dirty martini

old music for new people

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

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just let your soul glo: the groups November 11, 2007

sexual-chocolate.jpg

i did a post on jheri curl soul, as i like to call it, way back when i started this blog. it’s proved a popular post and really, one post summing up the predominant 80s soul sound isn’t enough.

so, i’m attempting to redress the balance by updating the post and turning it into a series.soul glo wasn’t just about the hair, although that played a big part and if it wasn’t jheri curled, backcombed and implausibly long, then forget it. and that’s just the men.an array of silk, satin and sparkly fabrics came on the market and soul glo artists used these abundantly. and don’t forget those shoulder pads. essential for the moody yet inviting, hands on hips pose favoured by many of said bands.

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 .sprinkle liberally with tinkly sounds, synths, squelchy basslines and schizophrenic drum patterns.

et voila! (the soul glo fraternity loved them some faux francais, but more on that later…)

download here

52nd street – tell me how it feels

this band are not to be confused with the manchester group that later became joy division after their lead singer committed suicide. nope, these were shiny, happy jheri soul people…

con funk shun – electric lady

70s funksters who succumbed to the lure of reflective clothing and glistening curls. to be fair, a glance at the song titles of their previous material sounds like ‘now that’s what i call shoulderpads’ so it was a natural progression.

fatback band – i found lovin’

another 70s funk outfit who made the transition. and then some. this was one of the biggest hits of the genre and has been covered/ripped off by the likes of cashflow, ashanti and all saints.

five star – all fall down

pioneers of the brassy blonde, crispy fried jheri curl – that ddn’t really catch on. still, musically there was little between these teen brits and their older US counterparts. there’s a whole post on five star here

jets – love umbrella

polynesian siblings – at least 8 of them. despite the strict upbringing and familyness, the music wasn’t too preachy or safe, if a little bubblegum since the lead singer, mona, was about 14.

krystol – after the dance is through

like the 80s precursor to destiny’s child, although fit was for sad rather than petty reasons that the group went through so many lineup changes. a shame as they could have been big time.

mai tai – 1 touch 2 much

dutch soul trio who had a string of hits in the mid 80s, aptly named after the cocktail, they were energetic and fun, rather than moody, like many jheri soul acts.

royalle delite – spend a little time with me

lo-tech curl soul classic ‘i’ll be a freak for you’ wasn’t the only release from these elusive girls, and thanks to the wonder of itunes i’ve finally tracked this one down.

satin silk and lace – your love

i wanted this track for ages. its perfect mid 80s soul, written by leroy burgess. who were satin, silk and lace? i imagine a vanity 6 style trio.

st paul – intimacy

part of the extended paisley camp after a stint with morris day and the time. very athentic white boy soul – i was fooled until i googled.

system – you’re in my system

they call it ’emotio-electro’. i call it superior jheri curl soul. a bit like hall and oates with synthesisers.

starpoint – object of my desire

there’s plenty in the starpoint back catalogue. eleven albums in ten years. this track is so 1987. two of the members are now passed.

 

80s girl bands – hair, hair and more hair September 29, 2007

bananarama.jpg

 there weren’t as many girl bands back in the 80s. boys shifted units and were infintely more marketable.

download here 

bananarama – i heard a rumour

infamous for their total lack of singing ability but this added to their girl next door appeal. as a trio they managed to hold a note though, even when the lineup alternated, destiny’s child style. no one remembers the dark haired one they brought in to replace siobhan when she left to form shakespear’s sister. well, her name was jacqui and she looked like a prison warden.

bangles – eternal flame

possibly the most hair of all the girl groups. prince wrote their first hit, ‘manic monday’ and it was all good from there, for a god few years. have joined the long list of acts who have had one of their songs butchered by rough as old boots scouse band atomic kitten.

expose – seasons change

expose were huge in the US, not so much in the UK. predated en vogue and once they arrived, we really didn’t need expose anymore.

klymaxx – i’d still say yes

one of few all-girl 80s soul groups, and all the better for it. doubtlessly inspired many a 90s r&b girl band.

