been to momma cherri’s soul food cafe i understand it a bit better…

ll cool j and mary j blige – favourite flavour

when i first heard this i couldn’t believe how similar it sounded to their previous collaboration a decade earlier on the remix of ‘mary jane’.

loose ends – a little spice

i’ve said it before – loose ends are the truth.

michael cooper – dinner for two

i discovered michael late. it looks like his careers has spanned three decades so far.

prince – martika’s kitchen

i think i prefer this version. i love how prince records demos for the artists he produces for. i suppose a lot of artists do – but his are often better versions.

prince – cream

prince understands the erotic power of food – peach, raspberry beret, chocolate…

scotty and lorna bennett – breakfast in bed

i never got the breakfast in bed thing – until recently. i was in a hotel with a nice room, and i ordered three kinds of egg with toast and mushrooms, and orange, apple and grapefruit juices. it really sorted out my hangover…which was just as well as i was there to work!

sunshine anderson – lunch or dinner

food is a play safe setting for a first date. i suppose there’s less awkward silence if you can’t speak anyway cos your mouth is full.

 

just let your soul glo: the groups November 11, 2007

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i did a post on jheri curl soul, as i like to call it, way back when i started this blog. it’s proved a popular post and really, one post summing up the predominant 80s soul sound isn’t enough.

so, i’m attempting to redress the balance by updating the post and turning it into a series.soul glo wasn’t just about the hair, although that played a big part and if it wasn’t jheri curled, backcombed and implausibly long, then forget it. and that’s just the men.an array of silk, satin and sparkly fabrics came on the market and soul glo artists used these abundantly. and don’t forget those shoulder pads. essential for the moody yet inviting, hands on hips pose favoured by many of said bands.

allude to yet more glamour and excitement in your lyrics. recommended themes are – gold and silver, notoriety, electricity, being the finest, a freak, turning someone on, having secret affairs, taking your clothes off .sprinkle liberally with tinkly sounds, synths, squelchy basslines and schizophrenic drum patterns.

et voila! (the soul glo fraternity loved them some faux francais, but more on that later…)

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52nd street – tell me how it feels

this band are not to be confused with the manchester group that later became joy division after their lead singer committed suicide. nope, these were shiny, happy jheri soul people…

con funk shun – electric lady

70s funksters who succumbed to the lure of reflective clothing and glistening curls. to be fair, a glance at the song titles of their previous material sounds like ‘now that’s what i call shoulderpads’ so it was a natural progression.

fatback band – i found lovin’

another 70s funk outfit who made the transition. and then some. this was one of the biggest hits of the genre and has been covered/ripped off by the likes of cashflow, ashanti and all saints.

five star – all fall down

pioneers of the brassy blonde, crispy fried jheri curl – that ddn’t really catch on. still, musically there was little between these teen brits and their older US counterparts. there’s a whole post on five star here

jets – love umbrella

polynesian siblings – at least 8 of them. despite the strict upbringing and familyness, the music wasn’t too preachy or safe, if a little bubblegum since the lead singer, mona, was about 14.

krystol – after the dance is through

like the 80s precursor to destiny’s child, although fit was for sad rather than petty reasons that the group went through so many lineup changes. a shame as they could have been big time.

mai tai – 1 touch 2 much

dutch soul trio who had a string of hits in the mid 80s, aptly named after the cocktail, they were energetic and fun, rather than moody, like many jheri soul acts.

royalle delite – spend a little time with me

lo-tech curl soul classic ‘i’ll be a freak for you’ wasn’t the only release from these elusive girls, and thanks to the wonder of itunes i’ve finally tracked this one down.

satin silk and lace – your love

i wanted this track for ages. its perfect mid 80s soul, written by leroy burgess. who were satin, silk and lace? i imagine a vanity 6 style trio.

st paul – intimacy

part of the extended paisley camp after a stint with morris day and the time. very athentic white boy soul – i was fooled until i googled.

system – you’re in my system

they call it ’emotio-electro’. i call it superior jheri curl soul. a bit like hall and oates with synthesisers.

starpoint – object of my desire

there’s plenty in the starpoint back catalogue. eleven albums in ten years. this track is so 1987. two of the members are now passed.

