dirty martini

old music for new people

advent calendar: the remix December 24, 2008

funkyxmas

ok, not quite the 12 days of christmas, and not even a bit seasonal, but a 90s r&b remix for every year. enjoy!

download 90s remixes

1990 – samuelle – so you like what you see – teddy riley remix

1991 – r.kelly – she’s got that vibe – jerv remix

1992 – shanice – i love your smile – hakeem’s remix

1993 – janet jackson – if – tnt bass remix

1994 – mary j blige – mary’s joint – puffy’s remix

1995 – smooth – mind blowin’ – kenny smoove illmatic remix

1996 – blackstreet – don’t leave me – goodbye remix

1997 – shades – tell me – characters remix

1998 – destiny’s child – with me – full crew remix

1999 – jennifer lopez – feelin’ so good – bad boy remix

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sugar and spice: 80s boybands May 9, 2008

new edition started something – in the 80s, r&b boybands sang about sugar, candy and flowers and we lapped it up.

well, let’s compare it to what we had to endure from our infant and junior school counterparts:

  • hair pulling
  • lifting up skirts
  • making you pretend to be princess leia/a bond girl/stacy from tj hooker every breaktime
  • snapping your bra straps
  • throwing insects at you
  • transformers…zzzz….

download here

by all means – slow jam

entouch – all nite

force md’s – will you be my girlfriend

full force – all in my mind

guy – i like

levert – casanova

new edition – candy girl

mac band – roses are red

pasadenas – enchanted lady

ready for the world – tonight

the reddings – i know you got another

skool boyz – burning up

 

90s r&b boybands – one hit wonders November 4, 2007

onehit.jpg

 these boybands had their fans out there – somewhere. occasionally, one of these fans will recognise them when they sell them car insurance. maybe that’s enough to keep them going?

slightly more likely to get recognised are the b list and the a list are still gong strong. and now with added z list!

download here

3t – anything

sons of tito jackson who are probably around 30 now. apparently in 1996 their record sales in the UK were second only to the spice girls. who knew? tried to make a comeback but in boyband terms are a bit long in the tooth now although that hasn’t stopped take that…

911 – in a magazine

no not the geordie shortarses who had a way with the ladies. this was a teddy riley project fronted by basic black singer dezo adams. folded with their label after releasing this and ‘cutie’.

az yet – last night

az yet are still going, in two incarnations. disuptes over who owned the name led to two simultaneous groups and to be honest…i’m not going to unravel it all cos all you really need to know is that they had this hit and did a couple of chicago covers. sorted.

basic black – special kind of fool

the precursor to the above mentioned 911, with more of a new jack swing flavour. had a big hit with ‘she’s mine’.

f.s effect – i wanna be your lover

could win the coveted crap 90s album title award for ‘so deep it’s bottomless’. no other info.

kreuz – do you right

uk group who actually got signed to motown but something went wrong. not sure what exactly but, it did all sound a bit too good to be true didn’t it?

h-town – part time lover

better known for their collaboration with jodeci on ‘knockin’ the boots’, which must have made for a confusing recording session as to my mind, they are exactly the same group.

men of vizion – do thangz

had two hits that i can remember, this and ‘break me off’. little bit cheesy in a montell jordan kind of way.

motif and positive k – you told me

positive k at least, had that crazy video ‘i got a man’ that was always on the box music channel back in the day. this lot fell under the radar, big time.

p.o.v – anutha luv

probably best known for their collaboration with girl group jade ‘ all thru the nite’. wore dkny baseball shirts and bounced up and down a lot.

portrait – honey dip

perhaps the only group on this list to release three consecutive 90s albums. you could call them a poor man’s hi-five but that would be cruel…

smoove – all about her

another comedy 90s album title ‘smoove with a ruffness’ which perhaps is directly attributable to its lack of sales as in those pre-amazon days the man at the record counter would look at what you were buying and smirk..

