RSS

Category Archives: The Sound Of Our Youth

Diane Charlemagne: The Voice Of A Generation

 

 

charlemagne_diane

Back in the day I was a massive fan of urban music: rap; ragga; jungle; hip hop; swing beat; rnb… But as any kid growing up in the 1990s will tell you, one of the most popular musical genres was dance. Dance music was absolutely everywhere. You couldn’t escape it. I wouldn’t say I was a massive fan of dance but I certainly didn’t mind it and there were some pretty good tracks out at the time. I’d go as far as to say that this genre of music has had quite an impact on me as I do equate dance with growing up in the nineties. I just have to hear a song I haven’t heard in years and it brings back awesome memories of my teen years: watching Top Of The Pops with my family; listening to the UK Chart Top 40 on a Sunday afternoon; collecting the lyrics of the numerous dance songs – among others –  in Smash Hits magazine; hanging out with my friends; choreographing steps to go along with the videos on MTV; parties; secondary school; GCSEs; sixth form… until now, I had no idea that dance featured so heavily in the soundtrack to my youth.

urban-cookie-collective-2477026-220X249

Until a few hours ago, that is,  when I heard about the sad passing of singer Diane Charlemagne who was a major part of Urban Cookie Collective. The Manchester-born vocalist lost her brave battle with cancer yesterday at the age of fifty one. Diane was a big name on the dance scene and over the years, aside from working with Urban Cookie Collective, collaborated with a whole host of artists, such as Moby, D:Ream, Goldie and 52nd Street among many others. The music world is understandably deeply saddened by Diane’s death and tributes have poured in from artists including Beverley Knight, Goldie, and Moby.

cover320x240-99

One of Urban Cookie Collective’s most famous songs to which Diane lent her fantastically distinctive vocals, apart from Feels Like Heaven,  is the anthemic The Key The Secret from 1993. I remember this so well and have memories of my younger sister singing and dancing to this whenever it came on. Diane vocals featured on tracks at a time when many of my peers were starting to explore clubland and get a taste of growing up and independence. The Key The Secret is as popular today as it was more than twenty years ago. A real club classic.

This amazingly talented lady will live in in her music. Rest in peace, Diane.

gingham-apron-pie-lady2.jpg

 
Video

Nul Points – No Way! My Most Memorable UK Eurovision Entries

It’s that time again. Eurovision is here. My mum no doubt is glued to the box right now and die-hard Eurovision fans across Europe – and for the first time ever, Australia (yeah I don’t understand that either) – are throwing Eurovision themed parties and trying to work out which country will be hailed this year’s winner, which will be revealed in just over an hour.

And this year’s Eurovision isn’t any old Eurovision either as the annual European song contest is in its sixtieth year. who would have thought that a musical competition that was initially created as a means of bringing peace and harmony back to post-war Europe would still be going strong today? Well it’s aim was to bring peace and harmony but as we all know that judging by the tactical voting and obvious bias towards certain countries, politics is very much at play. But it’s also a display of musical talent, fun, entertainment and over the top performances.

The Eurovision Song Contest used to be a big deal in my family, and every year we would huddle around the TV and watch all the acts. We’d even be allowed to stay up late to watch the voting. I remember one year in the mid-eighties, I really wanted Italy to win because one of the singers looked a lot like my aunt. When they didn’t win, I burst into tears – much to the annoyance of my dad!

I have to say that in recent years, I have been much of a Eurovision fan. I can’t really pinpoint why other than there have been quite a few changes over the years and it’s just not as good as it once was – in my opinion at least – and given the choice, I’d much rather be doing something else than watching Eurovision.

But I won’t knock it. I’m glad it’s still around as it brings back great memories for me. This got me thinking about some of my most memorable UK entries. The ones I’ve selected aren’t all necessarily the most amazing or my most favourite. But they are definitely the ones that are most memorable or most well-known to me, and good or bad, they’ve all stood out in some way.

1. 1981, DUBLIN BUCKS FIZZ – MAKING YOUR MIND UP 1st Place

I’d definitely entered the world by the time Bucks Fizz represented the United Kingdom back in 1981 with making your mind up. I’d either have been perched on my Eurovision nut mum’s lap or I’d have been fast asleep in my cot – either way I obviously don’t remember seeing the moment Cheryl Baker, Jay Aston, Mike Nolan and Bobby G – who had been specially put together for the song contest – performed in Dublin.

