dirty martini

old music for new people

songs to make your ipod melt in shame… July 1, 2008

i have bad taste for miles. is that ‘music’ in inverted commas?

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britney spears – you drive me crazy

less gothic sounding than baby one more time. god i can’t believe this is nearly ten years old…shit…although i can when i see a pic of britney now.

deeelite – groove is in the heart

i’m not saying deee-lite are shit. i love them but this song is all most people know and its played out. but you have to have it there. i don’t have to have ‘love shack’ though, i will so survive…

divinyls – i touch myself

i probably only like this cos its rude, since its a style of music i usually don’t care for. yeah that must be it.

emf – unbelievable

emf are one of the worst examples of early 90s madchester, baggy, whatever you want to call it…at the time though, there may not have been a distinguishable difference between them and the happy mondays.

5ive – slam dunk da funk

5ive were your archetypal wannabe r&b boy band who were more chesterfield than atlanta. so, they were fab in a way only a british boy band can get away with.

four tops – loco in acapulco

the four tops were way past their prime when this was recorded and it was included on the soundtrack to phil collin’s buster, a terrible movie. it’s summer 1988 in three and half minutes, however.

inner circle – sweat

top class cheesy summer reggae. no doubt a purist’s nightmare, but hey, i’m no purist.

joey lawrence – nothin’ my love can’t fix

yes that’s joey from blossom. the one who had a mullet well into the 90s and was endearing for being thick, like so many other joeys before and since. uk people of a certain age – ‘joey!’ hands up who didn’t even know the origin of that insult when they used it?

kylie minogue – better the devil you know

this was covered by steps, and i’m not quite tragic enough to have them on my ipod. kylie is definitely better than steps…i think. yeah, lisa scott-lee is in steps and she’s the epitome of desperation. agreed.

nkotb – step by step

the main reason i love this is the bit in the middle: ‘step one! we can have lots of fun.’ wait – was that sung by a donkey? well, danny wood was a donkey, horse, camel, depending on who you asked. this was obviously before jay-z and just about the same time as tony adams, so any of the titles were up for grabs.

pulp – disco 2000

i should hate jarvis cocker for so many reasons. he’s dandy – i don’t get that, i really don’t get the russell brand thing. oh and he should really have given us another ten years – this was only released in 1995, five years before we were supposed to be fully grown. fat chance, i’m not even there yet.

wiley – wearing my rolex

my only real objection to this song, as with countless other bassline tracks, is that i love it. hear me out. i’m getting on, i did speed garage (for that it what this is, kids) the first time round in my uni days. you’re making me feel old…

A history of my one woman campaign for people to listen to what the hell they want:

once i admitted to having bad taste..

…i then found myself unable to stop

…and ended up sharing too much…

then tv made guilty pleasure ok again

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the two step invasion April 12, 2008

no genre of music has ever divided clubgoers like uk garage. after speed garage, which was basically still 4/4 and just like us garage but faster, 2 step garage emerged. a significant proportion of the first wave of 2 step records were r&b covers or bootlegs.

i seem to remember that after an initial bang in 1997/8, garage went back underground in 1999, bar ‘sweet like chocolate’, before a resurgence of interest later in the year that eventually took it mainstream. i was in london, so it never really went away, but there was little evidence during 1999 that it had a presence beyond the m25.

this was an expensive scene saturated with champagne and designer labels, and many of the clubs such as twice as nice operated an over 25’s door policy. the attitude was reminiscent of the wine bar scene of the late 80s – only now you needed to be cool and have the cash (credit…come on, most of the clubbers were on less than £20k a year, those promoters should be ashamed).

my man did not like uk garage at all. to me, it was the house/r&b hybrid i’d often tried to imagine.

download here

ramsey and fen – lovebug

dhl – favourite girl

lenny fontana – spirit of the sun

n’n’g – right before my eyes

future underground nation – the way

sweet female attitude – flowers

destiny’s child vs jameson – bug a boo

brandy and monica vs architechs – the boy is mine

richie dan – call it fate

tin tin out and emma bunton – what i am

artful dodger and romina johnson – movin’ too fast

dem 2 – destiny

kele le roc- my love

christian falk- make it right

n’n’g and rose windross – liferide

doolally – straight from the heart

 

sometimes it snows in april April 6, 2008

i’m speechless. what was i saying about the british weather? friday was the hottest day of the year and now this.

clearly something is changing in the northern hemisphere. we had a blisteringly hot summer in 2006 and barely a season ever since.

