dirty martini

old music for new people

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’.

 

crazy is as crazy does December 23, 2007

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 artists like to sing about being crazy -and over the christmas period their claims to insanity may be more valid. families can send you nuts.

download here

chaka demus and pliers – love you like crazy

became a bit of a comedy reggae act in the 90s after a pointless cover of ‘twist and shout’.

corina – loving you like crazy

freestyle artist corina is still going strong – this track is from 1990.

dream – crazy

teenage girls do not make for a harmonious group – lineup changes led to their second album, ‘reality’, being shelved. a shame, as this, and some of the other tracks sounded a lot better than their debut.

five star – crazy

i loved this video, which followed the group as they rampaged through an empty fairground. very low budget ie classic 80s.

mark morrison – crazy

actually mark’s first single before ‘return of the mack’. is he in jail again? not heard from him for a while.

missy elliott and beyonce – crazy feelings

a restrained effort from beyonce here, thankfully. missy’s midtempo tracks are actually very good.

mj cole – crazy love

lushly produced uk garage, bound for the lounge rather than the club. vocals are by uk urban mainstay elisabeth troy.

musiq – halfcrazy

nice slow jam from the soulchild.

occasions – crazy world

gospel meets 90s r&b and the results are impressive.

paul davis – i go crazy

downtempo weepy later covered by jazz vocalist will downing.

trellini – crazy about you

90s girl trellini wasn’t hugely successful but her one and only album (i think) was nice.

yvette michele – crazy

yvette started off singing about being crazy about a dj, then just decided to be crazy. then decided to sing about a dj again…she only had one album.

 

it’s not just a london thing… September 2, 2007

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 in the early 90s, clubbers fell into two camps – the hiphop/r&b crowd and the house/garage/techno crowd. the latter was far more dominant and you would find that most clubs had a main floor playing cheesy house and a smaller room with a cooler crowd playing funkier beats. you had to go to a proper club to hear real house music.

i liked both, and often wondered what an amalgamation of the two would sound like. but it made my brain hurt. several years later it became evident that others had been thinking the same thing, and new sounds started to emerge.

there were two distinct types of speed garage, as it was called then. two step was slower and used an entirely new beat, and four-four garage, bassline house, speed garage, raggage, whatever you want to call it, was basically US garage speeded up. speed garage adopted the jungle attitude, was strictly a london thing, and jacked many of its sound effects, but it was more danceable for the rhythmically challenged.

incidentally, the londoncentricity that prevailed can, i believe, claim the demise of jungle, speed garage and uk garage as directly attributable. the rest of the UK fights a constant, and sometimes imaginary, battle against the capital’s dominance. interestingly, southerners didn’t reject the madchester scene for being too northern.

new scenes don’t just take over the saturday night dancefloor. they have to work their way up. so, in 1995, speed garage became known as ‘the sunday scene’ at clubs such as spread love, deja vu, twice as nice and cookies and cream. the pirates, most notably freek fm, magic fm and erotic fm, had been playing garage for years, but in the mid 90s, they all but ditched us garage and drum’n’bass to promote the new uk sound.

this is a mix of the early speed/four-four garage tracks, including some that were ahead of their time and subsequently got played out years later as they fitted into the current mix. this is the sound of poky rooms in shared houses, pirate stations blaring out of clapped out cars racing around wood green. out clubbing for the third night in a row and no signs of stopping. good times.

download here

bizzi – bizzi’s party – booker t mix

kristine blond – loveshy – club mix

jodeci – freek you up – mk dub

187 lockdown vs natural born chillers – rock the funky beats – beatdown mix

gant – sound bwoy burial – 187 lockdown mix

sound of one – as i am – todd edwards mix

scott garcia – a london thing

sneaker pimps – spin spin sugar – armand van helden mix

same people – dangerous

double 99 vs another level – be alone no more

x-presidents – diamond rings

all saints – never ever – booker t vocal mix

juliet roberts – so good – booker t mix

n’n’g – right before my eyes – grant nelson mix

nightcrawlers – push the feeling on – the dub of doom

robin s – show me love – stonebridge mix

kim english – nite life – retail mix

 

jungle: a way of life August 22, 2007

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even the kids amongst you probably don’t need an introduction to jungle. emerging from the hardcore scene of the early 90s, it was a ragga driven extension of the dancehall scene until techno started to take over the drum’n’bass scene in 1996.

like uk garage, it was a predominatly london thing. it was the soundtrack of the pirates when i moved here in 1994 and to me it was new, exciting and like nothing i’d ever heard before. so some of my abiding memories of jungle are as the soundtrack to my first year living in student halls of residence. fires in the kitchen, dirty bathrooms and being too drunk to get out of bed.

in your first year, you’re lumped with a complete mishmash of personalities, with nothing in common. the one thing that can unite people is music and yet sometimes even that fails. what do you do with a couple of r&b swingers, a hip hop queen, cheesy quaver and a girl who just got back from ibiza?

in 1994, you sent them down to the a.w.o.l. night at the ministry of sound. on a thursday night, you could actually get in for less than £10 and get a drink for about £3. there was r&b in the main bar, house and garage upstairs (this was before the refurb) and jungle in the main room.  the crowd were a melting pot of students, office caners, media and professional ravers.

at the time i probably didn’t think a.w.o.l was as cool as the friday night open techno fest or glitzy rulin’ saturday night at the ministry. how wrong i was. a.w.o.l is the only one i would still want to go to. i discovered new music and saw a man in a skirt years before david beckham was nagged into one.

a.w.o.l lasted about as long as the jungle scene, and no other ministry night has been as exciting since. i blame the refurb.

original junglistsdownload here

soundman and elisabeth troy – no greater love

firefox and 4tree – warning

da maytrix – loverman

dj taktix – the way

leviticus – the burial

omni trio – renegade snares

tom and jerry – maximum style

deep blue – helicopter tune

baby d – casanova

m-beat – style

buju banton – move ya body

bagga worries and jooxie nice – legalise

barrington levy – under mi sensi

daddy freddy – junglist sound

dms – sweet vibration

m-beat and general levy- incredible

prizna and demolition man – fire

chaka demus and pliers – gal wine

cutty ranks – original rude boy style

wayne marshall – g spot

 

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…: )