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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70s love groove June 27, 2008

i love that sound they used in the 70s. i can hardly articulate it but the theme tune to ‘robin’s nest’ is a perfect example. apparently it’s called mini-moog.

no matter what decade is currently being revived, the 70s remain cool. check out the tarantino soundtrack that never was, those 70s boy bands and the rainbow funk children.

download here

aretha franklin – until you come back to me

brothers johnson – tomorrow

cameo – sparkle

chaka khan – stay

earth wind and fire – devotion

heatwave – all you do is dial

isley brothers – at your best

kool and the gang – jones vs jones

maze and frankie beverly – southern girl

ramp – daylight

raydio – jack and jill

stevie wonder – you’ve got it bad girl

 

sweet like chocolate June 6, 2008

yes, it’s diet season and so thoughts turn to…chocolate.

well, after reading chocablog, i felt compelled to do a post of my own, on this subject close to my heart.

top five chocolate bars

  1. bounty – and i am so dying to try the bounty cherry bars they have in cybercandy
  2. cadbury’s caramel – old style, with the cartoon bunny, not the new generic brand
  3. those caramel marshmallow things they have in sainsburys – not enough chocolate/marshmallow products in the UK
  4. fry’s chocolate cream – not enough fondant either
  5. twirl – sometimes simple is best

five bars i wish they would bring back

  1. mint wispa – now!
  2. ice breaker – little blue minty chips in it
  3. coconut square – like turkish delight but blue
  4. strawberry or lime aeros – i knew there was a red aero…was too young to try them
  5. nestle secret – like a nest with chocolate mousse inside

download here

aaron skyy – chocolate

bros – chocolate box

deacon blue – chocolate girl

ex-girlfriend – sexual chocolate

kool and the gang – chocolate buttermilk

orlando johnson – chocolate city

prince – chocolate

shanks and bigfoot – sweet like chocolate

y?n-vee – chocolate

zapp – chocolate city

 

say my name: j to l May 11, 2008

 

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witness the reasons for a lot of girls born circa 1985 called kayleigh and janay…

download here

andre cymone – kelly’s eyes

betty everett – lucinda

daniel saluheka – lorraine

father mc – lisa baby

freddie jackson – janay

just ice – latoya

kool and the gang – joanna

le klass – jan

marillion – kayleigh

ray parker jr – jamie

riff – judy had a boyfriend

zakiya – jimmy

 

you must be my lucky star February 3, 2008

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stars are everywhere this season. i love it when the star prints pop up in shops. not as cutesy as hearts and infinitely more interesting than polka dots.

my favourite childhood dress was a little white rara dress with blue, red and yellow pastel stars. i haven’t found anything for my grown up wardrobe that was quite right but i live in hope. in the meantime i do have an old ollie and nic bag in green velvet with purple stars, which i love.

download here

air – kelly watch the stars

i loved ‘moon safari’. if you can’t decide whether something sounds retro or futuristic, or both, that’s generally a good thing.

cheri – star struck

cheri were a moderately successful 80s girl band a la the mary jane girls and vanity 6.

china black – stars

like the lighthouse family, china black were always on the edge of sounding a bit worthy, a common affliction for brit soulsters.

con funk shun – she’s a star

very prolific but not a widely known as their peers such as kool and the gang and earth wind and fire…

earth wind and fire – star

…who had a penchant for singing about stars. this is lesser known than ‘shining star’ but i prefer it.

heatwave – star of the story

one word – royalties. ‘mind blowing decisions’, ‘boogie nights’ and ‘always and forever’ must have earned this lot a fair wad over the years.

index – starlight

early 80s boogie soul.

madonna – lucky star

perhaps the most starry sounding song about stars ever.

mariah carey – underneath the stars

think deep blue skies, wet green grass and twinkling yellow stars.

prince – baby i’m a star

golden era prince.

rah band – message from the stars

cute, slightly novelty band. you could get away with that kind of stuff in the 80s without being labelled completely shit.

simply red – stars

i loved this.

