dirty martini

old music for new people

say my name: d to i April 21, 2008

 

 

 

 
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funnily enough, esmeralda never caught on as a baby name. ’emma’ by hot chocolate was released in 1973…there are a LOT of 25-35 year olds called emma. at least two in every class during my school days.

download here

another bad creation – iesha

blacknuss – dinah

charme – georgy porgy

de la soul – jenifa taught me

hot chocolate – emma 

lloyd – hazel

prince – the ballad of dorothy parker

ryan leslie – irina

william bell – eloise

le gamby – esmeralda

sade – frankie’s first affair

sister sledge – frankie

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sex and the city: season three soundtrack November 9, 2007

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this might be my favourite series. one of the first of three moments that always make me cry is in here. when carrie tells aidan that she’s been sleeping with big at charlotte and trey’s wedding. my friends and i are always divided on the big vs aidan debate. i think big is the one but the movie may yet prove me wrong.

this, for me, is the series where the girls’ friendship comes into its own. i love the way each character reacts to carrie and big’s affair. i love how they all end up alone by the end of the series but never seem happier.

cosmopolitans, as carries cocktail of choice, feature heavily, and we are introduced to the flirtini – pineapple, vodka and champagne. yum. i made some strawberry cosmopolitans in honour of rewatching this series. for research purposes, obviously.

download here

amber – object of your desire

andrea true connection – more more more

carol douglas – doctor’s orders

de la soul – thru ya city

de la soul and chaka khan – all good

donna summer – bad girls

groove armada – sex and the city theme

incognito – parisienne girl

jesse cook – that’s right

nick gilder – hot child in the city

steppenwolf – magic carpet ride

talvin singh – traveller

 

the truth about boy bands: the 80s August 26, 2007

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looking at the picture above, i wonder exactly why we ever thought george michael was straight? i was too young to know the difference, but i did always prefer andrew ridgeley…

80s fans were fiercely loyal to their band. a brosette would never admit liking a song by wet wet wet, or vice versa. this was tantamount to betrayal. i was too young to participate but i liked watching older girls argue about the relative merits of wham and duran duran. the first boy band i liked was a-ha, and morten harket kind of looked like patrick swayze.

14 is the proper age for a boy band fan, i think. i was 13 when nkotb arrived and so jordan knight was my main boyband crush. he was infinitely more interesting than his brother jon who professed a liking for tea and cakes and was going out with tiffany, of the batwing jumpers and shopping mall performances.

the early 80s boy bands were operating alongside the new romantics and so looked, frankly, like big girls. flicked and highlighted hair, pastels, sometimes even makeup. later, the look became more masculine, with ripped jeans, doc martens and leather jackets.

you can also check out their predecessors in my 70s boyband post, or those that followed in the 90s and 00s.

download here

nkotb – valentine girl

four of the new kids enjoyed adoration from screaming teen girls the world over. the other one was danny wood. horse face inexplicably made it into this band despite having neither looks or talent. it was easy to believe danny when he said he didn’t have a girlfriend. at least dane bowers had a voice.

new edition – mr telephone man

the predecessors to nkotb and the first glimpse of bad boy bobby brown, who at the age of 16,in 1985, found himself a father during the height of their success. i don’t remember this being common knowledge when he went solo shortly after. this for me is the best boy band track of the 80s.

johnny hates jazz – shattered dreams

don’t remember much about this group, but the singer had a nice voice and they fitted well with the whole late 80s yuppy soul vibe. filed under 80s cocktail lounge listening.

duran duran – rio

simon le bon and co may actually be the perpetrators of the miami vice style, pastel suit with bright t shirt, rolled up sleeves and loafers combo. between them, the group had so much hair it was ridiculous. john taylor, my favourite, was involved with it girl amanda de cadenet. kind of like tamara beckwith but even more annoying.

wet wet wet – sweet little mystery

scottish blue eyed soul band who did well in the 80s, but really made their cash in the 90s with ‘love is all around’, which was no1 for so long that they had it withdrawn. were they mad? take the cash and run! have since admitted they barely needed to work again thanks to four weddings and a funeral.

