dirty martini

old music for new people

life on mars July 11, 2008

i’ve never really been a fan of space. not keen on red dwarf, and the closest i ever came to star wars or star trek was being forced to play princess leia during countless ‘wet playtimes’ at infant school. if they let us outside i would head straight for the fence…anyway, i have no idea which one princess leia originates from and i don’t care.

i liked pigs in space though.  and button moon rocked ‘home lunchtimes’ once a week, with its blatant product placement for heinz and fairy liquid. you would have thought they could have stumped up a couple of quid in return. that would have boosted the budget to about £7.50 per series.

jay kay, by contrast, clearly had a space fetish as a child.

download here

bill – space lady

earth wind and fire – jupiter

houseband – hey what planet is this

jamiroquai – emergency on planet earth

jamiroquai – cosmic girl

jamiroquai – space cowboy

kelis – shooting stars

maxwell – gravity

midnight star – body snatchers

rah band – clouds across the moon

sheila and b devotion – spacer

stevie wonder – rocket love

 

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 still, i loved the sunsplash pools with flume rides and wave machines, which have no doubt been replaced by something else now.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.

download here

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.

 

i love 1984: electric dreams April 14, 2008

computers ruled 1984. even i had one. my parents bought me an acorn electron for educational purposes and i spent the next four years playing bbc versions of arcade games. pac-man became ‘snapper’, donkey kong was ‘boxer’ and frogger was ‘hopper’.

my personal favourites were chuckie egg and burgertime. you couldn’t get burgertime for the acorn electron so i had to play it in arcades. chuckie egg was available for the electron but it didn’t work. you’d sit through about five minutes of alphanumeric screeching and then, no chuckie, no egg.

then there were the fabulously basic text adventure games. ‘sphinx adventure’. literally –

you cross the bridge. there’s a carrot.

>eat carrot.

you can see in the dark!

yes, really. and if you were a little brat like me…

you cross the bridge. there’s a carrot.

>shit

what is ‘shit’?

download here

apollonia 6 – blue limousine

autumn – computer touch

billy ocean – syncopation

confection – put me on your playlist

duran duran – the reflex

klymaxx – video kid

midnight star – body snatchers

new edition – cool it now

phil oakey – together in electric dreams

pointer sisters – automatic

shannon – sweet somebody

wham – credit card baby

 

acceptable in the 80s January 23, 2008

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 in the 80s, if you ran out of adjectives to describe something or someone, you just made one up.

add that to the obsession for electricity, anything that sounded remotely robotic or computerlike, and bam, you have a hit record. you had to be crazy, bad, make no sense or all of the above. in the 00s peter andre tried to revive this trend by creating ‘insania’ but we just ignored him…

these tracks follow that formula, and are just SO 80s, i love it.

download here 

atlantic starr – freakaristic

this lot were better known for their ballads, so this was a welcome departure. those wild and crazy kids…

billy griffin – systematic

in the 80s everyone had a ‘system’.

brutus – excitation

not a real word. not brutus as in popeye – god who would name their kid brutus?

dazz band – joystick

very futuristic band, and the only example i could find of ‘joystick’. i mean, i don’t have to explain this euphemism do i?

gazebo – lunatic

hot on the heels of flashdance’s ‘she’s a maniac’ (think 118 118 ads). being a lunatic was a good thing back then.

general johnson – x rated love

if ‘love’ becomes x rated, it’s probably not ‘love’ but er, something else. but we still had some decency in the 80s.

kids from fame – hi fidelity

every kids from fame song is so 80s and none of them would survive in any other decade. not even in high school musical.

klymaxx – video kid

in the 80s, video meant video games. they’re just games now. in the 80s ‘games’ meant board games, buckaroo, connect 4 and hungry hippos.

midnight star – scientific love

scientific love…doesn’t sounds very exciting but we all lusted after those at home bunsen burner kits in the argos catalogue back then so, perhaps that was why.

phil collins – sussudio

apparently phil was criticised for trying to make this sound like prince’s ‘1999’. i’m not quite getting that, but, i do like it.

prince – shockadelica

prince can do what he wants anyway. so when he invented ‘shockadelica’ we didn’t argue.

zapp and roger – computer love

one of the first songs to advocate the idea that emotions and computers weren’t mutually exclusive.

 

this must be computer love August 14, 2007

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back in the 80s, computers were just about reaching the massmarket. games like donkey kong and pacman saw heroic characters rescuing damsels in distress (rarely the other way round until lara croft) by overcoming such everyday objects as ghosts, flying barrels and fireballs.

this theme carried through to the music industry, where computers had provided a snazzy (80s word) way to keep up with the new mtv-ready requirement for singles to be accompanied by a video, by incorporating graphics and other such wizardry to demonstrate cutting edge mentality of artist in question.

another way to display your futuristic sensibilities was to actually sing about computers. and act quite robotic and devoid of emotion. the computers were pulling the strings you see…and yet, according to this playlist, they apparently became a conduit for romantic relationships. i think in fact, that didn’t really start to happen until the mid 90s, but 80s people were optimistic. we didn’t personally have email and the ability to connect to other computers via the internet, but we knew it was happening and could see the possibilities.

