dirty martini

old music for new people

work it May 20, 2008

i’ve been watching the us version of the office recently, having loved the original uk version. i have to say, i’m pleasantly surprised. jim is of course, better looking than tim, but no less endearing. michael isn’t sad in quite the same way as david brent but he’ll come to a stickier end, i think.

pam, hmm, well i find it fairly unbelievable that every man in the office would have a crush on someone so frumpy but she’s actually a better character for it. i love jim and pam, or ‘jam’. dwight is cartoonish but i have no problem with the idea that someone so weird would run wild amongst average us citizens…

the american finchy, however, is so crap i don’t even know his name. angela is an interesting one. in the uk version i always said what was missing was a uptight, miserable old cow, as per my manager at the time, who existed (and probably still exists) to cause other people pain. i wish they didn’t make her obsessed with cats though – i love cats and its an old joke now.

chili’s – a texmex ‘restaurant’, uk people, there’s one in reading – is the scene of many crimes and this has left me wondering if america doesn’t have townie clubs like chasers, full of drunk suits and local chavs on a wednesday night?

inevitably, as with the uk version, aside from jam, the stupid office pranks are the best thing about the us version. tricks i would have liked to see tim play on gareth in the uk version:

  • all of gareth’s stuff in a vending machine for him to buy back
  • encouraging gareth to buy a women’s handbag
  • convincing gareth that thursday was actually friday, making him miss work the next day
  • paying colleagues to call gareth ‘gary’ for a day
  • convincing gareth that ‘gaydar’ was an actual, purchasable device
  • tricked him into believing he was completing special missions for the MOD

download here

altitudes – work it like a 9 to 5

blackstreet – i like the way you work

eyc – the way you work it

fonzi thornton – i work for a livin’

isley brothers – work to do

kelly rowland – work

mel stewart – no work no pay

michael jackson – working day and night

nel oliver – i have a good job

prince – let’s work

roots – thought@work

tcf crew – hardest working lover

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70s baby 80s child… July 9, 2007

disco.jpg

i’m proud to be a disco era baby, born the same time as saturday night fever.obviously this means i don’t have very clear recollections of disco, but there is evidence that it had an influence on my infant years.  a photo exists of me at about 18 months old, looking terrified as my dad, a bee gees lookalike in obligatory tight shirt, sporting shoulder length flicked hair, beams.  my mum, in my christening photos, looks like a member of hot gossip.

I also don’t remember saturday night fever first time round, but an eight track cartridge of the soundtrack became one of the first albums I played, along with abba and the wombles, whenever I could get near the stereo – a big wooden Baird monstrosity, like the tv. eight tracks were fairly childproof, which perhaps explains why my parents had one, since they weren’t exactly early adopters…they only got into cds about 5 years ago.

my recollection of the novelty disco that followed – ymca, ottawan, boney m – is sadly slightly sharper. I can clearly recall stomping around our majorca hotel singing ‘hands up, baby, hands up…’ and forcing my very straight and very unenlightened dad to march up and down with me in a camp fashion to ‘in the navy’ by the village people. if asked what activity I wanted to take part in, apparently the answer was always the same – I wanted to go to the disco.

still, the first time I really heard chic was probably as an underage clubber in one of those great cheesy late 80s/early 90s clubs that are slowly becoming extinct. you know, carpet on the walls, lots of mirrors, peach wine (this was before alcopops) and a fat dj. during their retro half hour, a pointless exercise since no one in the club was over 18, they would play some disco before the obligatory birdie song and god awful jive bunny style 50s rock and roll.  if you weren’t around then, you have no idea how much clubs have improved over the last 15 years. unless you’ve been to a chicago rock café, in which case, you know.

disco was a nice introduction to music, let’s face it, punk was around at the same time so I had a narrow escape. to me, as to many others, it is a soundtrack to hazy flashbacks of high chairs and swirly 70s brown and orange wallpaper that prepped us for the clubbing mayhem of the 90s. it paved the way for dance music in all its forms and its appreciation belies the frankly pathetic ‘disco sucks’ movement perpetrated by US rednecks. get back in your caravan and turn up your insipid MOR rock – the glitterball is here to stay.

