dirty martini

old music for new people

2008: the comebacks January 3, 2009

cd

despite declining sales, labels continued to throw money and effort into album promotion instead of finding new and creative ways to make money from music. which is now basically free, let’s face it.

i enjoyed these the most of all the comebacks last year.

download the comebacks of 2008

anthony hamilton – the day we met

consistent and underrated, anthony hamilton’s new album ‘the point of it all’ is a little more punchy, i think, than his previous efforts. it’s worth seeking out his mostly unknown 1996 debut if you like this side of him.

ashanti – you’re gonna miss

ashanti is that girl who has more male friends than female. she gets a lot of hate, but, she delivers some good music. ‘the declaration’ was a solid effort that would have achieved more had it not been for her audience connection issue mentioned previously, and the state of the music industry.

beyonce – single ladies

well, if you thought ‘bday’ was a disappointment…i’m hoping some of the other tunes on ‘i am…sasha fierce’ will grow on me. there’s nothing groundbreaking there though. i did love the fact that she appeared on x factor to sing with alexandra though. who, by the way, i think outsings her on ‘listen’ when she sings solo.

common – sex 4 sugar

common is taking a more commercial route this time round with ‘universal mind control’. that’s ok, it works.

erykah badu – honey

..speaking of which, his formerly crazy former missus has also lightened up a bit. see, it didn’t hurt that much did it? but for a time there it looked as if she had a touch of the lauryn hills.

john legend – can’t be my lover

i tried but failed to get into ‘once again’ but i’m loving the return to form on ‘evolver’. the reggae tracks are totally his comfort zone and the euro-electro tinged tracks even work, much as i am hating this current trend, which should in my opinion have started and ended with britney’s ‘gimme more’.

keyshia cole – where this love could end up

keyshia was hailed as the new mary. to my mind, she has not evolved or developed even slightly past her 2004 debut. this is not to say that ‘just like you’ and ‘a different me’ are bad – they’re as good as ‘the way it is’. if prince were to unleash another few albums that took up where ‘1999’, ‘purple rain’ or ‘sign of the times’ left off then this would be eaten up. but keyshia’s not prince.

mariah carey – i’ll be loving you long time

‘e=mc2’ is nowhere near as good as ‘mimi’ let’s get that out of the way. and ‘touch my body’ is shit. but as r&b albums go it’s head and shoulders above most of the crap we get launched at us these days and everyone is so relieved to see her settled and wearing some clothes for once that this is good enough.

raheem devaughn  – woman

a consistent neo-soul artist who returned in 2008, like clockwork, with ‘love behind the melody’. despite the rubbish neo-soul genre tag, surely grown up soul is where the money’s at these days?

raphael saadiq – sure hope you mean it

like several others, mostly brit, artists, he went the retro route. to great effect and in a far more authentic and endearing way than gimmicky amy winehouse and duffy. raphael has, of course, been doing this since his tony toni tone days. i could have picked almost any of the tracks from ‘way i see it’ as my favourite.

snoop dogg – cool

not much promotion behind ‘ego trippin’ as it goes, which is a shame cos i heart the retro flow of this prince-inspired track and ‘sensual seduction’.

usher – before i met you

i wonder if poor old usher realised just how critical the salivating teen girls and his momager were to his success? not at all, apparently, until ‘here i stand’ bombed and he bricked it. marrying a ropey looking older woman when you have the pick of a population? bratz generation say what?

 

when life imitates art May 11, 2008

this mariah and nick cannon thing…has to be fake surely. i know she’s madder than a bag of ferrets, but shotgun wedding to serial dater and no pre-nup? come ON…

download here

aaliyah and r.kelly – the thing i like

very seedy – aaliyah signed with r.kelly’s label at 13…and two years later they allegedly married when she was 15 although the certificate said she was 18. maybe she was? of all the discussions i’ve seen on this topic this hasn’t been raised a possibility. aaliyah went on to date damon dash. and r.kelly? not going there.

ashanti and nelly – switch

not sure if these two are still together or not – in any case both are releasing albums shortly so you can bet that they’ll let us know one way or another, depending on how their publicists decide to play it.

