dirty martini

old music for new people

i love 1987: love don’t cost a thing June 26, 2008

i love the john hughes movies, all of which gave my pre-teen self a fascinating window into the lives of the older girls and boys. of course, not only did things change by the time i reached a similar age in the mid 90s, but these were american, not british experiences.

can’t buy me love, starring patrick dempsey aka dr mcdreamy and long lost actress amanda peterson, wasn’t a john hughes creation, but it was perhaps the best of the genre. if the stereotypes the other films had drilled home were true, ronald miller was too cute to be considered a real geek and cindy mancini was too nice to be a real cheerleader but it just worked. they were believable as a couple.

the whole movie is exactly as i remember 1987 or at least, what i aspired to. a pastel coloured bedroom, curly hair, the cheerleader/high school prom experience. its almost as though i didn’t see the sulky uk teenagers smoking fags outside circle k and realise that was what was really in store for most of us.

i know the rumours about a pretty in pink sequel have been doing the rounds for years, but patrick dempsey has said this is the only sequel he would consider. amanda must need the cash by now surely?

download here

alexander o’neal and cherrelle – never knew love like this

donna allen – serious

exotic – i’ve got to be your lover

five star – made out of love

georgio – sex appeal

jellybean and elisa fiorillo – who found who

jets – curiosity

karyn white – facts of love

lisa o – so delicious

michael jackson – the way you make me feel

narada michael walden – divine emotions

starpoint – object of my desire

i love 1986

i love 1985

i love 1984

i love 1983

i love 1982

i love 1981

i love 1980

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i love 1985: machine funk May 2, 2008

i loved 1985…what can i say? it’s probably year dot as far as my non-hazy childhood memory goes.

live aid, madonna, jheri soul, john hughes movies…it’s all in there. i did a post on the summer of 1985 about a year ago.

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download here

alexander o’neal – innocent

alex is mad as a bag of ferrets these days, but in the 80s he was funky. his backing tracks were artifical, over produced and all the better for it.

bar-kays – she talks to me

fab prince-lite with that bubbly mechanical bass.

bb&q band – dreamer

one of the finest exponents of jheri curl soul, which really took hold in 85. grown ups looked scary back then.

cherrelle – artificial heart

better known these days for smoking crack with whitney, back then she was alex o’neal’s default collaborator and had a pretty good career of her own.

five star – all fall down

this was five star’s first big hit, and the video was so 80s – ivory marble effect set, the band in clashing blue catsuits and cartoon inserts…

kokopop – ulterior motive

a b list new edition…in fact there were a few of these, maybe i should do a post…

leroy burgess – heartbreaker

still going, leroy was a member of disco group black ivory and also related to kool and the gang’s robert and ronald bell.

lillo thomas – i’m in love

lillo and his impressive moustache were fond of heavily produced polyfunk.

o’bryan – tenderoni

wonder who first coined the term ‘tenderoni’ as pioneered by o’bryan, chromeo and bobby brown?

paul hardcastle – don’t waste my time

brit computer geek but don’t let that put you off…oh and don’t let ’19’ out you off either…

rochelle – my magic man

loved this and thought she was a one hit wonder, but apparently there was another one – which i now have to find.

sexual harrassment – k.i.s.s.i.n.g

charming name for a band….not…every bit as nasty as ‘i need a freak’. nasty like prince, i mean.

 

everybody loves leona April 11, 2008

so leona has cracked the US, big time. i’m pleased for her and now I see why her album contains so many ballads. their cheese radar is lower than that of the endlessly critical brits, perhaps…and some people find ballads cheesy. leona does them well though.

so whilst ‘spirit’ is good quality, there’ll be plenty of time for a mature sound later on. now that she’s cemented her popularity for the foreseeable future, she really needs to nail the pop/r&b crossover next time. anyway, since leona’s second album must be a sure thing by now I was wondering how it’ll turn out. so, these are the types of songs that I’d like to hear from her.

download here

aaliyah – hot like fire

leona has the right tone to her voice to copy aaliyah’s style but has much more range, so it would be interesting…

adriana evans – looking for your love

this type of sweet, live instrumental track would be a good personality fit for leona, who appears to have won over the US and UK public with her sweet, down to earth manner. i’m not with those who translate this into a lack of personality – if she was delivering witty asides to camera, that would be fake.

amerie – crush

this would have been a cute track for leona. for whatever reason amerie continue to flop, maybe leona could take this off her hands…

brownstone – if you love me

no point having that vocal capability if you’re not going to show it off?

juicy – sugar free

in fact she did record an updated version of this called ‘suga sweet’ pre-x factor, and it’s not bad. midtempo 80s soul would be a nice contrast with her voice.

mariah carey – we belong together

in a way, ‘better in time’ is her ‘we belong together’. but another one won’t hurt. maybe she should keep it back for her third album.

