dirty martini

old music for new people

the hit factory October 25, 2008

if you are too young to remember the late 80s, or young enough not to question, you might be under the illusion that stock, aitken and waterman were cool. they were never cool.

almost no one over the age of 13 would have admitted to liking any of their music, apart from the artists who glossed over their involvement – princess, i do mean you.

all of saw’s artists had a story. kylie and jason were aussie soap stars who denied being an item, sonia was from liverpool and had starred in bbc comedy ‘bread’, rick astley had been a teaboy…etc

some of the music, surprisingly, stands up 20 years on. the reynolds girls, the twins and stefan dennis did not make this list. funny that.

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bananarama – venus

big fun – can’t shake the feeling

brother beyond – the harder i try

dead or alive – you spin me round

jason donovan – nothing can divide us

kylie minogue – je ne sais pas pourquoi

lonnie gordon – happenin’ all over again

mel and kim – flm

pepsi and shirlie – goodbye stranger

princess – say i’m your no1

rick astley – whenever you need somebody

sonia – you’ll never stop me loving you

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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)

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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

 

camp as a row of tents June 14, 2008

we didn’t go on many holidays when i was a child, as my dad was a miserable git. we did go to the same resort in majorca several times and also to butlins, both bognor and minehead.

although the idea of staying in a holiday camp now seems faintly ridiculous and very restrictive, at the age of ten, it means you can roam unhindered. i’m sure it woldn’t be safe enough now but back in the 80s we had a different type of freedom and it meant a lot to escape your mum’s constant sunscreen application and flicking bits of fluff off you at every opportunity.

so, you went on holiday with your parents, found some friends near your age on the first day and off you went.

around the times we visited, the camps were being updated, which i can see now, lost the point. they were cheesy, retro and stuck in the 60s, which is why people wanted to go. still, i loved the sunsplash pools with flume rides and wave machines, which have no doubt been replaced by something else now. but, the old swimming pools with the windows were far more interesting.

these holidays were the only times i can remember me and my mum dancing out together in public. we danced a lot at home, but whenever I hear these tunes from the summer of 86 I think of her dancing happily.

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billy ocean – when the going gets tough

did anyone else get the 80s health education video that had this playing throughout? I can’t for the life of me remember what it was about…

club nouveau – lean on me

well i had no idea that the al green original existed when this came out…

five star – find the time

i remember being bought this on the way home from our butlins holiday, to cheer me up. yes, i was gutted to leave!

gwen guthrie – ain’t nothin’ goin’ on but the rent

tell it like it is, girl. broke men suck. gwen (rip) was at least ten years ahead of beyonce and co on this.

janet jackson – when i think of you

this was my favourite ‘control’ track back in the day. loved the remixes a decade later as well.

jermaine stewart – we don’t have to take our clothes off

we sang this at brownies, much to the disapproval of brown owl, who clearly couldn’t fathom why ten year olds were singing about being naked and drinking cherry wine.

madonna – true blue

i actually recognised actress debi mazar from this video, when she was on ugly betty. i hated madonna’s short, bleached hair though.

mel and kim – showing out

its sad that several of the artists on this list have passed away, like mel. i can imagine mel and kim as a duo would have gone on to become popular entertainers, possibly like a female ant and dec.

midnight star – midas touch

jheri soul troupe. yes, troupe. there were nine members.

steve winwood – higher love

i always think of that bette midler film, big business, as well, when i hear this.

taffy – i love my radio

more dj adulation. not a new phenomenon.

wham – edge of heaven

the last wham song ever recorded. millions of tears were cried over george and expert tambourine player andy.

 

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.

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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.

