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)

Advertisements
 

acceptable in the 80s January 23, 2008

deelyboppers.jpg

 in the 80s, if you ran out of adjectives to describe something or someone, you just made one up.

add that to the obsession for electricity, anything that sounded remotely robotic or computerlike, and bam, you have a hit record. you had to be crazy, bad, make no sense or all of the above. in the 00s peter andre tried to revive this trend by creating ‘insania’ but we just ignored him…

these tracks follow that formula, and are just SO 80s, i love it.

download here 

atlantic starr – freakaristic

this lot were better known for their ballads, so this was a welcome departure. those wild and crazy kids…

billy griffin – systematic

in the 80s everyone had a ‘system’.

brutus – excitation

not a real word. not brutus as in popeye – god who would name their kid brutus?

dazz band – joystick

very futuristic band, and the only example i could find of ‘joystick’. i mean, i don’t have to explain this euphemism do i?

gazebo – lunatic

hot on the heels of flashdance’s ‘she’s a maniac’ (think 118 118 ads). being a lunatic was a good thing back then.

general johnson – x rated love

if ‘love’ becomes x rated, it’s probably not ‘love’ but er, something else. but we still had some decency in the 80s.

kids from fame – hi fidelity

every kids from fame song is so 80s and none of them would survive in any other decade. not even in high school musical.

klymaxx – video kid

in the 80s, video meant video games. they’re just games now. in the 80s ‘games’ meant board games, buckaroo, connect 4 and hungry hippos.

midnight star – scientific love

scientific love…doesn’t sounds very exciting but we all lusted after those at home bunsen burner kits in the argos catalogue back then so, perhaps that was why.

phil collins – sussudio

apparently phil was criticised for trying to make this sound like prince’s ‘1999’. i’m not quite getting that, but, i do like it.

prince – shockadelica

prince can do what he wants anyway. so when he invented ‘shockadelica’ we didn’t argue.

zapp and roger – computer love

one of the first songs to advocate the idea that emotions and computers weren’t mutually exclusive.

 

just let your soul glo April 29, 2007

sometime in about 1984 surfaced a phenomenon that would last well into the late 80s – jheri curl soul.borne out of the post-disco movement, curl soul was a more electronic style that made use of damn near every new sound available. jheri curl soul identified itself in a number of ways –

  1. the hair, obviously. before eddie murphy and co satirised said hairdo in ‘coming to america‘, the jheri curl was big business. cue glistening curls and plenty of grease-stained sofas
  2. the bands often resembled an extended family photo – it was not uncommon for groups to have more than five members
  3. a glitzy name – bonus points for inclusion of the word ‘star’ or ‘band’ and for translating your name into fauxfrancais: atlantic starr, five star, midnight star, the sos band, the bb&q band, royalle delite, club nouveaux, intrique
  4. if you can’t convince your family to join in, or are a norman-no-mates, a duo is your best bet – rene and angela, aurra, ashford and simpson
  5. reflective and/or brightly coloured silk suiting must be standard issue, and don’t forget those shoulder pads. essential for the moody yet inviting, hands on hips pose favoured by many of said bands
  6. 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
  7. sprinkle liberally with tinkly sounds, synths, squelchy basslines and hyperactive drum patterns

for all that, the music should have been shit. but it was amazing. yes it was manufactured, so what. it sounds positively organic next to the late 90s robo-pop of the backstreet boys and britney spears. nothing quite sums up the 80s and a sunny day as effectively as this glossy, aspirational music. nothing made me more desperate to grow up and go to a real club so i could pretend to be one of these perfect specimens.

but since i was ooh, a good 8 years from being able to slip into a club with fake id, i danced in front of the tv in my pixie boots and silver dress, hair piled high and as much makeup as i could get away with. i strutted and pointed and pouted, to my parent’s amusement.

ten jheri curl soul classicsdownload here

midnight star – midas touch
midnight star comprised nine members. the exact role of each is unclear, but they all sported the prerequisite curls and loud suit, so contributed in some small way to the band’s success. this ode to all things gold was their biggest uk hit, in 1986.


klymaxx – the men all pause
pioneering ‘curl soul. klymaxx were a six-piece girl band in the traditional sense – they all played an instrument. this track was from their 1984 album ‘ meeting in the ladies room’.


lillo thomas – sexy girl
textbook 1987 example of the genre. associate of kashif and paul laurence, lillo was an olympic calibre athlete before an accident in 1984 forced him to pursue an alternative career.


the sos band – no one’s gonna love you
exquisitely produced track that almost sums up the genre. lovely bells, swooshes and that bassline. if it sounds familiar, it was sampled by r&b singer maxwell for a remix of his first hit ‘ascension’ in 1996.

rene and angelai’ll be good
slightly scary example of the curl’n’suit combo who had several sizable hits in the mid-80s. this 1985 hit was later used to good effect by jay-z and foxy brown.

jermaine stewart – we don’t have to take our clothes off
song that we delighted in singing at brownies, because we thought it was rude. from the poppier end of jheri curl soul and in fact, jermaine had unnaturally straight hair. perhaps in protest? can’t have been any easier to maintain…


atlantic starr – silver shadow
active throughout the 80s, atlantic starr are best known for ballads ‘always’ and ‘secret lovers’. this track was only released in the uk, where it prospered on the back of the club scene ignited by loose ends et al.


kashif – i just gotta have you
a big part of the 80s soul scene, producer kashif‘s own releases aren’t as well known as his work for others, including disco queen evelyn champagne king, george benson and dionne warwick, amongst others.


mac band – roses are red
a good example of the simple but effective lyrics used in many jheri soul cuts. this track still gets played out today.


the jets – curiosity
this polynesian eight-piece family act first rose to fame in 1987 with the poppy ‘crush on you’ led by then 15 year old vocalist elizabeth. since their late 80s success, younger siblings have replaced those retiring, from a pool of seventeen candidates.