dirty martini

old music for new people

true school July 19, 2008

you went to junior school in the 80s if:

  • you had a jelly bag to match your jelly shoes – basically a bag full of holes. practical, no?
  • you wore scrunchies without irony
  • every time grease was on tv it restarted a major craze…
  • …until dirty dancing
  • you wore furry earmuffs for fashion reasons, not to please your mum
  • you spent your cash on smash hits stickers, not alcopops
  • you wanted to go to degrassi junior high, but didn’t understand the us school system
  • your parents thought madonna was a bad influence, and back then she actually was
  • you tried to get your mum to buy your clothes from chelsea girl, snob and tammy girl
  • you didn’t need to do retro, you did 80s

download here

air – high school lover

average white band – schoolboy crush

dazz band – straight out of school

funn – school daze

john david lewis – high school lady

maelstrom and napz – soul school

musical youth – schoolgirl

prince and 94 east – you can be my teacher

raydio – goin’ through school and love

rosie gaines – skool ology

sister nancy – gwan a school

sylvers – high school dance

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i love 1982: boogie nights February 7, 2008

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after disco, what was left for the clubs?

in 1982, the musical landscape was split pretty much between the last hangers on of disco, ska heads, fizzling out punk and the mainstream. hiphop was emerging but it would be ten years before the soul boys and girls hooked up with the rappers.

reluctant to let go of disco, but needing a new direction, boogie was born to fill the glitterball shaped void. it was so seamless most people didn’t even realise anything had changed. out went the strings, in came the bass. we also had bouncy blue eyed soul, and baby boy bands.

check out the start of the decade, 1980, and 1981, the last days of disco.

download 1982 here

amuzement park – make up your mind

this band exemplified the boogie soul movement.

barbara lynn – you make me so hot

saucepot barb was already a bit of a veteran by the time this was released. of course these days, a 25 year can be called  a veteran… 

carly simon – why

carly is quite annoying. but everyone loves this and it has been sampled and covered – by a tribe called quest for ‘bonita applebum’, a garage/dancehall cover by glamma kid and shola ama. written by chic, a rare demo by the group apparently does the rounds in ibiza. interesting.

damaris carbaugh – what about my love

sampled more than 20 years later for shapeshifters’ massive ‘lola’s theme’.

jocelyn brown – i wish you would

anyone with even a passing interest in 80s soul should already have ‘somebody else’s guy’. jocelyn and her big voice has gone on to work with incognito and todd terry, amongst others. 

klymaxx – all turned out

these sassy 80s girls ruled the early 80s dancefloors , way before the seminal ‘meeting in the ladies room’.

maze – before i let go

the 70s funk instrumentalists plus frankie beverly had two of the biggest boogie hits – this, and ‘joy and pain’ later covered by donna allen. quite badly.

musical youth – never gonna give you up

the uk’s answer to new edition. well not really, their music was completely different. but the uk wasn’t exactly able to tell the difference in 1982.

patrice rushen – where there is love

patrice dominated boogie (forget me nots, haven’t you heard, remind me) but she also did downtempo. this track was later sampled by smooth aka juanita stokes, who is by now probably 45 but is probably promoting herself as ’21’ if her track record is anything to go by.

prince  -1999

to omit this song from a 1982 list of any kind would be to totally underestimate its impact then, since, and now. no longer a gimmick now that the millenium has passed, it can be enjoyed for what it is. god it make you feel bloody old though.

real to reel – can you treat me like she does

not to be confused with reel 2 reel as in – i like to move it move it – as parodied by big breakfast puppets zig and zag.

skyy – call me

enduring 70s/80s band who peaked during the boogie period. later this track was interpolated by nicole ray on ‘seventeen’.or is it nicole wray? or just plain nicole?