However I do remember seeing it years later, and that skirt ripping moment is definitely one of the most iconic in Eurovision history – that still gets talked about. Furthermore we were all big Bucks Fizz fans at home so they played a big part in our childhood.

 

2. 1984, LUXEMBOURG,  BELLE AND THE DEVOTIONS – LOVE GAMES 7th place

Even though I don’t remember the song very well, I did remember Belle and The Devotions. I remember them appearing on television a fair bit before they took part in the song contest. As I watched the contest, I remember wondering why Belle and The Devotions were the only act I recognized and moreover why the other acts were not singing in English. I remember very little about the 1984 show but I’m pretty certain I lost interest soon after Belle And The Devotions performance. I was still only a little ‘un and had a while to go before I entered into the Eurovison spirit of things – and under my mother’s influence I did!

3. 1985, GOTHEBURG, VIKKI – LOVE IS 4TH PLACE

To be totally honest I don’t remember the song at all but I do remember Vikki and seeing her perform on Top Of The Pops. despite finishing at a not-at-all-bad fourth place, Vikki didn’t become a household name unfortunately but she continues to work as a singer-songwriter in Los Angeles where she is now based.

4. 1987, BRUSSELS, RIKKI – ONLY THE LIGHT 13TH PLACE

I’m sure there’s a lot of people out there who would love to forget this song – Rikki included – but I think they’re being a bit harsh as listening to it years later, I actually think it’s quite catchy and a fine bit of pop music and Rikki’s vocals were pretty good. In fact it’s not just years later – I actually thought that at the time.

I remember Rikki and the track he wrote himself, Only The Light, much better than the previous UK entries because my sister and I not only used to sing Only The Light (much to the annoyance of the neighbours no doubt!) but we also came up with some choreography as well – though looking at the performance I think it’s fair to say that Rikki beat us hands down!

Although Rikki wasn’t the first UK entry to place below the Top Ten, never before had a UK entry placed so low at a disappointing thirteen – though I think this was extremely unfair as it wasn’t a bad song and Rikki, accompanied by his backing vocalists, gave it their all. I do remember this entry getting a lot of stick in the media the next day.

Then Jemini came along and all was forgiven!

5. 1988, DUBLIN, SCOTT FITZGERALD – GO 2ND PLACE

We all have our personal favourites and most memorable performances when it comes to Eurovision entries and Go, a track penned by Bruce Forsythe’s daughter Julie and performed by Scott Fitzgerald just happens to be mine. I wasn’t into ballady type numbers when I was a kid (that was more Mum’s thing) but there was something about this song that really jumped out at me. It could have been Scott’s powerful vocals, or the emotion in his voice, or just simply that it’s a great song. Naturally we always backed the UK when it came to Eurovision (even if we did sometimes secretly think that other countries had better songs and performances) but now we were convinced that Scott Fitzgerald was going to bring it home for us.

And he very nearly did.

It was nailbitingly neck and neck between the UK and Switzerland but Mum wasn’t too worried.

“That Swiss song wasn’t all that fantastic,” was Mum’s expert opinion.

By the time there was only one country left to vote, Switzerland was in the lead by only one point but we were so sure victory was going to be ours. I can’t remember who the last country to vote was but I do remember the moment when I knew it was all over:

“And finally twelve points goes to -”

Please let it be the UK, please, please…

“France.”

Cue much shouting, cheering and cartwheels from the Swiss team.

Of course the press had a field day about the unfairness of it all. Fancy the United Kingdom being beaten by just one measly point. It was like Mexico ’86 all over again – we’d come so far and victory was in our grasp only for us to have it snatched from us. But at least this time there was no cheating or Hand of God involved.

The press also commented on whether it was acceptable to have a Canadian representing Switzerland in the song contest.

Clearly the singer didn’t Think Twice about the fuss as she – Celine Dion – was on her way to bigger and better things.

6. 1991, ROME, SAMANTHA JANUS – MESSAGE TO YOUR HEART JOINT 10TH PLACE

When the future Ronnie Mitchell/Branning/Cotton was flying the flag for the United Kingdom back in 1991, I sadly was unable to watch it due to our prehistoric telly being on the blink! However I do remember a lot being said about the absolutely stunning, blonde twenty one year old then unknown, Samantha Janus,  who was going to perform Message To Your Heart, a song intended to prick the listeners’ social conscious regarding serious world wide issues. It was probably in the same vein as New Kids’ This One’s For The Children – and as everyone know New Kids On The Block can do no wrong in my eyes – but Message To Your Heart just didn’t make the same impact.