prince – if i was your girlfriend

some princespiration won’t go amiss…why not, everyone else is doing it. if leona’s going to shake off her good girl image, she should go classic, not sleaze.

keisha white – open like so

leona will need to do sass at some point. not in a trashy beyonce style, or man-bashing late 90s jittery r&b, but something a bit more direct. like this.

kelly rowland – can’t nobody

i see this as the type of club track leona might do – not too aggressive or desperately current, just something that works.

alexander o’neal and cherrelle – never knew love like this

leona and lemar. please.

shola ama – you’re the one i love

this was the song that i remember shola for the most, not sure if it was her biggest hit but it was the perfect balance between pop and r&b. but in the 90s, for a uk artist, this was about as r&b as it got.

swv – weak

if leona sticks with some ballads, I would love to see her tackle some 90s style slow jams.

 

i love 1981: the last days of disco January 12, 2008

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legend has it that 1981 saw the very last days of disco, as documented in the 1998 film. of course, there is a huge flaw in this statement as costa-bound brits discoed until the late 80s. it was 1977 in spain until about 1991 everywhere else.

one of the very first bars i went to in the early 90s –  a wine bar, no less – played disco and boogie. at the time i thought it was a quirk of soundtrack similar to amusement parks, where law dictates that all music played must be at least 7 years old. it was actually because i was 15 and i wasn’t supposed to be there.

the music was for the older crowd – the disco crowd. the ones who had probably wished they could dance on illuminated dance floors a la saturday night fever but had to settle for that funny 70s slightly glittery flooring they used in shopping centres. but encrusted with disco dirt and littered with fag ends, at their local ritzy.

the last days of disco may be a pretty accurate account of those days, i don’t know. its quite bleak for a disco movie, i suppose no one quite knew what to expect after the excitement of a new decade died down. its not as depressing however, as the reality of the uk in 1981 which was majorly depressing according those who remember. as a five year old i was oblivous to the riots, strikes and nuclear warnings i have since viewed thanks to ‘i love 1981’.

the disco sucks movement, perpetrated by greasy rednecks in lumberjack shirts, finally won in 1981, and disco became boogie…

download here and visit 1980 here

aurra – nasty disposition

the duo started as aurra at the tail end of disco, and passed through the mid 80s jheri soul movement to become deja by the time new jack swing hit.

bb&q band – starlette

better known for their mid 80s tinkly jheri soul efforts.

class action –  weekend

this was reborn as a house anthem later in the decade and remixed in the 90s by todd terry.

coffee – casanova

ravers baby d made their cover version the follow up to the huge ‘let me be your fantasy’. there was a nice jungle remix.

earth wind and fire – lady sun

not as obvious as ‘let’s groove’…

evelyn champagne king – if you want my love

not as obvious as ‘shame’!

inner life – moment of my life

imagine this on the dancefloor at studio 54.

madagascar – rainbow

perfect late disco classic.

patrice rushen – haven’t you heard

patrice might just be the most sampled artist ever.

rose royce- magic touch

proving she, and disco, still had it in 1981.

sharon redd – can you handle it

the line between disco and boogie was thin, at best.

slave – watching you

slave spawned steve arrington, who summed up the mid 80s with ‘feel so real’.

 

cool britannia January 5, 2008

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watching ruby turner on jools holland the other day was further proof of the abundance of underappreciated talent we have in the uk.

this is a selection of new and old uk talent, worth investigating.

download here 

terri walker -flirtin’

sadly, terri will at best be underrated in the beverly knight tradition for the rest of her career. her three albums are ten times better than anything mya has ever put out…

soul ii soul – love enuff

new age funksters who retained their peace and love vibe well into the mid 90s when everyone else had given up.

loose ends – choose me

those that know revere loose ends as the 80s soul band to end them all.

five star – rsvp

family group who turned out to have more in common with jacksons than we thought possible – a veritable mountain of plastic surgery. this song is from their first album, when they had their own noses and steadman didn’t look like a circus freak.

light of the world – no1 girl

named themselves after a kool and the gang album, and had several hits. after splitting in 1981 some members went on to form beggar&co, who also had some success.

heatwave – super soul sister

ok only the keyboardist was british, the band was in fact, international. heatwave were responsible for standard ‘always and forever’ and countless 70s funk gems.

cool notes – i forgot

originally part of the young south london lovers’ rock scene, then a jheri soul success, by uk standards, with several top ten hit.

central line – you’ve said enough

another success, and singer camelle hinds is still active.

leona lewis – suga sweet

a pre-fame remake of juicy’s 1985 jheri soul hit ‘ sugar free’. some more midtempos like this would have sat well on ‘spirit’…i hope she gets back to this style for her second album. leona had the biggest selling uk album of 2007 so even in this uncertain era for the music industry, this hopefully means a sophomore effort is a dead cert!

