A blog about my favourite movies, music, and TV.

30 December 2009

Best singles of 2009

Here goes my list, in no order whatsoever!

Paula Abdul - Here For The Music

The haters were out in force when Paula unleashed this delectable ditty on the world. Yes, it may be just a Kylie reject, but it's still good, and it's Paula! It's been a busy year year for Miss Abdul from hosting the worst VH1 Divas ever to quitting American Idol (I pray not to start a career presenting TV shows). Lets hope she's got an album in store for 2010.

Alphabeat - The Spell

I think it's fair to say The Spell didn't do very well, but this kind 90's retro dance/pop is right up my alley.

Roisin Murphy - Orally Fixated

I thought she'd lost the plot when this appeared on my the front page of my favourite daily read, The Guardian. But Roisin is merely raising the bar for electro queens everywhere!

La Toya Jackson - Home

Toy's tasteful tribute to her late brother was her first UK release since 1988! Fingers crossed it makes a chart one day soon, can I see a pig flying....

Hahahaha I love this, perhaps more for the sentiment than the questionable quality of the music. A welcome return.

I wish Shakira would do a full on disco album one of the days, this is almost there and is one of her best! Like the video too.

Teena Marie & Faith Evans - Can't Last A Day

Not a UK single sadly, but a US one at least, and a great duet between two distinctive vocalists. Perhaps the most soulful song on my list and one of the best. Teena is coming to the UK at the end of January for a show in London, I saw her in Phlly this summer and she was wonderful.

I think I first heard this when I saw Kelly headline the Love Music Hate Racism festival and I think it's brilliant. Uplifting dance music at it's best!

Martina McBride - Ride (Lenny B Radio Edit)

Country singers generally have great voices but more often than not they don't embrace the dancefloor, Martina is one of my favourites and Ride is a great positive track that I just can't resist it, in particular the Lenny B Mix!

Saint Etienne - Method Of Modern Love

This piece of plastic-pop perfection is just lovely, after lead singer Sarah Cracknell did that revolting Lloyds Bank cash-in single I feared the worst, but this is a great track! Such a shame it did quite badly.

Madonna - Celebration

I just love this! After her embarrassing foray into hip hop hell, Madge really delivered on this one. I hate the awful version in the video, it's all about the album version for me. I got to see the Hard Candy tour in London too and lets just say the TV version had some major work done on it, by ears bled.

Ain't no one got nothin' on Whitney, X-Factor performance aside this was brilliance, Whitney fans weren't overly keen on her 'taster' single Didn't Know My Own Strength so this disco gem was wheeled out and became a big hit re-establishing her as the queen that we all know she is. I have tickets to see her live next year and I cannot wait. It's based on a Loleatta Holloway song.

So much better than 'Remedy', this was her first chart hit and although I find her very boring I really like this, it's all about the chorus.

Wynonna Judd - Sing (Pete Hammond Mix)

I have a soft spot for Country music queens trying to cross over and this just sucked me in, 80's master mixer Pete Hammond really goes to town on this uplifting tune, sadly it didn't get a commercial release, but there was a promo with more mixes on it - worth checking out.

Bananarama - Love Comes

This was so good, electro-pop at its best with a catchy chorus, but in the ageist world of contemporary pop we all know that's not nearly enough - to the 20 people that bought it this is a true gem! I was lucky enough to see them live this summer.

Beverley Knight - In Your Shoes

"Get yourself a life and make it work!" Chants Bev on her funky single 'In Your Shoes' which samples Orange Juice's 80's hit 'Rip It Up' to great effect. Sadly this flopped hard, but it's in great company on this blog. I think the album version is the best but the single version is pretty hot too, although I could do without Chipmunk.

Lady Gaga - Pokerface

Gaga is absolutely amazing so it is hard to pick a favourite from Just Dance, Love Game, Bad Romance, and Pokerface, which were all hits this year, but the latter perhaps just clinches it for me. A great track from a great pop act. 2009 would have been deadly dull without her outfits and out there performances.

Janet Jackson - Make Me

In the great tradition of Janet singles you can barely make out the lyrics in places, probably a good thing, as this seems like a breath of fresh air after years of Miss Jackson banging on about her nether regions. Currently straddling the top of the Billboard Dance/Club Chart, Make Me is funky and fun and a welcome addition to any playlist. Sadly it flopped in the UK even after her X Factor performance, but who cares! This is one to get, and it can be found on Janet's 'The Best' CD.