And for all those who suspected that Samantha Janus would probably end up pulling pints one day – they were right!

7. 1992, MALMO, MICHAEL BALL – ONE STEP OUT OF TIME 2ND PLACE

We just thought of Michael Ball as the Aspects Of Love bloke – the one who did a bit of musical theatre. So when we heard that he would be making a bid to represent the United Kingdom, we thought it would be a number that wouldn’t be out of place in a Lloyd-Webber production.

So sis and I were amazed when Michael Ball rocked up with an up-tempo pop song – a song we couldn’t get out of out heads for days. And we loved Ball’s choreography!

I felt disappointed at the time that the UK lost out yet again but hey, we came second (again) so not all bad!

 

8. 1993, Co. CORK, SONIA – BETTER THE DEVIL YOU KNOW 2ND PLACE

We’d always loved Sonia ever since she burst onto the scene with You’ll Never Stop Me From Loving You and my mum was a huge fan:

“Aw that Sonia. she sings all the old songs and gets to number one.” Er, really Mum???

Well the fact that Better The Devil You Know (not the Kylie classic) wasn’t an ‘old song’ might explain why Sonia didn’t get to ‘number one’ in the Eurovision charts and win. Well that’s what Mum would have said anyway. But Sonia did us proud all the same. She sang her heart out and gave a great performance with a song that’s in my head to this day. Furthermore Better The Devil You Know did well in the national charts.

Plus I loved that purple jumpsuit!

9. 1994, DUBLIN, FRANCES RUFFELLE LONELY SYMPHONY 10TH PLACE

I have to admit, I didn’t know who Frances Ruffelle was prior to her representing the UK in Eurovision. She was – and still is – star of the West End stage, and also the daughter of Sylvia Young, and the mother of Eliza Dolittle.

Frances’ song was quite different to the previous Eurovision entries as it was less pop driven, more soulful, atmospheric song with a moving melody, and definitely not as cheesy as previous offerings. It also didn’t go for the novelty factor. Definitely one of the most sophisticated entries we’ve ever had.

 

10. 1995, DUBLIN, LOVE CITY GROOVE- LOVE CITY GROOVE 10TH PLACE

For the first time ever, rap came to the Eurovision song contest via the United Kingdom. And to this day I can still remember the chorus. I know this song was heavily criticised at the time for not being ‘Eurovision’ enough but I don’t think it’s a horrendous song at all, and as urban music was the only thing I’d listen to back then, I actually quite liked it. It had that cool summertime vibe and pop beat that was typical of all mid-nineties rap that didn’t come over all gold tooth and gangsta! It did placed tenth just as their predecessor Frances Ruffelle had done the year before but it did a lot better than most people had expected. I think the truth of the matter is that Eurovision just wasn’t ready for rap from the UK.

11. 1996, OSLO, GINA G – OOH AAH… JUST A LITTLE BIT 8TH PLACE

This stunning Aussie redhead, born Gina Mary Gardiner, represented the United Kingdom back in 1996 and whereas most Eurovision hopefuls are rarely heard of again once the contest is over, Gina was very popular in Britain for quite some time. She had four UK chart hits after Ooh Aah… she also did well in America where she was nominated for a Grammy award, graced the covers of many mags, and was never off the telly!

I have to say although Ooh Aah… Just A Little Bit was very catchy and something of a club anthem back then, Gina’s brand of pop, house and dance wasn’t really my thing as I was very much an urban chick but it hearing this track does bring back tons of memories of my secondary school days.

After years of living in London, Gina eventually relocated to Los Angeles where she still resides today and is still involved in the music industry.

12. 1997, DUBLIN, KATRINA AND THE WAVES – LOVE SHINE A LIGHT 1ST PLACE

I’m walking on sunshine… woah-oh, I’m walking on sunshine… woah-oh, I’m walking on sunshine…woah oh

And don’t it feel good! Hey!

It’s one of the most recognizable tracks from the eighties and the one that British rock band Katrina And The Waves were most well-known for.

But that was until 1997 when Katrina And The Waves represented the United Kingdom with Love Shine A Light. I remember watching lead singer, Kansas-born Katrina Leskanich, being interviewed just before the contest and being asked how she would feel if they ended up getting the dreaded ‘nul points’.

