dirty martini

old music for new people

tv heaven November 9, 2008

zammojackie

tv and music were once an unholy alliance. you didn’t get leona lewis, you got bonnie langford. actors who thought they could sing and songs used in adverts and tv themes populated the charts.

old skool tv tracks

babylon zoo – spaceman

once used in a levi’s ad, forever lodged in a nation’s consciousness. you’d forgotten it? well in 1995, people had forgotten about the jeans. each new ad was notable for the soundtrack and model, with jeans rapidly disappearing off the radar until flat eric and destiny’s child revived them complete with sequins and glitter a few years later.

five star – stay out of my life

a rework of this five star track moonlighted as the theme tune to citv game show ‘how dare you’, variously presented by playschool’s floella benjamin and bucks fizz alumni cheryl baker. it’s a hazy memory but i do remember a lot of gunge being thrown around.

brown sauce – i wanna be a winner

cheggers and soon-to-be but now ex-wife maggie philbin wrongly assumed that their presenting roles on saturday morning tv show the multicoloured swap shop implied any kind of musical talent. so, those of you who thought his career low point was baring his arse on ‘naked jungle’ were wrong. thank god for ‘cheggers plays pop’. i loved that, always wanted the yellows to win and they never did.

marlena shaw – california soul

kfc as soul food? genius. it’s not quite momma cherri’s but as close as a lot of people are going to get. soul food, like mexican and swiss cuisine, is way underrepresented in the UK.

dennis waterman – i could be so good for you

forget little dennis waterman in the little britain sketch, funny though it is. in the 80s, in ‘minder’, dennis was cool. this fell apart roughly around the same time as we found out that minger laura from eastenders was his daughter. you remember, the one who was married to ian beale, and in her 40s, played by someone in their 20s. yep, that minging.

dexy’s midnight runners – because of you

became the theme tune to popular 80s sitcom ‘brush strokes’ featuring the actor who has appeared in mr muscle adverts for the last ten years or so, as jacko. elmo putney and his pink wine bar…what happened to wine bars? in my not very legal drinking years the last few were dying out. this, and the one in ‘only fools and horses’ that del fell over in, are places I would have liked to frequent…for the kitsch value, naturally…

grange hill – just say no

yes, just a few years later on ‘the word’ the cast collided with the early 90s rave scene and undid all that good work…one of my favourite things about watching old grange hill episodes, apart from jackie and zammo, is the accents. no one speaks like that now! i’m not even sure they did then. they’re supposed to be cockneys!

v capri – haunting me

thought angry anderson was bad? this song featured in an episode, i think, where scott and charlene had split, but he raced to a bus station (always a bus station) to stop her moving to brisbane. cue lots of flashbacks of them playing on swings, slides, roundabouts..in other words the cheesiest bit of tv you’re ever likely to see. look it up on youtube.

cathy dennis – irresistable

used in a 1992 sky campaign. pretty sure the only reason it’s embedded in my memory is the fact that i – literally – watched cable for 20 hours a day back then. studs and full house on sky one, on the air with clive pearse on super channel, most wanted with ray cokes…good times.

joey scarbury – believe it or not

possibly the most 80s theme tune ever, from ‘the greatest american hero’. inspired later efforts for ‘cheers’, ‘the golden girls’ and ‘my two dads’.

robin beck – first time

everyone in coke ads was cool. even if they were in the middle of falling over, their first kiss, being hit by a tidal wave, whatever, because they were a) in slow motion and b) had a coke in their hand, the object of their desire still fancied them and they were unflappable. no wonder 80s kids are all in therapy now…

savage garden – truly madly deeply

ah yes, melted chocolate voiced savage garden, were a perfect fit with wet blanket dawson and the other improbably sensitive and articulate river kids. can’t remember if the song actually featured in the series or was just a channel 4 hookup.

Advertisements
 

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)

 

eurovision: a history of crime May 23, 2008

a few years ago, the bbc stopped trying to make eurovision cool. thank god. now we can start enjoying it again.

they’ve streamlined the voting which is quite annoying and has contributed to a decline in my ability to count to 20 in every european language and to verbalise the words ‘united kingdom’ in 25 different languages. 

they used to spend about four hours trying to connect by cb radio to gruff foreign presenters floating somewhere off the coast of depressing old finland, and that was half the entertainment…

you could get the atrocious and frankly superfluous singing out of the way early and settle in for the real event. playground politics implemented at nationwide level – all prejudices, past, current and future grudges displayed for all to see and guaranteed to have your dad hopping mad in front of the tv. jingoism, disguised as patriotism, at its very best.

1981 – bucks fizz – making your mind

well, jay left early on and was replaced some faceless woman. mike nolan had a car crash, cheryl baker became a tv presenter and bobby g, who knows…none of their subsequent achievements matched the then risque ripping of skirts to reveal…shorter skirts. bucks fizz are one of my earliest memories and this may explain a lot.

1982 – bardo – one step further

wait – the girl was a crackerjack presenter? never knew that. god i love this footage – its eurovision, the fast show’s channel 9 and 70s spanish holidays (which you could still go on until about 1990) all in one. love how standing back to back and a few badly timed power grabs passed for a dance routine back then. oh and the obligatory leg in air ending.

