dirty martini

old music for new people

original sin November 17, 2007

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 how annoying was it when your parents pointed out that your new favourite mc hammer tune was in fact a total ripoff?

well, there are so many tracks that i thought were originals and found out later that they were in fact mere updates. some are terrible – notably any of liberty x’s many cover versions – and some are actually just different as per some of the list below.

i think i must be getting old as i get furious when i hear updates of 90s house music on kiss fm that doesn’t sound better than the original – what’s the point in that?

download here

bootsy collins – i’d rather be with you

hands up who thought beyonce’s ‘be with you’ was a welcome respite from the screechy ballads that populated the rest of ‘dangerously in love’? how many spotted that she’d totally ripped off this track? that girl just does not learn.

cool notes – i should have loved ya

popularised by narada michael walden, this was actually a demo by brit lovers rockers turned jheri curled soulsters, the cool notes.  i prefer this version.

george benson and al jarreau – nothing’s gonna change my love for you

this is a ballad, a slushy one at that. but what mr benson and mr jarreau must have been thinking when they saw bouffant hawaiian glenn medeiros strolling alongside crashing waves crooning their song all the way into the top ten cheesiest records of all time, is anyone’s guess.

gloria jones – tainted love

it was easy to assume the all conquering soft cell version was the original. but with many of the early 80s classics, there was a reggae, or in this case, a northern soul classic lurking in the shadows. i bet that writer got paid.

otis clay – the only way is up

thank god for this northern soul classic. the horrific acid-pop-rave of yazz is now put into perspective as the irritating and unnecessary cover version it really was.

patti labelle – if you asked me to

patti’s belting vocals are relatively calm on this track, and a million miles and some light years better than frozen featured freak celine dion’s.

ready for the world – tonight

as appropriated by twista for girl tonight. i stumbled upon this by chance.

side effect – always there

well, i love the david morales remix of the incognito version and i had no idea there was a disco era original, but it makes sense. i have both on my ipod – i usually plump for originals but the incognito version is amazing. i’d even go so far as to say that i prefer their cover of stevie wonder’s ‘don’t you worry ’bout a thing’ and i LOVE stevie.

siedah garrett – do you want it right now

this really is the track that won’t die. right now we have a remix of the degrees of motion version, which at the time of release in 1992 i thought was the original. in the mid 90s there was a bootleg-gone-legit version blending it with get decor’s passion’. then i discovered a taylor dayne version from the late 80s and now this which i think predates it. degrees of motion provided the soundtrack to a happy summer for me – 1992 – and had the balls to record the video for ‘shine on’ at the same shoot at this one.

silk – freak me

you would have had to really watch a lot of mtv europe in the early 90s to spot this one as r&b did not feature heavily in the mainstream video playlists. when another level released this in 1998 many people thought it was their song. those that knew thought ‘ damn, fat little dane bowers sounds just like that guy from silk.’

sos band – just be good to me

to be fair, many of you are probably thinking i’ve gone mad with this one. but, in the uk, the main target audience of beats international’s ‘dub be good to me’ had no idea that this existed. so different, and both are cool. although this version is severely lacking a ‘tank fly boss walk jam nitty gritty, you’re listening to the boy from the big bad city, this is jaaam hot.’

valentine brothers – money’s too tight to mention

not too far from the simply red classic we all know and, if not love, well, it wasn’t bad. it’s just that after hearing this original you wonder what the point was. but you can’t fault the flame haired one for trying to bring soul music to the masses.

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under the sea October 27, 2007

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i love anything that sounds watery. as an aquarian, perhaps this is to be expected. my favourite fairytale was always the little mermaid and this is what i used to say i wanted to be when i grew up.

when i was very young, we had actual aquarium photo style wallpaper in our bathroom and i was so upset when my mum redecorated to some beige early 80s monstrosity but lacked the articulation to tell her so at the time.

i can stare at fishtanks all day and when i play ‘kitty goes fishing’ a dvd for cats, that i bought for my little fluffballs, i often end up mesmerised right along with them.

download here

air – sexy boy

like swimming with frogs, and no not because they’re french, i  just hear frog noises in there. so less of a sea on this one, more like a pond. with lily pads.

all saints – pure shores

purpose built wateryness as this was on the soundtrack for ‘the beach’. at the time this track was a huge departure for the girls –  a long way from the met bar and maharishi.

carnival of the animals – aquarium

this used to play as we filed into the hall for assembly at infant school. hearing it takes me right back to that huge wooden floor and the sun beaming in through the windows.

fish go deep – the cure and the cause

this act were aptly named as their track sounds like the theme to a deep sea adventure.

grid – flotation

so much better than their later efforts, especially the ghastly ‘swamp thing’. if only water had become a theme instead rednecks…

maxwell – submerge

like the aural equivalent of a jacuzzi. or, sticking your head underwater in the bath, for those on a budget.

prince – diamonds and pearls

no obvious watery theme here but thats what it sounds like to me. i suspect prince was actually going for ‘twinkly’.

sade – no ordinary love

i seem to remember that sade was a mermaid in this video, so it seems that the director agreed with me that it sounds aquatic.

smoke city – underwater love

obviously.

sos band –  weekend girl

something very tide in, tide out, about this one.

ten sharp – you

this sounds so aquatic to me that i once had a dream in which it was the soundtrack to big crashing waves.

