dirty martini

old music for new people

2008: the comebacks January 3, 2009

cd

despite declining sales, labels continued to throw money and effort into album promotion instead of finding new and creative ways to make money from music. which is now basically free, let’s face it.

i enjoyed these the most of all the comebacks last year.

download the comebacks of 2008

anthony hamilton – the day we met

consistent and underrated, anthony hamilton’s new album ‘the point of it all’ is a little more punchy, i think, than his previous efforts. it’s worth seeking out his mostly unknown 1996 debut if you like this side of him.

ashanti – you’re gonna miss

ashanti is that girl who has more male friends than female. she gets a lot of hate, but, she delivers some good music. ‘the declaration’ was a solid effort that would have achieved more had it not been for her audience connection issue mentioned previously, and the state of the music industry.

beyonce – single ladies

well, if you thought ‘bday’ was a disappointment…i’m hoping some of the other tunes on ‘i am…sasha fierce’ will grow on me. there’s nothing groundbreaking there though. i did love the fact that she appeared on x factor to sing with alexandra though. who, by the way, i think outsings her on ‘listen’ when she sings solo.

common – sex 4 sugar

common is taking a more commercial route this time round with ‘universal mind control’. that’s ok, it works.

erykah badu – honey

..speaking of which, his formerly crazy former missus has also lightened up a bit. see, it didn’t hurt that much did it? but for a time there it looked as if she had a touch of the lauryn hills.

john legend – can’t be my lover

i tried but failed to get into ‘once again’ but i’m loving the return to form on ‘evolver’. the reggae tracks are totally his comfort zone and the euro-electro tinged tracks even work, much as i am hating this current trend, which should in my opinion have started and ended with britney’s ‘gimme more’.

keyshia cole – where this love could end up

keyshia was hailed as the new mary. to my mind, she has not evolved or developed even slightly past her 2004 debut. this is not to say that ‘just like you’ and ‘a different me’ are bad – they’re as good as ‘the way it is’. if prince were to unleash another few albums that took up where ‘1999’, ‘purple rain’ or ‘sign of the times’ left off then this would be eaten up. but keyshia’s not prince.

mariah carey – i’ll be loving you long time

‘e=mc2’ is nowhere near as good as ‘mimi’ let’s get that out of the way. and ‘touch my body’ is shit. but as r&b albums go it’s head and shoulders above most of the crap we get launched at us these days and everyone is so relieved to see her settled and wearing some clothes for once that this is good enough.

raheem devaughn  – woman

a consistent neo-soul artist who returned in 2008, like clockwork, with ‘love behind the melody’. despite the rubbish neo-soul genre tag, surely grown up soul is where the money’s at these days?

raphael saadiq – sure hope you mean it

like several others, mostly brit, artists, he went the retro route. to great effect and in a far more authentic and endearing way than gimmicky amy winehouse and duffy. raphael has, of course, been doing this since his tony toni tone days. i could have picked almost any of the tracks from ‘way i see it’ as my favourite.

snoop dogg – cool

not much promotion behind ‘ego trippin’ as it goes, which is a shame cos i heart the retro flow of this prince-inspired track and ‘sensual seduction’.

usher – before i met you

i wonder if poor old usher realised just how critical the salivating teen girls and his momager were to his success? not at all, apparently, until ‘here i stand’ bombed and he bricked it. marrying a ropey looking older woman when you have the pick of a population? bratz generation say what?

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you always take the weather with you April 5, 2008

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in the uk we’re probably more obsessed with the weather than is healthy. because our weather is SO CRAP.

evidence:

  • weeks where the temperature ranges from 4c to 18c so you don’t know what the bleep to wear
  • summers which are hot, but humid rather than sunny
  • summers which are sunny and then way too hot
  • rain – last summer we even tried to blame rihanna

download here

alexander o’neal – sunshine

nice 80s mellow track from mad mr neal. was ‘interpolated’ in the 90s by jay-z and foxy brown. how does a camel always manage to get a female compadre? foxy, mary, beyonce…

cloud one – don’t let this rainbow pass me by

quality 70s/80s soul.

level 42 – sun goes down

cod-reggae from a band that only ever would have sold in the 80s. you could get away with anything back then.