 

under the sea October 27, 2007

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i love anything that sounds watery. as an aquarian, perhaps this is to be expected. my favourite fairytale was always the little mermaid and this is what i used to say i wanted to be when i grew up.

when i was very young, we had actual aquarium photo style wallpaper in our bathroom and i was so upset when my mum redecorated to some beige early 80s monstrosity but lacked the articulation to tell her so at the time.

i can stare at fishtanks all day and when i play ‘kitty goes fishing’ a dvd for cats, that i bought for my little fluffballs, i often end up mesmerised right along with them.

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air – sexy boy

like swimming with frogs, and no not because they’re french, i  just hear frog noises in there. so less of a sea on this one, more like a pond. with lily pads.

all saints – pure shores

purpose built wateryness as this was on the soundtrack for ‘the beach’. at the time this track was a huge departure for the girls –  a long way from the met bar and maharishi.

carnival of the animals – aquarium

this used to play as we filed into the hall for assembly at infant school. hearing it takes me right back to that huge wooden floor and the sun beaming in through the windows.

fish go deep – the cure and the cause

this act were aptly named as their track sounds like the theme to a deep sea adventure.

grid – flotation

so much better than their later efforts, especially the ghastly ‘swamp thing’. if only water had become a theme instead rednecks…

maxwell – submerge

like the aural equivalent of a jacuzzi. or, sticking your head underwater in the bath, for those on a budget.

prince – diamonds and pearls

no obvious watery theme here but thats what it sounds like to me. i suspect prince was actually going for ‘twinkly’.

sade – no ordinary love

i seem to remember that sade was a mermaid in this video, so it seems that the director agreed with me that it sounds aquatic.

smoke city – underwater love

obviously.

sos band –  weekend girl

something very tide in, tide out, about this one.

ten sharp – you

this sounds so aquatic to me that i once had a dream in which it was the soundtrack to big crashing waves.

 

it’s not just a london thing… September 2, 2007

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 in the early 90s, clubbers fell into two camps – the hiphop/r&b crowd and the house/garage/techno crowd. the latter was far more dominant and you would find that most clubs had a main floor playing cheesy house and a smaller room with a cooler crowd playing funkier beats. you had to go to a proper club to hear real house music.

i liked both, and often wondered what an amalgamation of the two would sound like. but it made my brain hurt. several years later it became evident that others had been thinking the same thing, and new sounds started to emerge.

there were two distinct types of speed garage, as it was called then. two step was slower and used an entirely new beat, and four-four garage, bassline house, speed garage, raggage, whatever you want to call it, was basically US garage speeded up. speed garage adopted the jungle attitude, was strictly a london thing, and jacked many of its sound effects, but it was more danceable for the rhythmically challenged.

incidentally, the londoncentricity that prevailed can, i believe, claim the demise of jungle, speed garage and uk garage as directly attributable. the rest of the UK fights a constant, and sometimes imaginary, battle against the capital’s dominance. interestingly, southerners didn’t reject the madchester scene for being too northern.

new scenes don’t just take over the saturday night dancefloor. they have to work their way up. so, in 1995, speed garage became known as ‘the sunday scene’ at clubs such as spread love, deja vu, twice as nice and cookies and cream. the pirates, most notably freek fm, magic fm and erotic fm, had been playing garage for years, but in the mid 90s, they all but ditched us garage and drum’n’bass to promote the new uk sound.

this is a mix of the early speed/four-four garage tracks, including some that were ahead of their time and subsequently got played out years later as they fitted into the current mix. this is the sound of poky rooms in shared houses, pirate stations blaring out of clapped out cars racing around wood green. out clubbing for the third night in a row and no signs of stopping. good times.

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bizzi – bizzi’s party – booker t mix

kristine blond – loveshy – club mix

jodeci – freek you up – mk dub

187 lockdown vs natural born chillers – rock the funky beats – beatdown mix

gant – sound bwoy burial – 187 lockdown mix

sound of one – as i am – todd edwards mix

scott garcia – a london thing

sneaker pimps – spin spin sugar – armand van helden mix

same people – dangerous

double 99 vs another level – be alone no more

x-presidents – diamond rings

all saints – never ever – booker t vocal mix

juliet roberts – so good – booker t mix

n’n’g – right before my eyes – grant nelson mix

nightcrawlers – push the feeling on – the dub of doom

robin s – show me love – stonebridge mix

kim english – nite life – retail mix