dirty martini

old music for new people

mtv europe 1992 April 11, 2009

mtv1 

i could really do with another summer of 1992. gcse exams finished early, by june i had three months in which to do exactly nothing.

so, i sunbathed, wandered around with my friends and watched mtv. a lot. having cable was still a novelty, and watching a channel broadcast from another continent was fun. the vjs spoke in broken english, the adverts were a long way from aquafresh and hovis.

i hold mtv europe squarely responsible for the success of acts such as culture beat and ace of base. there were other, weirder acts that didn’t quite penetrate the uk but existed for those of us hooked on this european wide window.

i loved how i could come in at midnight and stare at trippy ambient videos like x-mix the likes of which i had never seen before. i loved ray cokes

once mtv uk set up in camden, everything went sharply downhill.

download summer 1992

bobby brown – good enough

chic – chic mystique

del tha funkee homosapien – mistadobolina

dr alban – one love

en vogue – my lovin’

hi-five  – she’s playing hard to get

joe public – live and learn

joe secada – just another day

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

mariah carey – i’ll be there

marky mark – you gotta believe

tlc – baby baby baby

 

loving the alien August 4, 2008

in the same way that i had trouble waiting for the sex and the city movie, i’m impatiently awaiting the second series of ashes to ashes. january 2009, i’m assuming…..aaaaargh!

now, opinion is divided on whether there should be a 90s version. i’m going to weigh in on that particular debate – HELL YES. gene hunt grappling with loved up cheesy quavers on the early 90s rave scene? genius. if it has to be named after a david bowie song…loving the alien? i have never heard it by the way, i just had a look at a list of his singles.

the railway arms is a great place to discuss all things mars and ashes related. if i’m feeling brave i might post the following theory about a2a series 2…

alex didn’t return to 1981 to save her parents, she returned to find her brother/sister who was the child of caroline price and evan. or even gene, there was definitely some tension there…her brother/sister , will be grown up, but stuck in the past, like she is.

the reason it is so important, aside from the fact that she has a sibling she was unaware of as she grew up – the sibling was responsible for the death of molly’s father, in 1995. if alex can change his/her fate then she can save him.

there.

and here’s a soundtrack for that third series, set in 1990…

download here

adventures of stevie v – dirty cash

bassomatic- fascinating rhythm

deee-lite – power of love

electronic – getting away with it

en vogue – you don’t have to worry

family stand – ghetto heaven

happy mondays – step on

ll cool j – around the way girl

m&m and rachael wallace – i feel this way

maxi priest – close to you

neneh cherry-  heart

propaganda – heaven give me words

 

i’m not planning on going solo… February 11, 2008

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liar!

in every successful group there is a beyonce. either the best vocalist or the best manipulator, or daddy’s little girl. but divas in training beware: for every beyonce, there is a nicole scherzinger.

download here

beyonce – suga mama

it’s a good job bee actually did have talent cos daddy would have pushed her to the front no matter what. its funny but i actually prefer her voice in the early dc days, and i definitely prefer dc4 harmonies.

bobby brown – i really love you girl

not so much a solo choice rather than being kicked out of new edition. still, he was so young it was a bit like when i was kicked out of the brownies, albeit on a, cough, more global scale. so what? except i was shown the red card for locking brown owl in a cupboard, not boozing and having an illegitimate child…

coko – sunshine

well, who can blame coko if the rumours of swv’s financial ruin were true. it’s a shame it didn’t work out…i think the swv harmonies played a bigger role than she thought.

diana ross – upside down

the original diva, hence ‘diana ross and the supremes’. funny how the weakest singer in a group can overcome that obstacle, to become the biggest star. all it took was a large amount of deluded self-belief and some willing lackeys.

george michael – too funky

the least likely to be accused of letting his ego push aside more talented group members – it was an accepted fact that andrew ridgeley did little more than shake a tambourine and look cute in hawaiian gear.

justin timberlake – last night

anyone who says they saw the star potential of curly headed justin in his n*sync days has selective memory. i was surprised such an ugly group got a deal and didn’t think any had longevity. imagine explaining britney’s dazzling influence to an alien in 2008 – ‘…and britney was this clean cut, wholesome, family loving christian whose star power catapulted him to solo fame…’

lionel richie – serves you right

love lionel richtea. i might have to do a whole post on him just so i can put up that picture. oh screw it, if anyone is wondering why at the top of this post there is a picture of lionel richie with a biscuit (cookie) in place of his ‘fro…this is why.

morris day – love addition

morris day really wanted to be prince. he did ok. he never really left the time.

raphael saadiq – get involved

the transition from tony toni tone was fairly seamless – i’m not always 100% which tracks belong to who. same sound, same voice…could have just kept the other on the payroll? that’s rarely the point though is it…

ray parker jr – a woman needs love

ray already had a touch of the dianas, changing the name of his group, already ‘raydio’, to ‘ray parker jr and raydio’. so no one should have been surprised when he became a fully fledged solo artist. i hope there was someone else called ray left in that group he named after himself…

t-boz – touch myself

tlc’s was a well documented financial struggle, which allegedly saw laface CEO pebbles tie the girls into a fruitless contract. t-boz seized an opportunity to capitalise on crazysexycool but the point was, none of tlc were vocally outstanding, but together they provided contrast – the gravelly voiced t-boz, angelic chilli and cute rapper left eye. individually…nothing special.

terry ellis – what did i do to you

if you blinked in 1995, you could have missed this solo foray from ms ellis. en vogue were back together faster than roadrunner once it became clear that their group appeal far ouweighed their solo potential. they attempted to drop troublemaker dawn robinson over the years, with varying degrees of success.

