dirty martini

old music for new people

i love 1987: love don’t cost a thing June 26, 2008

i love the john hughes movies, all of which gave my pre-teen self a fascinating window into the lives of the older girls and boys. of course, not only did things change by the time i reached a similar age in the mid 90s, but these were american, not british experiences.

can’t buy me love, starring patrick dempsey aka dr mcdreamy and long lost actress amanda peterson, wasn’t a john hughes creation, but it was perhaps the best of the genre. if the stereotypes the other films had drilled home were true, ronald miller was too cute to be considered a real geek and cindy mancini was too nice to be a real cheerleader but it just worked. they were believable as a couple.

the whole movie is exactly as i remember 1987 or at least, what i aspired to. a pastel coloured bedroom, curly hair, the cheerleader/high school prom experience. its almost as though i didn’t see the sulky uk teenagers smoking fags outside circle k and realise that was what was really in store for most of us.

i know the rumours about a pretty in pink sequel have been doing the rounds for years, but patrick dempsey has said this is the only sequel he would consider. amanda must need the cash by now surely?

download here

alexander o’neal and cherrelle – never knew love like this

donna allen – serious

exotic – i’ve got to be your lover

five star – made out of love

georgio – sex appeal

jellybean and elisa fiorillo – who found who

jets – curiosity

karyn white – facts of love

lisa o – so delicious

michael jackson – the way you make me feel

narada michael walden – divine emotions

starpoint – object of my desire

i love 1986

i love 1985

i love 1984

i love 1983

i love 1982

i love 1981

i love 1980

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i love 1985: machine funk May 2, 2008

i loved 1985…what can i say? it’s probably year dot as far as my non-hazy childhood memory goes.

live aid, madonna, jheri soul, john hughes movies…it’s all in there. i did a post on the summer of 1985 about a year ago.

19801981198219831984

download here

alexander o’neal – innocent

alex is mad as a bag of ferrets these days, but in the 80s he was funky. his backing tracks were artifical, over produced and all the better for it.

bar-kays – she talks to me

fab prince-lite with that bubbly mechanical bass.

bb&q band – dreamer

one of the finest exponents of jheri curl soul, which really took hold in 85. grown ups looked scary back then.

cherrelle – artificial heart

better known these days for smoking crack with whitney, back then she was alex o’neal’s default collaborator and had a pretty good career of her own.

five star – all fall down

this was five star’s first big hit, and the video was so 80s – ivory marble effect set, the band in clashing blue catsuits and cartoon inserts…

kokopop – ulterior motive

a b list new edition…in fact there were a few of these, maybe i should do a post…

leroy burgess – heartbreaker

still going, leroy was a member of disco group black ivory and also related to kool and the gang’s robert and ronald bell.

lillo thomas – i’m in love

lillo and his impressive moustache were fond of heavily produced polyfunk.

o’bryan – tenderoni

wonder who first coined the term ‘tenderoni’ as pioneered by o’bryan, chromeo and bobby brown?

paul hardcastle – don’t waste my time

brit computer geek but don’t let that put you off…oh and don’t let ’19’ out you off either…

rochelle – my magic man

loved this and thought she was a one hit wonder, but apparently there was another one – which i now have to find.

sexual harrassment – k.i.s.s.i.n.g

charming name for a band….not…every bit as nasty as ‘i need a freak’. nasty like prince, i mean.

 

everybody loves leona April 11, 2008

so leona has cracked the US, big time. i’m pleased for her and now I see why her album contains so many ballads. their cheese radar is lower than that of the endlessly critical brits, perhaps…and some people find ballads cheesy. leona does them well though.

so whilst ‘spirit’ is good quality, there’ll be plenty of time for a mature sound later on. now that she’s cemented her popularity for the foreseeable future, she really needs to nail the pop/r&b crossover next time. anyway, since leona’s second album must be a sure thing by now I was wondering how it’ll turn out. so, these are the types of songs that I’d like to hear from her.

download here

aaliyah – hot like fire

leona has the right tone to her voice to copy aaliyah’s style but has much more range, so it would be interesting…

adriana evans – looking for your love

this type of sweet, live instrumental track would be a good personality fit for leona, who appears to have won over the US and UK public with her sweet, down to earth manner. i’m not with those who translate this into a lack of personality – if she was delivering witty asides to camera, that would be fake.