 

sunshine reggae: winter warmers December 16, 2007

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 yes it’s christmas…and it’s freezing here in london. today i needed warming up on a long car journey and i found my summer playlist worked a treat.

i also like to select ‘summertime’ by jazzy jeff and the fresh prince on pub jukeboxes at this time of year.

download here

althia and donna – uptown top ranking

late 70s duo who always looked fairly surprised that the totp audience liked their song so much.

amazulu – things the lonely do

colourful 80s pop reggae at its best.

aswad – don’t turn around

possibly the best 80s pop reggae song of the entire decade.

eddy grant – do you feel my love

best known for ‘i don’t wanna dance’ and ‘electric avenue’.

john mclean – if i gave my heart to you

sweet island tune.

maxi priest – close to you

ah 1990…hot summer, world cup…

musical youth – sixteen

there was more to the boys than ‘pass the dutchie’.

nisha k – secret lover

one of those songs you’ve heard before, the first time you hear it.

rihanna – if it’s lovin’ that you want

much prefer popreggae rihanna to pvcrock rihanna.

sophia george – girlie girlie

one of my first ever records, which i ill-advisedly attempted to sing along to.

sugar minott – good thing going

as covered by sid owen…

ub40 – red red wine

this version, with the rap in the middle, was a late 80s remix.

 

the truth about boy bands: the 80s August 26, 2007

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looking at the picture above, i wonder exactly why we ever thought george michael was straight? i was too young to know the difference, but i did always prefer andrew ridgeley…

80s fans were fiercely loyal to their band. a brosette would never admit liking a song by wet wet wet, or vice versa. this was tantamount to betrayal. i was too young to participate but i liked watching older girls argue about the relative merits of wham and duran duran. the first boy band i liked was a-ha, and morten harket kind of looked like patrick swayze.

14 is the proper age for a boy band fan, i think. i was 13 when nkotb arrived and so jordan knight was my main boyband crush. he was infinitely more interesting than his brother jon who professed a liking for tea and cakes and was going out with tiffany, of the batwing jumpers and shopping mall performances.

the early 80s boy bands were operating alongside the new romantics and so looked, frankly, like big girls. flicked and highlighted hair, pastels, sometimes even makeup. later, the look became more masculine, with ripped jeans, doc martens and leather jackets.

you can also check out their predecessors in my 70s boyband post, or those that followed in the 90s and 00s.

download here

nkotb – valentine girl

four of the new kids enjoyed adoration from screaming teen girls the world over. the other one was danny wood. horse face inexplicably made it into this band despite having neither looks or talent. it was easy to believe danny when he said he didn’t have a girlfriend. at least dane bowers had a voice.

new edition – mr telephone man

the predecessors to nkotb and the first glimpse of bad boy bobby brown, who at the age of 16,in 1985, found himself a father during the height of their success. i don’t remember this being common knowledge when he went solo shortly after. this for me is the best boy band track of the 80s.

johnny hates jazz – shattered dreams

don’t remember much about this group, but the singer had a nice voice and they fitted well with the whole late 80s yuppy soul vibe. filed under 80s cocktail lounge listening.

duran duran – rio

simon le bon and co may actually be the perpetrators of the miami vice style, pastel suit with bright t shirt, rolled up sleeves and loafers combo. between them, the group had so much hair it was ridiculous. john taylor, my favourite, was involved with it girl amanda de cadenet. kind of like tamara beckwith but even more annoying.

wet wet wet – sweet little mystery

scottish blue eyed soul band who did well in the 80s, but really made their cash in the 90s with ‘love is all around’, which was no1 for so long that they had it withdrawn. were they mad? take the cash and run! have since admitted they barely needed to work again thanks to four weddings and a funeral.

musical youth – sixteen

british pop reggae group who would be seen in amusing locations such as the houses of parliament, terrorising stuffy old people. wore baseball caps well. had a certain cachet once it became known that ‘pass the dutchie’ was about smoking weed. ok, so admittedly i still didn’t get it at the time, but i was about six!

bros – chocolate box

south london twins matt and luke and their school friend craig started the ripped jeans and leather craze that defined the end of the 80s. also wore grolsch bottle tops on their shoes, which I had to persuade my dad to get for me despite the fact that he hated grolsch.

wham – credit card baby

probably the most iconic 80s boyband and certainly the campest. hair that defied gravity, hawaiian shirts, shorts, it was all there. battled with frankie goes to hollywood for biggest selling tshirt. in 1984 you could just print ‘choose life’ or ‘frankie says relax’ on a white tshirt and sell millions…

brother beyond – he ain’t no competition

played second fiddle to bros for the most part, but nathan moore had more screaming girls after him as he was fit in a nick kamen kind of way and matt and luke were blond which isn’t every woman’s cup of tea. then nathan shattered the illusion somewhat by becoming the latest in a long line of gullible popstars to get involved with 80s wannabe amanda de cadenet.