mai tai – body and soul

dutch group who had an interesting euro twang to their vocals and sound. huge smils, braids and pvc catsuits were the order of the day. this track is enjoyably bouncy machine pop but most of their output was smoother.

mary jane girls – in my house

sassy girls who must hopefully be reaping some royalties from the endless sampling of their biggest hit ‘all night long’. this track, sounds like it belongs in ‘fast times at ridgemont high’.

mel and kim – flm

chirpy cockney sisters who inspired a nation of girls to raid their local branch of chelsea girl for bowler hats and cropped jackets. mel sadly died only a few years after they found success. whilst the track refers to ‘fun, love and money’ the title actualy stands for ‘fuckin’ lovely mate’.

pepsi and shirlie – goodbye stranger

started their careers singing backup for wham and came into their own after the split. owned the puffball skirt look in 1987.

pointer sisters – automatic

responsible for enduring party classics ‘i’m so excited’ and ‘jump’. actually formed in the 60s and didn’t achieve commerical success for 15 years by which time the girls were in their mid-late 30s.

salt-n-pepa – i like it like that

first ladies of hiphop and there was actually a third member, spinderella, who was gradually coaxed out from behind her decks. now the subjects of a reality show, these girls astound me as they do not appear to have aged in 20 years.

seduction – heartbeat

another girl band with big hair and small clothes.

vanity 6 – he’s so dull

prince’s band, whose one and only album is quite literally the sound of four teenage girls on a sleepover.

 

club tropicana drinks are free August 5, 2007

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a scene from almost any 80s edition of totp in the summer. the palm trees and pineapples used to get dusted off in the bbc props department and plonked onstage for mulleted dancers in hawaiian shirts to dance around. in preparation for their holiday in benidorm.

summer anthems used to sound sunny, they weren’t about rain. of course rihanna isn’t old enough to remember the 80s. and many people won’t remember when we had actual seasons instead of increasingly bizarre and extreme weather.  when we were flying back from majorca in 1983 it snowed, in may, on the back of two weeks of sun. now, that wouldn’t be quite so surreal.

so here is my 80s summer countdown, one for each year. i’m winging it a bit on the early to mid 80s as i don’t remember much, and songs have different meanings to different people anyway.  i didn’t want to venture into agadoo territory…but while we’re on the subject, i miss those holidays where you could rely on a playlist of black lace, the tweets, bucks fizz and shaddap your face. novelty records should have stayed in the 80s though some british people still love them. last week at work, the finance team (admittedly only two people) were playing the chicken song by spitting image full blast.

i remember a particular year at butlins – thats an 80s holiday destination, kids – dancing to true blue by madonna, when the going gets tough by billy ocean and we don’t have to take our clothes off by jermaine stewart. to this day, me and my mum smirk when we hear these songs.

these are the sounds played in the garden that little girls made dances up to. on ghettoblasters powered by up to 8 huge batteries. that soon ran out so they sounded too slooooow.

80s summer anthems, by year – download here

1980 – lakeside – fantastic voyage

1981 – cool notes – i should’ve loved ya

1982 – teena marie – square biz

1983 – kc and the sunshine band – give it up

1984 – debarge – rhythm of the night

1985 – mai tai – body and soul

1986 – janet jackson – when i think of you

1987 – jets – crush on you 

1988 – taylor dayne – tell it to my heart

1989 – bobby brown – every little step

 

the summer of 1985 June 8, 2007

if there’s one summer from my childhood that i remember fondly, it’s the summer of 1985. not just because it was an actual summer, with sun and heat (not humidity – there’s a difference). before global warming screwed up the weather and i had to get on the year round sauna they call the london underground, summer was anticipated as an enjoyable season.

if the weather was like it is today – that’s torrential rain and dismal temperatures, for non-brits – the summer holidays were spent inside or shopping. but for most days, we had a beach hut, and every day I would get up early to watch tv-am with roland rat, and most importantly, the weather forecast, to see if we’d spend the day at home or go down to the beach.

i’d put on my jelly shoes, grab my jelly bag and we’d set off. not in a car, that would have been too easy. we had to walk for about 30 minutes to the right bus stop, then get a hot, sweaty bus to the seafront. back then children didn’t rule the world, so I’d probably have to stand or some miserable old bag would literally glare you out of your seat.