 

90s boy bands: the smooth selection September 10, 2007

curtain.jpg

I already did a post on the anti-boybands of the 90s, that is, those that were successful enough to publicly distance themselves from the tag and make the kind of music they wanted to be associated with.

these boys would probably have run with either tag. they had some success, but would most likely have sold out given a major label opportunity. virtually all of them are now in the wilderness, awol.

and these c listers would have bitten your arm off for a taste of the big time. and these z listers, i wouldn’t like to say

download here

after 7 – can’t stop

slightly girly vocals, but a quality group. never quite bettered this, their first hit. there is a really funny old skool bootleg of this that speeds the vocals up to helium ballooon proportions, called cooking with delia. don’t ask me how i know these things…

damage – love to love

young british band from the mid 90s who were intermittently successful. everyone fancied bad boy coree, who has since been in prison. lead singer jade jones has been going out with spice girl emma bunton for about ten years, and they recently had a new baby.

dru hill – you are everything

i never really got the whole dru hill thing and sisqo, to me, is not attractive and i don’t even think he can sing. that whole thong song thing was ridiculous but did rule the summer of 2000, especially the garage remix. but i did like this track.

intro – let me be the one

fairly successful band in the early 90s – not as successful as blackstreet, not as sugary as boyz ii men and just kind of…there. which was a problem for pretty much all of the groups on this list.

next – butta love

did the whole bad boy thing far more convincingly than dru hill. ‘too close’ was of course huge, and then…i’m not sure if they still record or what?

shai – if i ever

hailed as the new boyz ii men, when they came out with this track. volume of material appeared to be a problem as this was remixed and released many times. i can just about remember two other tracks they did.

silk – hooked on you

i wonder how these groups feel when british boybands like another level take their signature tune (freak me, in this case) and have the hit they never could? i hope they get paid well, but i fear the only person who laughs all the way to the bank is the songwriter.

soul for real – every little thing

after candy rain, many people sat back and waited for a dismal sequel. to be fair, this did almost as well, perhaps better in the uk, and they squeezed out a few more hits form their debut and as far as i know only, album.

today – him or me

riding the new jack swing wave in the very early 90s, but never quite challenged teddy riley supergroup guy.

troop – sweet november

one album wonders, but this is a sweet cover version. have no idea how successful it may or may not have been in the US, but in the UK it did squat.

 

don’t call them new jill swing June 4, 2007

when new jack swing started to falter, a new influx of girl groups, including swv, appeared circa 1992, along with mary j blige, and were hailed as ‘new jill swing’. see what they did there?

 

this was in fact a misleading label as the music these girls were making wasn’t a feminised new jack sound. it was in fact far grittier, and more likely to take its cues from naughty by nature than guy. another labelling hiccup occurred when, logically, since their names begin with a ‘t’ ‘l’ and ‘c’, you guessed it, that was to be the group’s name before the eventual tlc beat them to it within a matter of weeks.

 

most of these girl groups, in order to compete in the g-funk era, were forced to dress and act like men. gone were the lyrca minidresses and heels. in with the homegirl persona and lumberjack shirts. swv didn’t go down this route. maybe because they were still in high school, and hadn’t developed the right kind allure to carry it off. they were far from ugly, but its fair to say swv would never have been accused of possessing looks over talent.

 

coko, lelee and taj may have been young, but i had no idea at the time. they sang like women, in contrast to left eye’s cute rapping for tlc. they dressed older than their years, unlike jade, who appeared to still be hanging out with the underage street crowd. they weren’t too cool, which made them real. years later, their songs sound fresh.

their accessibility saw them enjoy huge success until their split in 1998. coko then embarked on a solo career, to lukewarm success. taj married a dallas cowboys footballer and currently has a reality show amusingly titled ‘i married a baller‘. lelee recently revealed that the group received little financial reward for their work and that she’s been struggling to stay afloat since the group split. sound familiar?

twelve swv essentialsdownload here

 

right here

their most famous track has many versions. the most ubiquitous is definitely the michael jackson sampling human nature mix, but this g-man mix is probably lesser known and proves there was more to the song than good sampling.

 

 

i’m so into you

again, there were several versions of this track – the original and allstars mix are widely available, but this teddy riley mix featuring wreckx-n-effect bumps along nicely. the first swv track i ever bought.

 

weak

the original ballad is nice, but this remix is perfect midtempo 90s jeep music. it had stuttering beats before timbaland invented them and twittery, electronic background vocals. should be on every chillout playlist.

