dirty martini

old music for new people

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’?

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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

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let’s get physical October 10, 2007

one of my first memories is watching ‘the kids from fame’. i don’t think i really understood that the ‘kids’ (most of whom looked well into their 20s, as per hollywood convention) were  just training to be stars. i thought they just liked to leap about in legwarmers and leotards, like me.

aerobics.jpg

 

photographic evidence exists of me in my little grey marl fame sweatshirt with matching burgundy skirt, circa 1982. the aerobic craze carried through to the mid 80s, with fame the movie, flashdance and a teenage sarah jessica parker in girls just wanna have fun. any colour pastel with grey marl and you were good to go. to date, these remain my favourite colour combinations.

the arrival of tv-am in the uk in 1983 meant that bored housewives no longer needed to warm up for the day unaided. lizzy, in her curly slightly unbalanced glory would encourage you to shake it, not sit in front of jeremy kyle sneering at those less fortunate. in the 80s, those less fortunate could dance their way to a better life, in any case.

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bucks fizz – making your mind up

yes, despite the drugs and sex scandals of the 60s and 70s, a dance routine in which long skirts were pulled off to reveal – gasp – shorter skirts, was the controversy of the 1981 eurovision song contest. and cheryl baker is living proof that the phenonenom of carving an entire career from the simple act of wearing a particular outfit on one occasion was not created by the parasitical liz hurley.

bardo – one step further

like bucks fizz, but a boy-girl duo who wore even shorter skirts. don’t worry, i mean the girl…although if gaydars had been invented in 1982 then they would have been on red alert for the other half of this cheesy pop act.

cyndi lauper – girls just wanna have fun

pop punk cyndi looked a bit too out of shape to be the poster girl and soundtrack provider to one of the 80s most prominent legwarmer movies. like most of the hen night casualties who now kill this on karoake down their local yates.

deniece williams – let’s hear it for the boy

footloose was the ultimate good over evil movie. what? a town where dancing is banned. did they know it was 1984? well, seeing as the town in question was in utah, probably not.

michael sembello – she’s a maniac

memories of flashdance have now been replaced by two skinny men with taches in jogging gear…and a very memorable ad campaign for a directory enquiry service of all things.

irene cara – fame/flashdance

its not clear whether irene had a career outside the realm of soundtracks to high energy dance movies. i don’t think she did. what a strange way to get pigeonholed.

kids from fame – hi fidelity

the kids had several successful albums and i was so tempted to post the schmaltzy ‘starmaker’. that’ll be in ‘songs you turn down on your ipod’ the sequel, i suppose…

maria vidal – body rock

grabbed the crown from irene cara – who must have been v pissed off – with this big 1985 hit. never seen the movie, much the same as no one has ever seen vision quest but has ‘crazy for you’.

pointer sisters – jump

everyone must have been forced to jump around to this during school PE lessons at some point. you could tell our PE tarts loved the 80s, they still looked like extras from fame well into the 90s.

toni basil – mickey

35 year old cheerleader toni had a huge hit with this when i was little. what is it with america and cheerleaders anyway? uk girls are more likely to hold their boyfriends fags while he has a kickabout with his mates…and thats about as far as it goes.

whitney houston – how will i know

whitney apparently hates this video, and finds it embarrassing to watch herself prances about in pastel jumpers and headbands. yes, i can see why that would be infinitely more cringeworthy than all of those clips from ‘being bobby brown’ doing the rounds on youtube…

 

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.

 

more 80s soundtracks May 22, 2007

can’t get enough of 80s movies at the moment. nostalgia can be indulgent but sometimes you’re just fed up with the real world, or, you just prefer the music and movies of another time.