love unlimited – walking in the rain with the one that i love

these girls were part of barry white’s love unlimited orchestra until he allowed them to sing. hence their catalogue is an odd mix of vocal 70s soul and instrumentals. this was sampled by letoya luckett for ‘you got what i need’.

madame x – cherries in the snow

vanity-esque mid-late 80s artist. so, sounds a bit like prince, a genre close to my heart. cherries in the snow is also the name of a revlon lipstick and a book by emma forrest.

miss thang – thunder and lightning

answer records did exist in the 80s – this was a reply to oran juice jones. the genre wasn’t invented by sporty thievz.

neneh cherry – kisses on the wind

first woman not to hide her pregnancy on totp in 1989…and became a grandmother in 2004 at the age of 40.

new edition –  can you stand the rain

post-bobby and once their voices had broken, this was a great turn of the decade slow jam.

oran’ juice jones – the rain

synth soul classic with actual rain noise in case the point about rain wasn’t quite clear…gotta love the 80s…

rah band – clouds across the moon

quirky semi novelty soul. about someone whose man has flown to the moon. yes, the moon.

rotary connection –  i am the black gold of the sun

one of the best chillout soul classics ever featuring minnie ripperton. shameful admission – i thought nu yorican soul’s 90s cover was the original at the time. well i wasn’t born in 1971…

tony toni tone – it never rains in southern california

ok, again…i thought this was an original. tony toni tone are another group who can pull off cover versions.

 

say my name: a to c March 19, 2008

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popular songs using a particular name can spark a baby trend like nothing else…

 brandy norwood was named after the o’jays classic. prince is a repeat offender – anna stesia, darling nikki, countless others – and he also wrote and recorded a song for supermodel cindy crawford. well i know some women go for short men but it didn’t pay off this time.

download here

anthony hamilton – charlene

fonzi thornton – beverly

four tops – bernadette

full force – alice

full force – low blow brenda

lone catalysts – ayanna monet

michael jackson – billie jean

o’jays – brandy

prince – chelsea rodgers / cindy c

rockwell – carme

tony toni tone – annie may

ub40 – cherry oh baby

 

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.

 

you can’t give a baby booze September 3, 2007

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 drinking and music just works.  given that we do not live in a musical and most of us aren’t one of the kids from fame, we need a little liquid encouragement to start shaking it in a public place.

alcohol has moved on during my clubbing lifetime. in my early 90s, underage with someone else’s fake ID days, we drank some disgusting concoctions. snakebite and black, pernod and black, malibu and pineapple. not forgetting of course the infamous taboo and mirage which were rubbish because they didn’t get you pissed as quickly. pimms was avoided for the very same reason. it was spirits, cider, lager and wine.

the alcopops invasion happened when i started university, with hooch and two dogs ‘lemonade’. the former made my throat hurt it was so acidic and the latter’s alcohol content seemed to be entirely derived from sugar. bacardi breezers are still going strong but others we have loved and lost – ginzing, jammin’ (loved the blue and silver ones, yellow banana one was yuck), decoda (cream soda, yum), metz, woody’s and the best ever, smirnoff mule.

when you’re a penniless student though, sod sophistication and refinement. your alcohol budget (all of your available cash not spent on bus fare and bagels) can be stretched further than six 79p alcopops from the offie. oh yes, you can make the ‘i’ve been tangoed’ by mixing lambrusco, gin and orange juice for that just been hit over the head feeling. the unpopular and therefore cheap castaway, mixed with diamond white for a cocktail that will render you senseless in the student bar. 

once you graduate and have a bit more cash (I did only say a bit) all three flavours of aftershock can be dumped into a pint glass containing a bottle of smirnoff ice to produce a deceptively misty looking yet lethal concoction best consumed when you have a designated driver. ok, as a girl, i have never done this but its a twentysomething male staple along with vodka and red bull for those morning after shakes.

now? well, if i order a cocktail that costs less than a fiver I congratulate myself on not going overboard. pathetic…

download here

2pac – pour out a little liquor

busta rhymes – pass the courvoisier

d’angelo – one mo’ gin

j-kwon – tipsy

jutbox and cassie – at the bar

omarion and usher – icebox

public announcement – put your drink down

snoop dogg – gin and juice

solange knowles – champagne chronic nightcap

tony toni tone – slow wine

too short – cocktails

ub40 – red red wine

young black teenagers – tap the bottle

 

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.