dirty martini

old music for new people

i love 1981: the last days of disco January 12, 2008

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legend has it that 1981 saw the very last days of disco, as documented in the 1998 film. of course, there is a huge flaw in this statement as costa-bound brits discoed until the late 80s. it was 1977 in spain until about 1991 everywhere else.

one of the very first bars i went to in the early 90s –  a wine bar, no less – played disco and boogie. at the time i thought it was a quirk of soundtrack similar to amusement parks, where law dictates that all music played must be at least 7 years old. it was actually because i was 15 and i wasn’t supposed to be there.

the music was for the older crowd – the disco crowd. the ones who had probably wished they could dance on illuminated dance floors a la saturday night fever but had to settle for that funny 70s slightly glittery flooring they used in shopping centres. but encrusted with disco dirt and littered with fag ends, at their local ritzy.

the last days of disco may be a pretty accurate account of those days, i don’t know. its quite bleak for a disco movie, i suppose no one quite knew what to expect after the excitement of a new decade died down. its not as depressing however, as the reality of the uk in 1981 which was majorly depressing according those who remember. as a five year old i was oblivous to the riots, strikes and nuclear warnings i have since viewed thanks to ‘i love 1981’.

the disco sucks movement, perpetrated by greasy rednecks in lumberjack shirts, finally won in 1981, and disco became boogie…

download here and visit 1980 here

aurra – nasty disposition

the duo started as aurra at the tail end of disco, and passed through the mid 80s jheri soul movement to become deja by the time new jack swing hit.

bb&q band – starlette

better known for their mid 80s tinkly jheri soul efforts.

class action –  weekend

this was reborn as a house anthem later in the decade and remixed in the 90s by todd terry.

coffee – casanova

ravers baby d made their cover version the follow up to the huge ‘let me be your fantasy’. there was a nice jungle remix.

earth wind and fire – lady sun

not as obvious as ‘let’s groove’…

evelyn champagne king – if you want my love

not as obvious as ‘shame’!

inner life – moment of my life

imagine this on the dancefloor at studio 54.

madagascar – rainbow

perfect late disco classic.

patrice rushen – haven’t you heard

patrice might just be the most sampled artist ever.

rose royce- magic touch

proving she, and disco, still had it in 1981.

sharon redd – can you handle it

the line between disco and boogie was thin, at best.

slave – watching you

slave spawned steve arrington, who summed up the mid 80s with ‘feel so real’.

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90s r&b girl bands: no hit wonders November 17, 2007

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how many girl groups did en vogue inspire?

don’t even go there with that spice girls theory. watching them on tv tonight was slightly embarrassing. the spice girls emerged before reality tv laid the music industry bare. three of them would have been lucky to make it into girls aloud and the thought of any of them competing against leona lewis is cringeworthy.

however you feel about reality music tv, it does give you the opportunity to create careers for genuine talent. its just that some people distribute their vote using the same principles as they might donate their spare change to charity and vote for losers like michelle mcmanus and taylor hicks.

there should be a reality show for anonymous ex boy and girl band members…simon!

check the a list

b list

and c list

download here

1 of the girls – do da what

this cleveland group helped then-fledgling producer gerald levert jump on the new jill swing bandwagon driven by swv and jade – and then he fell off.

bitches with problems – two minute brother

not exactly the classiest group on this list, these girls tried to outdo the boys and its not much of a surprise that their two albums sunk. their short lived time in the spotlight did launch one career however – this track’s video was the first from uber director hype williams.

cleopatra – come and get me

brummie poppets who became very famous, very quickly and disappeared in a puff of smoke, possibly quite literally, as disney was involved. middle sister and lead singer cleopatra is set to release a solo project imminently

eve – groove of love

that’s eve as in ebony vibe everlasting not as in eve the slightly butch rapper. ebony vibe everlasting…good god…sometimes the 90s were just a bit too worthy.

