dirty martini

old music for new people

acceptable in the 80s January 23, 2008

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 in the 80s, if you ran out of adjectives to describe something or someone, you just made one up.

add that to the obsession for electricity, anything that sounded remotely robotic or computerlike, and bam, you have a hit record. you had to be crazy, bad, make no sense or all of the above. in the 00s peter andre tried to revive this trend by creating ‘insania’ but we just ignored him…

these tracks follow that formula, and are just SO 80s, i love it.

download here 

atlantic starr – freakaristic

this lot were better known for their ballads, so this was a welcome departure. those wild and crazy kids…

billy griffin – systematic

in the 80s everyone had a ‘system’.

brutus – excitation

not a real word. not brutus as in popeye – god who would name their kid brutus?

dazz band – joystick

very futuristic band, and the only example i could find of ‘joystick’. i mean, i don’t have to explain this euphemism do i?

gazebo – lunatic

hot on the heels of flashdance’s ‘she’s a maniac’ (think 118 118 ads). being a lunatic was a good thing back then.

general johnson – x rated love

if ‘love’ becomes x rated, it’s probably not ‘love’ but er, something else. but we still had some decency in the 80s.

kids from fame – hi fidelity

every kids from fame song is so 80s and none of them would survive in any other decade. not even in high school musical.

klymaxx – video kid

in the 80s, video meant video games. they’re just games now. in the 80s ‘games’ meant board games, buckaroo, connect 4 and hungry hippos.

midnight star – scientific love

scientific love…doesn’t sounds very exciting but we all lusted after those at home bunsen burner kits in the argos catalogue back then so, perhaps that was why.

phil collins – sussudio

apparently phil was criticised for trying to make this sound like prince’s ‘1999’. i’m not quite getting that, but, i do like it.

prince – shockadelica

prince can do what he wants anyway. so when he invented ‘shockadelica’ we didn’t argue.

zapp and roger – computer love

one of the first songs to advocate the idea that emotions and computers weren’t mutually exclusive.

 

let’s get physical October 10, 2007

one of my first memories is watching ‘the kids from fame’. i don’t think i really understood that the ‘kids’ (most of whom looked well into their 20s, as per hollywood convention) were  just training to be stars. i thought they just liked to leap about in legwarmers and leotards, like me.

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photographic evidence exists of me in my little grey marl fame sweatshirt with matching burgundy skirt, circa 1982. the aerobic craze carried through to the mid 80s, with fame the movie, flashdance and a teenage sarah jessica parker in girls just wanna have fun. any colour pastel with grey marl and you were good to go. to date, these remain my favourite colour combinations.

the arrival of tv-am in the uk in 1983 meant that bored housewives no longer needed to warm up for the day unaided. lizzy, in her curly slightly unbalanced glory would encourage you to shake it, not sit in front of jeremy kyle sneering at those less fortunate. in the 80s, those less fortunate could dance their way to a better life, in any case.

download here

bucks fizz – making your mind up

yes, despite the drugs and sex scandals of the 60s and 70s, a dance routine in which long skirts were pulled off to reveal – gasp – shorter skirts, was the controversy of the 1981 eurovision song contest. and cheryl baker is living proof that the phenonenom of carving an entire career from the simple act of wearing a particular outfit on one occasion was not created by the parasitical liz hurley.

bardo – one step further

like bucks fizz, but a boy-girl duo who wore even shorter skirts. don’t worry, i mean the girl…although if gaydars had been invented in 1982 then they would have been on red alert for the other half of this cheesy pop act.

cyndi lauper – girls just wanna have fun

pop punk cyndi looked a bit too out of shape to be the poster girl and soundtrack provider to one of the 80s most prominent legwarmer movies. like most of the hen night casualties who now kill this on karoake down their local yates.

deniece williams – let’s hear it for the boy

footloose was the ultimate good over evil movie. what? a town where dancing is banned. did they know it was 1984? well, seeing as the town in question was in utah, probably not.

michael sembello – she’s a maniac

memories of flashdance have now been replaced by two skinny men with taches in jogging gear…and a very memorable ad campaign for a directory enquiry service of all things.

irene cara – fame/flashdance

its not clear whether irene had a career outside the realm of soundtracks to high energy dance movies. i don’t think she did. what a strange way to get pigeonholed.

kids from fame – hi fidelity

the kids had several successful albums and i was so tempted to post the schmaltzy ‘starmaker’. that’ll be in ‘songs you turn down on your ipod’ the sequel, i suppose…

maria vidal – body rock

grabbed the crown from irene cara – who must have been v pissed off – with this big 1985 hit. never seen the movie, much the same as no one has ever seen vision quest but has ‘crazy for you’.

pointer sisters – jump

everyone must have been forced to jump around to this during school PE lessons at some point. you could tell our PE tarts loved the 80s, they still looked like extras from fame well into the 90s.

toni basil – mickey

35 year old cheerleader toni had a huge hit with this when i was little. what is it with america and cheerleaders anyway? uk girls are more likely to hold their boyfriends fags while he has a kickabout with his mates…and thats about as far as it goes.

whitney houston – how will i know

whitney apparently hates this video, and finds it embarrassing to watch herself prances about in pastel jumpers and headbands. yes, i can see why that would be infinitely more cringeworthy than all of those clips from ‘being bobby brown’ doing the rounds on youtube…