on arrival, we checked who else was there. the hut was only really big enough to house a kettle, a portable radio, some folding chairs, a windbreaker and a hula hoop. why we sacrificed valuable space for a kettle, in the height of summer, i’ll never know. why do parents panic at the thought of not being able to drink tea every five minutes? mine were always making excuses not to do something because they ‘hadn’t had a cup of tea yet.’ and still do.

so if no other kids were there, I would cut lonely figure, playing with my little ponies, hula hooping, and trying to catch butterflies in a fishing net. my mum would lie there in the blazing hot sun, with her cup of tea, listening to radio victory and tuning me out. me and my friends wandered pretty much wherever we wanted, across the road to the beach, to the lake, the playground, the fair. you could do things like that, back then.

i suppose these days most kids would get bored going to same place about four or five times a week. in the 80s there really wasn’t much point staying at home unless you wanted to watch why don’t you… all summer.

so this is the soundtrack to those hot sunny days at the beach. yes, there are dance routines to all of these songs which i am often tempted to break into when i hear them. it was probably the same dance routine for nine year old girls all over the UK.

now that’s what i call the summer of 1985…download here

amazulu – excitable

the 7″ single was a cool transparent blue vinyl, which looked a frisbee. amazulu were a pop/reggae band who had a string of hits in the mid 80s, their biggest was a cover of ‘too good to be forgotten’ originally by the chi-lites (although I was completely unaware of this at the time).


cameo – single life

cameo, before they became infamous for ‘word up’ and that red codpiece, made quality 70s and 80s funk. cameo always did have some humour, it just wasn’t as outlandish earlier on. i can’t believe this hasn’t been sampled yet?


cool notes – in your car

the cool notes had already been lovers’ rock legends and post-disco soul stars by the time the mid 80s arrived but this incarnation as jheri curled poseurs proved their most successful yet. i remember hearing this song on the top 40 and deciding it would be the next single i bought. five star – love take over

god i loved five star…i saw past the dodgy matching catsuits, crispy fried hair and scary eyeliner. and that was just the boys. in this video they danced poolside before piling into a jeep, no storyline. didn’t need one.


madonna – into the groove

this was the moment, for me, when madonna became the biggest star of the 80s. this song gave me a clue as to what the older kids were doing. drinking and dancing in smoky underground clubs. the dance she did in this video, with her hands clasped above her head, was immediately imitated by millions of precocious pre-teen girls. mai tai – history

mai tai were a german soul trio who sang all together and so had a fairly unique sound. bananarama did the same, for a different reason. they sounded like a cat scratching a tin individually. this track, like many uk tracks, doesn’t feature in many round ups of 80s soul classics as it’s not by a us artist. travesty.

prince – raspberry beret

possibly my most favourite prince song ever, but definitely the one i’ve loved for the longest. i like how the lyrics aren’t trying to be clever, they just tell the story. there’s no hidden meaning and unlike a lot of other 80s songs, I don’t understand it differently now that I’m older.

princess – say i’m your no.1 to this day I don’t know how a cheese factory like stock aitken and waterman managed to produce this classic. it’s a shame they didn’t focus on making more music like this, alongside the hugely successful pop conveyor belt.

sister sledge – frankie
this song was just made for little girls. how old was frankie though? we hoped he was 15, and sister sledge were 12, as per the lyrics, but there was a strange old man in the video….and the sisters were pushing 30.

steve arrington – feel so real

steve arrington was the lead singer of slave but i didn’t know of them at the time. this song just sums up that summer as far as, it was just everywhere. it wasn’t necessarily my favourite song but i always think of the beach when i hear it.

tears for fears – everybody wants to rule the world

you couldn’t move for this song in 1985. safari suits and mullets, hmmm…

whitney houston – how will i know

pastel knitwear and pixie boots whitney, while stylistically challenged, was a lot more fun and made better music than crack addict whitney in her velour tracksuit. i remember arguing about the lyrics to this song with an unbearable kid called sally who thought she knew everything. I was right.