I vaguely remember that it snowed on our way back from a may holiday in majorca in about 1983, and that new year’s day in either 1990 or 1991 was unseasonally warm and sunny. but four seasons in one week? never.

prince wrote that song for a reason. most uk kids will remember the garage cover version by amar and mc rankin which is so far from the original that it’s barely worth comparing.

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angie stone – snowflakes

basement jaxx – hot and cold

faze – cold sweat

frank washington – ice

lemon jelly – nice weather for ducks

madame x – cherries in the snow

omarion – icebox

prince – sometimes it snows in april

tone loc – funky cold medina

vanilla ice – ice ice baby

 

crazy is as crazy does December 23, 2007

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 artists like to sing about being crazy -and over the christmas period their claims to insanity may be more valid. families can send you nuts.

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chaka demus and pliers – love you like crazy

became a bit of a comedy reggae act in the 90s after a pointless cover of ‘twist and shout’.

corina – loving you like crazy

freestyle artist corina is still going strong – this track is from 1990.

dream – crazy

teenage girls do not make for a harmonious group – lineup changes led to their second album, ‘reality’, being shelved. a shame, as this, and some of the other tracks sounded a lot better than their debut.

five star – crazy

i loved this video, which followed the group as they rampaged through an empty fairground. very low budget ie classic 80s.

mark morrison – crazy

actually mark’s first single before ‘return of the mack’. is he in jail again? not heard from him for a while.

missy elliott and beyonce – crazy feelings

a restrained effort from beyonce here, thankfully. missy’s midtempo tracks are actually very good.

mj cole – crazy love

lushly produced uk garage, bound for the lounge rather than the club. vocals are by uk urban mainstay elisabeth troy.

musiq – halfcrazy

nice slow jam from the soulchild.

occasions – crazy world

gospel meets 90s r&b and the results are impressive.

paul davis – i go crazy

downtempo weepy later covered by jazz vocalist will downing.

trellini – crazy about you

90s girl trellini wasn’t hugely successful but her one and only album (i think) was nice.

yvette michele – crazy

yvette started off singing about being crazy about a dj, then just decided to be crazy. then decided to sing about a dj again…she only had one album.

 

it’s not just a london thing… September 2, 2007

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 in the early 90s, clubbers fell into two camps – the hiphop/r&b crowd and the house/garage/techno crowd. the latter was far more dominant and you would find that most clubs had a main floor playing cheesy house and a smaller room with a cooler crowd playing funkier beats. you had to go to a proper club to hear real house music.

i liked both, and often wondered what an amalgamation of the two would sound like. but it made my brain hurt. several years later it became evident that others had been thinking the same thing, and new sounds started to emerge.

there were two distinct types of speed garage, as it was called then. two step was slower and used an entirely new beat, and four-four garage, bassline house, speed garage, raggage, whatever you want to call it, was basically US garage speeded up. speed garage adopted the jungle attitude, was strictly a london thing, and jacked many of its sound effects, but it was more danceable for the rhythmically challenged.

incidentally, the londoncentricity that prevailed can, i believe, claim the demise of jungle, speed garage and uk garage as directly attributable. the rest of the UK fights a constant, and sometimes imaginary, battle against the capital’s dominance. interestingly, southerners didn’t reject the madchester scene for being too northern.

new scenes don’t just take over the saturday night dancefloor. they have to work their way up. so, in 1995, speed garage became known as ‘the sunday scene’ at clubs such as spread love, deja vu, twice as nice and cookies and cream. the pirates, most notably freek fm, magic fm and erotic fm, had been playing garage for years, but in the mid 90s, they all but ditched us garage and drum’n’bass to promote the new uk sound.

this is a mix of the early speed/four-four garage tracks, including some that were ahead of their time and subsequently got played out years later as they fitted into the current mix. this is the sound of poky rooms in shared houses, pirate stations blaring out of clapped out cars racing around wood green. out clubbing for the third night in a row and no signs of stopping. good times.

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bizzi – bizzi’s party – booker t mix

kristine blond – loveshy – club mix

jodeci – freek you up – mk dub

187 lockdown vs natural born chillers – rock the funky beats – beatdown mix

gant – sound bwoy burial – 187 lockdown mix

sound of one – as i am – todd edwards mix

scott garcia – a london thing

sneaker pimps – spin spin sugar – armand van helden mix

same people – dangerous

double 99 vs another level – be alone no more

x-presidents – diamond rings

all saints – never ever – booker t vocal mix

juliet roberts – so good – booker t mix

n’n’g – right before my eyes – grant nelson mix

nightcrawlers – push the feeling on – the dub of doom

robin s – show me love – stonebridge mix

kim english – nite life – retail mix

 

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.