dirty martini

old music for new people

two miles an hour so everybody sees you June 8, 2008

long before will smith extolled the virtue of driving slowly through the summer heat, to ensure potential hookups got to see you looking your best, crews who weren’t old enough to drive found another way to look cool.

they lugged a fifty pound ghettoblaster round town all day.  any less than four people looked desperate – boom boxing was a group activity, plus, it was heavy work. ghettoblasters generally required four to six huge batteries to keep going for, ooh, two hours, and so you might think the lads would plan strategically for maximum impact from their hard earned. nope.

instead of trying to impress girls and finding out where they would be, you could usually find boom boxers outside hotspots such as:

  • hanging around outside woolies
  • in the tesco trolley area
  • round the back of the bingo hall
  • on deckchairs on the beach near all the OAPs
  • on a bench in the middle of a roundabout
  • in the local park

hmm. the girls are at each others houses, getting their fake id ready to go out and meet boys who have cars and don’t need to lope around town with a boombox on their shoulder…

download here

brooklyn funk essentials – do or die bedstuy

bvsmp – i need you

doug e fresh – the show

full force – your love is so def

just ice – latoya

kurtis blow – if i ruled the world

ll cool j – i need love

rocksteady crew – hey you

run dmc – it’s tricky

slick rick – mona lisa

utfo – fly girl

whistle – just buggin’

 

whatever bitch January 15, 2008

mean-girls.jpg

as long as the world keeps turning, girls will do each other down. fact.

top 5 mean girls

1. heather chandler (heathers) – so mean they made her drink bleach.

2. regina george (mean girls) – so mean she found herself under a bus.

3. benny (pretty in pink) – so mean people wished they would shrivel up and fall off

4. tom tom (13 going on 30) – so mean she aged really badly

5. taylor vaughan (she’s all that) – so mean she got dumped by a reality tv star

download here 

702 – where my girls at

finger waggling late 90s style. its a good job 702 had the attitude cos they sure as hell didn’t have the vocals. they inexplicably survived into the 00s.

blondie – rip her to shreds

the original bitch bash from deborah harry, who was old enough to know better even then.

blu cantrell – girl please

blu taunts beyonce about her former relationship with jay-z. i’m pretty sure she won’t be the last, especially if they have/do get married. mya has also reportedly bumped uglies with joe camel but he was apparently only one of many…

brandy and monica – boy is mine

teen bitch anthem. apparently these two were not particularly fond of each other in real life either.

destiny’s child – fancy

after letoya and latavia were ousted, and farrah proved a liability, the trio let rip on their third album and this one was clearly aimed at anyone who thought they were better than the queen bee and her army of skanks.

isyss – oh no she didn’t

isyss were a marginally successful group who can best be described as ‘sub destiny’s child’. edit: oh ok they were a bit better than that but fell foul of the early 00s music industry download panic.

lucy pearl – don’t mess with my man

well, with the recent controversy between dawn robinson and her husband this seems relatively tame. if en vogue can be compared to the original destiny’s child, dawn is beyonce, terry is kelly, maxine is latavia and cindy is soooo letoya.

michelle – you don’t know michelle

….i’m going to go with electro. i don’t really know how to describe this. like a cross between freestylers, deejay punk roc and 80s hiphop girls carmen.

mokenstef – he’s mine

i could never quite get my head round this one. you know someone has slept with your man but instead of dumping him you focus on her? sack him!

salt-n-pepa – i’ll take your man

…and they would. you didn’t mess with salt and pepa in the 80s. or spinderella for that matter.

teedra moses – you better tell her

apparently too cute to fight. again, why stick with a man with other women on the go?

toni braxton –  he wasn’t man enough

not content with having dumped the man, toni’s needling his new girlfriend. oh we’ve all done it…

 

this must be computer love August 14, 2007

dk.jpg

back in the 80s, computers were just about reaching the massmarket. games like donkey kong and pacman saw heroic characters rescuing damsels in distress (rarely the other way round until lara croft) by overcoming such everyday objects as ghosts, flying barrels and fireballs.

this theme carried through to the music industry, where computers had provided a snazzy (80s word) way to keep up with the new mtv-ready requirement for singles to be accompanied by a video, by incorporating graphics and other such wizardry to demonstrate cutting edge mentality of artist in question.

another way to display your futuristic sensibilities was to actually sing about computers. and act quite robotic and devoid of emotion. the computers were pulling the strings you see…and yet, according to this playlist, they apparently became a conduit for romantic relationships. i think in fact, that didn’t really start to happen until the mid 90s, but 80s people were optimistic. we didn’t personally have email and the ability to connect to other computers via the internet, but we knew it was happening and could see the possibilities.

so, most 80s groups have a homage to the computer, or electricity (like that was a new phenomenon!), in their back catalogue, much like the phone. of course its now all painfully out of date, and so a nice reminder of a simpler time when computers were cool, and people, not cyberspace, were still in charge.

twelve once futuristic, now totally retro groovesdownload here

trans-x – living on video

about as good as it gets for this post. built on a similar premise to the long-held view that we would be scooting around in our own little space bubbles, jetson style, by the year 2000. 

one way – mr groove

vocoder work par excellence. in 1984 it was perfectly normal to be sung to by a robot, not a person.

kraftwerk – computer love

kraftwerk, as pioneers of electronic music, could have made up well over half of this playlist with their output. but this one was the most obviously titled.

gary numan – are friends electric?

more recently bootlegged and sampled for the sugababe’s ‘freak like me’. again, most of gary numan’s output was future focused, so it was a toss up between this and ‘cars’.