amerie – crush

this would have been a cute track for leona. for whatever reason amerie continue to flop, maybe leona could take this off her hands…

brownstone – if you love me

no point having that vocal capability if you’re not going to show it off?

juicy – sugar free

in fact she did record an updated version of this called ‘suga sweet’ pre-x factor, and it’s not bad. midtempo 80s soul would be a nice contrast with her voice.

mariah carey – we belong together

in a way, ‘better in time’ is her ‘we belong together’. but another one won’t hurt. maybe she should keep it back for her third album.

prince – if i was your girlfriend

some princespiration won’t go amiss…why not, everyone else is doing it. if leona’s going to shake off her good girl image, she should go classic, not sleaze.

keisha white – open like so

leona will need to do sass at some point. not in a trashy beyonce style, or man-bashing late 90s jittery r&b, but something a bit more direct. like this.

kelly rowland – can’t nobody

i see this as the type of club track leona might do – not too aggressive or desperately current, just something that works.

alexander o’neal and cherrelle – never knew love like this

leona and lemar. please.

shola ama – you’re the one i love

this was the song that i remember shola for the most, not sure if it was her biggest hit but it was the perfect balance between pop and r&b. but in the 90s, for a uk artist, this was about as r&b as it got.

swv – weak

if leona sticks with some ballads, I would love to see her tackle some 90s style slow jams.

 

soul power couples: the classics October 23, 2007

lovebirds.jpg

duets don’t always work. i think simon cowell is about to find this out to his detriment – ‘same difference’ the icky brother and sister act on this year’s x factor are not going to resonate with a nation that just finds these things a bit, well…creepy.  what was that simon? you think they’ll capture the ‘high school musical’ market? make that ‘flowers in the attic’.

not as creepy as ‘two to go’ though, from x factor 2004. i haven’t got over that yet. psychopathic nursing home worker tries to carve career from exploitation of blind gareth gates-alike brother. ewwww.

if you bring together two equally talented, non-related singers however, the results can be spectacular. witness.

download here

bill medley and jennifer warnes – the time of my life

dirty dancing, like grease before it, will outlive us all. the soundtrack, and this song in particular, made the film the success it was. and made enough cash to get jennifer grey that ill-advised nose job…hope that ‘friends’ cameo paid well.

carla thomas and otis redding – tramp

much sampled classic – many female singers in the 60s paled in comparison to the commerical power of the supremes and undeniable talent of aretha. and otis is just otis and he died too young.

cherrelle and alexander o’neal – never knew love like this

whitney’s partner-in-crack cherrelle was once a respectable soul singer albeit only really famous for her collaborations with alex. who is slightly ‘eccentric’ himself as i recall from his bizarre participation in ‘just the two of us’ in which he duetted with a dumpy newsreader for the entertainment of the british public. someone really needs to stop the bbc making musical reality shows.

diana ross and lionel richie – endless love

i never got the whole diana ross thing. she is not a great singer. that dreamgirls storyline must have hit her where it hurts. i always wanted to see this film based on the song though.

janet jackson and luther vandross – best things in life are free

i may have forgotten the plot of the film ‘mo money’ to which this was the lead soundtrack, but i can remember this being played on a loop in the summer of 1992 at a very out of control house party.

judy clay and william bell – private number

another 60s duo who found themselves overshadowed. these two were on stax, not motown. which was way cooler.

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

mary’s problems didn’t start with her relationship with kci, but they did seem to begin to resolve themselves once she extricated herself. as ever, trying times can equal good music. people who say they wish mary would get messed up again so she can produce better music are wrong though.

roberta flack and donny hathaway – the closer i get to you

a whole album to choose from but the simplicity of this song is what makes it so special. that and donny hathaway, who could sing the bus timetable and stop me being pissed off that there’s only a bus ‘every 15-19 minutes’.

sheena easton and prince – u got the look

prince clearly saw a niche for scottish reality tv stars. especially those shorter than him – he doesn’t collaborate with just anyone. oh wait, he sort of does. carmen electra anyone?

the sos band and alexander o’neal – the finest

not sure how this came about? an early bootleg? i don’t remember him being on the original. he probably doesn’t either…cough…is he still wandering up and down kilburn high road looking confused?

syreeta and billy preston – with you i’m born again

this song is one of my earliest memories. it has that classic late 70s combination of plaintive harmonies,  and smooth vocals.

tammi terrell and marvin gaye – you’re all i need to get by

marvin and tammi were a much better match talentwise than marvin and insipid diana ross.

