dirty martini

old music for new people

just let your soul glo: the groups November 11, 2007

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i did a post on jheri curl soul, as i like to call it, way back when i started this blog. it’s proved a popular post and really, one post summing up the predominant 80s soul sound isn’t enough.

so, i’m attempting to redress the balance by updating the post and turning it into a series.soul glo wasn’t just about the hair, although that played a big part and if it wasn’t jheri curled, backcombed and implausibly long, then forget it. and that’s just the men.an array of silk, satin and sparkly fabrics came on the market and soul glo artists used these abundantly. and don’t forget those shoulder pads. essential for the moody yet inviting, hands on hips pose favoured by many of said bands.

allude to yet more glamour and excitement in your lyrics. recommended themes are – gold and silver, notoriety, electricity, being the finest, a freak, turning someone on, having secret affairs, taking your clothes off .sprinkle liberally with tinkly sounds, synths, squelchy basslines and schizophrenic drum patterns.

et voila! (the soul glo fraternity loved them some faux francais, but more on that later…)

download here

52nd street – tell me how it feels

this band are not to be confused with the manchester group that later became joy division after their lead singer committed suicide. nope, these were shiny, happy jheri soul people…

con funk shun – electric lady

70s funksters who succumbed to the lure of reflective clothing and glistening curls. to be fair, a glance at the song titles of their previous material sounds like ‘now that’s what i call shoulderpads’ so it was a natural progression.

fatback band – i found lovin’

another 70s funk outfit who made the transition. and then some. this was one of the biggest hits of the genre and has been covered/ripped off by the likes of cashflow, ashanti and all saints.

five star – all fall down

pioneers of the brassy blonde, crispy fried jheri curl – that ddn’t really catch on. still, musically there was little between these teen brits and their older US counterparts. there’s a whole post on five star here

jets – love umbrella

polynesian siblings – at least 8 of them. despite the strict upbringing and familyness, the music wasn’t too preachy or safe, if a little bubblegum since the lead singer, mona, was about 14.

krystol – after the dance is through

like the 80s precursor to destiny’s child, although fit was for sad rather than petty reasons that the group went through so many lineup changes. a shame as they could have been big time.

mai tai – 1 touch 2 much

dutch soul trio who had a string of hits in the mid 80s, aptly named after the cocktail, they were energetic and fun, rather than moody, like many jheri soul acts.

royalle delite – spend a little time with me

lo-tech curl soul classic ‘i’ll be a freak for you’ wasn’t the only release from these elusive girls, and thanks to the wonder of itunes i’ve finally tracked this one down.

satin silk and lace – your love

i wanted this track for ages. its perfect mid 80s soul, written by leroy burgess. who were satin, silk and lace? i imagine a vanity 6 style trio.

st paul – intimacy

part of the extended paisley camp after a stint with morris day and the time. very athentic white boy soul – i was fooled until i googled.

system – you’re in my system

they call it ’emotio-electro’. i call it superior jheri curl soul. a bit like hall and oates with synthesisers.

starpoint – object of my desire

there’s plenty in the starpoint back catalogue. eleven albums in ten years. this track is so 1987. two of the members are now passed.

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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.

 

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

 

 

just let your soul glo April 29, 2007

sometime in about 1984 surfaced a phenomenon that would last well into the late 80s – jheri curl soul.borne out of the post-disco movement, curl soul was a more electronic style that made use of damn near every new sound available. jheri curl soul identified itself in a number of ways –

  1. the hair, obviously. before eddie murphy and co satirised said hairdo in ‘coming to america‘, the jheri curl was big business. cue glistening curls and plenty of grease-stained sofas
  2. the bands often resembled an extended family photo – it was not uncommon for groups to have more than five members
  3. a glitzy name – bonus points for inclusion of the word ‘star’ or ‘band’ and for translating your name into fauxfrancais: atlantic starr, five star, midnight star, the sos band, the bb&q band, royalle delite, club nouveaux, intrique
  4. if you can’t convince your family to join in, or are a norman-no-mates, a duo is your best bet – rene and angela, aurra, ashford and simpson
  5. reflective and/or brightly coloured silk suiting must be standard issue, and don’t forget those shoulder pads. essential for the moody yet inviting, hands on hips pose favoured by many of said bands
  6. allude to yet more glamour and excitement in your lyrics. recommended themes are – gold and silver, notoriety, electricity, being the finest, a freak, turning someone on, having secret affairs, taking your clothes off
  7. sprinkle liberally with tinkly sounds, synths, squelchy basslines and hyperactive drum patterns

for all that, the music should have been shit. but it was amazing. yes it was manufactured, so what. it sounds positively organic next to the late 90s robo-pop of the backstreet boys and britney spears. nothing quite sums up the 80s and a sunny day as effectively as this glossy, aspirational music. nothing made me more desperate to grow up and go to a real club so i could pretend to be one of these perfect specimens.

but since i was ooh, a good 8 years from being able to slip into a club with fake id, i danced in front of the tv in my pixie boots and silver dress, hair piled high and as much makeup as i could get away with. i strutted and pointed and pouted, to my parent’s amusement.

ten jheri curl soul classicsdownload here

midnight star – midas touch
midnight star comprised nine members. the exact role of each is unclear, but they all sported the prerequisite curls and loud suit, so contributed in some small way to the band’s success. this ode to all things gold was their biggest uk hit, in 1986.


klymaxx – the men all pause
pioneering ‘curl soul. klymaxx were a six-piece girl band in the traditional sense – they all played an instrument. this track was from their 1984 album ‘ meeting in the ladies room’.


lillo thomas – sexy girl
textbook 1987 example of the genre. associate of kashif and paul laurence, lillo was an olympic calibre athlete before an accident in 1984 forced him to pursue an alternative career.


the sos band – no one’s gonna love you
exquisitely produced track that almost sums up the genre. lovely bells, swooshes and that bassline. if it sounds familiar, it was sampled by r&b singer maxwell for a remix of his first hit ‘ascension’ in 1996.

rene and angelai’ll be good
slightly scary example of the curl’n’suit combo who had several sizable hits in the mid-80s. this 1985 hit was later used to good effect by jay-z and foxy brown.

jermaine stewart – we don’t have to take our clothes off
song that we delighted in singing at brownies, because we thought it was rude. from the poppier end of jheri curl soul and in fact, jermaine had unnaturally straight hair. perhaps in protest? can’t have been any easier to maintain…


atlantic starr – silver shadow
active throughout the 80s, atlantic starr are best known for ballads ‘always’ and ‘secret lovers’. this track was only released in the uk, where it prospered on the back of the club scene ignited by loose ends et al.


kashif – i just gotta have you
a big part of the 80s soul scene, producer kashif‘s own releases aren’t as well known as his work for others, including disco queen evelyn champagne king, george benson and dionne warwick, amongst others.


mac band – roses are red
a good example of the simple but effective lyrics used in many jheri soul cuts. this track still gets played out today.


the jets – curiosity
this polynesian eight-piece family act first rose to fame in 1987 with the poppy ‘crush on you’ led by then 15 year old vocalist elizabeth. since their late 80s success, younger siblings have replaced those retiring, from a pool of seventeen candidates.