dirty martini

old music for new people

vote jls December 1, 2008

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i want jls to win the x factor. i also love alex but think she’ll do well whatever happens now. i can’t stand diana or eoghan! even though i’m not a fan of rock music, I liked ruth and loved her purple rain performance.

but i just love jls, there are so many reasons why it would be good for them to win. they’re talented, seem to be really nice people and just work really well together. they should have sung ‘born to make you happy’ on saturday night, by the way.

god i would be such a better mentor than louis although several million other could claim the same thing. loving james corden slating britney – the idea that she has a back catalogue worthy of a theme is pathetic. given that she’s in cahoots with brian friedman it wasn’t that difficult to negotiate her appearance, surely?

ruth is now urging her fans to support jls and alex – good for her, and this speaks volumes about the brattish behaviour of diana and eoghan. diana appears to believe her own hype and eoghan clearly believes simon’s relentless ‘you’re the one to beat’ mantra. simon – you can keep saying it but it won’t become true.

interesting that in a week where diana was told to tone down her quirkiness, she took it to new levels by actually snarling into the mic during ‘everybody hurts’. the judges, even cheryl, clearly have time for her after the fake laryngitis hissy fit, alleged diva strop when she wasn’t given a song she liked last week and now possibly bringing the show into disrepute if the rumours that she is pregnant with eggnog’s child are true.

eggnog…i mean, who the fuck is voting for this talentless irksome brat? be ashamed of yourselves.

download jls song choices

112 – only you

after 7 – can’t stop

alexander o’neal – criticize

another level – be alone no more

bell biv devoe – poison

bobby brown – don’t be cruel

hi-five – i like the way

lemar – if there’s any justice

new edition – mr telephone man 

new kids on the block – if you go away

take that – pray

troop – sweet november

 

original sin November 17, 2007

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 how annoying was it when your parents pointed out that your new favourite mc hammer tune was in fact a total ripoff?

well, there are so many tracks that i thought were originals and found out later that they were in fact mere updates. some are terrible – notably any of liberty x’s many cover versions – and some are actually just different as per some of the list below.

i think i must be getting old as i get furious when i hear updates of 90s house music on kiss fm that doesn’t sound better than the original – what’s the point in that?

download here

bootsy collins – i’d rather be with you

hands up who thought beyonce’s ‘be with you’ was a welcome respite from the screechy ballads that populated the rest of ‘dangerously in love’? how many spotted that she’d totally ripped off this track? that girl just does not learn.

cool notes – i should have loved ya

popularised by narada michael walden, this was actually a demo by brit lovers rockers turned jheri curled soulsters, the cool notes.  i prefer this version.

george benson and al jarreau – nothing’s gonna change my love for you

this is a ballad, a slushy one at that. but what mr benson and mr jarreau must have been thinking when they saw bouffant hawaiian glenn medeiros strolling alongside crashing waves crooning their song all the way into the top ten cheesiest records of all time, is anyone’s guess.

gloria jones – tainted love

it was easy to assume the all conquering soft cell version was the original. but with many of the early 80s classics, there was a reggae, or in this case, a northern soul classic lurking in the shadows. i bet that writer got paid.

otis clay – the only way is up

thank god for this northern soul classic. the horrific acid-pop-rave of yazz is now put into perspective as the irritating and unnecessary cover version it really was.

patti labelle – if you asked me to

patti’s belting vocals are relatively calm on this track, and a million miles and some light years better than frozen featured freak celine dion’s.

ready for the world – tonight

as appropriated by twista for girl tonight. i stumbled upon this by chance.

side effect – always there

well, i love the david morales remix of the incognito version and i had no idea there was a disco era original, but it makes sense. i have both on my ipod – i usually plump for originals but the incognito version is amazing. i’d even go so far as to say that i prefer their cover of stevie wonder’s ‘don’t you worry ’bout a thing’ and i LOVE stevie.

siedah garrett – do you want it right now

this really is the track that won’t die. right now we have a remix of the degrees of motion version, which at the time of release in 1992 i thought was the original. in the mid 90s there was a bootleg-gone-legit version blending it with get decor’s passion’. then i discovered a taylor dayne version from the late 80s and now this which i think predates it. degrees of motion provided the soundtrack to a happy summer for me – 1992 – and had the balls to record the video for ‘shine on’ at the same shoot at this one.