 

come back 80s whitney! April 27, 2007

once upon a time, there was a young girl with a big voice. she had the connections, the looks and the talent to have the world at her feet.
by the time whitney houston had completed her third album in 1990, many began to criticise her slickly produced, commercial sound and she was infamously booed at the 1989 soul train awards.
whitney is, and always has been managed by clive davis of arista. this was her choice – since singing on a track ‘life’s a party’ for disco outfit the michael zager band at the age of 14 in 1977, she had been offered countless deals. she turned them down, they’re weren’t big enough. it wasn’t until she caught the eye of clive davis in 1983 that she finally accepted.
whilst her voice naturally gravitated towards soul and r&b, she always intended to reach the mass, not niche market. but, prior to the completion of her first eponymous album, she duetted with r&b singers teddy pendergrass and kashif.
in 1985, the album was finally ready and initially, one of the album’s more soulful cuts, ‘someone for me’ was released in the UK. something wasn’t clicking. arista then released ‘you give good love’ and whilst it flopped in the UK, in the US it was the record that broke whitney.
it was swiftly followed up by ‘saving all my love for you’ her first international hit, and number one on both sides of the atlantic. uptempo number ‘how will i know’ and george benson cover ‘the greatest love of all’ cemented her mainstream popularity, to some extent alienating the soul and r&b contingent. her hugely successful second album ‘whitney‘, didn’t pacify those who thought she had sold out.
hooking up with renowned bad boy bobby brown and the associated kudos for snaring a hot younger man – she had to be doing something right – helped whitney shed her wholesome image. still, right up to their duet ‘something in common’ in which for the video, bobby and a heavily pregnant whitney cavorted poolside, it also appeared that bobby was a reformed man.
after the resounding success of whitney‘s film and soundtrack ‘the bodyguard’, and bobby‘s second album, the pair took a break. although they surfaced frequently over the next 5 or 6 years, for remixes (bobby) and more films (whitney), something was awry. rumours began to circulate that both were addicted to various drugs and bobby faced a series of charges that culminated in a spaced out whitney clinging to her husband as he was released from jail in 1998. recently it was alleged that she was living in a rented hovel with 80s singer cherrelle, having blown her fortune on drugs.
but with their divorce now final, and feisty daughter bobbi kristina more settled, whitney has a new album due and her life seems back on track. no doubt she is older and wiser but I can’t help but wish for the sparkling, curly hair and legwarmers whitney of the 80s, which she’ll now never be again. even if you thought the music was too polished, it was better than yelling-obscenities-in-a-dirty-velour-tracksuit whitney, wasn’t it?
ten reasons whitney should lay off the drugsdownload here
someone for me
80s synth pop/soul, you need to actually listen to it properly or it tends to wash over you.
thinking about you
intended to be the third single, but only released to radio. whitney roped in kashif, whom she had already duetted with for this nice, uptempo grower.
you give good love
a top 5 hit in the US and one of her best songs. the video, showing her singing in an underground club, is said to be one of whitney‘s favourites, due to its simplicity.
how will i know
the song that all little girls who grew up in 80s will remember. this bouncy tune is pastel-wearing fun whitney at her best.
all at once
this ballad is a fan favourite from the debut album.
shock me
duet with jermaine jackson, from 1985’s ‘perfect’ soundtrack. a jumpy uptempo number in the tradition of footloose, flashdance and fame.
moment of truth
1987 b-side of ‘i wanna dance with somebody’. a sweet midtempo number that could have slotted into the ‘whitney album’ perfectly.
love is a contact sport
probably intended to be ‘how will i know’ part 2. most people probably don’t remember this from the ‘whitney album’ due to the proliferation of ballads.
feel so good
1990 b-side of i’m your baby tonight’. nothing groundbreaking but nice to have.
dancin‘ on the smooth edge
whitney does 90s slow jam on this 1990 b-side to ‘all the man i need’.
 

