dirty martini

old music for new people

i’m not planning on going solo… February 11, 2008

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liar!

in every successful group there is a beyonce. either the best vocalist or the best manipulator, or daddy’s little girl. but divas in training beware: for every beyonce, there is a nicole scherzinger.

download here

beyonce – suga mama

it’s a good job bee actually did have talent cos daddy would have pushed her to the front no matter what. its funny but i actually prefer her voice in the early dc days, and i definitely prefer dc4 harmonies.

bobby brown – i really love you girl

not so much a solo choice rather than being kicked out of new edition. still, he was so young it was a bit like when i was kicked out of the brownies, albeit on a, cough, more global scale. so what? except i was shown the red card for locking brown owl in a cupboard, not boozing and having an illegitimate child…

coko – sunshine

well, who can blame coko if the rumours of swv’s financial ruin were true. it’s a shame it didn’t work out…i think the swv harmonies played a bigger role than she thought.

diana ross – upside down

the original diva, hence ‘diana ross and the supremes’. funny how the weakest singer in a group can overcome that obstacle, to become the biggest star. all it took was a large amount of deluded self-belief and some willing lackeys.

george michael – too funky

the least likely to be accused of letting his ego push aside more talented group members – it was an accepted fact that andrew ridgeley did little more than shake a tambourine and look cute in hawaiian gear.

justin timberlake – last night

anyone who says they saw the star potential of curly headed justin in his n*sync days has selective memory. i was surprised such an ugly group got a deal and didn’t think any had longevity. imagine explaining britney’s dazzling influence to an alien in 2008 – ‘…and britney was this clean cut, wholesome, family loving christian whose star power catapulted him to solo fame…’

lionel richie – serves you right

love lionel richtea. i might have to do a whole post on him just so i can put up that picture. oh screw it, if anyone is wondering why at the top of this post there is a picture of lionel richie with a biscuit (cookie) in place of his ‘fro…this is why.

morris day – love addition

morris day really wanted to be prince. he did ok. he never really left the time.

raphael saadiq – get involved

the transition from tony toni tone was fairly seamless – i’m not always 100% which tracks belong to who. same sound, same voice…could have just kept the other on the payroll? that’s rarely the point though is it…

ray parker jr – a woman needs love

ray already had a touch of the dianas, changing the name of his group, already ‘raydio’, to ‘ray parker jr and raydio’. so no one should have been surprised when he became a fully fledged solo artist. i hope there was someone else called ray left in that group he named after himself…

t-boz – touch myself

tlc’s was a well documented financial struggle, which allegedly saw laface CEO pebbles tie the girls into a fruitless contract. t-boz seized an opportunity to capitalise on crazysexycool but the point was, none of tlc were vocally outstanding, but together they provided contrast – the gravelly voiced t-boz, angelic chilli and cute rapper left eye. individually…nothing special.

terry ellis – what did i do to you

if you blinked in 1995, you could have missed this solo foray from ms ellis. en vogue were back together faster than roadrunner once it became clear that their group appeal far ouweighed their solo potential. they attempted to drop troublemaker dawn robinson over the years, with varying degrees of success.

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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.

 

the fresh prince of the o2 August 30, 2007

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ok so i am going to see prince this week at the o2 stadium, and i’m getting a little excited.

i’m not a concert goer really, i have to really want to see an artist. prince has done a really good thing for his fans – firstly he’s kept ticket prices down and secondly he’s promised to sing what his fans want to hear. say what you want about his eccentricities but these actions speak volumes about his commitment to his fans.

to get myself in the mood, here are some more rare prince tracks, as a sequel to my first ever post. also check out those he produced for and those who went ahead and adopted his sound anyway…

download here

9 lives

originally written for cat glover and then turned into an unreleased morris day and the time track recorded for their 1990 album, pandemonium. the bassline sounds a bit like ‘7’ but this is more uptempo.

acknowledge me

unreleased track from the gold experience sessions that actually samples two other unreleased tracks from the 80s. very typical of prince’s early 90s output.

all day all night

a 1984 outtake, which probably means it was intended for around the world in a day. ended up on jill jones’ album three years later.

baby gogo

written for nona hendryx in 1986. i haven’t heard her version but i love the production on his.

extra loveable

one of my absolute favourite unreleased prince tracks – can only have been left off ‘1999’ due to the controversial lyrcis. but aren’t most of his lyrics controversial?