12 dazzling disco gemsdownload here

average white band – let’s go round again

 

 

black ivory – mainline

chic – my forbidden lover

dan hartman – instant replay

delegation – heartache no9

diana ross – the boss

jean carn – was that all it was

loleatta holloway – runaway

melba moore – this is it

odyssey – native new yorker

rose royce – is it love you’re after

sheila and b devotion – spacer 

 

00s brit soul – national identity June 3, 2007

finally, after the copycat 80s and highs and lows of the 90s, british soul was ready to take on its own identity.

one of the first ways in which it achieved this was by redefining soul. house and garage were big business in the 90s, but the urban clubs and superclubs rarely mixed. typically, r&b was a smaller room adjacent to the the cheesier, townie clubs and didn’t even get a look in at cream, renaissance and the ministry of sound.

 

the speed garage scene that took off in the late 90s eventually slowed to a two step beat, and created a completely new sound. r&b vocals were married to stuttering, club-friendly beats and for a few years, between 1999 and 2002, uk garage was the sound of young UK.

 

after the inevitable drop in demand, uk hiphop and r&b were faced with a decision. either they could continue to emulate their US counterparts or they could use elements of uk garage to make their output distinctly british.

now we have traditional soul, copycat r&b, grime and some artists that defy classification and confuse the hell out of the yanks. we’re back in business…

 

twelve very different uk tracks from the 00sdownload here


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

lemar – if there’s any justice

the only good thing to come out of the dull fame academy, simon cowell surely wishes he’d been able to get to lemar first. lemar, like girls aloud, has truly transcended his reality show beginnings and is pretty much the best current british male r&b act.

 

 

misteeq – why

south london girl band who leveraged links with the so solid crew to create a successful career in the early 00s. swiftly shook off their uk garage roots by the time they reached their second album in 2002. the group split largely due to their label, polydor, sinking after investing way too much in tone deaf victoria beckham. that’s got to hurt.
 

unklejam – love ya

relative newcomers who have been blessed/cursed with the ‘sounds a bit like prince‘ tag. time will tell if there is more to them than this track, but the odds are in their favour with the hype reaching all corners of the globe right now. another myspace success.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

sadie ama – so sure

shola’s little sister had a valuable induction into the industry at an early age, and she’s making some good choices production-wise, collaborating with the likes of kano and terror danjah amongst others. looks and sounds exactly the same – with shola expected to relaunch anytime soon, could be interesting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

conner reeves – oughtabelaw

irish soul boy who first came to prominence in the late 90s. this track from last year deserved way more attention. possibly one of the breed of artists that has suffered greatly from the download revolution as his image doesn’t quite fit his music. i always think people navigate this poor fit by just grabbing the audio.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

emmanuel and terri walker – flirtin’

always tipped to break through. hopefully it will happen for her before she is talked into a beverley knight-style commercial compromise. this track is from emmanuel‘s 2006 project that featured numerous british soul artists on his productions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

keisha white – open like so

came through around the same time as keyshia cole, and is far more talented, but received about 5% of the promotion. so, keyshia collaborates with p diddy and is set to release her second album whilst keisha‘s future is unknown. harsh. a good example of why leona lewis has been whisked off to the us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

nate james – universal

actually received some promotion around his debut in 2005, and it did ok. i’m going to be lazy and say he’s a hybrid of stevie wonder and lenny kravitz and worthy of your attention. hopefully an association with next big thing, sway, will catapult him back into the limelight.

 

 

 

 

 

craig david – seven days with mos def

back in 2000, referring yourself in the third person was even more ridiculous than it is now. the ensuing bo selecta parody may outlive his music in the nation’s consciousness if he doesn’t pull his finger out soon. craig, unfazed, still refers to himself in the third person when appearing on mtv cribs showing us how all his cash has enabled him to construct a state of the art pulling den. no women in sight though, and you can’t swing a jocasi bag round london without hitting someone he’s tried it on with.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ms dynamite – fall in love again

made a good contract choice and got the promotion other uk artists would kill for. this resulted in numerous awards for her debut album which, although nice enough, sounds dated only five years later. this track, from her largely ignored second album, will hopefully age a bit better.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

spl2rge – scuse me

like unklejam, appear to be on the verge of big things, promotion notwithstanding. i never hold my breath on these things anymore.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

taio cruz – i just wanna know

mario soundalike who can’t be accused of trying to create a british identity. which is fair enough. we don’t want to end up like the irish, who have to be irish all the time.