dirty martini

old music for new people

the hit factory October 25, 2008

if you are too young to remember the late 80s, or young enough not to question, you might be under the illusion that stock, aitken and waterman were cool. they were never cool.

almost no one over the age of 13 would have admitted to liking any of their music, apart from the artists who glossed over their involvement – princess, i do mean you.

all of saw’s artists had a story. kylie and jason were aussie soap stars who denied being an item, sonia was from liverpool and had starred in bbc comedy ‘bread’, rick astley had been a teaboy…etc

some of the music, surprisingly, stands up 20 years on. the reynolds girls, the twins and stefan dennis did not make this list. funny that.

download here

bananarama – venus

big fun – can’t shake the feeling

brother beyond – the harder i try

dead or alive – you spin me round

jason donovan – nothing can divide us

kylie minogue – je ne sais pas pourquoi

lonnie gordon – happenin’ all over again

mel and kim – flm

pepsi and shirlie – goodbye stranger

princess – say i’m your no1

rick astley – whenever you need somebody

sonia – you’ll never stop me loving you

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you can’t escape christmas December 17, 2007

xmas-treee.jpg

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

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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…

 

80s girl bands – hair, hair and more hair September 29, 2007

bananarama.jpg

 there weren’t as many girl bands back in the 80s. boys shifted units and were infintely more marketable.

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bananarama – i heard a rumour

infamous for their total lack of singing ability but this added to their girl next door appeal. as a trio they managed to hold a note though, even when the lineup alternated, destiny’s child style. no one remembers the dark haired one they brought in to replace siobhan when she left to form shakespear’s sister. well, her name was jacqui and she looked like a prison warden.

bangles – eternal flame

possibly the most hair of all the girl groups. prince wrote their first hit, ‘manic monday’ and it was all good from there, for a god few years. have joined the long list of acts who have had one of their songs butchered by rough as old boots scouse band atomic kitten.

expose – seasons change

expose were huge in the US, not so much in the UK. predated en vogue and once they arrived, we really didn’t need expose anymore.

klymaxx – i’d still say yes

one of few all-girl 80s soul groups, and all the better for it. doubtlessly inspired many a 90s r&b girl band.

mai tai – body and soul

dutch group who had an interesting euro twang to their vocals and sound. huge smils, braids and pvc catsuits were the order of the day. this track is enjoyably bouncy machine pop but most of their output was smoother.

mary jane girls – in my house

sassy girls who must hopefully be reaping some royalties from the endless sampling of their biggest hit ‘all night long’. this track, sounds like it belongs in ‘fast times at ridgemont high’.

mel and kim – flm

chirpy cockney sisters who inspired a nation of girls to raid their local branch of chelsea girl for bowler hats and cropped jackets. mel sadly died only a few years after they found success. whilst the track refers to ‘fun, love and money’ the title actualy stands for ‘fuckin’ lovely mate’.

pepsi and shirlie – goodbye stranger

started their careers singing backup for wham and came into their own after the split. owned the puffball skirt look in 1987.

pointer sisters – automatic

responsible for enduring party classics ‘i’m so excited’ and ‘jump’. actually formed in the 60s and didn’t achieve commerical success for 15 years by which time the girls were in their mid-late 30s.

salt-n-pepa – i like it like that

first ladies of hiphop and there was actually a third member, spinderella, who was gradually coaxed out from behind her decks. now the subjects of a reality show, these girls astound me as they do not appear to have aged in 20 years.

seduction – heartbeat

another girl band with big hair and small clothes.

vanity 6 – he’s so dull

prince’s band, whose one and only album is quite literally the sound of four teenage girls on a sleepover.