i wonder

written for purple rain, left off, then  prince returned to it 8 years later to rerecord new vocals. still unreleased despite being a fan favourite.

if i love you tonight

written in 1979 for an early incarnation of prince’s band the revolution,. actually released 11 years later by mica paris.

irresistible bitch

originally a 1982 b-side, then rerecorded for the abandoned camille project, with wendy and lisa on backup.

love..thy will be done/martika’s kitchen

former disney kid martika’s first album was pop fluff and covers. for her second album, prince provided her with a ready made set including these two songs.

miss understood

outtake from the 1984 project ‘the family’.

player

part of ‘the symbol’ sessions, this is a nice laid back tune.

the sex of it

written for and recorded by kid creole, but i prefer prince’s version.

 

prince’s protegees – sharing the magic May 7, 2007

its a common misconception that all of prince‘s protegees were:

  1. short – and i do mean short, as in shorter than prince, who is a certified dwarf
  2. female – prince had so many associates, it wasn’t really necessary for him to be able to sleep with all of them…

we need to make a distinction here. prince wrote and produced for many artists but these are those whose success he can legitimately claim as partly his own.

its difficult to say whether or not they could have been successful without him, most were launched as ‘prince‘s latest project’. but their music is so much an extension of his own that it’s literally like discovering a whole new prince back catalogue. as is the man wasn’t prolific enough already…

also check out some rare prince, some even rarer prince and some dubious attempts to jack his style

ten artists who pretty much owe prince their careerdownload here

vanity 6 – undress me – 1982
originally named ‘the hookers’, the group wisely vetoed prince’s idea that they should perform in lingerie and heels. fronted by his then-girlfriend denise matthews, their biggest hit was ‘nasty girl’ in 1982.

apollonia 6 – blue limousine – 1984

after rows with prince led to lead vanity 6 member denise matthews fleeing paisley park, patricia kotero stepped in and the project became apollonia 6. they only released one album, and still didn’t wear much.


jill jones – violet blue – 1987

former back up singer to teena marie, she was recruited to provide backup vocals for the 1999 album. her debut album in 1987, written and produced by the man himself, received rave reviews and now sells on ebay for several hundred dollars.

mazarati – strawberry lover – 1984

originally given one of prince‘s biggest hits ‘kiss ‘to record, as soon as he heard it he kept it for himself. if only he’d done the same with tom jones. they managed to make off with an album’s worth though and had brief success in the mid 80s.

sheena easton – sugar walls – 1984

reality tv isn’t actually a new phenomenon, especially search for a star type programming. in 1980, sheena, then 21, was followed in her attempts to gain a record contract. after landing one, she soon decamped to the US and after some dodgy country music attempts, regained her senses and hooked up with prince in 1984. this track was banned by some stations – an interesting development for sheena but something prince had become a veteran of by this point.

wendy and lisa – satisfaction – 1989

originally part of ‘the revolution’ one of prince‘s earlier backing bands. they doubtless learnt a lot form touring and working with prince but in fact, achieved their success alone. the girls felt underappreciated and rebelled, leading to prince firing them in 1986, interrupting and delaying work that would become the ‘sign of the times’ album. they parlayed their industry expertise and talent into several successful albums, most notably ‘fruit at the bottom’ in 1989.

taja sevelle – love is contagious – 1987

taja joined paisley park in 1987 at the age of 25, and became instantly successful with this track, a worldwide hit. despite going on to sell many albums, she promptly disappeared, re-emerging a decade later with a radically different sound and image, now favouring indie twanging and tori amos style wild and unkempt image. hmmvery alternative (yawn)…

morris day and time – 777-9311 – 1984

a former classmate of prince and the remainders of the group flyte time who had a decent amount of success and exposure throughout the 80s. morris, who went solo in 1984, almost stole the show in under the cherry moon. this exaggerated persona was evident throughout his musical catalogue. like prince, he tried and failed to manage his own girl band, the day z’s. tlc paid homage when they covered the morris day and time track ‘get it up’ for 1993’s poetic justice soundtrack.

sheila e – a love bizarre – 1985
multi-talented instrumentalist sheila escovedo first collaborated with jazz bassist alphonso johnson in 1976 when she was just 18. soon after she met prince and he took her under his wing. she had several hit albums and appeared in the 1985 movie krush groove with ll cool j and blair underwood. lucky girl. she also appeared on the beyonce track ‘work it out’. and had to dodge lots of flying weave.

elisa fiorillo – on the way up – 1990

i didn’t know much about this girl except that she sang with jellybean and dated jordan knight of nkotb at some point. grr. apparently, she won star search at age 14 in 1983 and is mostly a back up singer.