 

more 80s soundtracks May 22, 2007

can’t get enough of 80s movies at the moment. nostalgia can be indulgent but sometimes you’re just fed up with the real world, or, you just prefer the music and movies of another time.

now that i have worn out and/or broken most of my sex and the city dvds, i find myself watching an 80s movie to wind down.
i wonder if, in the future, there’ll be a place you can go to where to all intents and purposes, it’s the 80s, or the 70s or whatever era you feel like living in. yes, one of the last 80s films i watched was back to the future.
ten more 80s soundtracksdownload here
beverly hills cop (1984)
junior – do you really want my love
**bonus**vanity 6 – nasty girl
forget ‘axel f’ i think we can safely say its forever ruined by a crazy frog. junior was a uk soul singer whose only real hit was the growly ‘mama used to say’. vanity 6’s biggest hit was, for purple reasons, left off the soundtrack. the film? well if the only eddie murphy you know is the sorry fortysomething player who fathers children with desperate spice girls, you need to get this and coming to america and find out why he’s even famous in the first place. get raw and delirious while you’re at it as well, i hear they just came out on dvd.
ferris bueller’s day off (1986)
yello – oh yeah

how does matthew broderick look the same now as in 1986? anyway, who can forget this scene – battered and defeated headmaster, ed rooney, resigned to catching a school bus. earlier he declared, ‘i did not achieve this position in life by having some snot-nosed punk leave my cheese out in the wind’. like the breakfast club before it, ferris delighted in watching authoritative adults sink under the delusion that they were smarter than sassy 80s kids. i loved the character cameron in this movie. check out jennifer grey before dirty dancing and that nosejob as ferris’s sister jeannie.
ghostbusters ii (1989)
bobby brown – on our own
copyact sequel, but an opportunity for young bobby to cement his growing popularity. this track hasn’t engraved itself on the memory like ray parker jr’s effort but it was huge in 89. he did provide another song for the soundtrack but…its awful. and i’m a huge bobby fan. don’t try to track it down. think vanilla ice and those ninja turtles and be glad you left well enough alone. the film is exactly the same as the first ghostbusters – bill murray, big marshmallow baddies who threaten to eat new york. ok there might be slightly more to it than that…but not a hell of a lot.
krush groove (1985)
sheila e – a love bizarre
kurtis blow – if i ruled the world

if you’re a fan of 80s hiphop, this soundtrack is worth seeking out, although it probably doesn’t exist on cd. the story follows def jam’s early days and features sheila e, ll cool j, beastie boys and new edition amongst others. it also stars a young blair underwood. as in the fit doctor miranda dates in the last series of sex and the city. the fit, rich doctor who can cook but also buys her pizza and a cookie that says ‘i love you’. which sends her running back to broke barman steve. i’m sorry, i loved that show but COME ON that would never happen. he was too good for her – oh, ok i’ll calm down now….
top gun (1986)
teena marie – lead me on
the rest of the soundtrack was eclipsed by ‘take my breath away’ but its actually a good representation of mid 80s power pop, especially ‘danger zone’, the likes of which just wouldn’t work in the 00s for so many reasons. this was before living in an inner city was indeed like ‘living in a danger zone’ as per this song. this teena marie song is the most soul-oriented track. many a ten year old girl developed a crush on tom cruise thanks to this movie, and cocktail, that has carried into later life. until katie holmes and scientology, obviously, at which point he visibly lost it.
who’s that girl (1987)

duncan faure – 24 hours
scritti politti – best thing ever
madonna filled this soundtrack with four of her own tracks, naturally, and most fans bought it for these and skipped the others. i copied from a friend as i wouldn’t spend £5.49 on a tape with only four madonna songs. not when i could spend 70p on a blank tape and a bag of kola kubes to bribe said friend. we didn’t share msuic quite so freely in those days. scritti politti were a great 80s blue eyed soul band with breathy vocals and this is a good example of their offerings. duncan faure? one hit wonder if this even counts. I used to think this was sung by the male lead in the film, griffin dunne.

body rock (1985)
maria vidal – body rock


fabulous example of mid 80s legwarmers-and-headband dance music, hot on the heels of fame and flashdance. i haven’t seen the movie in years, but i’m not sure its really necessary, to guess what its about. this song was a favourite of sadistic p.e. teachers up and down the UK, looking to motivate lazy 16 year olds into aerobics, well into the 90s. why was all the music in those lessons at least 10 years old?? another favourite was the pointer sister’s ‘jump’ for trampolining (arf…) and i also remember being forced to do aqua aerobics to elton john’s ‘i’m still standing’. funny cos i don’t remember the p.e witches having a sense of humour…



bright lights big city (1987)

prince – good love

from one shortarse to another, prince contributed this rare track to michael j fox’s 1987 movie. as i remember, this is almost exactly the same as ‘the secret of my success’. michael, previously playing teen roles in teenwolf and back to the future, made the apparent leap to twentysomething hotshot within the space of two years. like ralph macchio, he was a good ten years older than most of his characters. which must be like the ultimate affirmation of hanging on to your youth, I presume. good for them.

 

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’.