Valerie Claire (re-post)

Shoot Me Gino - http://www.zshare.net/audio/705769397e69694e/

I'm A Model - http://www.zshare.net/audio/705809304052e9ea/ (new CD rip)

Meri D. Marshall

I don't know much about Meri D. except for this song and the 1987 direct-to-video trash-fest Valet Girls which I can't believe I sat thought! Meri starred in it, and nothing else! She did sing on the soundtrack too as I remember. I wanted to share her single 'My Obsession', an over dramatic slice of dance pop and sounds like something Laura Branigan would've cut Meri's brake cables for...

Enjoy ;)

05 December 2009


Lord have mercy! The Queen of Soul may have been a bit quiet (musically) of late, but she sure knows how to make an appearance! From her stunning hat at Obama's inauguration, to this dazzling winter wonder. I thought I'd use this picture as an excuse to post a few of Aretha's lesser (but no less mighty) singles...

While the track Wonderful was the single that won her a Grammy from 2003's So Damn Happy, this is my favourite, the album version is a mellow gem, the Georgio Morroder Mix was the real pleasure. Here it is to download and savour!

Aretha's follow up to A Rose Is Still A Rose (the one with Lauryn Hill), Here We Go Again!

Also, check out the David Morales mix, which was the UK single version...

From 1994's Gold selling Greatest Hits here's Willing To Forgive, a lovely Babyface track which Aretha simply glides her way through. Enjoy, in glorious HD!

Everyday People is from the wonderfully titled What You See Is What You Sweat LP, from 1991, produced by none other than the late great Luther Vandross! Shep Pettibone worked his magic on the single mix, but the mix he did which appears on the end of the album is worth checking out too as it's a bit better IMHO. It's a shame this bombed because it's pure gold! "Go, go, go Queen o'Soul!"

So there you have it, a Aretha's greatest misses of yesteryear (well the last 15) - what the world needs now is a massive Aretha comeback just like Whitney! Thanks to D-Listed for the fab picture and the inspiration for this post, check out their post of Aretha singing Mariah's 'Touch My Body', wonders never cease!

28 November 2009


I'm not ashamed to say Mo'nique is one of my favourite celebrities, while she may have the best movies on her CV, or even be the best stand-up comedian, somehow I find her performances so thoroughly enjoyable, even in god-awful movies like Domino and Soul Plane. Mo'Niques performances always shine through even inn the most woeful productions.

Fans first saw the the first signs of her break away from comedy in 2007's Shadowboxer, alongside Oscar winners Dame Helen Mirren and Cuba Gooding Jnr. Now Mo'nique herself could in the running for her own Oscar when her performance in the upcoming movie Precious is up for consideration. She's already won an award at Sundance for her portrayal of Mary, the abusive mother of the lead character in the movie, and already people are touting her as a hopeful at next years Academy Awards. Mo'Nique has gone from Vh1's Charm School to serious actress in a few short years, so there may be hope for Ricki Lake's career yet! (Somebody seriously needs to call John Waters about a Mo' and Ricki team up! It could be like Face Off in Baltimore...)

Check out the trailer for Precious here.

Watch some of the highlights of Mo'Niques stand-up special 'I Coulda Been Your Cellmate'

If you can't wait for Precious to be released, I think it's pencilled in for January 2010 in the UK, why not check out some of Mo'Nique's potential Razzie winners like 2005's diabolical Phat Girlz or 2003's highly original, Hair Show! For the literary connoisseur there's also her self penned bestseller Skinny Bitches Are Evil! Which comes highly recommended.

27 November 2009

Dragonette - Pick Up The Phone

How fab is this? I'm ashamed to say I hadn't heard it until yesterday when I came across it on Youtube! Santa better be bringing me their CD for Christmas or I am going to start channeling Divine in Female Trouble, "I told you Cha Cha heels! Black ones!!!..."

When Pia Zadora decided to become the white Janet

After finally selling a few albums with her 1985 and 1986 LP's of standards and torch songs, 'Camp Pia' decided it was time to cash in on thia new found 'credibility' to launch her as bonafide pop star, without much of the 'pop'. Poor Pia could never get a break and when her private jet touched down in the backyard of 80's R&B maestro's Jam & Lewis the duo knew they had a near impossible task. They had spotted Pia opening for Frank Sinatra and thought that launching Pia as the next Janet Jackson (well more like La Toya really) would be a great challenge and cement their status as super producers with the Midas touch.