musical youth – sixteen

british pop reggae group who would be seen in amusing locations such as the houses of parliament, terrorising stuffy old people. wore baseball caps well. had a certain cachet once it became known that ‘pass the dutchie’ was about smoking weed. ok, so admittedly i still didn’t get it at the time, but i was about six!

bros – chocolate box

south london twins matt and luke and their school friend craig started the ripped jeans and leather craze that defined the end of the 80s. also wore grolsch bottle tops on their shoes, which I had to persuade my dad to get for me despite the fact that he hated grolsch.

wham – credit card baby

probably the most iconic 80s boyband and certainly the campest. hair that defied gravity, hawaiian shirts, shorts, it was all there. battled with frankie goes to hollywood for biggest selling tshirt. in 1984 you could just print ‘choose life’ or ‘frankie says relax’ on a white tshirt and sell millions…

brother beyond – he ain’t no competition

played second fiddle to bros for the most part, but nathan moore had more screaming girls after him as he was fit in a nick kamen kind of way and matt and luke were blond which isn’t every woman’s cup of tea. then nathan shattered the illusion somewhat by becoming the latest in a long line of gullible popstars to get involved with 80s wannabe amanda de cadenet.

spandau ballet – true

the girliest of all the 80s boy bands, and its hilarious to think that martin kemp ended up as bad boy steve owen in eastenders. this song was an end-of-the-school-disco staple along with ‘crazy for you’ and ‘careless whisper’.

a-ha – you are the one

morten, mags and pal caused mass hysteria and filled the boyband shaped void left when wham split and duran duran started getting married and having kids. being from norway their music has a slightly melancholy feel to it, even their uptempo tunes like this one.

curiosity killed the cat – misfit

notable at the time for the lead singer having an odd name – ben voppliere-pierriot – and a slightly girly penchant for berets. smash hits, reliably, gave him a more memorable name of ben volauvent-pierrot-parrot-thingy not everyone will remember that they did the original version of ‘ring ring ring’ by de la soul, called ‘name and number’. i can’t remember how it goes now.

 

peace love and the daisy age August 20, 2007

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i’ve spoken about this before. unbelievable as it may sound now, seventeen years ago people were on a mission to be nicer to each other and connect more. sound alien? well that’s because it didn’t quite work out.

after the summer of love (1988), when people took lots of drugs and decided that everyone wasn’t so bad after all. we bought into the idea of a caring, sharing nineties. we all rushed out and bought a crystal – well, i wasn’t allowed one so I sulked. clearly i had this new age thing on lock….

the fashion…hmm. well i’m getting to that sorry age where certain fashions have started to come back to haunt me. leggings, pixie boots, batwing jumpers and jelly shoes all formed part of my childhood. i can always say that i didn’t exactly choose to wear them the first time round, since no one but my mum was there to witness umpteen tantrums over not being allowed a puffball skirt. i don’t envisage needing to explain away the fact that i chose to wear paisley shirts, pasties and global hypercolour t-shirts in 1990. they ain’t coming back, there will be no second round.

so suddenly, after 80s excess, came social conscience. other good buzzwords for 1990 – unity, collective, family. the soul music of 1990 was so far away from the flash and swagger of today’s r&b its actually surprising its not more than 17 years. the daisy age was really a de la soul movement, but their influence and the new age influence of the time filtered through everything and sat alongside rave, new jack swing and indie.

twelve huggy classicsdownload here

bassomatic – fascinating rhythm

is it rave? is it soul? is it house? i miss music of indeterminate genre such as this. it was good, you liked it, you danced to it – it didn’t matter.

beats international – won’t talk about it

much was made of the fact that vocalist lindy layton was once in grange hill. now, every british celebrity has been in grange hill or eastenders, usually both, then they either make it big or end up in the bill.

chimes – still haven’t found what i’m looking for

this is a rare example of the cover version being so much better than the original. plodding guitar dirge from pious irish rockers or tinkly, shifting grooves from cool acid jazz band? no contest.

de la soul – the magic number

sesame street inspired rap from the original hip hop hippies. as cute and colourful as the boys themselves.

