dirty martini

old music for new people

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

Advertisements
 

hello kitschy July 20, 2008

a collection of tunes that are crying out for a super kitsch cartoon video.

download here

amerie – crush

possibly just meant to sound happy, not kitsch, but this remix conjures up images of bubbles, flying candy and glitter and there’s nothing amerie can do about it…

basement jaxx – romeo

you can tell the jaxx heart kitsch by their album covers, even if you haven’t heard the music. who else would put snowflake, the albino gorilla from barcelona zoo, on a cd?

bjork – big time sensuality

more quirky than kitsch, but bjork does look a bit like a japanese cartoon.

confection – i gotta thang 4u

confection are a group who make 80s jheri soul a la loose ends. i honestly didn’t realise for a long time that they weren’t authentic 80s.

daft punk – digital love

kids of the 80s went ‘aaaah…’ when they saw the video to this tune, featuring battle of the planets style anime.

deee-lite – say ahhh

unashamedly kitsch, and psychedelic at the same time.

groove armada and mutya buena – song for mutya

whoever thought they would be describing the chavtastic mutya as kitsch? not me…

keyshia cole – superstar

hate jameila. this is the only song of hers that i could remotely stand so i was happy that keyshia covered it for the us market. clearly, bitter brummie bitches don’t go down too well across the pond, either…

mariah carey – touch my body

eternally 12 apparently…mariah is the physical embodiment of kitsch and youth obsession taken too far. and no i don’t buy the nick cannon thing, that boy just looks uncomfortable to me.

model 500 – the flow

i doubt that derrick may intended to make anything that sounded remotely kitsch. but it so does…

st etienne – who do you think you are

if all of st etienne’s video has been animated kitsch, i think their music would have been more appealing. i liked it, but the oh-look-at-us-we’re indie!-and-quirky! band members ruined things somewhat.

sub sub and melanie williams – ain’t no love

the most cartoonish club classic i can remember – shouldn’t have worked but it did.

 

love it when you call February 19, 2008

busby.jpg

if you are under 25 then you have no idea how far phones have come since, say, 1983. or if you watch any old skool tv then maybe you do?

i can barely imagine myself using the antiquated phone we had in my early childhood. but i did – it was one of those heavy plastic things BT used to give out in standard issue red, cream or dark olive green. it had the letters of the alphabet printed on the piece of cardboard behind the clear plastic dial, next to the numbers. this hinted at the availability of a US style phone system where you could easily memorise commercial numbers, but as far as I remember this didn’t happen in the UK, where we like to make everything as difficult as possible. put it this way, you couldn’t dial 0800-TESCO.

we even managed to memorise numbers, it is possible. at a push, i can still remember the numbers for all of my friends and family up to about the age of 12 but probably couldn’t more than three of the numbers in my blackberry today under pain of death. perhaps the most famous number of all was the number for swap shop – 01 811 8055. ironically then, it was easier to contact the bbc in 1982 armed with that knowledge, than it is to find their number on a website designed to discourage calls.

phones then, were integral to relationships. an iconic image of the 80s is that of a girl on the phone with a suprised expression on her face…i couldn’t find one though! she was probably surprised she was allowed to use it…phone bill battles were so commonplace that neighbouring friends often succumbed to old tin cans on a string trick. i have no idea if that even worked….

download here

blackstreet – booti call

bootsy collins – what’s a telephone bill

cheyne – call me mr telephone

good girls – just call me

junior brown – long time me call

in the mix – dial me baby

loose ends – dial 999

new edition – mr telephone man

portrait – i can call you

prince – how come you don’t call me anymore

ryan leslie – promise not to call

sheena easton – telephone

sherrick – just call

teairra mari – phone booth

tony jay – telephone line

 

eat me February 13, 2008

1916190979_bd7403fcd7_o.jpg 

food is love and love is food.

valentine’s day restaurant rant alert: why do you have to have a set menu? full of the blandest and cheapest crap on the menu? it’s valentine’s day and i want to choose!

download here

all saints – black coffee

very chilled coffee house track from the girls, which was an image departure after nic and nat’s early days of falling in and out of the met bar.

anthony hamilton – cornbread fish and collard greens

well anthony does like his women to eat.

d’angelo – devil’s pie

from ‘voodoo’ – yes the album with that cover.

hil st soul – bag of chips

can’t quite understand why this track wasn’t a bigger success.

labelle – lady marmalade

labelle actually weren’t the first group to record this enduringly popular song about hookers – it was a disco group called eleventh hour.

little milton – grits ain’t groceries

for years i thought grits were like big crisps cos thats what they sold at butlins when i was a kid…now i’ve been to momma cherri’s soul food cafe i understand it a bit better…

ll cool j and mary j blige – favourite flavour

when i first heard this i couldn’t believe how similar it sounded to their previous collaboration a decade earlier on the remix of ‘mary jane’.

loose ends – a little spice

i’ve said it before – loose ends are the truth.

michael cooper – dinner for two

i discovered michael late. it looks like his careers has spanned three decades so far.

prince – martika’s kitchen

i think i prefer this version. i love how prince records demos for the artists he produces for. i suppose a lot of artists do – but his are often better versions.

prince – cream

prince understands the erotic power of food – peach, raspberry beret, chocolate…

scotty and lorna bennett – breakfast in bed

i never got the breakfast in bed thing – until recently. i was in a hotel with a nice room, and i ordered three kinds of egg with toast and mushrooms, and orange, apple and grapefruit juices. it really sorted out my hangover…which was just as well as i was there to work!

sunshine anderson – lunch or dinner

food is a play safe setting for a first date. i suppose there’s less awkward silence if you can’t speak anyway cos your mouth is full.

