dirty martini

old music for new people

mtv europe 1992 April 11, 2009

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i could really do with another summer of 1992. gcse exams finished early, by june i had three months in which to do exactly nothing.

so, i sunbathed, wandered around with my friends and watched mtv. a lot. having cable was still a novelty, and watching a channel broadcast from another continent was fun. the vjs spoke in broken english, the adverts were a long way from aquafresh and hovis.

i hold mtv europe squarely responsible for the success of acts such as culture beat and ace of base. there were other, weirder acts that didn’t quite penetrate the uk but existed for those of us hooked on this european wide window.

i loved how i could come in at midnight and stare at trippy ambient videos like x-mix the likes of which i had never seen before. i loved ray cokes

once mtv uk set up in camden, everything went sharply downhill.

download summer 1992

bobby brown – good enough

chic – chic mystique

del tha funkee homosapien – mistadobolina

dr alban – one love

en vogue – my lovin’

hi-five  – she’s playing hard to get

joe public – live and learn

joe secada – just another day

luther vandross and janet jackson – best things in life are free

mariah carey – i’ll be there

marky mark – you gotta believe

tlc – baby baby baby

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garage city: do you want it right now May 14, 2008

in 1992, some enduring garage classics arrived – the robin s, degrees of motion and shawn christopher classics in this mix are still played out in garage sets today, 16 years on.

1992 was my favourite year, there was just something about it. i just about passed my gcse’s after ‘studying’ on the beach during revision leave. spent the summer alternating between downing bottles of 20/20 wine on the sea front to flashing my fake id at lazy bouncers and most of the time, getting away with it.

then i started college and within the space of a year everything had changed. my college was full of grungey indie kids and goths, but we managed to co-exist.

download here

luther vandross and janet jackson – best things in life are free

aly-us – follow me

was not was – shake your head

ce ce peniston – we got a love thang

rapination and kym mazelle – love me the right way

funky green dogs – reach for me

degrees of motion – do you want it right now

shawn christopher – don’t lose the magic

reese project – colour of love

ann consuelo – see the day

cajmere and dajae – brighter days

inner city – pennies from heaven

robin s – show me love

mk and alana – always

c&c music factory – a deeper love

degrees of motion – shine on

juliet roberts – i want you

 

say my name: d to i April 21, 2008

 

 

 

 
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funnily enough, esmeralda never caught on as a baby name. ’emma’ by hot chocolate was released in 1973…there are a LOT of 25-35 year olds called emma. at least two in every class during my school days.

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another bad creation – iesha

blacknuss – dinah

charme – georgy porgy

de la soul – jenifa taught me

hot chocolate – emma 

lloyd – hazel

prince – the ballad of dorothy parker

ryan leslie – irina

william bell – eloise

le gamby – esmeralda

sade – frankie’s first affair

sister sledge – frankie

 

you can’t escape christmas December 17, 2007

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 i always give in to christmas songs for the last week or so…

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band aid – do they know its christmas

the original is still the best even if supremely irritating bono is in it spreading his smugness instead of charity spirit. bananarama look pissed off as usual, in the video. a riot of mullets, 80s plaid and britishness. although i saw the 1989 version today and thought, what on earth happened to matt goss? he actually could sing.

donny hathaway – this christmas

i love donny hathaway’s voice. i love this song for being instantly recognisable yet slightly under the radar – if it hadn’t been covered by ashanti, usher, chris brown, destiny’s child, joe, slaguilera and countless others.

elton john – step into christmas

part of the all-conquering 70s christmas lineup that gets rolled out every year. reminds me of my first ever saturday job circa 1991.

mariah carey – all i want for christmas

has become a christmas classic and possibly the last great christmas song that was recorded. roxanne cooper from pop idol 3 did a decent cover version. mariah is trying to be too cute in her santa outfit though.

luther vandross – please come home for christmas

soulful remake of the eagles original, as covered by bon jovi.

nkotb – i’ll be missing you come christmas

i loved this. i was 14 and in love with jordan knight and thought i would be forever. i can barely remember the rest of the nkotb christmas album apart from a woeful cover of little drummer boy by danny ‘horseface’ wood.

paul mccartney – wonderful christmastime

very hazy memories of this from my childhood. can’t believe i’m featuring a fab macca thumbs aloft track on my blog. what next – the frog chrous?

slade – merry christmas everybody

obvious, but you can’t leave it off the playlist.