stevie wonder – another star

stevie didn’t venture into disco too often despite releasing quite a few albums in that era.  

terri walker – star

another underrated uk r&b artist…

 

reality: the UK vs the US August 23, 2007

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reality tv has come a long way since hearsay and kelly clarkson. so, these are some of the best acts to emerge from popstars, pop idol, the x factor and american idol. you can also check out more acts to emerge from these shows.

download here

shayne ward -if that’s ok with you

best live performance – a million love songs (take that)

back in 2005, it wasn’t just hysterical 14 year olds voting for shayne, the entire female uk population, my mum and sharon osbourne included, had ward fever. he beat out more talented acts to be crowned winner of the x factor, but I have to say he’s grown on me. well, he is cute. started his career with drippy ballads but this soon to be released song shows he’s moving in a more interesting direction now, capitalising on the diverse vocal styles he displayed during the live shows.

anton gordon – hot romance

best live performance – cherish (kool and the gang)

where is anton? only this one track in five years? rumour has it he was turned away from this year’s x factor auditions. itv claim he just didn’t make the grade but the truth is they were embarrassed that they let pete waterman massacre his career after popstars: the rivals. one true voice was a shambles. poor old anton put in amazing performances week in week out only to be marginalised within a cheesy boyband singing bee gees covers. i could weep…and on the night he sang cherish i nearly did.

leona lewis – paradise

best live performance – i have nothing (whitney houston)

tough to pick one but this was the night i knew she’d win. leona blew us away last year in the x factor, and it was hard not to get overexcited. was she better than the girls of american idol? in some cases yes, in others, just different. american idol does belters a la mandisa and lakisha but leona is a more diverse vocalist. i can’t think of a comparative idol contestant but roxanne of pop idol in the uk comes close, albeit with much less range.

liberty x – jumpin’

best live performance….

er, i can’t remember any of their individual performances on popstars. but liberty x had some decent songs, firstly by riding the uk garage wave and then with neptunes inspired efforts like this. ok so in order to stay in the limelight they also covered a hell of a lot of big 80s soul songs like got to have your love, night to remember, ain’t nobody…can’t hurt right?

lemar – dance with you

best live peformance – let’s stay together (al green)

so far the most successful of the uk’s reality stars, along with girls aloud. lemar didn’t even win the dull and worthy fame academy but he’s the only contestant most people can remember from all three series. david sneddon anyone? thought not. in some ways, lemar has found it easier to disassociate himself than he might have done from pop idol or the x factor. both of which he could have won, no contest.

javine – surrender

best live performance – i’m every woman (chaka khan)

javine shrugged off initial public rejection to make a reasonably successful debut but slid into eurovision. as if any further depths could be plunged, whilst in daddy cool she made off with married co-star, harvey so solid. his wife, alesha dixon of girl band misteeq, has rightly used every opportunity to wreak public vengeance. then gobshite jamelia called her a slut on tv. pot. kettle. file this comeback under ‘unlikely’.

ruben studdard – sorry 2004

best live performance – a whole new world (peabo bryson)

how could anyone not love the velvet teddy bear? the confusion on ruben’s face as he took reviews from the judges on his perfomance each week was priceless. it was all so effortless for him. he hasn’t blown up yet but i think he’s more of a thirtysomething artist anyway. i can’t even believe clay aiken was a serious contender…ick. surely the most unattractive idol contestant ever – like ian beale in makeup.

latoya london – appreciate

best live performance – somewhere (west side story)

i don’t really like fantasia’s quacking vocals. for me, latoya was more talented and far classier, if not such a compelling performer. she could have been in the final another year. i’ve yet to find a better version of somewhere and so hers is the one i listen to.

elliot yamin – alright

best live performance – a song for you (donny hathaway)

i love him – chocolate, honey and vanilla wrapped up in one smooth voice. whilst soul purists may have balked at the idea, to me, elliot singing a donny hathaway song was inspired. how bland, gawky katherine mcphee and father ted impersonator taylor hicks beat him out to the final, i will never know. the proof will be in the longevity.