silk – freak me

you would have had to really watch a lot of mtv europe in the early 90s to spot this one as r&b did not feature heavily in the mainstream video playlists. when another level released this in 1998 many people thought it was their song. those that knew thought ‘ damn, fat little dane bowers sounds just like that guy from silk.’

sos band – just be good to me

to be fair, many of you are probably thinking i’ve gone mad with this one. but, in the uk, the main target audience of beats international’s ‘dub be good to me’ had no idea that this existed. so different, and both are cool. although this version is severely lacking a ‘tank fly boss walk jam nitty gritty, you’re listening to the boy from the big bad city, this is jaaam hot.’

valentine brothers – money’s too tight to mention

not too far from the simply red classic we all know and, if not love, well, it wasn’t bad. it’s just that after hearing this original you wonder what the point was. but you can’t fault the flame haired one for trying to bring soul music to the masses.

 

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.

 

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.

download here

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

 

the sound of summer August 25, 2007

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ok, i’m getting this one in quick. its bank holiday weekend and i’m reliably infomed that this weekend is going to resemble summer. as reliable as uk forecasters get anyway, what’s this 90% chance of rain business? they can never be wrong!

so this weekend, make the most of it and secretly thank god that your failed diet summer 2007 can be put on the backburner until the new year. i’ve actually learned to cope with rain better than i used to so that’s something good to come out of the monsoon.

and if the weather fails us again? girls – that boots brand airbrush fake tan, the one thats been half price, is quite good and much cheaper than the l’oreal version. it just smells a bit like a candle burning out, but not entirely unpleasant…

songs we haven’t had much need for this yeardownload here

jazzy jeff and the fresh prince – summertime

i used to know all the words to this. ok, i still do. this version is a remix that i don’t remember. it may be new or old but its by yam who.

dove shack – summertime in the lbc

g funk classic. no idea who they are.

isley brothers – summer breeze

one of my mum’s favourite songs by one of the greatest soul bands ever.

10cc -dreadlock holiday

‘i don’t like cricket. i love it.’ eh? sounds like a compliment from simon cowell.

another level – summertime

from the boys’ second album. their last single, if i remember correctly.

belinda carlisle – summer rain

the musical embodiment of the word ‘humid’.

bob marley – sun is shining

the original version, not the ibiza remix.

deeelite – picnic in the summertime

who can resist lady miss kier and co? from their 1995 album dewdrops in the garden.

stevie wonder – summer soft

one of many stevie wonder songs dealing with summer and sunshine.

lighthouse family – ocean drive

south beach is summer.

friends of distinction – grazing in the grass

have barely walked on grass this year let alone sat on it!

chic – a warm summer night

disco queens chic actually made some mellower tracks too, like this one.

 

the truth about boy bands August 19, 2007

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firstly, i am not a fan of boybands.

but tonight itv1 ran a show about them and i was surprised at how many songs i liked.

and no, i couldn’t bring myself to include northern line, topical or not since ziggy is in the big brother house. i don’t like liars and there is no way on god’s earth that man is only 26. i also haven’t included 911 cos they were too short and i can’t remember even one of their songs. 

i’ve also looked back to put together posts on the original 70s boybands and 80s hair flickers.

lastly, there are no irish boybands of any description as i absolutely cannot stand them.  i don’t like irish pubs either. my idea of hell? basement of an o’neills. low ceiling, limited spirit and cocktail menu and irish bloody dancers kicking me in the shins.

the best of the worstdownload here

bros – i owe you nothing

bros have gained immortality via a classic episode of only fools and horses that saw rodney win a spanish holiday courtesy of a drawing of the arc de triomphe he did at school. whilst pretending to be 14 throughout the holiday in order to keep his prize, he is stalked by a 13 year old bros fan called trudy. and thus, if matt and luke’s music hasn’t stood the test of time, they have cemented their place in history. smash hits, amusingly, used to call the other one ‘ken’ when his name was actually craig.

