dirty martini

old music for new people

on the radio April 6, 2009

mayo

before chris moyles, there was the big breakfast. before that, there was simon mayo. a national breakfast experience.

in 1991, i actually liked getting up early to listen to the radio. we always listened to simon mayo, rod mckenzie and sybil ruscoe.

the thing that was interesting about the breakfast show was that they didn’t just play the current top 40. they tried to break new music, albeit fairly commercial music, but new jack swing and r&b wasn’t huge in mainstream uk at the time and they did a decent job of representing what was happening over the pond. remember, we didn’t have access to things like the billboard or casey kasem back then.

needless to say none of these tracks became huge hits over here but i might not even know them if it weren’t for simon mayo. of course he also had a penchant for right said fred, but we’ll let that one go…

download simon mayo’s forgotten classics

hi-five – i like the way

sadly, singer tony thompson died a few years back. he was only 15 when he released this. it pretty much epitomises the era. i love this sound.

jazzy jeff and fresh prince – ring my bell

how do you follow ‘summertime’? well, that used a little known kool and the gang hook but this used a more obvious anita ward one, and suffered for it.

jody watley – i’m the one you need

very typical of the house/r&b hybrid sound of the time. it’s quite difficult to listen to now, but this one stands the test of time.

karyn white – romantic

karyn white has moderate success here, but nowhere near as much as in the states. i remember this being promoted to death, too. well, for those days – by that i mean i saw the promo for this song at least twice on national tv!

keedy – save some love

part of the miami freestyle scene, which didn’t really penetrate over here…this was her only big hit on the billboard charts.

mantronix – don’t go messing with my heart

despite the massive success of ‘got to have your love’ and ‘take your time’, this didn’t really go anywhere.  featured artist jade trini.

natural selection – do anything

playing this after practically every newsbreak didn’t help it break the top 40. now that i listen back, it’s very prince…

nona gaye – love sign

…who coincidentally featured on this nona gaye track. but his purple magic didn;t quite rub off.

paula abdul – promise of a new day

now, paula struggles to articulate entire sentences in one go on american idol, but back in 1991 she was still trying to keep her music career going with that incredibly thin voice and limited range. good job she could dance, eh?

rythm syndicate – p.a.s.s.i.o.n

another prince soundalike band. i thought the slightly noveltychorus would have made this a hit over here, but nope. bob the builder and mr blobby, yes. i despair of this country.

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i love 1988: fresh and fly April 5, 2009

 freshfly1

yes, in 1988, even north london schoolgirls could rap. yes, that is michelle gayle. back then in junior school, we could only aspire to be as cool as grange hill hip hop act ‘fresh and fly’.

if there is one way to describe the music of 1988 though, fresh and fly just about does it. hiphop, slick wine bar soul and the birth of new jack swing.

to be honest, my school was more bros and debbie gibson in 88, but london, as usual, was infinitely cooler…

download 1988

al b sure – night and day

bobby brown – roni

bvsmp – i need you

five star – godsend

karyn white – the way you love me

loose ends – watching you

mac band – roses are red

mica paris – my one temptation

pebbles – girlfriend

prince – alphabet st

slick rick – mona lisa

today – him or me

 

just a booty call September 20, 2008

famous one night stands:

emma bunton and justin timberlake…what is it with trouser and older women anyway?

jay-z and mya…ok, mya and most of the men active in the late 90s and early 00s r&b scene.

nicole appleton and leonardo dicaprio…in late 90s celeb fave the met bar, supposedly.

p diddy and sienna miller…these two showboat for attention like heat seeking missiles.

lindsay lohan and one of mcfly…hilarious. acted like someone who had a bad case of beer goggles at office xmas do and flatly denied it by the new year.

download a booty call

basic black – baby can we talk

bell biv devoe – i do need you

big bub – 24/7

bobby brown – lovin’ you down

gina thompson – strung out

hi-five – quality time

karyn white – one heart

kut klose – do me baby

lsg – door #1

mona lisa – crazy

tha truth – if i show you

z’looke – come on baby

 

the other side August 3, 2008

 

you know all those bonus tracks that surface once an album is released? we used to get them as b-sides. occasionally an instrumental would be bunged on there, or a remix, but in the 80s, you were pretty much guaranteed at least an album track if not something which didn’t make the cut.

for kids with only a few 7 inches to entertain them throughout the summer, this could mean that you were as familiar with an artist’s rarities as you were their hits.

some b-sides i miss:

karyn white – language of love (superwoman)

sister sledge – hold out poppy (frankie)

download here

five star – love gamesb-side to rsvp

janet jackson – he doesn’t know i’m aliveb-side to what have you done for me lately

madonna – pretenderb-side to material girl

mai tai – rules of love – b-side to body and soul

mel and kim – systemb-side to showing out

michael jackson – can’t get outta the rainb-side to billie jean

new edition – jealous girlb-side to popcorn love

nkotb – valentine girl – b-side to step by step

pepsi and shirlie – dreamingb-side to heartache

prince – 17 daysb-side to when doves cry

whitney houston – moment of truthb-side to i wanna dance with somebody

wham – where did your heart gob-side to edge of heaven

 

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

 

i can’t believe it’s not prince September 22, 2007

o

oh yes, this is a sequel. there are definitely more than one post’s worth of prince jackers.

download here

alexander o’neal – innocent

well, alex was in a band, flyte time, with prince in the 70s. so it’s natural that their sounds would evolve similarly. especially with jam and lewis on production duties. i heard something about alex being spotted on kilburn high road looking confused last week. wtf if a soul legend doing on kilburn high road? shopping in primark?

cassie – me and you

no she can’t sing, especially not live, but the general consensus is that she’s getting away with it cos she has hot beats courtesy of er, her man ryan leslie. this sparse track is ‘kiss’ for the 00s. but not as good, obviously.