spandau ballet – true

the girliest of all the 80s boy bands, and its hilarious to think that martin kemp ended up as bad boy steve owen in eastenders. this song was an end-of-the-school-disco staple along with ‘crazy for you’ and ‘careless whisper’.

a-ha – you are the one

morten, mags and pal caused mass hysteria and filled the boyband shaped void left when wham split and duran duran started getting married and having kids. being from norway their music has a slightly melancholy feel to it, even their uptempo tunes like this one.

curiosity killed the cat – misfit

notable at the time for the lead singer having an odd name – ben voppliere-pierriot – and a slightly girly penchant for berets. smash hits, reliably, gave him a more memorable name of ben volauvent-pierrot-parrot-thingy not everyone will remember that they did the original version of ‘ring ring ring’ by de la soul, called ‘name and number’. i can’t remember how it goes now.

 

our reggae music May 19, 2007

reggae and jamaica are inextricably linked. but in the mid 70s, south london took reggae, added a dash of brixton and sent it back across the airwaves. disenfranchised black britons found an identity and an alternative to the us-led soul scene.
in contrast to the political protest of 70s island reggae, lovers rock dealt with the same issues as 70s soul, but to a different beat. not since this movement has british culture influenced the entire reggae scene to such an extent.
the south london soundsystems provided a haven and identity for inner city teenagers and clubgoers of all races. as such, many of the artists were very young, especially the girls, who provided a realistic and honest outlet for the romantic and sometimes plaintive lyrics.
i was just a baby when this music was popular and it was one of the last truly underground urban scenes – i can’t imagine many outside of london were aware of it even at the time. i had no exposure to it whatsoever but when i first heard them, most of the tracks were instantly familiar and perfectly encapsulate the mood of the nation in the late 70s and early 80s.
now in their 40s and 50s, the lovers rock massive recently welcomed many of the genre’s stars back into the limelight as part of the soul britannia concerts held at the london barbican centre. though the distinction between reggae and lovers rock became blurred with the advent of dancehall in the mid 80s and later ragga, its legacy survives today.
ten lovers rock classics – download here
the cool notes – i’ve got to let him know
not all of this group’s listeners would be aware that they started their careers as part of the lovers rock movement. in the 80s they were true jheri soul artistes, albeit with a british edge, and had sizeable mainstream success. their most popular lovers tune was the era-defining ‘my tune’, so I’ve included a lesser known 1977 cut.
bob andy – honey
established reggae artist bob was one of many jamaican acts swayed by the new british sound, and this 1983 track cemented his new and successful direction. prior to this he served as part of bob marley’s band, and since he has become a respected stalwart of the reggae scene, taking up the mantle at bob marley’s tuff going empire.
15 16 17 – if you love me smile
one of several lovers rock girl bands, and named after their respective ages when they formed. they didn’t change their band name as they got older – in fact they weren’t around for very long. they covered soul classics to great effect but also sang sweetly on their own compositions.
john mclean – if i gave my heart to you
a true child of the lovers rock era, john grew up in 70s south west london and started singing with the black starliner sound system at the age of 16. it was another decade before he gained meaningful success with this song, which topped the reggae charts in 1987.
portia morgan – let me be your angel
in the early 80s, the influence of ska has become more prominent. the contrast of hopeful lyrics against a typically melancholy backing track sums up the restlessness and fear of urban britain in 1981.
junior brown – long time me call
more upbeat example of the genre from the mid 80s on the ubiquitous fashion label. not much info can be found by googling this artist…could possibly have recorded under another name?
brown sugar – hello stranger
like 15 16 17, brown sugar were schoolgirls at the peak of their success. if you thought caron wheeler was fresh faced when she hooked up with soul ii soul in 1989, you might be surprised to learn that a 14 year old caron and friends carol simms and pauline cattlin were making music back in 1977.
musical youth – heartbreaker
best known for their no1 hit ‘pass the dutchie’ which escaped the moral majority despite being very obviously about smoking weed. the shamen got away with a similar act ten years later with ode to ecstasy ‘ebeneezer goode’, no1 during national drugs week, no less. its easy to forget that musical youth weren’t just a novelty act, they also made proper lover rock – like this.
louisa marks – caught you in a lie
by now you know the score…15 year old louisa marks was arguably the first lady (ok, girl) of lovers rock in 1975. she was the first british artist to score a reggae hit.
winston reedy – dim the lights
early 80s example of the genre from popular reggae artists winston, who had several successful albums. still doing his thing.