“But it’s not going to get nul points,” Katrina responded confidently, “come on – it’s a great song.”

Well she wasn’t wrong. That year, the UK headed to the top of the scoreboard and secured their first win since Bucks Fizz’s Making Your Mind Up sixteen years earlier.

It was the second time the United Kingdom have won the Eurovision Song Contest in my life time – but only the first time that I actually got to see and remember it.

Now if only I could see England win the World Cup…

13. 1998, BIRMINGHAM, IMAANI – WHERE ARE YOU? 2ND PLACE

Admittedly I’d forgotten this song and the singer Imaani – who still singning and putting out records – but as soon as I heard this song again, it all came flooding back. It was a very good entry and although it didn’t secure a second consecutive win for us, it finished at a very respectable place.

14. 2003, LATVIA, JEMINI – CRY BABY 26TH PLACE

OK, I’m sure there’s a lot of people who’d like to forget Jemini but how could we ever forget the only UK act ever to get the infamous nul point?

 

gingham-apron-pie-lady2.jpg

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Video

Happy New Kids On The Block Day

485d4fd0e14da6a7cfa3d03bd6558720

It’s that time of year again. The one where I get to dress up and go back to being a thirteen year old again.

No Halloween has not come early. I’m talking about New Kids On The Block Day, and as I’m a die hard fan, I absolutely love this day which remembers all that is fabulous about the most awesome boy band ever to walk this earth: Jordan, Jon, Joe, Danny and Donnie.

New Kids On The Block

New Kids On The Block

 

So come on Blockheads: don those ripped jeans, flash those smiley faces and peace sign medallions, wear your New Kids T-shirts with pride, and crank up the volume so that the whole neighbourhood hears those NKOTB tunes. Watch those videos to your hearts content, and prepare to fall in love with the Boston boy band all over again. It’s what today is all about.

Back in 1989, then Massachusetts governor, Michael Dukakis, declared 24 April to be National New Kids On The Block Day (for that alone, Mr. Dukakis should have been president!) National it may have been, but it didn’t stop fans from all over the world from honouring them. And twenty six years later it’s still a pretty big day in the Blockheads’ calendar.

Paul Natkin

I’ve already driven the Hubby mad by singing New Kids On The Block Songs on the tube on the way to work. He should just be thankful that it was a packed carriage or I would have had to get on the floor and do the New Kids dance!

I’ve been in love with the five bad brothers from the bean town land from the moment I clapped eyes on them, and whereas most people go through phases of liking bands before moving on to the next big thing, it’s always been the New Kids for me and I’m so proud to say that they were my boy band when I was growing up.

imagesY0XX0DWZ

 

So as it’s National New Kids On The Block Day, I’m going to share the New Kids moments, experiences, memories and events that are special to me personally.

1.  BEFORE I’D EVEN SEEN THEM

“Do you lot like that new group, what are they called again? New Kids In The Neighbourhood?

“Oh you mean New Kids On The Block!”

“Oh my gosh, I really like them.”

“I really like them too!”

imagesOOC2T017

 

That was a conversation that took place in my Year 7 class just as the New Kids were really starting to take off here in Britain. I can still  vividly remember this scene as we waited for our form tutor to arrive. At this point I’d definitely heard of New Kids On The Block but I hadn’t seen them and I didn’t really know anything about them. I wasn’t even a hundred per cent sure I’d heard anything by them. But I remember for the upcoming Smash Hits Poll Winners Awards many of the pop stars du jour were casting their vote for a little known band called the New Kids for Best Newcomer and various other awards so I knew there was something special about this band.

Little did I know just how special.

2. NUMBER ONE ON TOP OF THE POPS

It was Thursday night which meant that it was Top Of The Pops night, so us kids and Dad – who always likes to think he’s down with the kids – were huddled around the TV waiting to check out that week’s chart climbers and sliders and more importantly, who’d hit the top spot.

When the new number one was announced, I was thrilled to hear that it was that cool new group that everyone was talking about,New Kids On The Block with You Got It (The Right Stuff.) That was great because I’d finally get to see what they looked like – and what was so great about them. Little did I know that my little pre-pubescent self was NEVER going to be the same again.

The New Kids didn’t make a live appearance so the video was played instead, and when I tell you that it was love at first sight, I am not kidding. I’d had lots of crushes up until that point (yep, always had an eye for the boys!) but this was indescribable. I’d never seen a whole bunch of really great looking boys before. They sang and danced amazingly. I loved their style and they just had this thing… this thing that I couldn’t and still can’t quite put my finger on. And when a band or artist has this special quality, you just know they’re going to be huge. So it was no surprise when the New Kids blew up big time.

