dirty martini

old music for new people

say my name: a to c March 19, 2008

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popular songs using a particular name can spark a baby trend like nothing else…

 brandy norwood was named after the o’jays classic. prince is a repeat offender – anna stesia, darling nikki, countless others – and he also wrote and recorded a song for supermodel cindy crawford. well i know some women go for short men but it didn’t pay off this time.

download here

anthony hamilton – charlene

fonzi thornton – beverly

four tops – bernadette

full force – alice

full force – low blow brenda

lone catalysts – ayanna monet

michael jackson – billie jean

o’jays – brandy

prince – chelsea rodgers / cindy c

rockwell – carme

tony toni tone – annie may

ub40 – cherry oh baby

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the truth about boy bands: the 70s August 25, 2007

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after the hysteria surrounding the beatles and stones in the 60s, one thing was clear. cute boys were a one way ticket to an early retirement. motown and stax were huge, but in a global sense, british pop had ruled the 60s.

calling some of these acts boybands is stretching it a bit – not all of them were successful in a commercial sense and would consider themselves male singing groups. however, if they sang songs that sent teenage girls crazy, they are boybands for the purposes of this post!

70s boyband essentials:

1. afro – natural or fake, the bigger the better. use an old skool microphone for inspiration.

2. flares – again, anything less than a 20 inch flare is just a mere wide trouser

3. falsetto – sprinkle liberally

4. family connections – if you’re not related, at least dress identically

also check out those they inspired in my 80s and 90s/00s boyband posts.

download here

jackson five – sugar daddy

the most famous 70s boyband, who started as backup to megalomaniac diana ross. why does that woman always get to force more talented people into the background? no clue back then as to how things would turn out with wacko or that jermaine would end up on big brother.

osmonds – one bad apple

more soulful than ‘love me for a reason’ and nowhere near as weird as ‘crazy horses’. many fortysomething women still swoon over donny osmond. which is easy to do if you’re uk based as he is the default chat show guest. he’s a nice bloke though

bloodstone – oh honey

usually a credible funk band that worked with marvin gaye and curtis mayfield, to name but two, but this track is pure 70s boy soul.

delfonics – trying to make a fool of me

revered 70s philly band who specialised in sweet ballads and falsetto. which makes this one of their more uptempo offerings.

sylvers – misdemeanor

sweet sounding ten piece family band who sang about girls, despite several sisters being in the band at one time or another. easy now to see where maurice starr got the inspiration for new edition.

chi-lites – oh girl

is it my imagination or did 80s mullet paul young cover this at one point? they also had the indiginity of seeing ‘have you seen her’ butchered by mc hammer. did they really need the cash??

detroit emeralds – you want it, you got it

another family group, who often dressed in green to labour the point about their name. in case you didn’t get it.

embers – little red book

very little is known about this group, but most people know this track.

five stairsteps – i love you stop

actually the original 70s brother band, predating the jackson five by a year or two. tried to yank back the crown with this track which sounds very much like ‘i want you back’.

o’jays – used to be my girl

hugely successful and adaptable band who rode the philly soul wave then settled into the disco era effortlessly. actually way too good to be called a boyband.

moments and whatnauts – girls

this collaboration between these two groups is probably their most well known work.

temptations – ain’t too proud to beg

enduring motown group, with a penchant for matching outfits. this song is actually from the 60s but…i like it, and i remember the temptatons being called the original boyband at some point.

 

don’t call them new jill swing June 4, 2007

when new jack swing started to falter, a new influx of girl groups, including swv, appeared circa 1992, along with mary j blige, and were hailed as ‘new jill swing’. see what they did there?

 

this was in fact a misleading label as the music these girls were making wasn’t a feminised new jack sound. it was in fact far grittier, and more likely to take its cues from naughty by nature than guy. another labelling hiccup occurred when, logically, since their names begin with a ‘t’ ‘l’ and ‘c’, you guessed it, that was to be the group’s name before the eventual tlc beat them to it within a matter of weeks.

 

most of these girl groups, in order to compete in the g-funk era, were forced to dress and act like men. gone were the lyrca minidresses and heels. in with the homegirl persona and lumberjack shirts. swv didn’t go down this route. maybe because they were still in high school, and hadn’t developed the right kind allure to carry it off. they were far from ugly, but its fair to say swv would never have been accused of possessing looks over talent.

 

coko, lelee and taj may have been young, but i had no idea at the time. they sang like women, in contrast to left eye’s cute rapping for tlc. they dressed older than their years, unlike jade, who appeared to still be hanging out with the underage street crowd. they weren’t too cool, which made them real. years later, their songs sound fresh.

their accessibility saw them enjoy huge success until their split in 1998. coko then embarked on a solo career, to lukewarm success. taj married a dallas cowboys footballer and currently has a reality show amusingly titled ‘i married a baller‘. lelee recently revealed that the group received little financial reward for their work and that she’s been struggling to stay afloat since the group split. sound familiar?

twelve swv essentialsdownload here

 

right here

their most famous track has many versions. the most ubiquitous is definitely the michael jackson sampling human nature mix, but this g-man mix is probably lesser known and proves there was more to the song than good sampling.