beyonce and jay-z – upgrade you

i want to like jayonce, but they have really dull friends like ‘new bono’ chris martin and gwyneth paltrow. on the upside, their inevitably impending offspring will have fabulously ghetto names, probably chosen by worlds’ scariest mama tina knowles. bet she’s scouring those 80s music lists for a faux francais babyname that jheri soul’s finest would be proud of.

bobby brown and whitney houston – something in common

oh how we loved bobby and whitney – 80s badboy teen falls for older woman and mends his ways. for about five years, then he has an early midlife crisis and it all goes badly wrong. now whitney is trying to replicate the good old days with an even younger model and bobby is trying to get it on with anyone who’ll have him.

brandy and boyz ii men – brokenhearted

think those child protection laws must’ve been a bit slack in the early 90s. like aaliyah, brandy fell prey to an older counterpart but *sigh of relief* it was sensible old wanya of non-threatening boyz ii men, and he apparently waited until she was 16…

common and erykah badu – the light

after splitting with andre 3000 of outkast, crazy bag lady erykah (i do mean that in a nice way) hooked up with smiley rapper common. this woman outcrazied two rappers. do not mess.

jennifer lopez and p diddy – feelin’s so good

i did like j lo and puffy. it was a shame about that inconvenient little shooting incident which scared her off. they were fabulously trashy and didn’t care. she also was channelling the best outfits of her life when they were together. i still want that green tropical versace number…

kelis and nas – popular thug

seemingly solid couple and i’m kind of impressed with nas that he chose kelis, who clearly is not your run of the mill model-video actress-clinique salesgirl by day type, which he no doubt had his pick of.

mary j blige and kci hailey – i don’t want to do anything

a bad move for mary, and i would say that jodeci were more than a little tarnished by the revelations concerning the destructive nature of her relationship with kci, which she was dealing with for years before she met kendu. karma’s a bitch – have you seen the state of jodeci lately?

notorious big and faith evans – one more chance

not the likeliest of lotharios but biggie managed to charm quite a few women in his 23 years…faith and lil kim faced off quite publicly about him for a while and let’s face it, must have felt a bit ridiculous fighting over someone so er, non-standard.

prince and vanity – if a girl answers

prince and vanity lead denise matthews had a short lived relationship, once they split, denise aka vanity, hightailed it and was replaced by patricia kotero in a new group, appollonia. *crickets* yes of course he did, why do you think she got the job? vanity went on to date slighty taller men – adam ant and billy idol.

rihanna and chris brown – umbrella

so, blabbermouth jordin sparks lifted the lid on the relationship and now they’ve been ‘spotted’, unwittingly, in kfc…oh god…i mean they’re both like, 12 years old, why do i know this?  chris has only just started to form vowels properly.

 

you can’t escape christmas December 17, 2007

xmas-treee.jpg

 i always give in to christmas songs for the last week or so…

download here

band aid – do they know its christmas

the original is still the best even if supremely irritating bono is in it spreading his smugness instead of charity spirit. bananarama look pissed off as usual, in the video. a riot of mullets, 80s plaid and britishness. although i saw the 1989 version today and thought, what on earth happened to matt goss? he actually could sing.

donny hathaway – this christmas

i love donny hathaway’s voice. i love this song for being instantly recognisable yet slightly under the radar – if it hadn’t been covered by ashanti, usher, chris brown, destiny’s child, joe, slaguilera and countless others.

elton john – step into christmas

part of the all-conquering 70s christmas lineup that gets rolled out every year. reminds me of my first ever saturday job circa 1991.

mariah carey – all i want for christmas

has become a christmas classic and possibly the last great christmas song that was recorded. roxanne cooper from pop idol 3 did a decent cover version. mariah is trying to be too cute in her santa outfit though.

luther vandross – please come home for christmas

soulful remake of the eagles original, as covered by bon jovi.

nkotb – i’ll be missing you come christmas

i loved this. i was 14 and in love with jordan knight and thought i would be forever. i can barely remember the rest of the nkotb christmas album apart from a woeful cover of little drummer boy by danny ‘horseface’ wood.