My sister and I had found our new crushes – as did most of the female population under the age of twenty five. I still didn’t know their names but the one who made the biggest impression on me was the extremely handsome, dark-haired boy who appeared to be the lead singer…

3. SMASH HITS COVER

Shortly after seeing them on TOTP for the first time, New Kids On The Block graced their first ever cover of Smash Hits magazine. And they were every bit as gorgeous as I’d remembered. I learned that their names were Jonathan Knight, Joey McIntyre, Danny Wood, Donnie Wahlberg, and Jordan Knight was Jon’s brother and the hottie who’d caught my eye. I’d never heard of anyone called Jordan before (we weren’t that exotic growing up in North-West London!) but it soon became one of my favourite boy’s names and remains so to this day – although Hubby is adamant that if ever we have a son, he is NEVER going to be called Jordan!

Thanks to that issue of Smash Hits, we also got to learn all sorts of other extremely useful snippets of info about them which came in very handy for discussions with our classmates. It was long before I was buying every magazine that they featured in.

nki

I bitterly regret not hanging on to that issue of Smash Hits.

4. WINNING SMASH HITS AWARDS

The year was 1990, the year my baby brother was born and the year New Kids On The Block scooped almost everything at the Smash Hits Poll Winners Awards. I’ve always loved watching the Smash Hits Poll Winners Party on BBC One, and then reading about it in the following issue of the magazine.

That year the New Kids appeared at the party via satellite link (that’s kind of when you know someone’s really famous!) but for the screaming girls present and those watching at home, those boys from Boston were definitely the highlight – as was seeing their excitement every time they got an award. But oh my goodness that was nothing compared to the hysterics when Jordan Knight found out that he’d won the award for most fanciable male. I loved when he looked in to the camera and said, “It’s me, boys” and then went on to thank all us “fine, English girls” for the award. Ooh, I’ve come over all funny!

Jordan Knight winning the award for most fanciable male was hardly a surprise but as all the New Kids are hot, it’s a pity they weren’t all joint first.

5. NEW YORK GIG

OK so I never got to go to the New York concert as part of the Hanging Tough Tour but I did get to see it and I loved it! I enjoyed every second of the show and so it seemed, did the New Kids, who looked as though they were having an awesome time. The bond between the boys has always been obvious but it was even more evident here. There have been many renditions of I’ll Be There but I definitely think there’s is the best by a long shot. I loved watching Jordan pulling faces into the camera and showing off his breaking dancing skills, Wild man Donnie serenading a little girl, and the boys really working that crowd.

Awesome gig!

6. PROVIDENCE GIG

I’d never even heard about Providence, RI before (sorry to all the residents there!) But now when I hear it mentioned, I immediately think of the gig the New Kids did there back in 1991 as part of the Magic Summer Tour. A friend recorded it for me and I’d never get fed up of watching it. In fact I spent more time watching it then I did studying for end of year exams. But it was worth it seeing Jordan perform Baby, I Believe In You.

I wish I had been there.

7.THE COMEBACK PT.1

I was thrilled, thrilled, thrilled when the New Kids announced that they were reuniting but I couldn’t understand why it was taking so long to happen. There were apparent recording hitches and all kinds of other calamities that they had to contend with. And their eagerly-awaited appearance at the 1993 Smash Hits Poll Winners Party mysteriously never happened (Donnie later said that it was because the band were asked to change some of the lyrics to their very risqué hit, Dirty Dawg, which they refused to do.)

They did a feature in Smash Hits and it was awesome to hear what they’d been up to during their two year break. And I loved their lively banter with Clive Warren on capital Radio, as they promoted their new album Face The Music. It appeared that the boys were back, and us Blockheads – the real ones who never went away – were doing cartwheels.

images2MPKG8O5

But this is where the memories aren’t so good. Even though I loved Face The Music, and I think it was lyrically and vocally one of the strongest out of all their early offerings, the critics and haters had it in for the New Kids. They slammed the boys’ harder, edgier street image and sound, and claimed that the lyrics in Dirty Dawg degraded women. Dirty Dawg only got as far as number twenty seven in the UK charts and the following single Never Gonna Let You Go barely made it into the Top Forty. Then Jon quit the group the New Kids soon disbanded. What I call the ‘wilderness years’ soon followed.