stevie wonder – what christmas means to me

overlooked classic.

tlc – sleigh ride

fun track from their ‘oooh on the tlc tip’ era. not a dayglo condom in sight though.

wham – last christmas

possibly the best christmas song ever. love watching the video and working out whether it was obvious that george was gay. some scary fair isle sweaters are present but everyone dressed like that in 1984.

wizzard – i wish it could be christmas everyday

i actually prefer this to slade. i know a lot of people think that this is by slade. most of the 70s glam rock bands do look and sound exactly the same…

 

soul power couples: the classics October 23, 2007

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duets don’t always work. i think simon cowell is about to find this out to his detriment – ‘same difference’ the icky brother and sister act on this year’s x factor are not going to resonate with a nation that just finds these things a bit, well…creepy.  what was that simon? you think they’ll capture the ‘high school musical’ market? make that ‘flowers in the attic’.

not as creepy as ‘two to go’ though, from x factor 2004. i haven’t got over that yet. psychopathic nursing home worker tries to carve career from exploitation of blind gareth gates-alike brother. ewwww.

if you bring together two equally talented, non-related singers however, the results can be spectacular. witness.

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bill medley and jennifer warnes – the time of my life

dirty dancing, like grease before it, will outlive us all. the soundtrack, and this song in particular, made the film the success it was. and made enough cash to get jennifer grey that ill-advised nose job…hope that ‘friends’ cameo paid well.

carla thomas and otis redding – tramp

much sampled classic – many female singers in the 60s paled in comparison to the commerical power of the supremes and undeniable talent of aretha. and otis is just otis and he died too young.

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

whitney’s partner-in-crack cherrelle was once a respectable soul singer albeit only really famous for her collaborations with alex. who is slightly ‘eccentric’ himself as i recall from his bizarre participation in ‘just the two of us’ in which he duetted with a dumpy newsreader for the entertainment of the british public. someone really needs to stop the bbc making musical reality shows.

diana ross and lionel richie – endless love

i never got the whole diana ross thing. she is not a great singer. that dreamgirls storyline must have hit her where it hurts. i always wanted to see this film based on the song though.

janet jackson and luther vandross – best things in life are free

i may have forgotten the plot of the film ‘mo money’ to which this was the lead soundtrack, but i can remember this being played on a loop in the summer of 1992 at a very out of control house party.

judy clay and william bell – private number

another 60s duo who found themselves overshadowed. these two were on stax, not motown. which was way cooler.

mary j blige and kci hailey – i don’t want to do anything

mary’s problems didn’t start with her relationship with kci, but they did seem to begin to resolve themselves once she extricated herself. as ever, trying times can equal good music. people who say they wish mary would get messed up again so she can produce better music are wrong though.

roberta flack and donny hathaway – the closer i get to you

a whole album to choose from but the simplicity of this song is what makes it so special. that and donny hathaway, who could sing the bus timetable and stop me being pissed off that there’s only a bus ‘every 15-19 minutes’.

sheena easton and prince – u got the look

prince clearly saw a niche for scottish reality tv stars. especially those shorter than him – he doesn’t collaborate with just anyone. oh wait, he sort of does. carmen electra anyone?

the sos band and alexander o’neal – the finest

not sure how this came about? an early bootleg? i don’t remember him being on the original. he probably doesn’t either…cough…is he still wandering up and down kilburn high road looking confused?

syreeta and billy preston – with you i’m born again

this song is one of my earliest memories. it has that classic late 70s combination of plaintive harmonies,  and smooth vocals.

tammi terrell and marvin gaye – you’re all i need to get by

marvin and tammi were a much better match talentwise than marvin and insipid diana ross.

 

before they were famous August 28, 2007

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 sometimes things take a little time to get right. i’m not talking britney spears in a meringue dress growling her way through early 90s hits on the mickey mouse club, or a pre-makeover jennifer lopez looking butch on in living color.

these are the early recordings that got feet in doors. some of them are better than others. that’s my disclaimer right there.

download here

luther vandross – the second time around (1976)

luther was originally part of a group, called ‘luther’. ooh, premature diva anyone? this song was from the first of two albums in 1976 and is standard mid 70s soul. he also sang an ad for kfc around the same time…soul food indeed.

alicia keys – sexy thing (1997)

a very young ms keys contributed this track to the men in black soundtrack. she sounds more or less the same but had developed a more unique tone by the time of her debut four years later.