paul mccartney – wonderful christmastime

very hazy memories of this from my childhood. can’t believe i’m featuring a fab macca thumbs aloft track on my blog. what next – the frog chrous?

slade – merry christmas everybody

obvious, but you can’t leave it off the playlist.

stevie wonder – what christmas means to me

overlooked classic.

tlc – sleigh ride

fun track from their ‘oooh on the tlc tip’ era. not a dayglo condom in sight though.

wham – last christmas

possibly the best christmas song ever. love watching the video and working out whether it was obvious that george was gay. some scary fair isle sweaters are present but everyone dressed like that in 1984.

wizzard – i wish it could be christmas everyday

i actually prefer this to slade. i know a lot of people think that this is by slade. most of the 70s glam rock bands do look and sound exactly the same…

 

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

sexual-chocolate.jpg

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…)

download here

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.

 

let battle commence September 16, 2007

fruit-water.jpg

wow, looking at this autumn’s release schedule you’d think people still bought cds. i’m joking…

 anyway, here are some of the more anticipated albums due over the next few months.

download here 

leona lewis – bleeding love

album due november

well, this isn’t going to halt those mariah comparisons, and it’s a canny move much like mariah’s debut ‘vision of love’. midtempo, not too r&b, not too MOR, not too pop. i think she’s done the right thing, and watching the new series of the x factor, and hearing them say they’re looking for someone even better than leona this year could prove tricky.

mya -walka not a talka

album due…who cares?

apparently some people still care about mya’s album getting pushed back for the hundredth time. why? she’s crap. she can’t sing and even lumidee has had better songs than this. she’s a hook singer, at best, or perhaps a victoria beckham. as in, the one who doesn’t get to sing much in a group with at least four others.

teedra moses – take my love away

album due…once you’ve forgotten her real age

i really like teedra moses but i just checked her wiki and it says she was born in 1980. um, i remember reading that she was born in 1973 like her ex-husband, and then elsewhere that her management try to cover up her age, hence the delay in this album. must be annoying when they are people like me with an eye for detail.

keyshia cole – shoulda let you go

album due…late september

i like keyshia. i don’t think she’s the greatest singer but i do get the mary comparisons. the only criticism i would put forward is that so far her material doesn’t appear to have moved on that much. not necessarily a bad thing.

craig david – 6 of 1 thing

album due november

at one point it looked like bo selecta had killed his career but craig is back looking better than ever. the collaboration with kano won’t hurt. he appears to have stopped referring to himself in the third person as well. which is why avid merrion picked on him in the first place no doubt. i did laugh a lot at that ”wack’ is american for ‘shit” line…

alicia keys – no one

album due november

well, ‘no one’ is both vintage alicia and also a slight departure in terms of vocals, so its the best of both worlds so far. she’s going to sell whatever as she’s tapped into most markets, and inhabits that rare space of cool and commercial.

ashanti – you can’t deny it

album due december

irv gotti’s recent revelations and the resulting fallout may push this back further. clearly she’s keeping schtum so the inc don’t let her flop. i don’t understand the hatred some feel towards ashanti, she’s just kind of there. been in the right places at the right time i suppose.

chilli – gliding

album due january

why someone like chilli would need akon to steer her career is beyond me. in a sea of faceless, talentless r&b girls, I’m sure someone with a tlc pedigree and a usher-related story to tell could find a better deal. luckily it turns out none of it was true. she is getting on a bit now though.

d’angelo – really love

album due ?????

anything from d’angelo is welcome. the downside of the digital age is that so many quality artists struggle and have to wait so long for some backing. by the way, maxwell’s record label, i’m walking to you too.

jennifer hudson – special

album due early 2008

well ok this one has been pushed back too but she has been slightly busy. can’t wait for the satc movie. time will tell whether her big personality draws her into more and more film roles and away from the recording studio. and as she blew away beyonce in dreamgirls, i wouldn’t fancy the chances of anyone releasing at the same time.

jill scott – hate on me

album due late september

i like the bigger sound she’s going for here. the laidback neo soul is nice but this sounds fresher. i wonder what made jill more successful than angie stone in the end? both are on a level talentwise but jill seems to have come out on top.