The results are pretty damn hot! From the opening bars of I Donna Wanna Love one is aware that this is a very different Pia to the show tune belting diva-ette who pulled of the likes of Maybe This Time and I Am What I Am with the style and panache of a Shirley Bassey or Streisand not two years previously. It could even be said that Jam & Lewis played down the 'showey' aspect of Pia's voice, in favour of a subtle breathy style which plays on Pia's sex appeal - and all those dirty movies she made! Jellybean Johnson guests on guitar on this strong mid-temp R&B opener.

I just adore the next track, Still Remembered, it's got a great rhythm and the chorus is wonderfully robotic, it reminds me of the stuff Jam & Lewis did with Thelma Houston, especially You Used To Hold Me So Tight. I think this could've made a great single.

Speaking of singles Dance Out Of My Head is up next, this was the first and only single taken from the album, and although it's a great track I think it was a bad choice!

All of Pia's personality is drained from this one, and while I think it's as catchy as hell, it could be anyone singing it. That said this is the most danceable track on the set and it had a whole host of mixes from not only Jam & Lewis themselves, but Ben Liebrand and my personal favourite Shep Pettibone who makes good use of Pia's soulful vocals which are relegated to the background of the album version.

Laughin' At You is so sweet, it starts of with chopped up vocal samples and tinny drums and mellows into a cute mid-tempo ditty seemingly about Pia laughing at the sillyness of her man! Like most of the songs on the first part of the album it has a very mechanical vibe, it's unashamedly proud of it's European influences too. The title track follows in a similar vein. It makes you want to pull on a pair of leggings and a chunky belt and leap around with Pia pretending to be Paula Abdul!

Pia even has her own interlude!

I Really Like You (Not Him) is the first ballad, and it's sublime. Only a decent vocalist could pull off a subtle slow jam like this and Pia pulls it off so well. Again, there's no 'belting', it's all smooth and soulful vocals and a driving backing track. I think this is one of her best songs ever, it was also the b-side to Dance Out Of My Head. Two ballads, Silence and Since I've Been Loving You tie the album up with class and dignity, while Pia's Theme (another interlude!) closes the set.

It kind of fizzles out at the very end , but overall this album is fantastic, it shows off another side to Pia which would be followed up on Pia's next big budget foray into the pop world, Pia Z! When The Lights Go Out was a big old flop when it hit shelves in mainland Europe in 1988 which resulted in it never getting a US release. Dance Out Of My Head made #65 in the UK and was her final release here.

22 November 2009

Tat Parade saultes: Kate O'Mara

I went to Memorabilia at the NEC in Birmingham yesterday and met British cult icon Kate O'Mara, best known perhaps, for her roles in 70's Hammer Horror movies, and in the 80's for playing some excllent bitches on TV shows like Dynasty and Howard's Way. But to me she is always Doctor Who's renegade Time Lady, The Rani! I loved meeting Kate yesterday and she graciously signed my DVD (of Mark of the Rani) and let me have a picture with her too.

Check out some of these clips:

Miss Jackson, if you're trashy!

I am bizzarely excited about Janet's 2 disc Greastest Hits which is out tomorrow in the UK! Simply entitled The Best, this near perfect collection features all of Janet's fabulous singles from 1986 up to her newie, Make Me. Perhaps Jan would rather forget her 1984 duet with Cliff Richard, but I digress....

Sadly I don't think this will take her back to the top of the charts, Make Me hasn't really taken off either. However, I think this will attract some fans who've fallen by the wayside during her crappy years and keep the crazies happy until she puts out her new album next year. All we need now is a DVD to accompany this set!

14 September 2009

Zone Horror to close

The worst possible news, Zone Horror - the UK's leading (only!) free to air channel dedicated to trashy horror movies is closing it's doors! Chello Zone who own the channel have merged with CBS and will replace Zone Horror and the other Zone channels with CBS produced content. So no more sleazy b-movies movies on Zone Thriller either! This is a sad day indeed.