nikko -hot like summer

best performance – can we talk (tevin campbell)

back in the competition when another contestant dropped out, nikko turned in some great performances before he was eliminated and revived a classic tune from long forgotten r&b teen idol tevin campbell. kind of like usher with glasses, minus the stupid dancing.

mario vasquez – i bet

best performance – do i do (stevie wonder)

oh god…when mario performed stevie wonder’s ‘do i do’ in the semi final rounds, it was all over. and then he mysteriously disappeared. that ‘season’ (its a series! my bf yells this at the tv every year) descended into rock and country hell, with  carrie the country robot and throwback rocker bo in the final. 

jennifer hudson – love you i do

best performance – weekend in new england (barry manilow)

elton john vocalised what many people were thinking. it was spot on unlike his current ‘ban the internet’ tirade. how did jen slip under the radar? she totally outshone beyonce in dreamgirls and looking back, should have won that ‘season’. but i have to admit, i didn’t notice her star potential at the time either.

 

70s rainbow funk children August 18, 2007

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apparently everything in the 70s was rainbow hued. maybe in a backlash against the sixties monochrome, minimalist ideal or in a reaction to the unsettlement of the era – as much fun as the 70s look to those of us who didn’t experience them, people who did assure us that their abiding memories of the decade are rioting, powercuts and strikes, and that the colourful music was a brief escape.

its easy to forget that things were very different only 30 years ago, in terms of multiculturalism, values and wealth. there were the same problems of high inflation and unemployment as today, but it was less concentrated on the younger population as property was still affordable and people got jobs based on merit, not to satisfy government directives or for fear of legal action.

so the 70s are often remembered as the last days of political incorrectness, unrest and dodgy food but they were also the inception of many things we have today – microwaves, colour tv, video games, the internet. but this isn’t supposed to be a dreary post.  

there are lots of insights into the experiences of living in the 70s that can be found online. who knew that strawberry and lime aeros existed? i did say for years that there was a ‘red aero’ but no one believed me. despite the boil in the bag curries and deep fat fried food, many people reminisce over their 70s childhood cuisine – my mum has driven me crazy for years over fry’s five centres and cabana bars.

and sometimes i could kill for a glass of that transparent ‘orange’ squash we used to get in glass bottles – more sugar than orange but more fun than cloudy, 72% real fruit juice squash…at least 70s orange squash was defiantly nothing to do with actual oranges. was that the infamous kia-ora?

twelve technicolour grooves – download here

bar-kays – hit and run

the second incarnation of this group, saw them tread similar territory to george clinton and co. band member james alexander is jazze pha’s dad.

brick – dazz

enduring tune often confused with output from the dazz band and the commdores (brick house). the merging of a disco and a jazzfunk group to from brick, coined the term ‘dazz’ meaning ‘disco-jazz’

earth wind and fire – star

everyone knows ‘shining star’, but this is much better. ewf were what you might call prolific so there’s always more to discover.

ebonys – hook up and get down

one girl and four boys who formed part of the early 70s ‘fro and flares revolution.

jackson sisters -rockin’ on my porch

not letoya, janet and…the other one. the jackson sisters weren’t related to those jacksons. despite modest 70s success they were better appreciated after their time, during the rare groove revival of the 80s.

kool and the gang – hollywood swinging

kool and the gang’s 70s output is more funk-oriented than their slicker 80s sound. this track was sampled by mase for his debut ‘ feels so good’.

labelle – what can i do for you

patti labelle and co are infamous for ‘lady marmalade’ but they actually did make other songs, like this one.

ohio players – love rollercoaster

i first heard the red hot chilli peppers version of this song. this is the danger with cover versions.

parliament – flashlight

does anyone get the whole parliament-funkadelic thing? my understanding is that they are one and the same, but recorded for two different labels.

sly and the family stone – i want to take you higher

no rainbow funk playlist would be complete without a contribution from sly and the family.

soul children – hearsay

i only recently discovered this group but i love them.

tom browne – funkin’ for jamaica

features chaka khan. i didn’t realise that for a long time…