dirty martini

old music for new people

on the radio April 6, 2009

mayo

before chris moyles, there was the big breakfast. before that, there was simon mayo. a national breakfast experience.

in 1991, i actually liked getting up early to listen to the radio. we always listened to simon mayo, rod mckenzie and sybil ruscoe.

the thing that was interesting about the breakfast show was that they didn’t just play the current top 40. they tried to break new music, albeit fairly commercial music, but new jack swing and r&b wasn’t huge in mainstream uk at the time and they did a decent job of representing what was happening over the pond. remember, we didn’t have access to things like the billboard or casey kasem back then.

needless to say none of these tracks became huge hits over here but i might not even know them if it weren’t for simon mayo. of course he also had a penchant for right said fred, but we’ll let that one go…

download simon mayo’s forgotten classics

hi-five – i like the way

sadly, singer tony thompson died a few years back. he was only 15 when he released this. it pretty much epitomises the era. i love this sound.

jazzy jeff and fresh prince – ring my bell

how do you follow ‘summertime’? well, that used a little known kool and the gang hook but this used a more obvious anita ward one, and suffered for it.

jody watley – i’m the one you need

very typical of the house/r&b hybrid sound of the time. it’s quite difficult to listen to now, but this one stands the test of time.

karyn white – romantic

karyn white has moderate success here, but nowhere near as much as in the states. i remember this being promoted to death, too. well, for those days – by that i mean i saw the promo for this song at least twice on national tv!

keedy – save some love

part of the miami freestyle scene, which didn’t really penetrate over here…this was her only big hit on the billboard charts.

mantronix – don’t go messing with my heart

despite the massive success of ‘got to have your love’ and ‘take your time’, this didn’t really go anywhere.  featured artist jade trini.

natural selection – do anything

playing this after practically every newsbreak didn’t help it break the top 40. now that i listen back, it’s very prince…

nona gaye – love sign

…who coincidentally featured on this nona gaye track. but his purple magic didn;t quite rub off.

paula abdul – promise of a new day

now, paula struggles to articulate entire sentences in one go on american idol, but back in 1991 she was still trying to keep her music career going with that incredibly thin voice and limited range. good job she could dance, eh?

rythm syndicate – p.a.s.s.i.o.n

another prince soundalike band. i thought the slightly noveltychorus would have made this a hit over here, but nope. bob the builder and mr blobby, yes. i despair of this country.

 

i love 1988: fresh and fly April 5, 2009

 freshfly1

yes, in 1988, even north london schoolgirls could rap. yes, that is michelle gayle. back then in junior school, we could only aspire to be as cool as grange hill hip hop act ‘fresh and fly’.

if there is one way to describe the music of 1988 though, fresh and fly just about does it. hiphop, slick wine bar soul and the birth of new jack swing.

to be honest, my school was more bros and debbie gibson in 88, but london, as usual, was infinitely cooler…

download 1988

al b sure – night and day

bobby brown – roni

bvsmp – i need you

five star – godsend

karyn white – the way you love me

loose ends – watching you

mac band – roses are red

mica paris – my one temptation

pebbles – girlfriend

prince – alphabet st

slick rick – mona lisa

today – him or me

 

2008: the comebacks January 3, 2009

cd

despite declining sales, labels continued to throw money and effort into album promotion instead of finding new and creative ways to make money from music. which is now basically free, let’s face it.

i enjoyed these the most of all the comebacks last year.

download the comebacks of 2008

anthony hamilton – the day we met

consistent and underrated, anthony hamilton’s new album ‘the point of it all’ is a little more punchy, i think, than his previous efforts. it’s worth seeking out his mostly unknown 1996 debut if you like this side of him.

ashanti – you’re gonna miss

ashanti is that girl who has more male friends than female. she gets a lot of hate, but, she delivers some good music. ‘the declaration’ was a solid effort that would have achieved more had it not been for her audience connection issue mentioned previously, and the state of the music industry.

beyonce – single ladies

well, if you thought ‘bday’ was a disappointment…i’m hoping some of the other tunes on ‘i am…sasha fierce’ will grow on me. there’s nothing groundbreaking there though. i did love the fact that she appeared on x factor to sing with alexandra though. who, by the way, i think outsings her on ‘listen’ when she sings solo.

common – sex 4 sugar

common is taking a more commercial route this time round with ‘universal mind control’. that’s ok, it works.

erykah badu – honey

..speaking of which, his formerly crazy former missus has also lightened up a bit. see, it didn’t hurt that much did it? but for a time there it looked as if she had a touch of the lauryn hills.