 

school disco June 5, 2007

 

who can forget school discos…now, I’m not talking high school prom style antics with spiked punch and big meringue dresses battling for supremacy on the dancefloor. quite frankly, in the uk, school discos are best left alone past the age of 12. although I do remember a gcse leaving party that saw our entire year get lashed with the enthusiastic support of the teachers, who looked fairly trolleyed themselves.

at this particular event I drank almost an entire bottle of malibu and you can imagine the rest. however, this example is out of context. in fact, real school discos, the ones people remember fondly, took place much earlier, at junior school in the mid-late 80s (for us anyway). and i did get my coconut fix then too but it was a long lost fizzy pop called coco pina.

authentic junior school discos had several essential elements – boys, girls, the assembly hall, the tuck shop. it would be decided days, possibly weeks in advance, who you would dance with. you would be jealous of the people who lived near school, as they would be allowed to walk home without their parents arriving to embarrass them.

one of the most authentic things about 13 going on 30 was the fashion. the six chicks looked exactly how me and my friends did. of course, in the US there’s no school uniform so they probably dressed like that every day.

for for uk kids, seeing people out of their school uniform was hilarious.


the boys adopted a miami vice look complete with hawaiian shirts for the brave, or rolled up sleeves on pastel coloured suits with contrasting t-shirt. mullets of course, were present, as were spiky hairdos and wham style big hair. i always remember a ginger classmate who had no luck with girls, turning up in a leather jacket, clearly in a bid to impress. ‘oh yeah i always dress like this out of school…’

the girls, well, anyone who thinks fashion obsessed 10 year olds are a new phenomenon clearly didnt attend school in the 80s. witness a spectacular array of outfits we screamed and nagged our way to. i think for my first junior school disco we all dressed as madonna – lace, fingerless gloves, leggings, backcombed hair. basically as close to the above picture as possible. then came the chino invasion and we posed in our little pastel coloured chino skirts and logo tops.

download your step by step guide to the 80s junior school disco

a-ha – take on me

hmm, not quite sure how to dance to this one. probably why the dj played it as everyone was arriving…and wishing they’d worn something else. i didn’t see any peach chino skirts in tammy, where did she get that from?

rick astley – never gonna give you up

things are warming up a bit now but you’d have to really want to dance to this song whilst everyone else is in their collective gangs, checking that everyone they fancy has turned up and eating refreshers in case someone kisses them later.

madonna – la isla bonita

the £40-a-night dj, obviously used to better audience participation in the social clubs he usually plays in, banks on anything madonna to get the girls onto the dancefloor. it works.

billy joel – uptown girl

the song that used to require everyone standing in a line with their arms linked, walking from side to side kicking their legs out like drunk uncles at a wedding. don’t be fooled by the proximity, this was as friendly as it would get.



mel and kim – respectable

stragglers – this dance is easy, you’ve no excuse. just strut up and down like a supermodel and leave the fancy bit to the pros. the first couple of the night get together (and do nothing) in the curtains, and another girl starts crying.

nu shooz – i can’t wait

now the dj targets the boys, most of whom have been lingering waiting ‘for something good to come on’. 80s discos rarely played proper breakdance music so this would suffice. a couple of hawaiian shirts would start walking towards each other and a circle would form. he’s going to ruin those white trousers….


bros – i owe you nothing

before someone injures themselves, the dj puts on some girl friendly boy pop and the dancefloor fills up again. the shadow of someone throwing up outside after too many cola cubes can be clearly seen through the assembly hall curtains.

pepsi and shirlie – heartache

you were likely to have a dance made up already for this. you are outraged to find that groups of girls across the entire school have copied your moves. you have spent the last eight lunchtimes practising for nothing.

wham – i’m your man

several of the boys, high on too much cherryade, will do a bizarre chest-pounding, lionistic tour of the dancefloor and the decent looking ones will get groups of adoring girls dancing along with them, whilst the others will just get booted off the dancefloor.

tiffany – i think we’re alone now

ok girls, this is your last chance to look cool. if you fail, you will end up crying into the curtains whilst someone else dances with your man.

whitney houston – saving all my love for you

this is it, the erection section. except, you don’t quite know what that means yet. if you’re dancing with someone, try not to look too smug. if you’re not, grab a friend and waltz ironically, pretending not to care that someone else got your man. there’s always next term…