 

 

i’m so into you

again, there were several versions of this track – the original and allstars mix are widely available, but this teddy riley mix featuring wreckx-n-effect bumps along nicely. the first swv track i ever bought.

 

weak

the original ballad is nice, but this remix is perfect midtempo 90s jeep music. it had stuttering beats before timbaland invented them and twittery, electronic background vocals. should be on every chillout playlist.

 

 

anything

again, the original is ok but this remix, featured on above the rim, with the wu-tang clan, is something else. i defy you not to dance if you hear this in a club.
can’t cope
an unreleased track which sounds early 90s to me so probably a leftover from ‘it’s about time’. nice production, this has become one of my favourites.

all night long
featured on the waiting to exhale soundtrack, this is one of swv’s best slow jams.

use your heart
this version is a duet featuring rome. a young pharrell williams produced this, and several other tracks on swv‘s second album ‘a new beginning’.

mystery
another unreleased track, very unusual arrangement and I’m wondering why this failed to get past whichever album session it was recorded in.

can we
from 1997’s booty call soundtrack, this is one swv‘s most popular tracks.

tell me how you want it
another soundtrack contribution, this time from the money talks soundtrack.

rain
i’m not sure many people realise this is actually a cover of an 80s vesta williams track. this is one of those rare times when the cover is better.

where you are
a jackson five cover for the hav plenty soundtrack. i prefer this version to wacko’s pre-teen squeaking.

 

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 uk’s answer to the jackson five…?? April 18, 2007

five star – a family r&b group comprising five siblings – were touted as the uk’s answer to the jackson five. in 1985. come on, back then there was definitely a delayed reaction as we responded to musical and cultural missives from across the atlantic, but 16 years?deniece, doris, lorraine, delroy and steadman were just teenagers when they burst onto the scene in 1984 with their brassy bleached hair (the girls) and jheri curls (the boys). plus braces all round. their first single, problematic, failed to make an impression despite landing the plum performance spot on pebble mill at one. actually maybe that was the problem…before they enjoyed chart success and proved the old adage that money can’t buy taste, five star, despite their tender ages (ranging from 14 to 21) produced classic 80s brit soul a la loose ends. seriously, that good. they had their own label, tent records, and ok, like the jackson five and later beyonce, their dad, buster pearson, was pulling the strings.

the obvious family schtick aside, their careers took off because deniece had a great voice. the others found roles for themselves beyond backup, ‘why don’t you’ style. delroy was the, er, baby. (actually this is sounding more like the spice girls). steadman was the oldest and ‘looked a bit like michael jackson‘. doris was the choreographer and ‘looked a bit like janet jackson‘. lorraine, brainwashed by blue peter, felt compelled to make mock ups of their video sets out of old cardboard boxes. and dated eddie murphy, briefly. you can decide which of these achievements is greater.

so their first album, ‘luxury of life’ was a triumph of slinky mid 80s electro soul replete with bubbling basslines, sweet vocals and summery instrumentation. so much so that an unprecedented seven singles were released, with moderate success right up until the last one, a song about being mechanically manipulated – ‘system addict’. someone in a&r (probably buster) had finally noticed that in 1985, we were obsessed with futuristic gadgetry and convinced that by the year 2000, computers would rule the world.

but soon they were bonafide popstars and commerciality struck resulting in the music becoming more hit and miss quality-wise. they bought more cars than their romford home could accommodate and started wearing matching catsuits. yep, including the boys.

so, if you’re too young to remember what they looked like, don’t look too closely at the image at the top of this page. it’ll only put you off, just listen to the music…

ten five star tracks you need to owndownload here hide and seek
lots of people think this is a new edition song that five star covered – in fact its the other way round. this was their first proper single and the dancing in the video is hilarious….

let me be the one
the five star track most likely to be mis-labelled as loose ends if you try to download it from limewire.
all fall down
a big hit stateside and a popular choice to accompany majorettes (remember wanting to be one of those?) and aerobics classes nationwide.
love take over
hmmm. either five star‘s music videos are intended to have nothing to do with the song or there is a genius undercover message that I can’t decipher. five star gatecrash an empty country house and prance about.
find the time
actually, I seem to remember the video for this track had lots of clocks in it, cos of the time thing. there goes my last theory.

if i say yes
another upbeat track that I didn’t appreciate at the time. I think partly because in the video they wore awful oversized grey suits and pranced about a haunted house.
show me what you got for me
best track on their second and most successful album, ‘silk and steel’. perhaps because as a non-single, it was not sullied by live performances in matching shoulder padded frightsuits with a dance routine in which poor delroy looked increasingly unwieldy, what with him being in the throes of puberty and all.
whenever you’re ready
the first single from 1987’s ‘between the lines’ album. more polished, but still good with nice bubbly sound effects.
strong as steel
a great slow jam from 1987 that has been covered by gladys knight amongst others.
rock my world
from their last commercially successful album in the UK, ‘rock the world’. different again, but worth a spin.