It launched in 2003 as The Horror Channel, re-branding in 2006. Thinking about it when your best shows are re-runs of Beastmaster - The Series and Mutant X, and prime time is filled with such gems as Ghoulies and Slumber Party Massacre 3, and those are the classier ones, it's not hard to see why there was no profit in this televisual tour-de-force of bad taste. I for one will miss it, where else could you watch Joan Collins in Empire of the Ants every weekend, guaranteed! They also specialised in late night gore with an abundance of cannibal and zombie movies in the early hours. With it's average audience share of 0.1% all of three people including me will give a damn, but how could anyone hope to top a lineup like this:

09:00 Your Dream Psychics
12:00 Netherbeast Incorporated
14:00 Friday The 13th
15:00 Mutant X
16:00 Pterodactyl
18:00 BeastMaster
19:00 Millennium
20:00 Witchblade
21:00 Curse Of The Komodo
22:55 Sea Ghost
00:40 Tales From The Darkside - The Movie
02:40 666: The Beast
04:30 Mutant X
05:30 The Ray Bradbury Theatre
06:00 Teleshopping

Zone Horror

07 September 2009

Bananarama - Love Comes

The fantastic Bananarama make a bid for their 25th UK Top 40 hit single with their new single, Love Comes, which is out today! There are a whole range of formats available from different remix bundles on iTunes and 7digital, a CD single (surely a novelty these days), and a set of 7" picture discs (retro!), and I've seen a 12" Extended Mix at townsendrecords.co.uk. The girls, or at least their new label Fascination Records, have really made an effort and this a must have release for any fan. Check out this exclusive competition too.

Pre-order Bananarama

Sadly I think this single may struggle as there has been little radio or video play, even less than 2005's excellent Look On The Floor, which still managed to crack the Top 30! Anyway what do I know, I've bought the lot anyway. Check out this new interview from BBC Breakfast News:

01 September 2009

Gig Review - 80's Rewind Festival 2009

Last weekend I attended my very first festival. I could not bring myself to actually camp out, so I am now broke! Sadly I missed Toyah who opened the festival on the Saturday afternoon. I was gutted! After a boozy afternoon accompanied by the songs of Dr and the Medics, Kid Creole and the Coconuts, and Billy Ocean, it was time for the headliners.

Bananarama kicked off the evenings festivities with Cruel Summer, which, like the whole of their set went down well with the 20,000+ crowd that had turned out in the glorious British countryside, on perhaps one of the best weekends we've had this year. The girls belted out Venus, Love In The First Degree and Really Saying Something to rapturous applause. What they lacked in vocal prowess, they made up for with spirit and good humour. Sadly they didn't have time to do their new single Love Comes (out next week fans!!!)

Belinda Carlisle was on next, and she was not happy with the sound and had a few diva moments before launching into one of the strongest sets of the day. Leave A Light On, Live Your Life Be Free (one of my favourites!), Circle In The Sand, and of course Heaven Is A Place On Earth. It was great to hear these fantastic songs played live, I've seen her with the Go Go's, but not on her own before, so this was a big treat for me, and Belinda didn't disappoint.

Rick Astley hit the stage shortly after and performed his SAW hits Together Forever, Whenever You Need Somebody, When I Fall In Love, Never Gonna Give You Up and a great version of Cry For Help which was easily the highlight. He seems to have developed quite a sense of humour about his status as an 80's icon too.

The lovely Kim Wilde was the star attraction for the Saturday, topping the bill, and what a stunning job she did! She rocked out, covering her hits You Came, Kids in America, You Keep Me Hanging On, If I Can't Have You and a cover of Depeche Mode's Enjoy the Silence, as well as her own hit Four Letter Word which she sang beautifully!

Day two is a bit hazey, but I do remember thinking Heaven 17 were pretty fab, Go West and T'Pau were also on. By the evening I'd pulled round a bit. ABC were the first of the big acts on the stage. They were pretty good, but I'll admit I wanted them to hurry up and clear the stage to make way for Sister Sledge.

Yes, Sister Sledge! Now some of my readers my know that there are a couple of versions of Sister Sledge floating around, but this lineup includes Kathy Sledge! Yes, Kathy! Kathy was the lead vocalist on all of their hits, and she was in fine voice as she knocked out He's The Greatest Dancer, Chic's Everybody Dance, Lost In Music, and We Are Family! I have no idea who the other girls up there were but half of them weren't even born when the Sledge's were doing their thing! Fakes! the lot of them. But who cares, they were great. Kathy's outfit was rather daring too.

