dirty martini

old music for new people

90s r&b: long lost midtempos September 15, 2008

90s r&b albums were full of midtempos, even though it was usually the ballads or club bangers that got released as singles.

so, there are plenty of quality tunes that never really saw the light of day.

download 90s r&b midtempos

assorted phlavors – lovin’ on the d.l

the girls only released one album, and managed not to overdo the ballads. arrived at the same time as allure, who were more successful. well, they made it to three albums.

brandy – as long as you’re here

this is from brandy’s 1994 debut. like so many other r&b albums of its era, it had some tiresome interludes and so you often didn’t make it past ‘sunny day’, which is a shame as there were a couple of cool midtempos.

brownstone – revenge

like 3t, brownstone suffered somewhat from the michael jackson effect. believe it or not at one point he was considered a bit safe…anyway, by the time of the girls’ second album they appeared to have shaken off the worthiness that plagued parts of their debut.

braxtons – girl on the side

the fact that the sisters would only make one album was a foregone conclusion. spin-off family groups have limited success for a reason. if any were better than their famous sibling, they would have been the one with the career.

changing faces – am i wasting my time

less sleazy than their other earlier offerings. they marked their territory early with ‘stroke you up’, but could have had much more interesting careers if they’d switched to an A&R with a clue.

janet jackson – where are you now

janet only really started doing midtempos in the 90s as far as I can remember. this is the janet remixed version, which is far superior.

kreuz – crush on you

kreuz, in true copycat brit style, tried to emulate r.kelly with tunes like ‘slap and tickle’. this is so much better. these days, emulating r.kelly is best left to the comedians.

mariah carey – slipping away

not strictly an album track, but should have been as its better than the ballads on ‘daydream’. love this early 90s style mariah.

mokenstef – it happens

i always thought ‘he’s mine’ was a cute song, but didn’t have high hopes for the album. this is a really nice track, that could have made a great single.

shola ama – can’t have you

shola is the uk queen of midtempo soul, when she isn’t being remixed for the uk garage crew. that late 90s/early 00s style has been sounding tired of late but with the next decade approaching it will probably undergo a revival.

swv – coming home

swv’s first album saw many tracks released and remixed, but not this one. i think a remix would have lost the point, so its good that they left well enough alone.

xscape – is my living in vain

xscape don’t have a plethora of great album tracks in their back catalogue, their strongest tracks tended to get released, but this is the essence of their debut.

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r&b girl bands: voted off the island April 26, 2008

assuming they were famous enough to get on a reality show in the first place. the 00s have not really been a great time for girl bands. in the late 90s it was a crowded market, full of stage school wannabes thrown together with people they hate and a few genuine girl groups looking to capitalise on the spice trend.

who do we have now? sugababes? girls aloud? tch…

download here

3lw – feelin’ you

ok not exactly drifting towards obscurity but in music terms, it’s over. interestingly when they debuted in 2000 they were sounding too mature and now in their 20s, they’re disney. counter-intuitive.

411 – on my knees

brit girl band from a few years back. like danity kane but less porn channel and more smtv. fond of hiphop sampling to communicate street credentials.

aaries – strangers to lovers

have collaborated with sir musiq of soulchild and this alone should have raised more interest. add that to the fact that they’re a fairly talented bunch and make quality soul not ringtone r&b and it’s difficult to see where it went wrong.

anjel – not the way i pictured it

after being dumped by beyonce and kelly (ok, beyonce and mathew..), letoya and latavia hooked up with naty quinones and tiffany beaudoin to form short-lived anjel.

bella  – never be me

yet another ‘big on myspace’ act that didn’t translate. see also ‘jazzy’ and ‘unklejam’.

blaque – i’m good

had a not bad run thanks to their mentor, left eye. blaque actually started out ten years ago nowm as blaque ivory. this track is now a staple of show like ‘so you think you can dance’ and ‘bump’n grind’ on trouble.

gyrlfriend – sprung

produced by the underdogs, but it wasn’t enough. their names is so 90s, as well.

her sanity – xclusive

over-produced and silly name. like a budget version of allure.

isyss – not letting him go

including the sister of actress meagan good, this group were quite good and focused on uptempos, which is always a bonus.

js – someone

think changing faces, not updated a great deal, for the 00s. i might have missed something but i don’t recall the original group being so popular that we needed a sequel.

phajja – checkin’ for me

their two albums were actually ok. a bit like brownstone to me. but they nicked a classic album title, ‘meeting in the ladies room’ and this seemed to seal their fate.

tg4 – two minutes

not very tastefully sang about virginity with needa s…yes that old woman once known as smooth. eww. that family are sleaze. lying about their ages and allegedly corrupting kids.

 

90s girl bands – all credit to the spice girls. no really… July 26, 2007

girls-posing-98352.jpg

 so, a while back i did a post on the premier r&b girl bands of the 90s, and this is the b list. the ones who now work in telesales, stay at home with their kids or ‘went back to college to study fashion’.

its funny that the spice girls are still credited with opening up the market for girl acts, in a decade widely remembered for the proliferation of drippy irish boy bands. in the same way that nkotb didn’t invent boy bands, the spice girls were far from an influence on ooh, about 50 or so r&b girl groups that came before them. i laughed when i read an early US review that claimed the spice girls sounded ‘a bit like tlc’. yeah and mya sounds a bit like aretha.

so, being the same age as baby spice i was far too old to get caught in the spice trap and managed to navigate the irritation of my then new boyfriend fancying geri halliwell. we’re still together, and he denies everything.

these groups didn’t go on to conquer the world (destiny’s child) and don’t enjoy regular royalty payments by being featured on countless classic r&b compilations (jade, swv). they probably only had one good album each, that wasn’t quite successful enough to guarantee a follow up.

such groups don’t really exist today as it’s not commercially viable to put any money into new acts that will have limited success. at least this lot managed to shift a few units, if not a platinum amount. so, if they think they’re skint now, they should thank their lucky stars they weren’t born ten years later…check out the 90s girl band premier league and the even more unfortunate one-hit wonders. and the no-hit wonders.