ghost town djs – my boo

miami bass tune which was so unlike anything else at the time. the ghost town dj’s were actually the producers – who were the girls?

good 2 go – never satisfied

new jill swing group from LA who were – gasp – white. perhaps they would have fared better fifteen years on as back in 1992, no one quite got them.

the gyrlz – if it’s games you’re playing

the gyrlz were terri, monica and tara. later the group became a duo after tara left, and has minor success throughout the 90s. the gyrlz debut and only cd is ultra rare and worth £ on ebay if you can track it down.

jazzyfatnastees – the lie

you can hardly call this duo a girl band in the traditional sense, rather, they’re here to demonstrate a different approach. more focus on lyrics than style and club bangers.

phajja – so long

late 90s girl band, no distinguishing features. still, the internet was live and kicking and they did in fact release two albums so the lack of info and availability of their music is a shame…

pure soul – wait for you

many people remember music channel mainstay ‘we must be in love’…and that’s it.

shades – serenade

classier girl group who rose from the ashes of new jill swing.

terri and monica – intentions

the sequel to ‘the gyrlz’ minus one member. i remember their music being critically acclaimed but success was still not forthcoming.

 

90s r&b boybands: the wannabes November 9, 2007

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somewhere online, on websites dedicated to mp3s from long forgotten artists, somebody somewhere might be requesting a track by one of these no-hit wonders. and i don’t mean that as an insult. when the music industry was booming, labels clamoured to replicate the latest success story, and after boyz ii men and blackstreet hit the big time, there was no shortage of pretenders to their crowns.

only the strong survive. these boys will be remembered fondly for one or two songs, by three or four people. well hopefully a few more than that. i wonder where they are now?

also check out the a list, b list and happy to be on any list.

download here

1-900 – oh

love this, bumpy. no idea who they are/were.

art and soul – dog in me

an al green sample and sub-blackstreet lyrics gave this group a club hit in 1996.

bubba – i like your style

very little info about this band online – assuming it was a band and not a solo effort with backing vocals?

coming of age – my side story

well tq was part of this band so we know at least one of the members is still in the industry – just about.

imajin – shorty

if a live website is evidence that the group is still going, then…they are. but it was last updated in 1999.

in essence – you’ll never find

again, has website, will travel. in essence performed with fellow canadian keshia chante two years ago…since then, who knows?

in the mix – dial me baby

no idea. this mp3 is all over the internet though.

lo-key – i got a thing for you

nice slow jam from 1993, and a minor hit.

riff – judy got a boyfriend

part of the new jack swing movement and i’m not aware of any other releases from this group.

rude boys – written all over your face

possibly too successful for this list, they had several club hits and even made an unprecedented third album.

 zhype – used to be your lover

new jack stomper a la johnny gill. no album.

z’looke – can you read my lips

actually started in the late 80s. held on till 91 but still no album.

 

90s r&b boybands – one hit wonders November 4, 2007

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 these boybands had their fans out there – somewhere. occasionally, one of these fans will recognise them when they sell them car insurance. maybe that’s enough to keep them going?

slightly more likely to get recognised are the b list and the a list are still gong strong. and now with added z list!

download here

3t – anything

sons of tito jackson who are probably around 30 now. apparently in 1996 their record sales in the UK were second only to the spice girls. who knew? tried to make a comeback but in boyband terms are a bit long in the tooth now although that hasn’t stopped take that…

911 – in a magazine

no not the geordie shortarses who had a way with the ladies. this was a teddy riley project fronted by basic black singer dezo adams. folded with their label after releasing this and ‘cutie’.

az yet – last night

az yet are still going, in two incarnations. disuptes over who owned the name led to two simultaneous groups and to be honest…i’m not going to unravel it all cos all you really need to know is that they had this hit and did a couple of chicago covers. sorted.

basic black – special kind of fool

the precursor to the above mentioned 911, with more of a new jack swing flavour. had a big hit with ‘she’s mine’.

