Wednesday, April 13, 2011

childhood and sister sledge

"tired of movies all by myself, I'm sure you folks know what I mean..."

Before moving to the chaotic city of Caracas, where I've been living for the past 11 years, I'd always stay at my grandma's house for some days off with my mother-side of my family. As young as I was back then, my curiousity for all things music was present and would manifest itself by checking out old record collections of my cousins, who were considerably older than me. When my sister and her friends had "Los Merenguitos" and "Chamocropolis" as musical references, I had Donna Summer's "I Remember Yesterday" and, most definitely, Sister Sledge's 1980 disc "Love Somebody Today". I rescued both of these LP's from the dusty shelves and saved them for my own, placing Sister Sledge as one of my all time favorite albums (which is far better than "We are Family" to begin with). I don't really know how to express this, but I've had a special connection with this record, from the stylish cover and the even more stylish R&B/Disco production (courtesy of Chic, of course). It always takes me back to my growing-up experience, and it's nice to revisit it from time to time.

MP3: Sister Sledge - Got To Love Somebody

Monday, April 4, 2011

where did all the funky divas go?

If the 1980's has taught us something is that bad taste dreadfully ruled during that entire 10-year span, in both music and fashion. Nonetheless, there were some rare exceptions where the marriage between sound and style (or the lack there of) worked to perfection and gave us timeless beats. The following decade surely made up for what was missing in the previous one: the 90s brought back the simplicity and chic-ness of old times, shaped for the MTV generation, and coupled with authentic talent that relied on soulful vocals rather than weird extravaganza.

Enter En Vogue. Cindy Herron, Maxine Jones, Dawn Robinson and Terry Ellis, four gorgeous black ladies whose cool funky R&B dominated US charts during most of the decade. What was so special about En Vogue besides the facts that we've already discussed? They looked like the girl group next door, that is if you we're next door to Versace and Dior headquarters. Their lyrics easily empowered women (and men who felt like women) into being self-assured beings. They could sing their butts off rivaling the Mariahs and Whitneys of their day. They were so accesible (on music and on pressence) that you could buy them for the dozen if they were actually on sale.

The times have changed and their string on the charts might be over but En Vogue is back and are performing constantly on American and European shores, in a setlist that features most, if not ALL, of their biggest hits. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'll put on my wig and my babydoll-shaped dress and sashay around the house looking for a man to teach him what it's worth. Halleloo! (I'm sorry, too much "Drag Race" lately)

MP3: En Vogue - My Lovin' (You're Never Gonna Get It)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

rumore, rumore...

In his liner notes for the ultra-excellent "Disco Discharge: Euro Beats" CD, Alan Jones, co-author of "Saturday Night Fever: the story of Disco" named Raffaella Roberta Pelloni (better known as Raffaella Carrà) as an "Eurotrash gay icon". Wiser words have never been said. This all singing/all dancing Italian bombshell has been shaking heads and waists since the early 70s with her high spirited and over-the-top camp numbers, so it's no wonder that the gay community has stood by her all these years, uplifting the woman into the "icon" category she truly deserves.

Choosing a Carrà favorite is a hard task, specially when there are so many good songs. People would prefer the latin infused "Maracaibo" or "Hay que venir al sur", but the one that's close to me is the rocking singalong madness that is "Rumore". I don't know about the lyrics, and honestly I rather not know, I don't want to throw away the fun about this mad tune.

Here's a treat of "Rumore", performed with tight-clad boys and girls on Spanish TV. Goditi!

pd: what do you think about the blog's new look?

Friday, February 4, 2011

talking about WOW!: a little dittie on Bananarama's greatest album ever

If I ever want to look back at my younger years, at the times when I would sneak around my cousins' vinil collection or when my strange fascination for pop music truly came to birth, I definitely have to refer to this album. To me, it is one of the best examples on how a pop record should be made. No wonder it's so good, since it was produced by 80s demigods Stock-Aitken-Waterman (the men that brought you Kylie and countless others). It was also the zenith of Bananarama's reign as queer queens, already established by their campy video for "Venus". Most of this 10-set disc is brilliant and I might have even heard the first 5 songs of it ("I Can't Help It", "I Heard A Rumour", "Some Girls", "Love In the First Degree" and "Once in a Lifetime") over more than a houndred times in the last 10 years. However, I do have my critique surrounding some of the tracks: I don't really mind about "Strike it Rich" (it's the worst song in their career, as far as I'm concerned), plus I would have preffered replacing the original versions of "Nathan Jones" and "I Want You Back" with the re-recorded one with then-new Banana Jacquie O'Sullivan. And though "Bad for Me" and "Come Back" are two good songs, they are mostly filler and filler they shall be for ages.

Five years ago, Rhino Records came to the rescue and delivered some bonus goodies on WOW!: Single versions, remixes and even B-sides. Nonetheless, it reaffirms to me how great this album was and still is: TRUE POP GREATNESS!