Gloria Gaynor headlined the final night of the festival, and oh my, what a finale! From the anthemic I Am What I Am to her original take on The Police's Every Breath You Take, and of course the classic, I Will Survive!

The whole event was extremely well done, even the toilets weren't that bad! I had a fab time and I cannot wait for next year! They even had fireworks!

Flop Pop of Yesteryear - Part 1

Ellie Campbell Don't Want You Back

Released in 2000 - I remember buying this Britney 'inspired' gem back in the day! Well, 2000... I used to love this, and the garage remix that was on the cassingle was pretty hot too as I remember, I think it holds up really well, I can still remember all the words too, and I haven't listened to it in ages! Sadly this flopped and I haven't heard anything from Ellie since, except for her ill-fated album which I don't think even charted.

Released in 2000 - I could only find a little clip of this one, it was barely played when it came out, but I thought it was a great slice of subtle garage-pop. It's a cover of an Andy Williams song, I have no idea what Colour Girl did next, but I should find out! I need to find my single of this to share.

Released in 2003 - Oh how I loved this, Masai started out looking quite butch and sporty as I remember, but when they got this sleek makeover for Do That Thing I was in love! But still nobody cared and this tanked. I still have my copy and cherish it, especially the electronic vocals.

Released in 1999 - That means this (even by my maths) is a decade old! How on earth did that happen. Poor old VC never had any luck in the UK (although HMV used to stock all her singles back when they did imports), but this was a US pop hit from her Platinum selling debut. Where is she now?

Released in 1999 - Hahahahaha I loved this one, Debbie pretending to be a hip hop queen, amazing! I'm glad she didn't do the rapping herself, although I'd bet pound to a penny Coolio and Wu Tang Clan were not her idea, have you not heard Rapture! Ms Harry virtually invented pop/rap! This went nowhere in the UK, too many haters!

18 August 2009

Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus (2009)

The wait is finally over, Megashark vs Giant Octopus has finally hit the direct to video and 'On Demand' market in the UK! The internet buzz sourounding this z-grade monster movie has been quite impressive - the trailer has had over 1.6m views on YouTube. Deborah Gibson stars as a scientist (yes, Debbie Gibson, acting!) who stumbles accross a giant shark while trawling around the ocean in her dodgy CGI submarine. The authorities deny it's very existence and only Debbie, a Japanese guy, and Lorenzo Lamas can save the world from the true horror of Megashark! But it doesn't end there, recently thawed out from the dawn of time is Mega Shark's nemesis - Giant Octopus, oh yes - it's on!

This movie is horrendous, there's no two ways about it. From the terrible script, to the hideously dated special effects, and the awful awful acting! But somehow Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus works on a bad b-movie level. It's entertaining, it's funny - check out the scene where megashark takes out an airbus, and it doesn't outstay it's welcome. Plus, it has Debbie Gibson in it!

12 August 2009

Wendy Williams

Thanks to my favourite TV clip show, The Soup (Monday evenings on E!) I have become re-acquainted with the great Wendy Williams, who famously did that car crash radio interview with Whitney a few years back. Well, Wendy has her own talk show now and I am pleased to find out that it is an absolute train wreck from start to finish! From her trademark catchphrase "How you doin'?" To her inability to even read her lines, The Wendy Williams Show is fastly becoming a Youtube addiction of mine!

Poor Wendy! I love her approach to TV presenting! I particularly love her cue cards! Not to mention her scratching her wig all the time! Check out this brilliant interview - bitch fight alert! I dig the theme tune too. I pray that some low rent channel picks up this gem over here - Diva TV I'm talking to you. I for one wouldn't miss it for the world.

Wendy's wigs are legendary....

New York New York (1977)

Last week I finally got around to watching my New York New York DVD, starring Liza Minnelli and Robert DeNiro, and directed by Martin Scorsese. I think the movie is best known for Liza's theme tune, which has gone on to be one of her signature hits and live favourites.

Liza stars as Francine, a singer, who meets Jimmy (DeNiro) a brash saxophonist at a party at the end of the war. The two fall in love and eventually form their own band. However, Francine's star soon outshines Jimmy's and their relationship breaks down. All accompanied by some great musical numbers and some stunning direction. What the movie does lack though, is a plot with enough substance to make warrant the 132 minute running time (I couldn't handle the Director's Cut!!). I got a bit bored I'll admit it. Yes, I know this stars Liza Minnelli! What is wrong with me?