brother beyond – the harder i try

the only member of this band remotely in the public eye these days is nathan moore. nathan manages desperate lisa scott-lee and her long suffering brother andy. mtv’s totally scott-lee show hilariously saw the agent more in demand than his tragic and talentless client. poor old andy was also in a boy band, 3sl, with his brothers. he’s one of those people you want to do well, but you know never will.

nkotb – the right stuff

the only boy band i ever really loved, jordan in particular, rats tail and all. sadly, some cringeworthy interviews and an incident in which they turned up to going live completely pissed one saturday morning, accelerated their decline. i was 17 by then and was nursing a hangover myself. i had to stop myself hotfooting it to the hard rock cafe a few years back when i heard jordan was going to be there. he seems to have grown up now and so i have i (sort of) but at the time, he was a sorry indication of my taste in men.

take that – pray

when this song was no1, i had to pretend that i hated it as i was in sixth form college and liking take that would be about as bad as admitting you liked noel’s house party. i’d actually met them in a club just before they were famous, and it took me until ‘could it be magic’ to cotton on that it was the same band, as they hadn’t been wearing the leather perv suits on totp. my mum was furious when i told her this recently – not because i had sneaked into a club on a school night but that i had met mark owen and she still hasn’t.

east 17 – deep

again, east 17 did the rounds just before their first hit, and i saw them at a radio one roadshow (remember those??) and thought ‘god, they’re shit.’ and they were, at the time. deep is a great song though – ‘…outside it’s raining, inside it’s wet…’ – and their later reincarnation as essex soul boys was pretty impressive. brian looks like the template from which all chavs were created, but he has a great voice. in recent years he has become something of a comedy figure, like bez of the happy mondays – somehow he nearly ran himself over a year or so ago.

eyc – the way you work it

eyc had this hit and er, maybe a couple of others. they were like color me badd on speed. incidentally, color me badd didn’t make this list as i have posted ‘i wanna sex you up’ before and quite frankly, there’s nothing else going on there.  in fact i’m increasingly convinced that color me badd and eyc are the same group so unless forensic evidence to the contrary is produced, i’ll treat them as such.

mn8 – if you only let me in

it was a toss up between this lot and damage. i just think damage were more of an r&b band. they did a decent cover of earth wind and fire’s ‘after the love has gone’ and i’m not ashamed to have ‘ghetto romance’ on my mp3 player. mn8 had silly hair and were clearly targeted at those not old enough to know better. i wonder where they are now? yahoo answers says ‘probably working in tesco’ and i think that person is probably right.

backstreet boys – as long as you love me

i resisted this song for a good few years but, what can i say, i like it. despite not being very likeable people, with the possible exception of brian, they seem to have a hardcore fanbase of the same intensity of take that. but they are squarely responsible for boosting the career of little brother from hell aaron carter, and for that i can’t quite forgive them. uk people – doesn’t brian look like ashley from corrie?

5ive – when the lights go out

5ive, for a time, were huge. this is not entirely evident as J sits in a shopping mall in milton keynes alongside dane bowers and lisa scott-lee, waiting for people to turn up and pay £10 for an autograph. abs has also tried and failed at a solo career. i can’t remember any of the others. when will these groups get the message that the sum of the parts is not always equal to the collective value? tsk.

n*sync – girlfriend

this was when justin trousersnake as we know him really came into his own. the first (and last) n*sync song that i took any notice of, and i am reliably informed that i should leave it there. as if the curly frightwig and dull relationship with britney hadn’t put me off already. i did hear an effort by jc chasez post-split though. yikes.

another level – i want you for myself

another level were dane bowers (fat rent a gob who milked a one-time collaboration with victoria beckham), bobak…something, the one who looked like andy abraham off the x factor and the one who looked like jamie redknapp. as if this in itself wasn’t enough to warrant chart success, they actually made some decent music. had a bit of a step-up thanks to early collaborations with jay-z and shola ama, and a sassy cover of silk’s ‘freak me’.

blue – if you come back

i did like blue i can’t deny it. like another level before them, they took a big r&b tune (too close by next) and didn’t butcher it, rather stayed true to the original but made it more accessible. something about them just worked and i can’t understand why they split so soon. you want to dislike duncan james but you can’t. lee ryan is the village idiot and therefore always good value. simon webbe just seems like a nice bloke, and anthony costa is…dane bowers post slimfast!

 

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.