lauryn hill – lose myself

album due…about 8 years ago

ok so she didn’t want to do another ‘miseducation’ and that’s her choice. creative and personal freedom is all very well and good but she doesn’t exactly look happy as the freakshow she’s turned into. don’t hold your breath, judging by this track it might not be worth it anymore.

mariah carey – love

album due november

well, how to follow the career saving ‘mimi’? hooking back up with longtime collaborators bone thugs’n’harmony is a start. i don’t doubt the album will be quality, i just hope she continue to keep the ballads to a minimum. and starts to acknowledge the fact that she’s pushing 40 and puts on some clothes and stops singing about ‘boys’.

teairra mari – missing you

album due…when she gets a deal?

better than rihanna in most respects, she fell down on likeability. jay-z totally misread the market on this one – disliked by parents as a bad influence, feared by her peer group as more experienced and annoyed the fuck out of those older and wiser by acting like she knew it all. she can sing though and with the right image and material should make a comeback.

trey songz – wonder woman

album due october

trey occupies an interesting space as a bad boy with eloquence. hopefully this contradiction in marketing terms can be overcome as his debut was solid but flopped badly.

 

before they were famous August 28, 2007

memorex.jpg

 sometimes things take a little time to get right. i’m not talking britney spears in a meringue dress growling her way through early 90s hits on the mickey mouse club, or a pre-makeover jennifer lopez looking butch on in living color.

these are the early recordings that got feet in doors. some of them are better than others. that’s my disclaimer right there.

download here

luther vandross – the second time around (1976)

luther was originally part of a group, called ‘luther’. ooh, premature diva anyone? this song was from the first of two albums in 1976 and is standard mid 70s soul. he also sang an ad for kfc around the same time…soul food indeed.

alicia keys – sexy thing (1997)

a very young ms keys contributed this track to the men in black soundtrack. she sounds more or less the same but had developed a more unique tone by the time of her debut four years later.

ashanti – can’t stop (1997)

not sure how ashanti clung on for five years to make the leap from low budget debut to murder inc and innumerable collaborations with ja rule. these days an artist is stuffed if they don’t create a buzz on myspace within five weeks.

biggie – party and bullshit (1993)

nice lumberjack’n’fire-in-keg era hiphop. a year later, ‘ready to die’ was released and the rest is sad history. no doubt he would be the biggest rapper in the game if he were still alive. 

leona lewis – private party (2004)

recorded with ludacris before her appearance on x factor 2006, it makes you wonder if the music industry just sits back and waits for tv to tell them who to sign? well, good for her for going the proper route and being too nice to do anything unsavoury to get ahead.

usher – call me a mack (1993)

usher was only 14 when he recorded this for the poetic justice soundtrack and it shows. did usher’s early foray into the adult music business inspire his preference for older women? you’d think he could do better than a he-woman though.

john legend – hurt so bad (2003)

i think i might prefer jl’s early work to his current album. hmm. or maybe live just suits him better. he did several live sets before releasing a studio album.

janet jackson – young love (1982)

if a jackson couldn’t score a hit in 1982, you would assume it was because the music was poor. janet’s first two albums are quality post-disco soul but i think people were just expecting something a bit more groundbreaking. which ‘control’ certainly was.

mariah carey – weakness of the body (1986)

well, the leona lewis story seems to be repeating history to an extent. mariah was certainly active for several years before her debut and whitney was recording since the late 70s. maybe this is the secret to a long lasting career. rihanna’s stuffed, then…

anthony hamilton – total xtc (1996)

…but hopefully this bodes well for anthony, whose 90s debut was totally overlooked. the style is more conscious of its time than his successful later efforts, and not as well thought out, but very listenable.

prince – just another sucker (1977)

19 year old prince recorded this track as part of his then band 94 east. could have easily slotted into one of his later albums. must have sounded amazing in 1977 – to those few who actually got to hear it.

destiny’s child – killing time (1997)

this is a nice but unremarkable slow jam from the men in black soundtrack, but those vocals and harmonies are there. i miss the original lineup. wish some unreleased material would surface, that would be interesting.