celetia – special

the uk’s answer to brandy and aaliyah in the 90s – sadly without the success but happily without the drama. this was from her second album, ‘runaway skies’.

shola ama – who’s loving my baby

still waiting on that comeback, shola. and sister sadie’s debut for that matter….what’s going on ladies? shola had the biggest selling r&b album in the uk, of all time.

lemar – fresh

things have also gone a bit quiet on the lemar front, after three successful albums. apparently a radio DJ in barbados mistakenly announced his name was ‘lemar bedingfield’  and now the population, or at least those listening, now believe he is related to those tiresome, delusional big-toothed horrors….as if!

 

everybody loves the old skool August 16, 2007

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this whole nostalgia thing is taking over. reminiscing used to be the preserve of old people, and at school, our biggest exposure to anything outside the early 90s was when we used to have to visit old people’s homes on what was known as ‘biddy patrol’.

in these, cough, fragrant environments, we just sat and listened to endless tales of ‘it was better in my day’ – a sentiment i’m starting to empathise with. we would smirk when they asked us if we were ‘courting anyone’ as we walked them round the garden. they then proceeded to tell us about the kind of music they listened to during the war, which most of us had never heard of. because it was fifty years ago.

a lot of people are scathing about the whole retro thing, especially the ‘i love…’ series. for most people, retro is several generations ago, not the 90s, a decade many people are still dressing in. i remember at the time of this series’ first run in 2001, the face magazine ran a pisstake article called ‘i love last week’. despite the fact that i loved the series, i found this right on the money. at the time i was 25 – should i be pining for my childhood already and oohing and aahing over such er, long lost groups such as take that and nkotb? nkotb haven’t even reunited yet, six years on! (although i am so anticipating that one).

we have long been encouraged to look backwards, its not an entirely new phenomenon. before the 00s, where the new, old and just-happened appear to share an equal platform in the nation’s consciousness, the first song i can remember that celebrated the old school was kylie’s ‘step back in time’ an ode to the disco era. there seems a unspoken agreement that old equals better – i think its just personal taste. i won’t listen to queen because they’re retro, anymore than i would listen to coldplay now.

my teenage cousins are more likely to listen to music made around the time they were born than i was at their age. this give us some common ground, but i do think its a shame if they can’t find anything new to relate to. we recently had a 15 year old work experience girl who listened exclusively to jungle, which was only really produced between 1993 and 1995. she was born in 1991. there is absolutely no chance that she could experience the culture behind the music. when i was 15 it was all about the new for me.

twelve artists who dig the cratesdownload here

aaliyah – old school

nostalgia’s an odd sentiment for a 15 year old but still, this is a nice mid 90s midtempo swing track from aaliyah’s first, r.kelly produced album.

amerie – reminisce witcha

from amerie’s new album ‘because i love it’ this track sees amerie nostalgic for a past relationship. there’s something very likeable about amerie and her voice sounds unique against the current crop of babyvoiced divas.

chante moore – old school lovin’

chante moore was a model-turned-singer and this is from her 1992 album ‘let’s stay together’. she had an early 90s supermodel look about her – lots of lipliner, pencil thin eyebrows and shiny, rollered hair.

estelle – 1980

this is an enjoyable romp through uk rapper estelle’s childhood, citing fresh prince, connect 4 and jheri curls as influences.

jill scott – family reunion

hazy happy barbecue days with the family. in a land where summer lasts longer than four days…

lauryn hill – every ghetto, every city

with more than a dash of inspiration from sir stevie, lauryn reminisces on an 80s childhood. its such a shame she couldn’t get it together to follow up ‘miseducation’. 

missy elliott and jay-z – back in the day

a look back to the 80s hiphop era – who knew british knights trainers actually orginated in the us? of course, missy was a huge five star fan, as well. hands up who wore their trainers with the tongues pushed up.

o’jays – family reunion

classic soul from one of the greatest groups of the 70s. used in the film ‘poetic justice’ for a barbecue scene, perhaps inspiring jill scott’s version.

shola ama – granny’s yard

cool. a very british excursion into shola’s 80s/90s upbringing. any song that namechecks soda stream, charlie brown and choice fm is ok with me.

stevie wonder – i wish

i watched a documentary about stevie wonder’s childhood and loved the fact that he didn’t his blindness affect his little boy instinct to leap off walls and sheds. ouch.

uness – old skool joint

newcomer uness pays homage to his girl and the old skool in one easy step. i’m loving uness.

will wheaton – old school soul

appreciation for the old school in the old school style. no its not that will wheaton…: )