f.s effect – i wanna be your lover

could win the coveted crap 90s album title award for ‘so deep it’s bottomless’. no other info.

kreuz – do you right

uk group who actually got signed to motown but something went wrong. not sure what exactly but, it did all sound a bit too good to be true didn’t it?

h-town – part time lover

better known for their collaboration with jodeci on ‘knockin’ the boots’, which must have made for a confusing recording session as to my mind, they are exactly the same group.

men of vizion – do thangz

had two hits that i can remember, this and ‘break me off’. little bit cheesy in a montell jordan kind of way.

motif and positive k – you told me

positive k at least, had that crazy video ‘i got a man’ that was always on the box music channel back in the day. this lot fell under the radar, big time.

p.o.v – anutha luv

probably best known for their collaboration with girl group jade ‘ all thru the nite’. wore dkny baseball shirts and bounced up and down a lot.

portrait – honey dip

perhaps the only group on this list to release three consecutive 90s albums. you could call them a poor man’s hi-five but that would be cruel…

smoove – all about her

another comedy 90s album title ‘smoove with a ruffness’ which perhaps is directly attributable to its lack of sales as in those pre-amazon days the man at the record counter would look at what you were buying and smirk..

 

neo soul pioneers October 25, 2007

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 it would be easy to assume that neo-soul artists started to emerge in retaliation to the commercial and ostentatious r&b scene we’ve had since the late 90s.

 in fact, neo soul’s inception was much earlier, sometime in the early 90s. suddenly there were artists who weren’t new jack swing, they weren’t 8os, and they didn’t really complement the g funk scene. their closest contemporaries were the jazzhiphop and daisy age movement, but this sound was based on a classic soul sound updated for the new decade.

polished, note perfect vocals and overproduced instrumentals were replaced with more organic sounds and melancholy vocals. one of the things i really love about neo-soul is that whilst the lyrics are generally more intelligent and so better crafted than most r&b, there is an honesty and accessibility that speaks directly to you.

download here

d’angelo – brown sugar

one of the few comnmercially successful neo-soul artists. the naked image on his second album didn’t hurt.

des’ree – feel so high

default brit nominee des’ree started her career with this track in 1992, and has bubbled under ever since. last year she took on beyonce after she rerecorded ‘kissing you’ without permission. can’t wait to see how that one turns out…

jazzyfatnastees – unconventional ways

girl duo formed in 1992, originally with four member but now going strong as a duo supporting the likes of jill scott and alicia keys.

jhelisa – friendly pressure

didn’t receive that much attention on release but was revived a few laters with popular uk garage mixes by sunship.

lauryn hill – ex-factor

who knew the girl hailed as the saviour of soul would end up looking and acting like a circus freak? she had everything going for her, maybe the pressure to deliver another ‘miseducation’ was just too great?

lynden david hall – the jimmy lee story

sadly departed, and i’m glad he had that cameo in love actually or he might have been forgotten in a decade’s time. criminally underrated.

me’shell ndegeocello – if that’s your boyfriend

as difficult to categorise as pronounce, i heard of me’shell years ago but never quite got round to hearing her music until recently.

oleta adams – rhythm of life

best known for ‘get here’ but this was actually her first single in 1990.

omar – something real

a later track from omar lye-fook, who all but invented neo-soul with ‘there’s nothing like this’.

rahsaan patterson – crush on you

later reworked by lil kim and biggie. rahsaan has been a consistent figure since the early 90s.

seal – future love paradise

i never did get why seal rereleased ‘killer’ a year after adamski’s original version with him on vocals. i still think of ‘killer’ as an adamski track and cetainly this track and ‘crazy’ were a millions miles from the rave scene.

shara nelson – one goodbye in ten

not sure what happened to shara. after rising to fame with massive attack, she had commercial success with her first album in 1993, then promptly disappeared.