 

the summer of 1985 June 8, 2007

if there’s one summer from my childhood that i remember fondly, it’s the summer of 1985. not just because it was an actual summer, with sun and heat (not humidity – there’s a difference). before global warming screwed up the weather and i had to get on the year round sauna they call the london underground, summer was anticipated as an enjoyable season.

if the weather was like it is today – that’s torrential rain and dismal temperatures, for non-brits – the summer holidays were spent inside or shopping. but for most days, we had a beach hut, and every day I would get up early to watch tv-am with roland rat, and most importantly, the weather forecast, to see if we’d spend the day at home or go down to the beach.

i’d put on my jelly shoes, grab my jelly bag and we’d set off. not in a car, that would have been too easy. we had to walk for about 30 minutes to the right bus stop, then get a hot, sweaty bus to the seafront. back then children didn’t rule the world, so I’d probably have to stand or some miserable old bag would literally glare you out of your seat.

on arrival, we checked who else was there. the hut was only really big enough to house a kettle, a portable radio, some folding chairs, a windbreaker and a hula hoop. why we sacrificed valuable space for a kettle, in the height of summer, i’ll never know. why do parents panic at the thought of not being able to drink tea every five minutes? mine were always making excuses not to do something because they ‘hadn’t had a cup of tea yet.’ and still do.

so if no other kids were there, I would cut lonely figure, playing with my little ponies, hula hooping, and trying to catch butterflies in a fishing net. my mum would lie there in the blazing hot sun, with her cup of tea, listening to radio victory and tuning me out. me and my friends wandered pretty much wherever we wanted, across the road to the beach, to the lake, the playground, the fair. you could do things like that, back then.

i suppose these days most kids would get bored going to same place about four or five times a week. in the 80s there really wasn’t much point staying at home unless you wanted to watch why don’t you… all summer.

so this is the soundtrack to those hot sunny days at the beach. yes, there are dance routines to all of these songs which i am often tempted to break into when i hear them. it was probably the same dance routine for nine year old girls all over the UK.

now that’s what i call the summer of 1985…download here

amazulu – excitable

the 7″ single was a cool transparent blue vinyl, which looked a frisbee. amazulu were a pop/reggae band who had a string of hits in the mid 80s, their biggest was a cover of ‘too good to be forgotten’ originally by the chi-lites (although I was completely unaware of this at the time).


cameo – single life

cameo, before they became infamous for ‘word up’ and that red codpiece, made quality 70s and 80s funk. cameo always did have some humour, it just wasn’t as outlandish earlier on. i can’t believe this hasn’t been sampled yet?


cool notes – in your car

the cool notes had already been lovers’ rock legends and post-disco soul stars by the time the mid 80s arrived but this incarnation as jheri curled poseurs proved their most successful yet. i remember hearing this song on the top 40 and deciding it would be the next single i bought. five star – love take over

god i loved five star…i saw past the dodgy matching catsuits, crispy fried hair and scary eyeliner. and that was just the boys. in this video they danced poolside before piling into a jeep, no storyline. didn’t need one.


madonna – into the groove

this was the moment, for me, when madonna became the biggest star of the 80s. this song gave me a clue as to what the older kids were doing. drinking and dancing in smoky underground clubs. the dance she did in this video, with her hands clasped above her head, was immediately imitated by millions of precocious pre-teen girls. mai tai – history

mai tai were a german soul trio who sang all together and so had a fairly unique sound. bananarama did the same, for a different reason. they sounded like a cat scratching a tin individually. this track, like many uk tracks, doesn’t feature in many round ups of 80s soul classics as it’s not by a us artist. travesty.

prince – raspberry beret

possibly my most favourite prince song ever, but definitely the one i’ve loved for the longest. i like how the lyrics aren’t trying to be clever, they just tell the story. there’s no hidden meaning and unlike a lot of other 80s songs, I don’t understand it differently now that I’m older.

princess – say i’m your no.1 to this day I don’t know how a cheese factory like stock aitken and waterman managed to produce this classic. it’s a shame they didn’t focus on making more music like this, alongside the hugely successful pop conveyor belt.

sister sledge – frankie
this song was just made for little girls. how old was frankie though? we hoped he was 15, and sister sledge were 12, as per the lyrics, but there was a strange old man in the video….and the sisters were pushing 30.

steve arrington – feel so real

steve arrington was the lead singer of slave but i didn’t know of them at the time. this song just sums up that summer as far as, it was just everywhere. it wasn’t necessarily my favourite song but i always think of the beach when i hear it.

tears for fears – everybody wants to rule the world

you couldn’t move for this song in 1985. safari suits and mullets, hmmm…

whitney houston – how will i know

pastel knitwear and pixie boots whitney, while stylistically challenged, was a lot more fun and made better music than crack addict whitney in her velour tracksuit. i remember arguing about the lyrics to this song with an unbearable kid called sally who thought she knew everything. I was right.