 

purple music April 17, 2007

so, for my first post i’m tackling the big one. prince.

well, prince himself is rather small but his catalogue of work is…a monstrosity. with another artist, a prolific output could amount to countless filler, mediocre demos and alternate (ie. crap) versions of their better known work. but with prince, not so much.

some of prince‘s b-sides, leftover album tracks and unreleased gems are as popular amongst fans as his hits. and just when you think there can’t be any more, he unleashes yet more lost jams – seriously, from 1976 to 1990 this man must have only have been let out of the studio to perform.

I’m going through a serious prince moment right now. 2007 has seen a return to his patented minneapolis funk style amongst the r&b community in particular. p diddy and fergie’s press play reject ‘all night long’, ashanti‘s ‘my number babe’ and unklejam‘s ‘love ya’ to name just three.

one of the disconcerting things about growing up listening to prince was that at an early age, you suspected that you were already taller than him. his songs had cute, girly titles like ‘pink cashmere’, ‘peach and ‘kiss’ that failed to alert your parents to the rudeness that lied beneath. and like most little girls he loved purple and was unashamedly crazy. he loved to dress up and act like a diva – we identified.

during the ‘symbol’ era, many thought he had taken self-obsession a step too far – he thought he was unique, and therefore untouchable. the critics disagreed but guess who ended up being right?

one of great things about prince is that he was happy to share the limelight. to give up some of his best songwriting to other artists such as chaka khan (i feel for you), the bangles (manic monday), and sinead o’connor (nothing compares 2 u), was an inspired move that ensured his longevity. back in the day, when you literally bought the album and hoped for new b sides, his output was consistent rather than overwhelming and you never had the opportunity to get tired of him (beyonce, take note). whilst his latest protege or composition, liberally sprinkled with his signature style, wowed the public, he was backstage plotting his next move.

he remains to this day the daddy of the protege business, using his purple magic to launch the albeit short-lived careers of taja sevelle, vanity 6, jill jones and sheila e amongst others, and the various bands he performed with over the duration of his career – the time, the family, the revolution and the new power generation.

this is my current hard to find prince top 10 – it changes daily. i have more prince on my mp3 player than any other artist – about 150 tracks. ok, so these days you can download anything but these are non-album tracks, at least.

you can find more rare prince here, some tracks he wrote for other artists and some varying attempts to replicate his style.

top 10 hard-to-find prince mp3s… download here

17 days
originally written for vanity 6 sequel project appollonia, prince eventually released this as the b side to ‘when doves cry’ in 1984. amazing bassline, almost as good as the a side.

wonderful ass
classic prince circa purple rain. no idea why it didn’t make the cut – maybe warner bros. couldn’t handle the concept of a song with ‘ass’ in the title? well, it was 1983.

sex
again, prince tells it like it is and this gem doesn’t make the cut for the ‘batdance‘ soundtrack released in 1989. just before color me badd moved the boundaries of acceptability…

tell me how u wanna b done
remix of ‘the continental’ from the ‘symbol’ album. but much better.

cindy c
1987’s controversial ‘black album’ was pulled due to concern over the overt eroticism of the lyrics…uh…had they been listening to the other lyrics up until this point? prince apparently had a huge crush on cindy crawford, despite her towering over him by a good nine inches.

erotic city
ok, so prince is obsessed with sex. but this b side to ‘let’s go crazy’ is a fan favourite and still tears up the dancefloor.

love or $
hard to find track featured in the film ‘under the cherry moon’ that failed to make the cut for the accompanying soundtrack, ‘parade’. only ever officially released as the b side to ‘kiss’.

last heart
an album track from the 1985 ‘dream factory’ project that got shelved when prince was forced to streamline the content to create 1987’s ‘sign of the times’ album.

18 and over
1991 diamonds and pearls-era reject that picks up where ‘gett off’ and ‘cream’ left off…

underneath the cream
a track from 2004’s ‘chocolate invasion’ album which was only available via the npg music club.

expect more prince in future posts…