john legend – can’t be my lover

i tried but failed to get into ‘once again’ but i’m loving the return to form on ‘evolver’. the reggae tracks are totally his comfort zone and the euro-electro tinged tracks even work, much as i am hating this current trend, which should in my opinion have started and ended with britney’s ‘gimme more’.

keyshia cole – where this love could end up

keyshia was hailed as the new mary. to my mind, she has not evolved or developed even slightly past her 2004 debut. this is not to say that ‘just like you’ and ‘a different me’ are bad – they’re as good as ‘the way it is’. if prince were to unleash another few albums that took up where ‘1999’, ‘purple rain’ or ‘sign of the times’ left off then this would be eaten up. but keyshia’s not prince.

mariah carey – i’ll be loving you long time

‘e=mc2’ is nowhere near as good as ‘mimi’ let’s get that out of the way. and ‘touch my body’ is shit. but as r&b albums go it’s head and shoulders above most of the crap we get launched at us these days and everyone is so relieved to see her settled and wearing some clothes for once that this is good enough.

raheem devaughn  – woman

a consistent neo-soul artist who returned in 2008, like clockwork, with ‘love behind the melody’. despite the rubbish neo-soul genre tag, surely grown up soul is where the money’s at these days?

raphael saadiq – sure hope you mean it

like several others, mostly brit, artists, he went the retro route. to great effect and in a far more authentic and endearing way than gimmicky amy winehouse and duffy. raphael has, of course, been doing this since his tony toni tone days. i could have picked almost any of the tracks from ‘way i see it’ as my favourite.

snoop dogg – cool

not much promotion behind ‘ego trippin’ as it goes, which is a shame cos i heart the retro flow of this prince-inspired track and ‘sensual seduction’.

usher – before i met you

i wonder if poor old usher realised just how critical the salivating teen girls and his momager were to his success? not at all, apparently, until ‘here i stand’ bombed and he bricked it. marrying a ropey looking older woman when you have the pick of a population? bratz generation say what?

 

vote jls December 1, 2008

jls2

i want jls to win the x factor. i also love alex but think she’ll do well whatever happens now. i can’t stand diana or eoghan! even though i’m not a fan of rock music, I liked ruth and loved her purple rain performance.

but i just love jls, there are so many reasons why it would be good for them to win. they’re talented, seem to be really nice people and just work really well together. they should have sung ‘born to make you happy’ on saturday night, by the way.

god i would be such a better mentor than louis although several million other could claim the same thing. loving james corden slating britney – the idea that she has a back catalogue worthy of a theme is pathetic. given that she’s in cahoots with brian friedman it wasn’t that difficult to negotiate her appearance, surely?

ruth is now urging her fans to support jls and alex – good for her, and this speaks volumes about the brattish behaviour of diana and eoghan. diana appears to believe her own hype and eoghan clearly believes simon’s relentless ‘you’re the one to beat’ mantra. simon – you can keep saying it but it won’t become true.

interesting that in a week where diana was told to tone down her quirkiness, she took it to new levels by actually snarling into the mic during ‘everybody hurts’. the judges, even cheryl, clearly have time for her after the fake laryngitis hissy fit, alleged diva strop when she wasn’t given a song she liked last week and now possibly bringing the show into disrepute if the rumours that she is pregnant with eggnog’s child are true.

eggnog…i mean, who the fuck is voting for this talentless irksome brat? be ashamed of yourselves.

download jls song choices

112 – only you

after 7 – can’t stop

alexander o’neal – criticize

another level – be alone no more

bell biv devoe – poison

bobby brown – don’t be cruel

hi-five – i like the way

lemar – if there’s any justice

new edition – mr telephone man 

new kids on the block – if you go away

take that – pray

troop – sweet november

 

the prince factor October 20, 2008

well, who saw that coming? ruth lorenzo appears to have had more hits today on youtube for her bottom two performance than anyone other contestant.

it was a great performance, but the fact that so many people love the song plays a big part. it isn’t hard to predict that you will hear ‘i have nothing’, ‘i’ll be there’ and ‘summertime’ at least once every series. michael jackson week was slightly better than the usual themes.

apparently next week is big band…for christ’s sake. who listens to big band? if they do beatles, abba, david cassidy or rod stewart again i’m going on strike. these artists are hopelessly out of date. if any contestant struggle to cover one of their songs convincingly it says absolutely nothing about their talent for singing songs within a genre they ARE interested in pursuing.

the only theme worth introducing is prince. it’s a fair theme for everyone. prince covers the musical spectrum and so provides a level playing field.

there is no shortage of prince on this blog and i make no apology…

who influenced prince?