 

cool britannia January 5, 2008

star-ice.jpg

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!

 

there’s (another) storm brewing July 10, 2007

storm.jpg

 

ok, so this really is summer. we get a few hours a day of sunshine. then you notice the enormous grey cloud ahead and within an hour…lightning and torrential rain. it always used to thunder on the last day of school, mid july. but that was usually due to high pressure on the back of a heatwave.

quiet storm isn’t so much a soul genre with artists identified as belonging to it to the exclusion of others, like new jack swing. most soul and r&b artists have some songs in their back catalogue that could be called quiet storm. its relaxing music that differentiates itself from slow jams in that the content is less obvious and less of a booty call. it has roots in jazz, soul and early electronica.

the music sounds refreshing, if it was a drink it would be long and ocean blue with lots of ice. it sounds aquatic and soothing at the same time, like a jacuzzi.

80s quiet storm soul – download here

bb&q band – genie
midnight star – curious
royalle delite – i’ll be a freak for you
loose ends – slow down
sos band – tell me if you still care
cool notes – you’re never too young
luther vandross – see me
princess – after the love has gone
joyce sims – come into my life
alexander o’neal – a broken heart can mend
jucy – sugar free
five star – let me be the one

 

 

just let your soul glo April 29, 2007

sometime in about 1984 surfaced a phenomenon that would last well into the late 80s – jheri curl soul.borne out of the post-disco movement, curl soul was a more electronic style that made use of damn near every new sound available. jheri curl soul identified itself in a number of ways –

  1. the hair, obviously. before eddie murphy and co satirised said hairdo in ‘coming to america‘, the jheri curl was big business. cue glistening curls and plenty of grease-stained sofas
  2. the bands often resembled an extended family photo – it was not uncommon for groups to have more than five members
  3. a glitzy name – bonus points for inclusion of the word ‘star’ or ‘band’ and for translating your name into fauxfrancais: atlantic starr, five star, midnight star, the sos band, the bb&q band, royalle delite, club nouveaux, intrique
  4. if you can’t convince your family to join in, or are a norman-no-mates, a duo is your best bet – rene and angela, aurra, ashford and simpson
  5. reflective and/or brightly coloured silk suiting must be standard issue, and don’t forget those shoulder pads. essential for the moody yet inviting, hands on hips pose favoured by many of said bands
  6. allude to yet more glamour and excitement in your lyrics. recommended themes are – gold and silver, notoriety, electricity, being the finest, a freak, turning someone on, having secret affairs, taking your clothes off
  7. sprinkle liberally with tinkly sounds, synths, squelchy basslines and hyperactive drum patterns

for all that, the music should have been shit. but it was amazing. yes it was manufactured, so what. it sounds positively organic next to the late 90s robo-pop of the backstreet boys and britney spears. nothing quite sums up the 80s and a sunny day as effectively as this glossy, aspirational music. nothing made me more desperate to grow up and go to a real club so i could pretend to be one of these perfect specimens.

but since i was ooh, a good 8 years from being able to slip into a club with fake id, i danced in front of the tv in my pixie boots and silver dress, hair piled high and as much makeup as i could get away with. i strutted and pointed and pouted, to my parent’s amusement.

ten jheri curl soul classicsdownload here

midnight star – midas touch
midnight star comprised nine members. the exact role of each is unclear, but they all sported the prerequisite curls and loud suit, so contributed in some small way to the band’s success. this ode to all things gold was their biggest uk hit, in 1986.


klymaxx – the men all pause
pioneering ‘curl soul. klymaxx were a six-piece girl band in the traditional sense – they all played an instrument. this track was from their 1984 album ‘ meeting in the ladies room’.


lillo thomas – sexy girl
textbook 1987 example of the genre. associate of kashif and paul laurence, lillo was an olympic calibre athlete before an accident in 1984 forced him to pursue an alternative career.


the sos band – no one’s gonna love you
exquisitely produced track that almost sums up the genre. lovely bells, swooshes and that bassline. if it sounds familiar, it was sampled by r&b singer maxwell for a remix of his first hit ‘ascension’ in 1996.

rene and angelai’ll be good
slightly scary example of the curl’n’suit combo who had several sizable hits in the mid-80s. this 1985 hit was later used to good effect by jay-z and foxy brown.

jermaine stewart – we don’t have to take our clothes off
song that we delighted in singing at brownies, because we thought it was rude. from the poppier end of jheri curl soul and in fact, jermaine had unnaturally straight hair. perhaps in protest? can’t have been any easier to maintain…


atlantic starr – silver shadow
active throughout the 80s, atlantic starr are best known for ballads ‘always’ and ‘secret lovers’. this track was only released in the uk, where it prospered on the back of the club scene ignited by loose ends et al.


kashif – i just gotta have you
a big part of the 80s soul scene, producer kashif‘s own releases aren’t as well known as his work for others, including disco queen evelyn champagne king, george benson and dionne warwick, amongst others.


mac band – roses are red
a good example of the simple but effective lyrics used in many jheri soul cuts. this track still gets played out today.


the jets – curiosity
this polynesian eight-piece family act first rose to fame in 1987 with the poppy ‘crush on you’ led by then 15 year old vocalist elizabeth. since their late 80s success, younger siblings have replaced those retiring, from a pool of seventeen candidates.