All in all I just felt it could have been a lot better and some of the comedy elements were a bit patchy. Still, I think it's worth a watch, if only for the performances where are decent throughout.

08 August 2009

Hellraiser (1987)

This is my first ever Blu Ray review! Yes, I have joined 2007! 1987's Hellraiser is one movie that certainly needed a bit of an overhaul, I remember buying a budget release of it when I first got a DVD player and it looked abysmal! The print was faded, dirty, and completely let down the whole movie. Fast-forward 6 years (or so) and here it is all polished up and looking fantastic! Full colours, great sound, it looks like new!

If you've never seen it, it's about a middle age couple, Larry and Julia who move into Larry's childhood home, Larry's brother Frank has also been there and opened the door to another dimension where pleasure and pain are synonymous and the kinky Pinhead and his fellow Cenobites spend eternity torturing curious perverts in all manner of twisted (and painful!) ways. Frank escapes and enlists Julia to help him regenerate his body which has been torn apart by the Cenobites.

(picture from SD version)

I loved watching this again, perhaps more so than ever before because it's been cleaned up so well. There is some grain on the picture which is evident in the scenes that rely on back lighting, especially the scenes in the loft of the house, but it's still extremely well done. The the gore is especially sharp and vile! Some of the effects are a bit past it, but I think that adds a certain camp appeal, and lets not forget this was made in 1986 for New World Pictures, the then home of cheap movies!

Speaking of which, there are distinct hints of melodrama scattered throughout the movie, mostly involving the character of Julia who is just is fantastic. Masterfully portrayed by Clare Higgins, who gives what must be one of 80's horror's best performances. It's great to see such a complex character in a movie like this, and don't even get me started on the outfits! Think high-end 80's department store, which really helps the movie stay fresh as people still wear that stuff, her bouffant mullet and pink eyeshadow are a dead giveaway though.

Anyone with an interest in horror should check this out. It's also an excellent example of how effective a small budget can be. With decent actors and an original concept Hellraiser really raised the bar. I thoroughly recommend it. I can't wait for Hellbound: Hellraiser II to make it's Blu Ray debut, I haven't seen it for years! I can't remember much about the other sequels, but I think I've seen most of them over the years, a remake is currently in the works.

Special features are apparently from a recent DVD release, but are quite interesting if you don't know anything about the movies.

03 August 2009

Melba Moore - I'm In Love (1988)

Melba's 1988 LP kicks off with Love and Kisses, a mid-tempo track which is only really saved by the sparkly production and Melba's excellent vocals, it's all a bit throwaway for my liking...

I'm In Love is up next, a slow jam duet with Kashif, who also wrote, produced and played all the instruments on this track. It's quite a nice one, the vocals are lovely. I can almost smell the satin sheets and incense sticks, this just reeks of 80's love.

I should say at this point that the artwork for this LP is just lovely from Melba's oversize black jacket with diamante pin-stripes to her pearl accessories, and her fetching gold sequin dress on the inside, perfectly complimented with a single gold ear-thing! Looks like she robbed Lt Uhura's wardrobe for that one.

Love Always Finds A Way To Your Heart is kind of weak, but the chorus is lovely, and again it's really the vocals that make it, from the soft cooing on the verses to her trademark wail, just lovely!

I Can't Complain with Freddie Jackson is next, and however good they sound they can't save this from snoozeville. I'm starting to think someone should've sent Melba to Full Force at this point, this and the following track I Don't Know No One Else To Turn to are both with producer Gene McFadden, I don't like them. I've just noticed that Melba has shoes to match her jacket! I'm not gripped, am I?

Side B starts out with I'll Never Find Another You which is a bit better, some nice piano, but I'm itching for some upbeat stuff now - where's the Love's Comin' At Ya? on this set? There's only so many much well sung filler I can take, am loving the choir on this one though! Sing it, Melba! "I'm never, no never, gonna, ever, gonna, find another man like, you Oooo Ooooh!"

OMG some beats! Oh Yes, Keeps Me Runnin' Back is more like it. Okay, so maybe I'm desperate by this point, but I'm loving this! It's got soul, some good beats, a bit of guitar, a nice percussion section. Everything I love in 80's soul pop. I hope this was a single!