dream warriors – my definition of a boombastic jazz style

jazz hiphop. what a fantastic concept. it sounds as fresh and as alien now as it did back then.

family stand – ghetto heaven

unique, moody soul. about a hooker, no less. i can’t track down any of their other material but if memory serves it was nothing like this track.

innocence – a matter of fact

great soul group that sat between r&b and ambient. the aural equivalent of sitting in a spring garden surrounded by dewy flowers.

jt and the big family – moments in soul

sampled art of noise’s ‘moments in love’ to great effect. another one of indeterminate genre.

movement 98 – joy and heartbreak

chillout soul at its best, but another casualty of the 90s trend for faceless one hit wonders.

neneh cherry – kisses on the wind

immensely likeable in a jordin sparks kind of way, but a lot more street. neneh was the first woman to go on tv and perform whilst heavily, and therefore obviously, pregnant.

seal  – crazy

probably the most commerical of the conscious soul contingent, but success was a sitting duck after ‘killer’ with adamski.

soul ii soul – back to life

i post this track in its 12 inch glory for my friend who dragged me round countless record stores looking for it, just after it became unavailable.

 

barbecue soul and an underage drinking session July 27, 2007

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ok, i don’t want this post to be premature, especially as its raining right now….but, we had a good weekend before last. sunny, reasonably hot and a red sky at night which enhanced our all day in the garden pimms drinking experience.

now i’m waiting on the next one. how sad that we’re reduced to hoping for one more summer’s day in this total washout. more importantly, there are thousands of people who have been evacuated from their homes due to flooding. whilst the uk crisis can’t be compared by scale to what happened in new orleans, for those affected its every bit as devastating. for once i’m lucky to live in a flat, miles from any water. like many natural disasters, those far removed from the flooding are carrying on with business as usual, transport permitting.

oh for reliable summers, not too hot like last year, and not hot and humid like 2003, just warm and sunny with the occasional scorcher. the summer of 1991 was significant for many reasons, and one particular barbecue party stands out.

i don’t actually remember there being any food, although there must have been, what i do remember is the drinks table. piled high with super strongbow, budweiser and k cider. various lurid hip flask bottles of 20/20 fruit wine. my favorite was the coconut one for the ridiculous blue colour. the most drinkable were the orange and green – kiwi? numerous spirits from which we mixed lethal concoctions.

long forgotten drinks of the 80s/90s – taboo and mirage. low % spirits for girls, basically. taboo survives but i haven’t seen mirage since about 1993. pernod and black – why did anyone drink this? that peach wine they used to sell in clubs. snakebite premixed in a bottle. thunderbird – people used to debate whether the red or the blue label was best; they were both horrible

test tube cocktails anyone? i had a particularly eventful 17th birthday thanks to 9 or 10 of these deceptively small treasures. the forerunner or vodka bars and trays of sweet inspired shots.

anyway, copious amounts of alcohol made for a messy night. it was a warm summer night and the dangerous combination of 30 or so 15 year old girls competing over half as many slightly older boys/men (never quite sure what to call them at that age) could have caused carnage. but it was a peaceful night. these days someone would probably get shot. 

somehow we were all out into the early hours – must have used the age old trick of everyone staying at someone else’s house and for once no one’s mum called and unraveled the decepeton. so we sat under stars, on blankets, just having a laugh and chilling out all night.

1991 summer party groovesdownload here

hi-five – i like the way

after 7 – after 7

r.kelly – she’s got that vibe

janet jackson – alright

st etienne – only love can break your heart

jazzy jeff – summertime

color me badd – i wanna sex you up

prince – gett off

natural selection – do anything

ll cool j – around the way girl

de la soul – ring ring ring

heavy d – now that we found love

 

90s brit soul – quality over quantity April 30, 2007

at the turn of the decade, it looked as if uk soul had found an identity. for the most part, artists eschewed the trappings of new jack swing, with its distinctly american, over-produced sound, for a truly local style.


soul ii soul spearheaded this movement, that whilst fiercely british, paid homage to the daisy age, summer of love principles of artists such as de la soul. some stayed true to their soul roots, some moved into dancier territory and others built the foundations of new genres – acid jazz and jungle/drum and bass.