miss jackson if you’re nasty April 17, 2007

ok, let’s get this out of the way first. janet jackson is not the best singer in the industry. but the standard appears to have now been set by artists who employ rampant melisma and the technically brilliant yet incredibly unappealing christina aguilera.

janet‘s breakthrough was in 1986 with the ‘control’ album produced by jimmy jam and terry lewis, previously members of prince‘s group, flyte time. no vocal gymnastics necessary, this album was anchored by janet‘s confident delivery and the precedent set by electro funk/soul such as shannon‘s ‘let the music play’ and cherrelle‘s ‘i didn’t mean to turn you on’.

the album was short – 8 tracks – but it was a crash course in being a young woman in 1986 and beyond. female assertion at a time when destiny’s child were trying to colour inside the lines at elementary school (subject to age verification, cough). janet instructed young girls to take control, cut family ties, kick your boyfriend into touch and make him wait for it.these were ideas that resonated with my pre-teen group, and even more so with the teenage community, who appreciated further reinforcement of the guidance from girls’ magazines like just seventeen and mizz on dealing with sex. in 1986, the media didn’t dare portray 12 year old girls getting pregnant and carrying on happily with their lives in the way coronation street and eastenders would have us believe is possible in recent years. they put out messages about safe sex and waiting until you were older, because society had a spiralling aids epidemic to combat before it even dealt with teenage mums. janet, in her own way, made it cool to say no.

hmm. twenty years ago, no one went online to find that 21 year old janet was in the process of divorcing first husband james debarge, whom she had married at 18. i’ve listened to the ‘control’ album differently since the 2005 claims that they in fact had a baby during their short marriage. back then, you got your info from magazines like smash hits and the one-off interview with parky or terry wogan, and so precious few people even realised she had been married.

of course, its entirely possible that some of the bitterness and icy resolve that made ‘control’ such a great album was a reflection of the fact that janet‘s first two albums, released in 1982 and 1984, flopped. actually they contained some great tracks but failed to inspire, the first merely reflecting the waning disco sound and the second lyrically damper but equally funky as ‘control’, let down by an ill-advised duet with cliff richard. yes, that’s cliff richard.

by the time janet followed up her successs with ‘rhythm nation 1814’ in 1989, social consciousness was the order of the day and this album’s title track remains the only credible plea for unity to date. almost making up for several self-indulgent cheesefests unleashed by her brother.

in the 90s she trod the safer, summery r&b route, to great effect, then lost her way slightly in the 00s by failing to live up to the standards she set for herself. however, in today’s gossip and scandal obsessed culture, surfacing rumours of an 80s baby with then teenage husband james debarge and that wardrobe malfunction have ensured her profile remains high regardless.

and you know you want to look that good when you hit 40. so here is some lesser known janet, enjoy!

top 10 lesser known janet tracksdownload here

making love in the rain
the first collaboration with jazz artist herb alpert released in 1987 , this is a sultry chillout track in a similar vein to ‘funny how time flies’.

diamonds
the second, and better known herb alpert track, following a similar path to the upbeat ‘control’ numbers.

he doesn’t know i’m alive
quintessentially 80s and often overlooked ‘control’ track. ok yes, i used to sing this into a hairbrush.

one more chance
1993 b side to ‘if’ from the ‘janet‘ era. probably left off due to the proliferation of slow jams making the album.

pretty boy
cool electro funk from the 1984 ‘dream street’ album. production-wise, a preview to things to come.

don’t mess up this good thing
janet was too young, and jumped on too late to be a disco pioneer. but this standout track from her self titled debut in 1982 was a taste of what might have been.

where are you now
mid-tempo remix of a melancholy ‘janet‘ track, made sunnier for the ‘janet:remixed’ album by nellee hooper.

70s love groove
janet:remixed’ track originally on the ‘you want this’ single. similar to ‘any time, any place’.

you need me
included on the re-released cassette version of ‘rhythm nation 1814’. a ‘miss you much’ clone (never a bad thing).

accept me
mid-tempo grower released as a b side to ‘every time’ from ‘the velvet rope’.