 

 

anything

again, the original is ok but this remix, featured on above the rim, with the wu-tang clan, is something else. i defy you not to dance if you hear this in a club.
can’t cope
an unreleased track which sounds early 90s to me so probably a leftover from ‘it’s about time’. nice production, this has become one of my favourites.

all night long
featured on the waiting to exhale soundtrack, this is one of swv’s best slow jams.

use your heart
this version is a duet featuring rome. a young pharrell williams produced this, and several other tracks on swv‘s second album ‘a new beginning’.

mystery
another unreleased track, very unusual arrangement and I’m wondering why this failed to get past whichever album session it was recorded in.

can we
from 1997’s booty call soundtrack, this is one swv‘s most popular tracks.

tell me how you want it
another soundtrack contribution, this time from the money talks soundtrack.

rain
i’m not sure many people realise this is actually a cover of an 80s vesta williams track. this is one of those rare times when the cover is better.

where you are
a jackson five cover for the hav plenty soundtrack. i prefer this version to wacko’s pre-teen squeaking.

 

jack your body June 1, 2007


for the under 25s, new jack swing is a hazy childhood recollection. it’s a young will smith running on the spot as the fresh prince of bel air, dwayne wayne after a few too many alize’s at the campus club in a different world.
new jack swing was the natural progression from slick yet laidback jheri soul, thrown into the 90s by adopting faster beats for crowds getting used to the more hectic pace of the house and garage scene.
of all the retro revivals, its difficult to see the flat top, loud clashing hammer pants and two tone shirts making a comeback to the fashion world. although it would be a laugh to see desperately trendy 16 year olds looking so ridiculous in the pursuit of fashion. i would definitely invoke the ‘if you remember it the first time round…’ rule and leave the girls’ lycra minidress and bubble perm well alone.
the music however, was the most futuristic that r&b had sounded until timbaland turned the entire genre on its head in the late 90s. it was criticised at the time, like jheri soul, for being over-produced, and strangely, sounds about right listened to now. anyone who’s anyone tried their hand at the sound though, and there’s nothing that date’s a genre so effectively as joey lawrence, nkotb, debbie gibson and those damn turtles.
for the real deal, check for those reruns of house party, in living color and new jack city.
twelve hi top fade anthemsdownload here
al b sure – if i’m not your lover
fondly remembered, mostly for this track and the dreamy/bouncy late 80s track ‘night and day’. about to launch a radio show called ‘the secret garden’, full of slow jams and celebrity insights. sounds unintentionally hilarious, i can’t wait!
basic black – she’s mine
almost one-hit wonders, this is the remix club version. also check out ‘special kind of fool’, a popular ballad.
bel biv devoe – do me
now the new edition veterans were all grown up, and claimed their rightful place alongside bobby brown as new jack swing pioneers, with this, their second single after the hugely successful debut, ‘poison’.
father mclisa baby
popular track, in its remixed form, from the band known mostly for ’69’. yes that masterpiece of subtlety. father dropped the ‘mc‘, like hammer before him, and went on to duet with a young mary j blige.
guy – i wanna get with you
so many guy tracks, so little time. the band were established by the time this was released, having practucally invented new jack swing a few years earlier.
keisha jackson – mama told me
one of the few girls on the new jack scene, before swv, tlc and jade came along and were labelled as the new jill swing invasion. i actually wasn’t sure that keisha was a girl, until recently….oops! in fact i’m pretty sure i used to confuse her with tevin campbell.
mantronix and jade trini – don’t go messin‘ with my heart
hiphop and electro were kurtis mantroniks comfort zones but even he got in on the action in 1991. this track, more obviously than keisha‘s somewhat masculine effort, gave a much needed injection of girlieness to the proceedings.
mariah carey – someday remix
mariah was new to the scene in 1990 and whilst she was gaining a reputation for her soaring vocals and that whistle register, she already had one eye on the club scene and drafted in shep pettibone, 80s remixer extraordinaire.
ready for the world – yo that’s a lot of body
a brash yet bubbling bassline and jacking beats give way to vocals that creep and you can just imagine rotfw bogling next to you in the club…still, can’t imagine a njs set without it.
rythm syndicate – p.a.s.s.i.o.n
had two hits then disappeared. used to get regular play on mtv and like so many others before and since, labelled as ‘that group who sound a bit like prince‘.
samuelle – so you like what you see
originally part of club nouveaux, samuelle released one solo new jack album in 1990.
today – him or me
had actually been recording as ‘the gents’ during the 80s, but a chance meeting with new jack supremo teddy riley proved fortuitous after years of flops.
 