it was looking positive. but as r&b moved into the mainstream in the mid 90s, uk artists gazed enviously at their us counterparts and tried to emulate their success. usually this resulted in a diluted experience that wasn’t street enough for the clubs, yet still too urban for the dinner party set.


these are the ones that survived despite the odds.


ten 90s brit soul survivorsdownload here

shola ama – you’re the one i love – 1996
shola
signed a deal on her 16th birthday that would lead her to become the UK’s most successful r&b female singer in the late 90s. in good rags-to-riches tradition, she was discovered singing at a tube station and released her first single ‘celebrate’ on an independent label in 1995. amusingly, her wikipedia entry declares an addiction to pork pies as a reason for her downfall. when ‘pork pies’ became a euphemism for ‘cocaine’, i’m not sure…





kele le roc – my love – 1999


kele has perhaps become more well known for guest appearances with artists such as basement jaxx than for her solo career. her debut arrived at a time when every r&b single was subjected to the 2-step remix treatment and the uk garage mix of ‘my love’ is one of the best known examples of the genre and certainly eclipsed this underappreciated ignorants‘ r&b mix at the time.


caron wheeler – i adore you – 1992

a stalwart of the uk black music scene since her days in teenage lovers rock band brown sugar in the mid 70s. in the late 80s caron hooked up with legendary dj jazzie b and the rest is history. her role in soul ii soul laid the foundations for a renewed solo career and her album ‘uk blak‘ was released in 1990 to critical acclaim. ‘i adore you’ is her best known solo track, from the 1992 soundtrack ‘mo’ money‘.


elisha la verne – i may be single – 1996

elisha seemed destined for bigger things when she arrived in 1996. like many other artists, she has found enduring success in japan. i can remember a pa she did at my local club in 1996 that was met with cool indifference by the predominantly house-loving crowd. if she’d arrived a few years later things could have been quite different.


tongue ‘n’ cheek – nobody – 1990

tongue’n’cheek’s initial outings, covers of cheryl lynn and patrice rushen disco-era classics, were met enthusiastically after the foundations for brit soul were laid by soul ii soul. this track, remixed from an 1988 original, had a new jack swing feel to it and was far more interesting. tongue’n’cheek suffered somewhat from being difficult to pigeonhole as either a soul or dance music act.


kenny thomas – thinking about your love – 1991

cheeky chappy kenny thomas charmed his way in to the british record buying public’s hearts with a cover of the gap band’s ‘outstanding’, together with winsome video in which he strolled through an east end market. this track was another cover, but not many people realised at the time. he also covered the force md’s ‘tender love’ as if it was his own soon after, capitalising on the fact that mainstream britain knew fuck all about soul music until quite recently. fair play to him.


celetia – missing your love – 1995

with aaliyah, monica and brandy on the scene, it was decided that the UK needed its own underage r&b starlet. enter brixon girl celetia martin, sort of. her debut album failed to ignite, with the then 14 year old slammed for her raunchy lyrics. sometimes i wonder what these critics were doing when they were 14 – knitting? it wasn’t really that shocking… her second album ‘runaway skies’ saw her adopt a more unique and organic persona and was infinitely more successful. she now lives in LA and is working with big name producers such as soulshock and carlin. impressive.


lynden david hall – do i qualify – 1998

could have been one of the biggest artists in the uk if his life wasn’t cut short last year due to hodgkin’s lymphoma. first album ‘medicine 4 my pain’ was a huge success in 1998, and was the first uk artist voted as best male by blues and soul readers. he went on to star in ‘love actually’ as a wedding singer.








don-e – love makes the world go round – 1992

don-e arrived in 1992 with this sunny track, from his debut ‘unbreakable’. although his career stalled after this brief success, he resurfaces occasionally, and joined forces with deni hines to cover new edition’s ‘delicious’ to great effect in 1995.

beverley knight – flavour of the old school – 1994

the most consistently successful artist on this list and owner of an amazing voice. beverley started out in 1994 with ‘b-funk’, and i prefer this early material to her later more poppy/mainstream offerings as I get a bit annoyed when uk r&b artists feel the need to start including guitars in their work to get any kind of recognition…