now that i have worn out and/or broken most of my sex and the city dvds, i find myself watching an 80s movie to wind down.
i wonder if, in the future, there’ll be a place you can go to where to all intents and purposes, it’s the 80s, or the 70s or whatever era you feel like living in. yes, one of the last 80s films i watched was back to the future.
ten more 80s soundtracksdownload here
beverly hills cop (1984)
junior – do you really want my love
**bonus**vanity 6 – nasty girl
forget ‘axel f’ i think we can safely say its forever ruined by a crazy frog. junior was a uk soul singer whose only real hit was the growly ‘mama used to say’. vanity 6’s biggest hit was, for purple reasons, left off the soundtrack. the film? well if the only eddie murphy you know is the sorry fortysomething player who fathers children with desperate spice girls, you need to get this and coming to america and find out why he’s even famous in the first place. get raw and delirious while you’re at it as well, i hear they just came out on dvd.
ferris bueller’s day off (1986)
yello – oh yeah

how does matthew broderick look the same now as in 1986? anyway, who can forget this scene – battered and defeated headmaster, ed rooney, resigned to catching a school bus. earlier he declared, ‘i did not achieve this position in life by having some snot-nosed punk leave my cheese out in the wind’. like the breakfast club before it, ferris delighted in watching authoritative adults sink under the delusion that they were smarter than sassy 80s kids. i loved the character cameron in this movie. check out jennifer grey before dirty dancing and that nosejob as ferris’s sister jeannie.
ghostbusters ii (1989)
bobby brown – on our own
copyact sequel, but an opportunity for young bobby to cement his growing popularity. this track hasn’t engraved itself on the memory like ray parker jr’s effort but it was huge in 89. he did provide another song for the soundtrack but…its awful. and i’m a huge bobby fan. don’t try to track it down. think vanilla ice and those ninja turtles and be glad you left well enough alone. the film is exactly the same as the first ghostbusters – bill murray, big marshmallow baddies who threaten to eat new york. ok there might be slightly more to it than that…but not a hell of a lot.
krush groove (1985)
sheila e – a love bizarre
kurtis blow – if i ruled the world

if you’re a fan of 80s hiphop, this soundtrack is worth seeking out, although it probably doesn’t exist on cd. the story follows def jam’s early days and features sheila e, ll cool j, beastie boys and new edition amongst others. it also stars a young blair underwood. as in the fit doctor miranda dates in the last series of sex and the city. the fit, rich doctor who can cook but also buys her pizza and a cookie that says ‘i love you’. which sends her running back to broke barman steve. i’m sorry, i loved that show but COME ON that would never happen. he was too good for her – oh, ok i’ll calm down now….
top gun (1986)
teena marie – lead me on
the rest of the soundtrack was eclipsed by ‘take my breath away’ but its actually a good representation of mid 80s power pop, especially ‘danger zone’, the likes of which just wouldn’t work in the 00s for so many reasons. this was before living in an inner city was indeed like ‘living in a danger zone’ as per this song. this teena marie song is the most soul-oriented track. many a ten year old girl developed a crush on tom cruise thanks to this movie, and cocktail, that has carried into later life. until katie holmes and scientology, obviously, at which point he visibly lost it.
who’s that girl (1987)

duncan faure – 24 hours
scritti politti – best thing ever
madonna filled this soundtrack with four of her own tracks, naturally, and most fans bought it for these and skipped the others. i copied from a friend as i wouldn’t spend £5.49 on a tape with only four madonna songs. not when i could spend 70p on a blank tape and a bag of kola kubes to bribe said friend. we didn’t share msuic quite so freely in those days. scritti politti were a great 80s blue eyed soul band with breathy vocals and this is a good example of their offerings. duncan faure? one hit wonder if this even counts. I used to think this was sung by the male lead in the film, griffin dunne.

body rock (1985)
maria vidal – body rock


fabulous example of mid 80s legwarmers-and-headband dance music, hot on the heels of fame and flashdance. i haven’t seen the movie in years, but i’m not sure its really necessary, to guess what its about. this song was a favourite of sadistic p.e. teachers up and down the UK, looking to motivate lazy 16 year olds into aerobics, well into the 90s. why was all the music in those lessons at least 10 years old?? another favourite was the pointer sister’s ‘jump’ for trampolining (arf…) and i also remember being forced to do aqua aerobics to elton john’s ‘i’m still standing’. funny cos i don’t remember the p.e witches having a sense of humour…



bright lights big city (1987)

prince – good love

from one shortarse to another, prince contributed this rare track to michael j fox’s 1987 movie. as i remember, this is almost exactly the same as ‘the secret of my success’. michael, previously playing teen roles in teenwolf and back to the future, made the apparent leap to twentysomething hotshot within the space of two years. like ralph macchio, he was a good ten years older than most of his characters. which must be like the ultimate affirmation of hanging on to your youth, I presume. good for them.