midnight star – electricity

another vocoder led funk jam, about electricity, and energy, another favourite 80s theme.

buggles – video killed the radio star

difficult to see how this could have sounded groundbreaking even in 1979. bet it was popular with the over 40s.

human league – together in electric dreams

archetypal mid 80s teen movie fare. human league of course, were a natural choice to record the title soundtrack, with their synth pop credentials. 

oingo boingo – weird science

title song from the soundtrack to the definitive 80s computer geek movie. doesn’t sound particularly futuristic now but surely create-a-girlfriend is still the ultimate geek fantasy?

visage – fade to grey

the then-pioneering electronic music and faux francais created an eerie soundscape, second only in the weirdness stakes to its own video.

harold faltermeyer – axel f

beverly hills cop theme which became the single most emulated tune on millions of casio and yamaha keyboards. to ease parent and teacher frustration perhaps manufacturers should have made this the demo tune instead of wake me up before you gogo.

five star – system addict

this song may or may not have been about being addicted to sticking your fingers in a plug socket. the state of five star’s hair in the accompanying video certainly supports this theory. don’t try it at home kids.

prince – computer blue

prince, as usual, managed to make music that was both futuristic and would hold up in years to come. prince has a love interest, computer says no.

 

the true sound of miami May 21, 2007

what’s freestyle? even if you think you aren’t familiar, chances are that if you have more than a passing interest in hiphop r&b soul or even house and garage, then you will have heard several of its exponents.

originating from miami in the mid 80s, freestyle can best be described as a straight mashup of electro, hiphop, r&b, house…anything goes. hence the name. it became hiphop for girls. yes, female rappers such as roxanne (both of them) salt-n-pepa and jj fad were doing their thing, but this was much sweeter and more accessible.sometimes, it was so plaintive as to be almost offkey and out of tune but I think that adds to its charm, and is more honest than giving cassie, britney and mya recording contracts and manipulating their weedy warblings. freestyle sounded like it had been made on a casio keyboard, and it most probably had been. the studio version without the ‘wake me up before you go go’ demo button though. vocals that sounded like they had been recorded into a handheld tape deck gave the whole affair a more dangerous edge.

the look? quintessential late 80s styling with a latin edge. big backcombed curls, big earrings…and relaxed pastels for the heat. freestyle itself could perhaps be summarised with the above image – aspirational neon cocktail. totally 80s, totally miami.

when I visited florida a few years ago, I didn’t expect to hear any freestyle. i thought that one of the things that had made me want to visit miami for so long would be long gone, a distant memory of twenty and thirtysomethings now fully immersed in the house or r&b scenes. but it was everywhere!

 


crunk had just exploded but from the local radio stations, you’d never guess. we cruised happily up and down the a1a, and in and out of walgreens and taco bell, to the sounds of freestyle for two weeks. i highly recommend florida to anyone needing some sunny late 80s nostalgia…

ten sounds of party 93.1 south floridadownload here


lil suzy – take me
well, if i hadn’t known this track before i went to florida, i certainly did by the time i arrived home. played about four times a day and considering we didn’t spend that much time in the car listening to party 93.1, you can safely assume this was a dj favourite…

stevie b – spring love
uk peeps may only know stevie b for his dreary 1991 hit ‘because i love you’. it seems the only reason he got away with releasing that dirge was that he had already established some credibility on the freestyle circuit. and promptly flushed it down the toilet.

nice and wild – diamond girl
no pic exists for this group, who had several freestyle club hits – this is my favourite. perfect example of electro meets hiphop meets 80s jheri curl soul.

expose – let me be the one
i do remember expose being hyped as the next big thing in smash hits in the late 80s. well, they didn’t take off in the uk but appear to have done well natively and are fondly remembered. i think when en vogue arrived i was slightly confused then realised they were a completely different group.cover girls – show me
like expose, touted as the next big thing but the uk didn’t really get freestyle so they sank without trace until they shifted direction. i seem to remember they covered ‘wishing on a star’ so they must have had some success over here.

lisa lisa and cult jam – i wonder if i take you home
electro favourite that was hard to categorise at the time. lisa lisa and cult jam continued to have success, with ‘all cried out’ (later covered by allure and 112) and c&c music factory remixed ‘let the beat hit em’ (heard that on the radio last week – still sounds amazing). lisa went solo in 1994 with album ‘LL77’ to rapturous reviews but uh, it was all a bit alternative and grey for me…i much preferred the colourful nonsense of the 80s.

shannon – let the music play
perhaps the first freestyle hit, apart from freeez‘s ‘iou’, which i’m not sure counts as they were from london, not miami. plus, ‘iou’ was a wedding reception favourite even back in the day, which surely disqualifies them. anyway, this track along with madonna’s poppier ‘holiday, changed the face of dance music in 1984.

 

 

 

joyce sims – all and all
this song was doing nothing and going nowhere until kurtis mantronik picked it up and laid the vocals over his ‘bassline’ instrumental. suddenly it was everywhere and not everyone realises its a remix – a bootleg at that.

debbie deb – when i hear music
one of the biggest freestyle hits. i had to include a more recent photo of debbie as she looks awful in her 80s shots. circulation defying skintight bleached jeans, sausage in a condom style boob tube, blonde hairdo that looks like it would come off in one piece…ick…sometimes i’m glad i wasn’t really old enough to pick all of my own clothes in the 80s. 

 

seduction – two to make it right
much like expose and the cover girls, assembled to cash in on their success. probably wore the least clothes out of the three and had the least hits as well…