90s also-ran girl bands – download here

zhane – sending my love

zhane’s early work was club friendly but little substance…so they did a reverse nelly furtado and wrote some nice material for their second album. also check out ‘crush’.

assorted phlavors – make up your mind

this group, with their typical mid 90s sound, suffered somewhat from arriving on the cusp of timbaland and missy‘s late 90s r&b revolution. along with…

allure – head over heels

…mariah’s girl group, who are still together but have suffered from delays and non-starters with their second and third albums.

braxtons – slow flow

yes, as in, toni‘s sisters. the group thing didn’t last long but tamar has had minimal solo success. did a fairly pointless cover of diana ross’ ‘the boss’.

for real – like i do

identikit 90s r&b group with no distinguishing features. briefly attempted to differentiate themselves with the original version of this track and its accompanying motown-style video.

nuttin nyce – in my nature

nastier than jade and more vocally challenged than swv, their main competition at the time. most of their tunes now sound very dated.

kut klose – surrender

slinky slow jam specialists, in my opinion they did grind’n’b much better than the slightly desparate sounding changing faces.

mokenstef – he’s mine

popular track from another faceless r&b group that doubtless prompted a thousand catfights in the (then very few) r&b clubs across the country.

sista – i wanna be with you

sista‘s album was shelved but has since leaked, and you can hear proto-missy all over it.

good girls – just call me

perennial old skool half-hour favourite, in the hard to find remix version. despite this, the good girls found chart success elusive, perhaps due in part to their odd penchant for acid wash denim, which was seriously passe by 1992.

 

dick in a box April 23, 2007

you’ve all seen the saturday night live sketch where trousersnake parodies early 90s slow jams and, well, himself actually, if his hit rate is to be believed. maybe his moves are more sophisticated now, but I bet preteen justin listened and learned. janet jackson, scarlett johansson, emma bunton, cameron diaz, beyonce, britney, christina, alyssa milano, that dancer..countless others…they all fell for it.

in 1991, color me badd started something. three years after george michael‘s ‘i want your sex’ was banned, songs about sex hit the charts so fast that the regulators just gave up, it seems. la tour‘s ‘people are still having sex’, salt-n-pepa‘s ‘let’s talk about sex’ and the divinyls‘ ‘i touch myself’ were successful but they didn’t respectively alter the output of house, hiphop and rock in the way that ‘i wanna sex you up’ achieved.
until then new jack swing was mostly slickly produced, frenetic workouts requiring the running man dance, which was never going to work as foreplay really, was it? thus, bedroom music was, if not born, kicked into the 90s and made saucier than ever.color me badd never quite replicated the success of their first single, mostly because all of their other songs were shit. they started to overdo the foreplay and lost the sleaze, by appearing in magazines gushing about how they loved to stroke a woman’s hair, buy her roses and chocolates, before getting her into bed.

no woman on earth was gonna fall for that. but we do have them to thank for 90s slow jams and probably a lot of kids now aged about 15 or 16…

ten rude songs with which to woo your 90s lover – download here

 


color me badd – i wanna sex you up
obviously. I prefer the new jack city version not the way too obvious ‘let me take off all your clothes…’. cos that was the one we used to sing in classes run by ageing substitute teachers, leading them to denounce us as ‘devil children’. lol. no, i didn’t go to a convent.

r.kelly – your body’s calling
I was alarmed when my then five year old cousin named r.kelly as his favourite singer. turned out he’d only heard ‘i believe I can fly’ and ‘gotham city’. phew! i was so not gonna be buying him ’12 play’ for christmas.

kut klose – I like
I really like this song. and they do that popular mid 90s girl group ‘ohyeaheehyeahahahyeahyeah‘ bit in the chorus. oh you know what i mean… kut klose were keith sweat‘s girl group and they had some great slow jams on their one and only album.

changing faces keep it right there
nice remix by creepy devante of jodeci. changing faces improved over time from their awful debut ‘stroke you up’ to 2000’s great ‘that other woman’.

jodeci freek’n’you
later jodeci track bumped in every clapped out boy racer in london at some point in 1996. thanks to condition of said cars, it rarely had the desired effect on the ladies, sadly, and they looked a bit er, gay.

aaliyah age ain’t nothin‘ but a number
except it is when you’re 14, from a legal standpoint. try to ignore that fact and enjoy babygirl’s cooing vocals.1-900 – oh
forgotten new jack swing slowie with a nice color me badd style beat. so obscure i couldn’t find a picture of them.

adina howard – freak like me
the sugababes cover used an 80s electro classic and was coolly clever, but dropped the sleaziness of the original like a hot potato. which was half the point.

silk – freak me
another level‘s later cover version sounds impressively copycat given that they’re essex boys. but the original beats out dane bowers and co any day, for those that know.

swv – downtown
if you can’t work this song out you’re not old enough to be reading this. swv, along with mary j blige, inspired many of today’s r&b acts.