dirty martini

old music for new people

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

studio54.jpg

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’.

Advertisements
 

the summer of 1985 June 8, 2007

if there’s one summer from my childhood that i remember fondly, it’s the summer of 1985. not just because it was an actual summer, with sun and heat (not humidity – there’s a difference). before global warming screwed up the weather and i had to get on the year round sauna they call the london underground, summer was anticipated as an enjoyable season.

if the weather was like it is today – that’s torrential rain and dismal temperatures, for non-brits – the summer holidays were spent inside or shopping. but for most days, we had a beach hut, and every day I would get up early to watch tv-am with roland rat, and most importantly, the weather forecast, to see if we’d spend the day at home or go down to the beach.

i’d put on my jelly shoes, grab my jelly bag and we’d set off. not in a car, that would have been too easy. we had to walk for about 30 minutes to the right bus stop, then get a hot, sweaty bus to the seafront. back then children didn’t rule the world, so I’d probably have to stand or some miserable old bag would literally glare you out of your seat.

on arrival, we checked who else was there. the hut was only really big enough to house a kettle, a portable radio, some folding chairs, a windbreaker and a hula hoop. why we sacrificed valuable space for a kettle, in the height of summer, i’ll never know. why do parents panic at the thought of not being able to drink tea every five minutes? mine were always making excuses not to do something because they ‘hadn’t had a cup of tea yet.’ and still do.

so if no other kids were there, I would cut lonely figure, playing with my little ponies, hula hooping, and trying to catch butterflies in a fishing net. my mum would lie there in the blazing hot sun, with her cup of tea, listening to radio victory and tuning me out. me and my friends wandered pretty much wherever we wanted, across the road to the beach, to the lake, the playground, the fair. you could do things like that, back then.

i suppose these days most kids would get bored going to same place about four or five times a week. in the 80s there really wasn’t much point staying at home unless you wanted to watch why don’t you… all summer.

so this is the soundtrack to those hot sunny days at the beach. yes, there are dance routines to all of these songs which i am often tempted to break into when i hear them. it was probably the same dance routine for nine year old girls all over the UK.

now that’s what i call the summer of 1985…download here

amazulu – excitable

the 7″ single was a cool transparent blue vinyl, which looked a frisbee. amazulu were a pop/reggae band who had a string of hits in the mid 80s, their biggest was a cover of ‘too good to be forgotten’ originally by the chi-lites (although I was completely unaware of this at the time).


cameo – single life

cameo, before they became infamous for ‘word up’ and that red codpiece, made quality 70s and 80s funk. cameo always did have some humour, it just wasn’t as outlandish earlier on. i can’t believe this hasn’t been sampled yet?


cool notes – in your car

the cool notes had already been lovers’ rock legends and post-disco soul stars by the time the mid 80s arrived but this incarnation as jheri curled poseurs proved their most successful yet. i remember hearing this song on the top 40 and deciding it would be the next single i bought. five star – love take over

god i loved five star…i saw past the dodgy matching catsuits, crispy fried hair and scary eyeliner. and that was just the boys. in this video they danced poolside before piling into a jeep, no storyline. didn’t need one.


madonna – into the groove

this was the moment, for me, when madonna became the biggest star of the 80s. this song gave me a clue as to what the older kids were doing. drinking and dancing in smoky underground clubs. the dance she did in this video, with her hands clasped above her head, was immediately imitated by millions of precocious pre-teen girls. mai tai – history

mai tai were a german soul trio who sang all together and so had a fairly unique sound. bananarama did the same, for a different reason. they sounded like a cat scratching a tin individually. this track, like many uk tracks, doesn’t feature in many round ups of 80s soul classics as it’s not by a us artist. travesty.

prince – raspberry beret

possibly my most favourite prince song ever, but definitely the one i’ve loved for the longest. i like how the lyrics aren’t trying to be clever, they just tell the story. there’s no hidden meaning and unlike a lot of other 80s songs, I don’t understand it differently now that I’m older.

princess – say i’m your no.1 to this day I don’t know how a cheese factory like stock aitken and waterman managed to produce this classic. it’s a shame they didn’t focus on making more music like this, alongside the hugely successful pop conveyor belt.

sister sledge – frankie
this song was just made for little girls. how old was frankie though? we hoped he was 15, and sister sledge were 12, as per the lyrics, but there was a strange old man in the video….and the sisters were pushing 30.

steve arrington – feel so real

steve arrington was the lead singer of slave but i didn’t know of them at the time. this song just sums up that summer as far as, it was just everywhere. it wasn’t necessarily my favourite song but i always think of the beach when i hear it.

tears for fears – everybody wants to rule the world

you couldn’t move for this song in 1985. safari suits and mullets, hmmm…

whitney houston – how will i know

pastel knitwear and pixie boots whitney, while stylistically challenged, was a lot more fun and made better music than crack addict whitney in her velour tracksuit. i remember arguing about the lyrics to this song with an unbearable kid called sally who thought she knew everything. I was right.