 

purple music April 17, 2007

so, for my first post i’m tackling the big one. prince.

well, prince himself is rather small but his catalogue of work is…a monstrosity. with another artist, a prolific output could amount to countless filler, mediocre demos and alternate (ie. crap) versions of their better known work. but with prince, not so much.

some of prince‘s b-sides, leftover album tracks and unreleased gems are as popular amongst fans as his hits. and just when you think there can’t be any more, he unleashes yet more lost jams – seriously, from 1976 to 1990 this man must have only have been let out of the studio to perform.

I’m going through a serious prince moment right now. 2007 has seen a return to his patented minneapolis funk style amongst the r&b community in particular. p diddy and fergie’s press play reject ‘all night long’, ashanti‘s ‘my number babe’ and unklejam‘s ‘love ya’ to name just three.

one of the disconcerting things about growing up listening to prince was that at an early age, you suspected that you were already taller than him. his songs had cute, girly titles like ‘pink cashmere’, ‘peach and ‘kiss’ that failed to alert your parents to the rudeness that lied beneath. and like most little girls he loved purple and was unashamedly crazy. he loved to dress up and act like a diva – we identified.

during the ‘symbol’ era, many thought he had taken self-obsession a step too far – he thought he was unique, and therefore untouchable. the critics disagreed but guess who ended up being right?

one of great things about prince is that he was happy to share the limelight. to give up some of his best songwriting to other artists such as chaka khan (i feel for you), the bangles (manic monday), and sinead o’connor (nothing compares 2 u), was an inspired move that ensured his longevity. back in the day, when you literally bought the album and hoped for new b sides, his output was consistent rather than overwhelming and you never had the opportunity to get tired of him (beyonce, take note). whilst his latest protege or composition, liberally sprinkled with his signature style, wowed the public, he was backstage plotting his next move.

he remains to this day the daddy of the protege business, using his purple magic to launch the albeit short-lived careers of taja sevelle, vanity 6, jill jones and sheila e amongst others, and the various bands he performed with over the duration of his career – the time, the family, the revolution and the new power generation.

this is my current hard to find prince top 10 – it changes daily. i have more prince on my mp3 player than any other artist – about 150 tracks. ok, so these days you can download anything but these are non-album tracks, at least.

you can find more rare prince here, some tracks he wrote for other artists and some varying attempts to replicate his style.

top 10 hard-to-find prince mp3s… download here

17 days
originally written for vanity 6 sequel project appollonia, prince eventually released this as the b side to ‘when doves cry’ in 1984. amazing bassline, almost as good as the a side.

wonderful ass
classic prince circa purple rain. no idea why it didn’t make the cut – maybe warner bros. couldn’t handle the concept of a song with ‘ass’ in the title? well, it was 1983.

sex
again, prince tells it like it is and this gem doesn’t make the cut for the ‘batdance‘ soundtrack released in 1989. just before color me badd moved the boundaries of acceptability…

tell me how u wanna b done
remix of ‘the continental’ from the ‘symbol’ album. but much better.

cindy c
1987’s controversial ‘black album’ was pulled due to concern over the overt eroticism of the lyrics…uh…had they been listening to the other lyrics up until this point? prince apparently had a huge crush on cindy crawford, despite her towering over him by a good nine inches.

erotic city
ok, so prince is obsessed with sex. but this b side to ‘let’s go crazy’ is a fan favourite and still tears up the dancefloor.

love or $
hard to find track featured in the film ‘under the cherry moon’ that failed to make the cut for the accompanying soundtrack, ‘parade’. only ever officially released as the b side to ‘kiss’.

last heart
an album track from the 1985 ‘dream factory’ project that got shelved when prince was forced to streamline the content to create 1987’s ‘sign of the times’ album.

18 and over
1991 diamonds and pearls-era reject that picks up where ‘gett off’ and ‘cream’ left off…

underneath the cream
a track from 2004’s ‘chocolate invasion’ album which was only available via the npg music club.

expect more prince in future posts…