purple hook-ups

‘sounds a bit like prince…’

more princespiration

i can’t believe it’s not prince

the best prince setlist ever

rare prince

more rare prince

prince’s protegees

with that in mind, here are my suggestions…

prince week

jls – diamonds and pearls

alex – i feel for you

rachel – nothing compares 2 u

ruth – purple rain (obviously)

laura – if i was your girlfriend

austin – little red corvette

diana – if i love u tonight

eoghan – alphabet st (although i would refuse to watch)

bluecoat –  i could never take the place of your man

daniel – 1999 (for the comedy value)

 

the ex factor October 18, 2008

guess who i’m loving this year?

so far this series is shaping up much better than the last. of course the judges have made mistake in their choices. especially simon, who needs a new sidekick to replace sinitta, a woman who not only wants us to believe that she’s been 39 for the last ten years, but who also allowed mali-michael to slip away in favour of a fucking bluecoat.

let me preface what i’m about to say by admitting that i have never had any time for cheryl cole and think she’s the weakest singer in girls aloud. BUT she is the only judge who got her top 3 spot on. louis needs to give up on the 90s, simon needs to stop trying to hoist demonic kids on the general public and dannii…needs to learn about the music industry. and then she might not only become a better judge but also find out why her career was such a damp squib that she was still doing guest spots more than ten years after arriving on the scene.

let’s hope the rumours that sharon will return to replace spoon face are true.

as is tradition, these are the songs they should sing, but won’t cos…they just won’t.

download here

alexandra

toni braxton – love shoulda brought you home

obviously the best singer but not sure she can win unless the sob stories are ejected early. i can see her coming a cropper against some talentless waste of space, a la maria lawson.

austin

prince – raspberry beret

looks like he was brought up on crisps. he’ll need to overcome the slightly mangy air he has about him if he doesn’t want to repel the snootier class of x factor voter with his caravantastic style.

bad lashes

sugababes – overload

bit too desperate, not at all surprising to me that they received the boot in the first week. when will girls who try too hard to be alternative realise that this completely misses the point they were trying to make…

daniel

simply red – you’ve got it

they took it a bit too far with the sympathy vote this year…when it comes to picking finalists you have to put emotion aside. that said, his ricky gervais inspired performance last week was supremely entertaining, for all the wrong reasons.

diana

tasmin archer – sleeping satellite

the music diana would make would be a million miles from the type of thing i would ever listen to, but i just about get why shes in the finals. she reminds me a bit, unfortunately, of the girl who claimed to invent indie music, said something racist and got slung out of big brother last year.

eoghan

stevie wonder – sir duke (because he couldn’t and then he’d get the boot – yay!)

x factor law dictates that there is always a token irish contestant who’s shit but provides louis with a valuable opportunity to remind everyone why they don’t take his decisions at all seriously, at each once a series. remember those hideous conway sisters? this one looks like a cross between jamie oliver and a vole.

girlband

don’t care…oh they should just go all out to escape the boot by singing a girls aloud song – chemistry

won’t win unless hell freezes over. how this lot got through i have no idea…girls aloud’s success is completely owed to stylists and producers. not louis walsh. this lot might as well rename themselves ‘girls are loud’ and start impersonating them at student unions.

jls

new edition – mr telephone man

love them. there are so many reasons why they should win and i hope they do. whether they’ll strike the right note with the sat-at-home chavs who vote thirty times a night is another matter. there are so many potential songs for them…I’d like to see them take it back to the 80s at some point.

laura

keyshia cole –  i just want it to be over

has a funny mouth. whether or not this will endear her to voters or put them off their chicken korma remains to be seen. is undeniably talented but it’s so obvious with some of these really young contestants that they’ve grown up imitating certain singers and you start to wonder whether’s it’s really ‘them’.

rachel

chaka khan – i know you, i live you

you know how it is when you have a boss who is shit at their job and you not so secretly believe that you know better? that was all over rachel’s face last week. dannii made herself and robyn, who could but wish to be able to sing like rachel, look like muppets.

ruth

jennifer lopez – if you had my love

not a very spanish name, ruth, is it? that girl has the biggest hair i’ve ever seen too. i bet she needs a lot of product to keep it under control. i think my hair might be spanish. she’s going to run out of recognisable latin songs to sing…but she might as well put jennifer lopez’s vocal skills in perspective while she’s at it.

the bluecoat

take that – pray

i couldn’t give a shit what his name is. he’s not even a redcoat, for fuck’s sake. at least butlins had those cool indoor swimming things with the flumes, back in the day. anyway, anyone who can’t even stand up to a mentor who makes them sing a 23 year old song by matt bianco has got no chance. what on earth was simon thinking? does he not even want to win anymore?

 

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)

download here

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