MP3: Bananarama - Love in the First Degree

Saturday, January 29, 2011

me and my third eye

I've never been fond of this so-called current of "World Music": marked influences from all over the world, made in a western context or scenario. I wouldn't deny, however, the interesting factor of it, discovering or rediscovering sounds buried in historic places. I was talking to a friend from London, and in all of our conversations he tries to challenge me on which songs of his childhood I haven't heard before. He scored with this song by Sheila Chandra, not only it is hardcore "World Music" but it uses some of the instrumental techniques of the time (1982), making it sound as good as any other pop/rock/new wave record.

Not the typical bollywood number, I'm afraid. It's not even kitsch, so at the end, it's better off that way.

MP3: Monsoon featuring Sheila Chandra - Ever So Lonely

Saturday, January 8, 2011

this year's sound

As far as I'm concerned, the BBC is one of THE best references for what's happening around the world, whether it is news, economy, sports, overall culture and, of course, music. Since 2003, critics and important figures of the industry come together to select the acts they feel will represent the total scope of music for an entire year. Every time they've been spot on: from the hard hitting rap of 50 Cent in 2003, to the pop fun of Mika in 2007, and let's not forget the female trifecta of Adele, Little Boots and Ellie Goulding in the past three years. The list for 2011 is out and the top 5 is something to talk about, as they are totally different one from the other, quite unknown all of 'em, but won't be for long, i'm sure. Let's get to know them:

5: Claire Maguire: this 23 year old birmingham sunshine, compared to the likes of Stevie Nicks and Annie Lennox, started singing and writing music from the age of 7. At 17, she began travelling regularly to London to establish music contacts and also began posting demo songs on MySpace, impressing even the one and only Jay-Z and Jarvis Cocker. In October of last year, Clare got her place in an European tour supporting Plan B and Hurts and in the meantime, she polished what would become her debut album, "Light After Dark", set to be released in late February.

Clare Maguire - Ain’t Nobody by UniversalMusicPublishing

4: Jamie Woon: the son of Celtic folk singer and backing artist Mae McKenna has charmed a host of critics with his electronic soul. Initally inspired by Britpop, he started playing guitar at 15, and attended London's BRIT School, graduating the year behind Amy Winehouse, who he later supported live. Woon describes his sound and style as "R&B and groove-based vocal-led music", backed by samplers and programming, or just a single guitar track. In 2007 he released his first EP "Wayfaring Stranger", which will be followed on April 4 by his full lenght "Mirrorwriting".

Jamie Woon - Night Air by cameelah

3: The Vaccines: this indie foursome have been together since last June and its already drawing comparisons to The Jesus & Mary Chain and The Ramones. After the release of a demo, they embarked on their first UK tour which later took them all the way to London to play a sold out show in The Flowerpot, with an audience that included Franz Ferdinand frontman Alex Kapranos and members of White Lies and The Maccabees. The Vaccines are now signed to Columbia Records and their second single, "Post Break-Up Sex" will drop later this month.

The Vaccines by Radar Maker

2: James Blake: there is no doubt why this man is on this list, he's absolutely brilliant and even though he's not number 1, he still deserves to be on the very top of it. When James was not studying Popular Music at Goldsmith University of London, he was making dub-step beats remenicent of Arthur Russell's experimental work in the 80s and 90s. He has three EP's, each showcasing his remarkable talent and sensibility for sultry vocals and electronica. His critical acclaim is practically universal and its bound to increase even more when his self titled CD (already leaked in the internet) hit stores on February 7.

James Blake - Limit To Your Love by TheDropFather

1: Jessie J: if you've ever heard Miley Cyrus' "Party in the USA" (a catchy tune which i'm sure you have heard. a LOT), you'd be surprised that one of the song's co-writers is BBC's winner for Sound of 2011, Jessica Cornish, better known as Jessie J. Her interest in music dates all the way from her teens, when she was casted in Andrew Lloyd Webber's West End production of Whistle Down the Wind. At 16, she began studying at the BRIT School, and joined a girl group the following year. After her promising career almost stopped when she suffered a minor stroke, she found sucess writing for Chris Brown and Justin Timberlake, who hailed her as "the best singer in the world right now". Her first single "Do it like a Dude" hit the UK top 20, while her debut CD is set to be released sometime this year.

Jessie J - Do It Like A Dude by fx2music

Thursday, January 6, 2011

tale of two houses

Here we are back again on 2011, so excited about this year but I won't say a word, you'll figure it out in a couple of months. In the meantime, hope you enjoyed the holidays with the old folks, but while we are on the xmas subject, I somehow don't understand how people could: a) spend that special occasion on their own or b) with a party destroying themselves out. Those are things I could not put my finger on. Call me silly, or just plain dull, but my kind of Christmas is dressed from top to bottom, with a drink in my hand, and being with my family in a nice and cozy place called home. I could spend all the best time I want over there, sometimes without lifting a finger, and have a ball. Interesting enough, "house" is the connection for my mp3 freebies today, a pair of views on the topic by two greats: my darling Diana Ross and the new stuff from Hercules and Love Affair, who's second album is expected to drop late in the month and it's bound to shake some booties with its cool 90's inspired house music. Come on in!

MP3: Diana Ross - It's My House

Hercules & Love Affair - My House by Freeman PR