 

whatever bitch January 15, 2008

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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…

 

90s r&b girl bands: no hit wonders November 17, 2007

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how many girl groups did en vogue inspire?

don’t even go there with that spice girls theory. watching them on tv tonight was slightly embarrassing. the spice girls emerged before reality tv laid the music industry bare. three of them would have been lucky to make it into girls aloud and the thought of any of them competing against leona lewis is cringeworthy.

however you feel about reality music tv, it does give you the opportunity to create careers for genuine talent. its just that some people distribute their vote using the same principles as they might donate their spare change to charity and vote for losers like michelle mcmanus and taylor hicks.

there should be a reality show for anonymous ex boy and girl band members…simon!

check the a list

b list

and c list

download here

1 of the girls – do da what

this cleveland group helped then-fledgling producer gerald levert jump on the new jill swing bandwagon driven by swv and jade – and then he fell off.

bitches with problems – two minute brother

not exactly the classiest group on this list, these girls tried to outdo the boys and its not much of a surprise that their two albums sunk. their short lived time in the spotlight did launch one career however – this track’s video was the first from uber director hype williams.

cleopatra – come and get me

brummie poppets who became very famous, very quickly and disappeared in a puff of smoke, possibly quite literally, as disney was involved. middle sister and lead singer cleopatra is set to release a solo project imminently

eve – groove of love

that’s eve as in ebony vibe everlasting not as in eve the slightly butch rapper. ebony vibe everlasting…good god…sometimes the 90s were just a bit too worthy.

ghost town djs – my boo

miami bass tune which was so unlike anything else at the time. the ghost town dj’s were actually the producers – who were the girls?

good 2 go – never satisfied

new jill swing group from LA who were – gasp – white. perhaps they would have fared better fifteen years on as back in 1992, no one quite got them.

the gyrlz – if it’s games you’re playing

the gyrlz were terri, monica and tara. later the group became a duo after tara left, and has minor success throughout the 90s. the gyrlz debut and only cd is ultra rare and worth £ on ebay if you can track it down.

jazzyfatnastees – the lie

you can hardly call this duo a girl band in the traditional sense, rather, they’re here to demonstrate a different approach. more focus on lyrics than style and club bangers.

phajja – so long

late 90s girl band, no distinguishing features. still, the internet was live and kicking and they did in fact release two albums so the lack of info and availability of their music is a shame…

pure soul – wait for you

many people remember music channel mainstay ‘we must be in love’…and that’s it.

shades – serenade

classier girl group who rose from the ashes of new jill swing.

terri and monica – intentions

the sequel to ‘the gyrlz’ minus one member. i remember their music being critically acclaimed but success was still not forthcoming.

 

the queen of hip hop soul? May 23, 2007

how have i got this far without doing a post on mary?

mary j.blige isn’t labelled the queen of hiphop soul lightly. when she arrived in 1992, the only artist that had even come close to what she did when she debuted were en vogue. they too mixed hiphop beats and soul vocals, but they did so without being street. en vogue merely used the beats – mary was the beats. she was hiphop, she just didn’t choose to rap.
growing up in yonkers, she was surrounded by pioneering hiphop such as run dmc and grandmaster flash. but the sentiments of these artists didn’t match the experiences of a teenage girl. mary sought solace in soul artists like anita baker who sang about realtionships and wanting someone you can’t have. it was the synergy of these two cultures that would later give mary her edge.
when i first saw ‘real love’ on mtv in 1992, everything made sense. i liked hiphop and i liked soul but they didn’t individually feel that relevant to me. i was too young to fully appreciate smooth soul productions and too far removed from the realities of hiphop lyrics. mary sang about things i could relate to as a 16 year old and added a touch of danger. it was a genre of music i had been waiting for, only i didn’t know it.
many fans have stated that mary produces her best work only when she’s suffering. true, her first two albums are my favourite but at the time i knew nothing about her personal demons. in fact her last studio album, ‘the breakthrough’ echoed those days, but she is now blissfully happy with producer kendu. i’m sure no one would really wish trainwreck kci hailey on her again…
ten lesser known mary tracksdownload here
you remind me
even though this was her first single, fans who joined the mary train later in the 90s won’t be so familiar. this remix captures the essence of 1992 and a summer day like nothing else.
reminisce
another hit from ‘what’s the 411’, remixed to feature pete rock and cl smooth and grab portions of ‘they reminisce over you’. see what they did there?
changes i’ve been going through
‘what’s the 411’ album track that really drilled the message home – this was not soul music in the traditional sense.
you don’t have to worry
411-era track from the ‘who’s the man?’ soundtrack. this is the soundtrack version, not the remix version that was more widely available.
love no limit
so ubiquitous you would have thought it was a single. bad boy remix that still gets played out today.
be with you
duet with lauryn hill originally intended for the ‘my life’ album. lauryn sounds young. at the time she had just released her first fugees album with pras and wyclef.
if i don’t love you this way
cover of jackson five classic from the ‘my life’ era. included on some international releases.
everyday it rains
from the 1995 ‘the show’ soundtrack. sounds like it could have been from either of the the sessions for the first two albums.
get to know you better
‘share my world’ album track. should have been released.one of my favourites.
he think i don’t know
from the ‘no more drama’ repackage.
 

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…