damage – ghetto romance

a very turn of the century sounding track from the boys and i’m not sure why it reminds me of prince exactly but i want to include it so…here it is.

janet jackson – if

in your face funk. janet, like prince, was never afraid to use rock in her production. she was also never afraid to tell it like it is which is probably they were my two favourite artists of the 80s. this track is every bit as hectic as ‘my name is prince’ which was out just a bit earlier.

karyn white – hungah

karyn’s earlier efforts were 80s machine funk and new jack swing respectively but for her third album she stripped her sound down somewhat.

mario vasquez – cohiba

the first time i saw mario on american idol i thought he had the potential to perform like prince, if not to be such an all rounder.  i’m not sure why this project has stalled…

natural selection – do anything

well this track fooled me the first time i heard it. the call and response chorus is very ‘erotic city’ and the beat is like a slowed down ‘extra loveable’.

nicole scherzinger – steam

there are no shortage of prince-style beats in 2007, which is just as well as nicole isn’t interesting enough without them. i’m not sure what all the fuss is about here. this will be another flop due to deluded self-belief that she’s as interesting on her own.

paula abdul – my love is for real

after cartoon cats and ethereal ballads, paula’s third album tried to channel prince and probably was more credible although not at all a success. her vocals are the problem. i find it incredible that she now judges others and that simon cowell has managed not point out the irony.

ryan leslie – rock u

to me, most of next selection’s beats are an attempt to recreate the buzz around early 80s prince. are ryan and cassie the new prince and vanity? probably, which is proof of the decline in quality and talent in the music industry.

spl2rge – scuse me

bear with me on this one – if prince had been born in london not minneapolis, twenty five years later, this is the kind of music he would have been making.

teedra moses – backstroke

well, teedra lies about her age but she does make decent music. this is very 90s prince.

 

the woman behind the ‘superwoman’ April 27, 2007

sometimes, you discover artists that no one else seems to know about. one day, in my german class at school, we had to name our favourite artist. it was 1990 so the most popular answers, and most acceptable if you wanted to escape the scorn of your peers, were ‘soul ii soul‘ or ‘de la soul‘. and so it went, all around the room. it must have been riveting for the teacher, although he used to play a banjo, so its likely every response was alien to him.

several brave souls ventured ‘new kids on the block‘ (shouldn’t admit to that one) and ‘madonna‘ (so passe by 1990) and a couple of geeks, keen to display ‘underground’ music knowledge, smugly named some obscure 60s bands and impressed no one. then someone said ‘karyn white‘ and the room fell silent. i didn’t have the inclination to let the rest of the class know that i also knew and liked karyn white, i just listened to the person’s explanation with interest. ‘you know, she did that song ‘superwoman’ but the rest of her stuff is nothing like that. oh, i don’t know…she’s kind of like janet jackson‘. fair enough.

karyn, was a young vocalist in the powerhouse tradition who worked with la and babyface and also jam and lewis over the course of her career, and married terry lewis in 1992. she was a session singer discovered by jazz fusion artist jeff lorber in 1986. he asked her to sing lead on two tracks for his new project ‘private passion’ that was to feature soul vocalists singing over his jazz-funk compositions. ‘facts of love’ and ‘true confessions’ proved the perfect showcase for karyn‘s talent and paved the way for a solo deal.

my classmate was right. karyn‘s eponymous debut in 1988 in a way, did fill the gap between janet‘s ‘control’ and ‘rhythm nation 1814’ albums. most people remember it for enduring ballad, ‘superwoman‘, a staple of easy listening radio playlists to this day. but the truth is that the album was far less pop and more classic r&b than that song would suggest, or that janet would have attempted herself.

the singles released from ‘karyn white’ were far more ubiquitous in the US, who were switched on to r&b far earlier than the UK where it remained a specialist genre, or subgenre of dance, until the late 90s. nevertheless, they did ok over here and I can remember her second album and lead single ‘romantic’ being greeted enthusiastically on tv-am. both a blessing and a curse.
‘ritual of love’ was handily split into a ‘dance me’ side and ‘romance me’ side, if you bought the cassette. which a lot of people still did in those days. this concept has been nicked by many other artists, especially for their greatest hits albums. with her third album ‘make him do right’, karyn continued to have moderate success but never really broke through.

over the years, sharing flats and cd collections, precious few people have ever heard of karyn white. but they all remember ‘superwoman’. aaargh! don’t get me wrong, i love the song but it was an obvious hit and a calculated move, not what she should be remembered for.

ten karyn white songs that I prefer to ‘superwoman’download here

facts of love
music by jeff lorber, vocals by karyn white. this track introduced the world to her talents, at the age of 20.

the way you love me
listen about halfway through – did karyn pioneer the speed-singing style destiny’s child and wyclef claimed to invent on ‘no no no’? beyonce….you never learn do you?

secret rendezvous
should have been much bigger than it was, this was late 80s syncopated r&b at its best. one for the bedroom and the dancefloor.

don’t mess with me
out-sassing control-era janet was always going to be tricky, but karyn has the vocals and attitude to pull it off.

family man
karyn finds out her man has a wife and kids at home. she won’t be the last…and this is the way to deal with it.

not thru being with you
in between her first two albums, karyn hooked up with michael jeffries for this uptempo club smash.

romantic
remix of one of her biggest hits, the first single from second album ‘ritual of love’. less percussion, more bass.

the way i feel about you
remix of the other big hit from ‘ritual of love’. should have been the start of bigger things.

how i want you
one of many great slow jams from ‘ritual of love’. worthy of a place on any 90s ‘do me baby’ playlist.
one heart
sweet ballad that stays just the right side of saccharine. probably written with terry lewis in mind…shame it didn’t work out.