1983 – sweet dreams – never giving up

i didn’t realise i remembered this until i saw it today. carrie grant from fame academy! i’m assuming she had a makeover by the time she met david. apparently the blonde girl still sings and the limahl lookalike is now a welsh radio presenter. sooo smashie and nicey.

1984 – belle and the devotions – love games

i forgot this one too. thanks to the football hooligans that ruined most of the uk’s european activities throughout the 80s, this lot were booed offstage. back when that used to be an insult, kids. i’m sure for no other reason…cough…no actually they had some other hits. umm…

1985 – vikki – love is

she was channelling princess di back in 1985, but now is called aeone and writes tv and film scores. she looks kind of nuts now. she did also almost get flattened by meatloaf once but i’m sure there’s a lot of people with that particular claim to fame…

um…lots of hair rock…and then…

1990 – emma – give a little love back to the world

really cheesy effort for 1990 by a 15 year old welsh girl called emma booth. she looked exactly like all the older girls at my school at the time, who also had backcombed hair par excellence. but, significantly, they spent their spare time working out whether thunderbird or super strongbow got you pissed faster, instead of swaying around in shoulderpads singing about the environment with people two or three times their age.

1991 – samantha janus – a message to your heart

yeeeeeowch. it was a good job she could act wasn’t it? i suppose she slunk back to sylvia young’s theatre brat camp for a few years after this – its terrible what they get some of those kids to do in the name of celebrity. thankfully, a few years later she was surprisingly funny as mandy in fab 90s sitcom game on, and her career was back on track. until that ended. but now she’s in eastie, which let’s face it, is as good as it’ll get.

i can’t bear to include michael ball, sonia and frances ruffelle….

1995 – love city groove – love city groove

ok, at the time we thought this was going to win. all of a sudden, the 70s were over because lets face it, in eurovision world they got a 15 year extension. cool britannia was in full swing, britpop (which i admittedly hated) was all over the place, and we dared to enter a song which wasn’t sung exclusively by and for white people. it fell on its arse. eurovision was not ready.

1996 – gina g – just a little bit

this is not as bad as i remember. its terrible what nostalgia can do to you.

 

the tarantino soundtrack that never was September 5, 2007

blaxploitation-3.jpg

as clever as tarantino’s movies are, the best thing about them are definitely the soundtracks. i had the pulp fiction and reservoir dogs soundtracks before i’d even seen the films. i wish i could say the same about kill bill – I spent the entire movie trying not to look at the screen.

he clearly loves the blaxploitation genre and attempts to recreate these films for a more mainstream audience. a difficult task – the 70s were cool, much cooler than the 90s. you could be forgiven for thinking that everyone was cool in the 70s, but you would be wrong. but the music, the artwork, the fashion all suggest a time when people had confidence, took care over their appearance and knew they looked good.

quentin tarantino himself is enjoyably nuts. i loved him on american idol, he is to that show what ricky gervais is to the x factor. you just don’t expect them to be such huge fans – surely they have better things to do – but they clearly love it. my newfound likihng for quentin was in jeopardy though, with that whole shar jackson affair – one degree of separation from kevin federline is definitely five too few. 

its hard not to visualise a potential tarantino scene when you hear most 70s soul and funk now, they’ve become so synonymous. but here are some tunes that for me conjure up images of samuel l jackson, ‘fro and gun intact, and make me want to go buy a clapped out orange ford capri.

download here

archie bell and the drells – soul city walk

the musical representation of an afro.

bill withers – the same love that made me laugh

bill is a soundtrack favourite, but i can’t remember this one being used yet. can imagine this in a scene where someone is tied up in the boot of the car.

bobby bland – ain’t no love in the heart of the city

intro credits theme?

bobby byrd – hot pants

for the obligatory dance scene set in smoky underground drinking den with pool tables.

james brown – the boss

i think this has already been used in a cockney gangster movie, but guy ritchie is no tarantino, as enjoyable as lock, stock and two smoking barrels may have been.

jerry butler – don’t rip me off

ideal for the scene where everyone is too stoned to realise their gun/cash/car is beiong lifted by somene they thought was on their side…

lyn collins – put it on the line

much sampled and a departure from lyn’s usual northern soul thumpers.

o’jays – 992 arguments

‘backstabbers’ would have been an obvious choice. too obvious. if you have even a passing interest in 70s soul then you should have it already.

philip mitchell – i’ll see you in hell first

no not that phil mitchell. although wouldn’t steve mcfadden would be great in a tarantino movie? with a touch of green corrective foundation perhaps. i suppose the whole ‘who shot phil?’ thing was an attempt at tarantino style. i really wanted one of those ‘i shot phil mitchell’ t-shirts.

rasputin’s stash – middle man

any one of rasputin stash’s tunes could fit a tarantino soundtrack, but middle men play a vital role in most of his plots, so…

swamp dogg – that ain’t my wife

more soulful than the artist name and title suggests.

willie hutch – pimps players and private eyes

willie actually contributed to a lot of blaxpolitation soundracks, including foxy brown, which is where this track comes from. but not many people will remember that so maybe its time it was recycled!

 

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

wham.jpg

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.

 

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’.