First Love drops the pace, it's tender and sweet, but again average. This Time is better, and Test Of Time closes the album, and while it hardly goes out with a bang, I'm In Love is a reasonable LP, but I couldn't recommend it.

After a decline in in popularity and the demise of her marriage in the 90's, poor Melba went bankrupt and there were rumours that she became homeless, having to be taken in by friends and family. I like to think she maxed out her credit card on fabulous gowns and spangly accessories, but the reality was probably a lot less glamorous. Thankfully Melba has since forged a career as a gospel singer and has even put out a few 12" dance singles. In 2003 she appeared in The Fighting Temptations in a sizeable role alongside Beyonce and Cuba Gooding Jr. I hope she puts out a pop CD again one day with some killer dance mixes.

Let's enjoy one of Melba's biggest UK hits:

02 August 2009

Donna Summer (1982)

I took this soulful gem out for a spin in the car yesterday and it stuck me that it's probably one of the best of her 80's album, certainly better than The Wanderer, Cats Without Claws, or the dreadful All Systems Go!

Donna decided she was a going to go a bit more rock as the 80's kicked in and the result was The Wanderer album, which earned her a GRAMMY nod for the single Cold Love. She quickly recorded a follow up, I'm A Rainbow, which was eventually scrapped - only the track Romeo was released on the Flashdance soundtrack, until the album was finally put out on CD in 1996. It was felt that Donna needed to appeal to her base, and so she was sent to work with Quincy Jones.

The Donna Summer album was a much bigger hit in the UK, peaking at #13 on the charts, and gave her two modest hits in Love Is In Control and State Of Independence, which hit the Top 20 again in 1996. But what of the album?

It kicks off with the funky Love Is In Control (Finger On The Trigger), which harks back to Donna's disco roots, with electronic vocal effects, and disco-ish beat, with loads of horns. It also has some great gospel inspired background vocals, which feature prominantly thoughout the album. To me this is a classic Donna single, up there with any of her 70's stuff, I especially like the rawness of her vocals, something that had become a feature of 1980's The Wanderer.

Mystery Of Love is a nice one, it goes for a more mid-tempo funk for the verses, Donna sings them softly, before gliding into the soulful chorus. It really gets going after the second the verse. Next up is The Woman In Me, the final single taken from the album. It's a ballad, and a fantastic one at that. It's very 80's soul, the track is driven by Donna's powerful vocals and some sparse (by 80's standards) production, it's very sexy! "I don't need an excuse, it's so easy with you, to be the woman in me,"...

State Of Independence featuring the All Star Choir (including Michael Jackson, Dionne Warwick, Lionel Richie, and many more) is the third track. It's a bit of an 80's classic, with elements of soul and gospel. I have no idea what the State of Independence is, but I am guessing it's probably America, who cares? This is an amazing collaboration that doesn't get anywhere near enough airplay on oldies radio or TV these days.

Livin' In America is next, and I love this one! Again, it's pure tat, it starts off with an air of cool funkiness about it. This one is all about living the American dream! I think the chorus would make most people cringe! Especially when the kids start singing along with her, "You're living in America, you're living in the home of the dream! You can be what you wanna be!"

Protection was written by Bruce Springsteen, and as such is pretty rocky, I believe this one was going to be a duet at one point. I think it's great, I especially like its fast pace! I also love the way Donna's vocal tracks are layered over each other at times, a great effect! This could've been a good single. It was nominated for a GRAMMY.

If It Hurts Just A Little is such a filthy title, and there's some great vocals on this one, it's not the best song on the set, but the excellent production and the gorgeous harmonizing between Donna and the background singers is perfection. Love Is Just A Breath Away builds up beautifully with Donna's soft high vocals steadily getting louder and forceful as the track gets going. Sadly it's a bit fillerish, but it sounds good so it can be forgiven.

The album closes with some old fashioned style with the jazz standard Lush Life, now I'm not an expert on the genre, but Donna does a good job, although I have a feeling it was an afterthought, as it isn't as well done as the rest of the album. With Donna's range you'd have thought she'd make more of it, but it's fine. It was apparently a hard album for Donna to complete as she was heavily pregnant while making it, nevertheless overall I think it's well up there and for anyone else would've been seen as quite an accomplishment. The mix of rock, funk, and soul makes this a must have for me.