 

the woman behind the ‘superwoman’ April 27, 2007

sometimes, you discover artists that no one else seems to know about. one day, in my german class at school, we had to name our favourite artist. it was 1990 so the most popular answers, and most acceptable if you wanted to escape the scorn of your peers, were ‘soul ii soul‘ or ‘de la soul‘. and so it went, all around the room. it must have been riveting for the teacher, although he used to play a banjo, so its likely every response was alien to him.

several brave souls ventured ‘new kids on the block‘ (shouldn’t admit to that one) and ‘madonna‘ (so passe by 1990) and a couple of geeks, keen to display ‘underground’ music knowledge, smugly named some obscure 60s bands and impressed no one. then someone said ‘karyn white‘ and the room fell silent. i didn’t have the inclination to let the rest of the class know that i also knew and liked karyn white, i just listened to the person’s explanation with interest. ‘you know, she did that song ‘superwoman’ but the rest of her stuff is nothing like that. oh, i don’t know…she’s kind of like janet jackson‘. fair enough.

karyn, was a young vocalist in the powerhouse tradition who worked with la and babyface and also jam and lewis over the course of her career, and married terry lewis in 1992. she was a session singer discovered by jazz fusion artist jeff lorber in 1986. he asked her to sing lead on two tracks for his new project ‘private passion’ that was to feature soul vocalists singing over his jazz-funk compositions. ‘facts of love’ and ‘true confessions’ proved the perfect showcase for karyn‘s talent and paved the way for a solo deal.

my classmate was right. karyn‘s eponymous debut in 1988 in a way, did fill the gap between janet‘s ‘control’ and ‘rhythm nation 1814’ albums. most people remember it for enduring ballad, ‘superwoman‘, a staple of easy listening radio playlists to this day. but the truth is that the album was far less pop and more classic r&b than that song would suggest, or that janet would have attempted herself.

the singles released from ‘karyn white’ were far more ubiquitous in the US, who were switched on to r&b far earlier than the UK where it remained a specialist genre, or subgenre of dance, until the late 90s. nevertheless, they did ok over here and I can remember her second album and lead single ‘romantic’ being greeted enthusiastically on tv-am. both a blessing and a curse.
‘ritual of love’ was handily split into a ‘dance me’ side and ‘romance me’ side, if you bought the cassette. which a lot of people still did in those days. this concept has been nicked by many other artists, especially for their greatest hits albums. with her third album ‘make him do right’, karyn continued to have moderate success but never really broke through.

over the years, sharing flats and cd collections, precious few people have ever heard of karyn white. but they all remember ‘superwoman’. aaargh! don’t get me wrong, i love the song but it was an obvious hit and a calculated move, not what she should be remembered for.

ten karyn white songs that I prefer to ‘superwoman’download here

facts of love
music by jeff lorber, vocals by karyn white. this track introduced the world to her talents, at the age of 20.

the way you love me
listen about halfway through – did karyn pioneer the speed-singing style destiny’s child and wyclef claimed to invent on ‘no no no’? beyonce….you never learn do you?

secret rendezvous
should have been much bigger than it was, this was late 80s syncopated r&b at its best. one for the bedroom and the dancefloor.

don’t mess with me
out-sassing control-era janet was always going to be tricky, but karyn has the vocals and attitude to pull it off.

family man
karyn finds out her man has a wife and kids at home. she won’t be the last…and this is the way to deal with it.

not thru being with you
in between her first two albums, karyn hooked up with michael jeffries for this uptempo club smash.

romantic
remix of one of her biggest hits, the first single from second album ‘ritual of love’. less percussion, more bass.

the way i feel about you
remix of the other big hit from ‘ritual of love’. should have been the start of bigger things.

how i want you
one of many great slow jams from ‘ritual of love’. worthy of a place on any 90s ‘do me baby’ playlist.
one heart
sweet ballad that stays just the right side of saccharine. probably written with terry lewis in mind…shame it didn’t work out.