so, most 80s groups have a homage to the computer, or electricity (like that was a new phenomenon!), in their back catalogue, much like the phone. of course its now all painfully out of date, and so a nice reminder of a simpler time when computers were cool, and people, not cyberspace, were still in charge.

twelve once futuristic, now totally retro groovesdownload here

trans-x – living on video

about as good as it gets for this post. built on a similar premise to the long-held view that we would be scooting around in our own little space bubbles, jetson style, by the year 2000. 

one way – mr groove

vocoder work par excellence. in 1984 it was perfectly normal to be sung to by a robot, not a person.

kraftwerk – computer love

kraftwerk, as pioneers of electronic music, could have made up well over half of this playlist with their output. but this one was the most obviously titled.

gary numan – are friends electric?

more recently bootlegged and sampled for the sugababe’s ‘freak like me’. again, most of gary numan’s output was future focused, so it was a toss up between this and ‘cars’.

midnight star – electricity

another vocoder led funk jam, about electricity, and energy, another favourite 80s theme.

buggles – video killed the radio star

difficult to see how this could have sounded groundbreaking even in 1979. bet it was popular with the over 40s.

human league – together in electric dreams

archetypal mid 80s teen movie fare. human league of course, were a natural choice to record the title soundtrack, with their synth pop credentials. 

oingo boingo – weird science

title song from the soundtrack to the definitive 80s computer geek movie. doesn’t sound particularly futuristic now but surely create-a-girlfriend is still the ultimate geek fantasy?

visage – fade to grey

the then-pioneering electronic music and faux francais created an eerie soundscape, second only in the weirdness stakes to its own video.

harold faltermeyer – axel f

beverly hills cop theme which became the single most emulated tune on millions of casio and yamaha keyboards. to ease parent and teacher frustration perhaps manufacturers should have made this the demo tune instead of wake me up before you gogo.

five star – system addict

this song may or may not have been about being addicted to sticking your fingers in a plug socket. the state of five star’s hair in the accompanying video certainly supports this theory. don’t try it at home kids.

prince – computer blue

prince, as usual, managed to make music that was both futuristic and would hold up in years to come. prince has a love interest, computer says no.

 

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

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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

 

 

in the air tonight June 6, 2007

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if you’re in the mood, or trying to attract someone’s attention, you might text the name of your loved one to one of the numerous music channels and get a request played. but they need to be aware that you’re doing so or they’ll be watching one of a hundred other channels – which misses the point, and the element of surprise. this was one of the good things about local radio.local radio djs were smooth. they played soothing sounds that you wouldn’t normally hear on daytime radio. they didn’t try to be cool – if it was popular, they played it.people do still listen to the radio, and its a lot less tricky in these days of dab stations, which have removed the need to stand in front of the radio holding the aerial up at funny angles to get a decent reception.

twenty years ago, if you sent out a similar request on a late night radio show, you could be reasonably certain that either the intended recipient or at least one of their friends, would hear it. the song we chose for our dedication was most likely sophisticated beyond our years. even though we did have younger artists in the 80s, like five star, new edition, debbie gibson and countless others, most soul music was adult. we were listening to artists singing about relationships, emotions and situations we couldn’t possibly understand.

so, as a result, instead of the obsession with youth that appears to start as early as age ten nowadays,we actually wanted to be older. thirty, to be precise. thirtysomethings were glamorous and the had the kind of lifestyle I looked up to. they went to clubs, restaurants, had exotic holidays, exciting friends and dramatic relationships. john hughes movies aside, most popular 80s tv shows and movies, bar those specifically produced for kids, focused on older characters, not those that still lived with their parents.so ironically, I wanted to be the age I am now, twenty years ago, and now that I am, I’m made to feel like I should want to be younger. but i don’t – the thought of being someone who didn’t grow up in the 80s and experience real life terrifies me much more than getting older.

late night dedicationsdownload here 

alexander o’neal – if you were here tonight
his first solo single, and classic.

anita baker – caught up in the rapture
apparently inspired mary j blige to become a singer.
controllers – stay
typical 80s slow jam.

eugene wilde – gotta get you home
later sampled/covered by foxy brown and blackstreet.

force md’s – tender love
later covered by cockney soul boy kenny thomas.

freddie jackson – rock me tonight
what happened to freddie?

gap band – yearning for your love
one of those songs you’ve heard before…but didn’t realise.

george benson – in your eyes
from smooth jazz to weepy ballad.

gregory abbott – shake you down
very popular last dance at many an 80s club.

isley brothers – choosey lover
this was later covered by aaliyah.

janet jackson – let’s wait a while
slightly different version from control the remixes – more tinkly.

kool and the gang – cherish
anyone from the uk remember anton singing this on popstars the rivals?

luther vandross – so amazing
vintage luther. tribute version by beyonce and stevie wonder.

melisa morgan – do me baby
prince cover, actually think i prefer this version.

midnight star – slow jam
one of the first 80s slow jams – covered later by usher and monica.