90s male r&b groups – don’t call them boybands May 13, 2007

male soul groups in the 90s were destined never to replicate the success of their pop counterparts. pop requires a manufactured yet individual, who’s-your-favourite type image. soul groups are usually quite similar. only fans can tell the difference. there’s no cute one, sporty one, fat one, funny one – and if there is, it’s real not a product of an over-zealous marketing department.

what also set these groups apart was their ability – robbie williams and jordan knight couldn’t hold a candle to these vocalists. the mass market, for the most part, seemed slightly threatened by this fact. they succumbed to some of the music, boyz ii men’s ‘end of the road’ a notable example, but swept the rest under the carpet where it couldn’t draw unflattering comparisons with their pin up popstars.

check out the b list and the c list too. and now, the z list.

ten boybands who could actually singdownload here



guy – do me right
kings of the new jack swing era, comprising teddy riley, aaron hall and his bro. pioneers of the sound in the late 80s they deservedly held the crown as the scene took off. aaron went to moderate solo success a few years later, and teddy



blackstreetbooti call
…from the ashes of new jack swing, teddy riley created blackstreet. possibly the biggest true male r&b act of the 90s, they had huge success with their first two albums and collaborated twice with swv ,who were somewhat their female counterparts. started to fall off after a tinny duet with weak-voiced mya for the rugrats movie. dave hollister has become a credible yet underappreciated solo artist.

boyz ii men – please don’t go
clean cut boys who met at performing arts school in philadelphia. first achieved worldwide recognition with ‘end of the road’ in the video for which they sang earnestly whilst wearing knee length shorts. the group sold itself on heartfelt ballads and released few uptempo numbers. their wholesomeness possibly allowed member wanya to get away with a relationship with then-underage brandy in the mid-90s.



jodeci – come and talk to me
jodeci were the bad boys of r&b from 1991 to 1996 and provided a sleazier alternative to boyz ii men. kci hailey has long been tarred by his troubled relationship with mary j blige. despite the group being a sorry shadow of their former selves today, their swing mob collective did launch the careers of missy, timbaland and ginuwine amongst others.

tony toni tone – my exgirlfriend
raphael saadiq and co were always the slightly less sleazy and more conscious act of this genre. several successful albums in the early to mid 90s then raphael went solo, and the other two…anyone’s guess. raphael has since discovered a penchant for very young girls and is rumoured to be dating joss stone, 23 years his junior. which goes to show its always the quiet ones you have to watch….
hi-five – i like the way
sweet new jack swing for the ladies, this hit the top of the billboard on release in 1991. the group split in 1994 and never really strayed from this tried and tested formula. now back together and releasing an album – how old must they be now???


mint condition – so fine
along with tony toni tone, revered as one of the more talented and credible groups from the 90s. originally tried to appeal to the new jack crowd but their harmonies were more suited to classic soul and they had many hits in this genre. still recording today, minus keri lewis who left the group to produce, most notably for his wife, toni braxton.
112 – only you
bad boy creation that went global thanks to a remix featuring then hot rappers mase and notorious big, shortly before his death. they have since made a living as members of the bad boy family despite possessing not much vocal talent and zero individuality. but their willing participation on infinite tribute songs keeps them on the payroll and in the recording studio, intermittently.

another level – be alone no more
uk lads who cheekily, like all good authentic cockneys, nabbed their name from a recent blackstreet album. bobak kianoush, dane bowers and the other two were fairly hot uk property in the late 90s. bobak mumbled alongside dane‘s surprising vocals and er, the other two who no one can remember. dane then disgraced himself by following victoria beckham around like a puppy dog for several years after a one-off uk garage collaboration.

jagged edge – let’s get married
twins brian and brandon are often credited for distracting letoya and latavia from the destiny’s child duties whilst touring together in the late 90s. the group have had reasonable success ever since but have the odd knack of making their songs impossible to pinpoint by year. i often hear a track of their and think its old, only to discover its new. hmm.