ashanti – can’t stop (1997)

not sure how ashanti clung on for five years to make the leap from low budget debut to murder inc and innumerable collaborations with ja rule. these days an artist is stuffed if they don’t create a buzz on myspace within five weeks.

biggie – party and bullshit (1993)

nice lumberjack’n’fire-in-keg era hiphop. a year later, ‘ready to die’ was released and the rest is sad history. no doubt he would be the biggest rapper in the game if he were still alive. 

leona lewis – private party (2004)

recorded with ludacris before her appearance on x factor 2006, it makes you wonder if the music industry just sits back and waits for tv to tell them who to sign? well, good for her for going the proper route and being too nice to do anything unsavoury to get ahead.

usher – call me a mack (1993)

usher was only 14 when he recorded this for the poetic justice soundtrack and it shows. did usher’s early foray into the adult music business inspire his preference for older women? you’d think he could do better than a he-woman though.

john legend – hurt so bad (2003)

i think i might prefer jl’s early work to his current album. hmm. or maybe live just suits him better. he did several live sets before releasing a studio album.

janet jackson – young love (1982)

if a jackson couldn’t score a hit in 1982, you would assume it was because the music was poor. janet’s first two albums are quality post-disco soul but i think people were just expecting something a bit more groundbreaking. which ‘control’ certainly was.

mariah carey – weakness of the body (1986)

well, the leona lewis story seems to be repeating history to an extent. mariah was certainly active for several years before her debut and whitney was recording since the late 70s. maybe this is the secret to a long lasting career. rihanna’s stuffed, then…

anthony hamilton – total xtc (1996)

…but hopefully this bodes well for anthony, whose 90s debut was totally overlooked. the style is more conscious of its time than his successful later efforts, and not as well thought out, but very listenable.

prince – just another sucker (1977)

19 year old prince recorded this track as part of his then band 94 east. could have easily slotted into one of his later albums. must have sounded amazing in 1977 – to those few who actually got to hear it.

destiny’s child – killing time (1997)

this is a nice but unremarkable slow jam from the men in black soundtrack, but those vocals and harmonies are there. i miss the original lineup. wish some unreleased material would surface, that would be interesting.

 

mr loverman….shabba! August 11, 2007

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so, i thought i should get this one in sharpish before the weather collapses! 

by the time it was the 90s I was old enough to enjoy my summers unsupervised. ibiza and uk club culture were kicking off and novelty summer records were more likely to be one off pop crossovers from reggae artists than grown men in animal suits. thank GOD.

i haven’t included any of said tracks, as at the time, i wasn’t so keen. now i can appreciate ‘sweat’ by inner circle for its escapist genius, but back then it was part of comedy hour in the dismal local nightclubs i was forced to frequent before i ‘escaped to london’. an oxymoron if i ever heard one. still, i will do a reggae pop post at some point, as an excuse to post ‘shy guy’ by diana king.

 i was 14 in 1990 and 23 in 1999 so the early summers of this decade were spent chasing boys, getting pissed on one can of super strongbow (later archers, then came the alcopops invasion) and trying to secure myself as much time in the sun as possible. late 90s,  trying to wangle time outside the office when it was hot and being pissed off at those tinted office windows that make you think its cloudy, until you go outside at lunchtime and realise its blazing. i seem to remember the weather being pretty good most years. not as steaming hot as 2006, but hot enough and sunny, not humid.

don’t laugh at the glenn medeiros track – bobby negates any cheese factor, and anyway, glenn is hawaiian and therefore IS summer. st etienne are a dancey indie act but i love this tune – 1991 was balearic its pointless trying to avoid that fact. the janet and luther track is the r&b soundtrack version which didn’t see the light of day in the UK. the version of ‘dreamlover’ i’ve posted is a r&b remix that was overshadowed at the time by the huge david morales house remix. and the lighthouse family track is also a funkier remix, not the plodding original. enjoy!

 the sounds of summer in the 90s – download here

1990 – bobby brown and glenn medeiros – she ain’t worth it

1991 – st etienne – only love can break your heart

1992 – janet jackson and luther vandross – the best things in life are free

1993 – mariah carey – dreamlover

1994 – joe – i’m in luv

1995 – lighthouse family – ocean drive

1996 – ll cool j and total – loungin’

1997 – puff daddy, mase and notorious big – mo money mo problems

1998 – next – too close

1999 – destiny’s child – jumpin jumpin