 

soul power couples: the classics October 23, 2007

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duets don’t always work. i think simon cowell is about to find this out to his detriment – ‘same difference’ the icky brother and sister act on this year’s x factor are not going to resonate with a nation that just finds these things a bit, well…creepy.  what was that simon? you think they’ll capture the ‘high school musical’ market? make that ‘flowers in the attic’.

not as creepy as ‘two to go’ though, from x factor 2004. i haven’t got over that yet. psychopathic nursing home worker tries to carve career from exploitation of blind gareth gates-alike brother. ewwww.

if you bring together two equally talented, non-related singers however, the results can be spectacular. witness.

download here

bill medley and jennifer warnes – the time of my life

dirty dancing, like grease before it, will outlive us all. the soundtrack, and this song in particular, made the film the success it was. and made enough cash to get jennifer grey that ill-advised nose job…hope that ‘friends’ cameo paid well.

carla thomas and otis redding – tramp

much sampled classic – many female singers in the 60s paled in comparison to the commerical power of the supremes and undeniable talent of aretha. and otis is just otis and he died too young.

cherrelle and alexander o’neal – never knew love like this

whitney’s partner-in-crack cherrelle was once a respectable soul singer albeit only really famous for her collaborations with alex. who is slightly ‘eccentric’ himself as i recall from his bizarre participation in ‘just the two of us’ in which he duetted with a dumpy newsreader for the entertainment of the british public. someone really needs to stop the bbc making musical reality shows.

diana ross and lionel richie – endless love

i never got the whole diana ross thing. she is not a great singer. that dreamgirls storyline must have hit her where it hurts. i always wanted to see this film based on the song though.

janet jackson and luther vandross – best things in life are free

i may have forgotten the plot of the film ‘mo money’ to which this was the lead soundtrack, but i can remember this being played on a loop in the summer of 1992 at a very out of control house party.

judy clay and william bell – private number

another 60s duo who found themselves overshadowed. these two were on stax, not motown. which was way cooler.

mary j blige and kci hailey – i don’t want to do anything

mary’s problems didn’t start with her relationship with kci, but they did seem to begin to resolve themselves once she extricated herself. as ever, trying times can equal good music. people who say they wish mary would get messed up again so she can produce better music are wrong though.

roberta flack and donny hathaway – the closer i get to you

a whole album to choose from but the simplicity of this song is what makes it so special. that and donny hathaway, who could sing the bus timetable and stop me being pissed off that there’s only a bus ‘every 15-19 minutes’.

sheena easton and prince – u got the look

prince clearly saw a niche for scottish reality tv stars. especially those shorter than him – he doesn’t collaborate with just anyone. oh wait, he sort of does. carmen electra anyone?

the sos band and alexander o’neal – the finest

not sure how this came about? an early bootleg? i don’t remember him being on the original. he probably doesn’t either…cough…is he still wandering up and down kilburn high road looking confused?

syreeta and billy preston – with you i’m born again

this song is one of my earliest memories. it has that classic late 70s combination of plaintive harmonies,  and smooth vocals.

tammi terrell and marvin gaye – you’re all i need to get by

marvin and tammi were a much better match talentwise than marvin and insipid diana ross.

 

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

 

 

chilling in the summer rain July 4, 2007

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update: clearly it is going to rain every summer until the end of time now so I’ve posted a new aquatic chillout mix and we should all just get used to being underwater…

so…apparently the UK will only get one day of actual summer this year, not counting those early teasers in april and may. july 15, thankfully a sunday. summer 2007 is officially a washout and anyone too busy, broke or nervous to fly to sunnier destinations has a choice. either moan and get wet, or remember the sweaty, suffocating heat of last year and breath a sigh of relief.

but bad weather, reignited fears of terrorism and the spiralling cost of living in the UK is stressful. everyone i meet seems stressed, in some way or another. every night i listen to the chillout playlist on my creative zen and find it soothing, so i thought i’d post up some of my favourites as a departure from my usual retro offerings, to mark my arrival here on wordpress. blogger was just an absolute arse to use, in terms of formatting.

maybe the media hysteria surrounding our predicted lack of summer will prove unfounded and by this time next week i’ll be posting sunny anthems for beach-bound brits?

ten sounds that epitomise our lack of summerdownload here

aaliyah – those were the days

days when the temperature crept above 20c, that is.

janet jackson – making love in the rain

obviously.

mariah carey – underneath the stars

unusually understated vocals from mad ms carey. worth going out and lying on the wet grass to listen to this one.

sounds of blackness – optimistic

this really reminds me of the hot summer of 1992. well, you never know, it wouldn’t be the first time forecasters got it wrong. i think i’m wishful playlisting now…

amerie – just what i needed to see

apparently this was a bonus track from her debut? amerie, like kelis, is not appreciated in her native US as much as in europe.

rotary connection – i am the black gold of the sun

a song about the sun but to me the instrumental sounds like rain.

swv – can’t cope

this unreleased swv track sounds to me like something written on a humid, sweaty summer night just before a thunderstorm. not sure why.

destiny’s child – now that she’s gone

melancholy, whooshing production and soothing harmonies. perfect.

sos band – weekend girl

summery 80s soul that sounds all whooshy, watery and tinkly…yep, kind of like all this damn rain.

donny hathaway – someday we’ll all be free

when all else fails…donny’s your man. i’d sit in a torrential downpour all day to hear that voice.

bonus: jamiroquai – seven days in sunny june

…and little did we know that would be our lot.

 

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.