 

the summer of 1985 June 8, 2007

if there’s one summer from my childhood that i remember fondly, it’s the summer of 1985. not just because it was an actual summer, with sun and heat (not humidity – there’s a difference). before global warming screwed up the weather and i had to get on the year round sauna they call the london underground, summer was anticipated as an enjoyable season.

if the weather was like it is today – that’s torrential rain and dismal temperatures, for non-brits – the summer holidays were spent inside or shopping. but for most days, we had a beach hut, and every day I would get up early to watch tv-am with roland rat, and most importantly, the weather forecast, to see if we’d spend the day at home or go down to the beach.

i’d put on my jelly shoes, grab my jelly bag and we’d set off. not in a car, that would have been too easy. we had to walk for about 30 minutes to the right bus stop, then get a hot, sweaty bus to the seafront. back then children didn’t rule the world, so I’d probably have to stand or some miserable old bag would literally glare you out of your seat.

on arrival, we checked who else was there. the hut was only really big enough to house a kettle, a portable radio, some folding chairs, a windbreaker and a hula hoop. why we sacrificed valuable space for a kettle, in the height of summer, i’ll never know. why do parents panic at the thought of not being able to drink tea every five minutes? mine were always making excuses not to do something because they ‘hadn’t had a cup of tea yet.’ and still do.

so if no other kids were there, I would cut lonely figure, playing with my little ponies, hula hooping, and trying to catch butterflies in a fishing net. my mum would lie there in the blazing hot sun, with her cup of tea, listening to radio victory and tuning me out. me and my friends wandered pretty much wherever we wanted, across the road to the beach, to the lake, the playground, the fair. you could do things like that, back then.

i suppose these days most kids would get bored going to same place about four or five times a week. in the 80s there really wasn’t much point staying at home unless you wanted to watch why don’t you… all summer.

so this is the soundtrack to those hot sunny days at the beach. yes, there are dance routines to all of these songs which i am often tempted to break into when i hear them. it was probably the same dance routine for nine year old girls all over the UK.

now that’s what i call the summer of 1985…download here

amazulu – excitable

the 7″ single was a cool transparent blue vinyl, which looked a frisbee. amazulu were a pop/reggae band who had a string of hits in the mid 80s, their biggest was a cover of ‘too good to be forgotten’ originally by the chi-lites (although I was completely unaware of this at the time).


cameo – single life

cameo, before they became infamous for ‘word up’ and that red codpiece, made quality 70s and 80s funk. cameo always did have some humour, it just wasn’t as outlandish earlier on. i can’t believe this hasn’t been sampled yet?


cool notes – in your car

the cool notes had already been lovers’ rock legends and post-disco soul stars by the time the mid 80s arrived but this incarnation as jheri curled poseurs proved their most successful yet. i remember hearing this song on the top 40 and deciding it would be the next single i bought. five star – love take over

god i loved five star…i saw past the dodgy matching catsuits, crispy fried hair and scary eyeliner. and that was just the boys. in this video they danced poolside before piling into a jeep, no storyline. didn’t need one.


madonna – into the groove

this was the moment, for me, when madonna became the biggest star of the 80s. this song gave me a clue as to what the older kids were doing. drinking and dancing in smoky underground clubs. the dance she did in this video, with her hands clasped above her head, was immediately imitated by millions of precocious pre-teen girls. mai tai – history

mai tai were a german soul trio who sang all together and so had a fairly unique sound. bananarama did the same, for a different reason. they sounded like a cat scratching a tin individually. this track, like many uk tracks, doesn’t feature in many round ups of 80s soul classics as it’s not by a us artist. travesty.

prince – raspberry beret

possibly my most favourite prince song ever, but definitely the one i’ve loved for the longest. i like how the lyrics aren’t trying to be clever, they just tell the story. there’s no hidden meaning and unlike a lot of other 80s songs, I don’t understand it differently now that I’m older.

princess – say i’m your no.1 to this day I don’t know how a cheese factory like stock aitken and waterman managed to produce this classic. it’s a shame they didn’t focus on making more music like this, alongside the hugely successful pop conveyor belt.

sister sledge – frankie
this song was just made for little girls. how old was frankie though? we hoped he was 15, and sister sledge were 12, as per the lyrics, but there was a strange old man in the video….and the sisters were pushing 30.

steve arrington – feel so real

steve arrington was the lead singer of slave but i didn’t know of them at the time. this song just sums up that summer as far as, it was just everywhere. it wasn’t necessarily my favourite song but i always think of the beach when i hear it.

tears for fears – everybody wants to rule the world

you couldn’t move for this song in 1985. safari suits and mullets, hmmm…

whitney houston – how will i know

pastel knitwear and pixie boots whitney, while stylistically challenged, was a lot more fun and made better music than crack addict whitney in her velour tracksuit. i remember arguing about the lyrics to this song with an unbearable kid called sally who thought she knew everything. I was right.