 

le freak c’est chic October 22, 2007

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freaks were once something odd or unusual, like someone with six toes on one foot.

in time honoured ‘bad meaning good’ tradition, a freak has subverted its unpolitically correct beginnings to describe someone totally up for it. so, a slapper in other words.

that’s progress, then.

download here

aaron hall – get a little freaky

all of new jack bad boy aaron’s output had something a bit seedy about it.

bar-kays – freaky behaviour

controversy-era prince-lite. so if the man himself can’t satisfy you with his vast back catalogue, look no further. 

doug e.fresh – freaks

its a long way from ‘the show’ to this, and i can barely hear doug in here, but…whatever. 

egyptian lover – freakaholic

god i love this. i wish i hadn’t discovered it 20 years too late.

jodeci – freak’n’you

as if the original wasn’t filthy enough, this is the ginuwine blended bootleg.  jodeci really don’t need any help in the sleaze department.

leon haywood – freaky

soul creeper from 80s soul boy leon.

o’bryan – i’m freaky

more prince-lite, well he was the first to make freaks socially acceptable. 

r.kelly – freak dat body

clearly all of r.pissy’s songs are about freaks in one form or another. this was the b side to the much tamer ‘she’s got that vibe’.

rick james – superfreak

ok so you’ll never hear this without thinking of mc hammer, but its still quality. 

royalle delite – i’ll be a freak for you

what happened to this group? if anyone out there knows, drop me a line. i wish i could find more from them.

sexual harrassment – i need a freak

minimal funk a la vanity 6, but male. love it. 

sweet stuff – freaky

clearly the origins of freaks in soul go way back to the late 60s. bet this wouldn’t have got played on totp.

 

90s boy bands: the smooth selection September 10, 2007

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I already did a post on the anti-boybands of the 90s, that is, those that were successful enough to publicly distance themselves from the tag and make the kind of music they wanted to be associated with.

these boys would probably have run with either tag. they had some success, but would most likely have sold out given a major label opportunity. virtually all of them are now in the wilderness, awol.

and these c listers would have bitten your arm off for a taste of the big time. and these z listers, i wouldn’t like to say

download here

after 7 – can’t stop

slightly girly vocals, but a quality group. never quite bettered this, their first hit. there is a really funny old skool bootleg of this that speeds the vocals up to helium ballooon proportions, called cooking with delia. don’t ask me how i know these things…

damage – love to love

young british band from the mid 90s who were intermittently successful. everyone fancied bad boy coree, who has since been in prison. lead singer jade jones has been going out with spice girl emma bunton for about ten years, and they recently had a new baby.

dru hill – you are everything

i never really got the whole dru hill thing and sisqo, to me, is not attractive and i don’t even think he can sing. that whole thong song thing was ridiculous but did rule the summer of 2000, especially the garage remix. but i did like this track.

intro – let me be the one

fairly successful band in the early 90s – not as successful as blackstreet, not as sugary as boyz ii men and just kind of…there. which was a problem for pretty much all of the groups on this list.

next – butta love

did the whole bad boy thing far more convincingly than dru hill. ‘too close’ was of course huge, and then…i’m not sure if they still record or what?

shai – if i ever

hailed as the new boyz ii men, when they came out with this track. volume of material appeared to be a problem as this was remixed and released many times. i can just about remember two other tracks they did.

silk – hooked on you

i wonder how these groups feel when british boybands like another level take their signature tune (freak me, in this case) and have the hit they never could? i hope they get paid well, but i fear the only person who laughs all the way to the bank is the songwriter.

soul for real – every little thing

after candy rain, many people sat back and waited for a dismal sequel. to be fair, this did almost as well, perhaps better in the uk, and they squeezed out a few more hits form their debut and as far as i know only, album.

today – him or me

riding the new jack swing wave in the very early 90s, but never quite challenged teddy riley supergroup guy.

troop – sweet november

one album wonders, but this is a sweet cover version. have no idea how successful it may or may not have been in the US, but in the UK it did squat.