It is such a great pity that the boys weren’t as successful as they could have been because everything was put in place for an awesome comeback but there was so much stacked against them. But we can be thankful that they gave us another fantastic album.

8. THE COMEBACK PT.2

When it came to chart music and boy bands, no one could ever match up to New Kids On The Block. From being everywhere they were suddenly nowhere – and us fans missed them like crazy. I would get so excited if I so much as saw them mentioned in an article or if one of them made a fleeting appearance on a TV show.

And my biggest regret?

My biggest regret was that I got to see them perform live. That’s right – I might have been a fan for most of my life but I never got to go to a concert for many reasons and that did make me sad.

images9EU92TXX

I used to wish that they’d get back together if only for a little while so that I’d be able to fulfil my wish of being a hysterical Blockhead at one of their gigs. But I knew that it was unlikely to ever happen. The band had always seemed reluctant to get back together with many of them clearly stating that they’d moved on to other things.

So I was stunned, totally stunned when the New Kids reunited back in 2008. I was thrilled but apprehensive. What if this comeback was like the first one?

Luckily for us, it so wasn’t.

The group are still going strong today.

9. MY FIRST CONCERT

As soon as the UK tour was announced, I got tickets to the gig in Wembley. There are no words to describe how excited I was. For the New Kids to have gotten back together was beyond my wildest dreams. But to actually be going to their concert was a case of if-this-is-a-dream-please-don’t-wake-me. I was so happy that my dream was coming true.

But then tragedy struck when I lost my beloved grandfather just three weeks before the concert. In my grief the last thing I wanted to do was have a blast. I just wanted to curl up in a ball in a corner and stay there for a year. But my family had other ideas and persuaded me that it was what I needed.

images6CQJH827

They were absolutely right. So a slightly subdued me went to Wembley with a very dear friend and we had an amazing time. We laughed, we sang, we danced, I may have shed a tear or two. It’ll always be very memorable for me. I loved the intro when the boys walked out on stage, and during If You Go Away, they displayed an emotional montage as a tribute to the loved ones they lost, which obviously struck a chord with me.

It was an extremely bittersweet experience and one that I’ll always be thankful to the New Kids for. I feel that they played a part in getting me through one of the hardest things I’ve ever experienced, and I fulfilled my wish.

They were definitely worth the wait.

 

10. STAR ON HOLLYWOOD WALK OF FAME

When New Kids On The Block got their star on Hollywood Walk Of Fame it was as though they’d come full circle and there wasn’t a prouder bunch than us Blockheads. All I could think was “It’s about time!” New Kids have their place among the stars where they belong.

de51465260e3bc5edc4b14d2939bb63e

Happy New Kids Day!

gingham-apron-pie-lady2.jpg

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Video

Bad Boys Inc. Had Us Walking On Air

Writing about The Perfect Year sung by the beautiful Dina Carroll reminded me of another song that was also released in December 1993 in the hope of becoming the Christmas number one (wasn’t that the case with all November/December single releases?) It’s by blink-and-you’ll-miss them boy band Bad Boys Inc. and it was a delightfully schmaltzy (nothing wrong with that!) ballad which I really liked at the time, and listening to it now, I’m transported back to the early nineties and my teen years. And like The Perfect Year, it reminds me of a really fab Christmas and New Year with my family.

Check out the video for Walking On Air, and look out for the post about the gorgeous Bad Boys Inc. who I think were one of the best British Boy bands – too bad they didn’t stick around for long enough!

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 31, 2014 in The Sound Of Our Youth

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Video

The Perfect Year Makes The Perfect New Year’s Eve

No matter where I am, who I’m with or how I’m celebrating, there are some traditions that I have to adhere to for New Year’s Eve every year: I must have a glass of something sparkling; I must make sure Hubby’s nearby for me to kiss on the stroke of midnight, and I always see the New Year in – so no getting an early night! And another New Year’s Eve must have: a listen to Dina Carroll’s The Perfect Year, which I think is the perfect song to play at the end of the year, just before we see in the new one.

dc

 

Those who are familiar with the song will also know that it’s from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Sunset Boulevard but Dina recorded her own version of it which was released towards then end of 1993. I was a teenager at the time she released The Perfect Year and I’ve always loved her version of the song. There’s something about the power of her vocals and the emotion in her voice that really adds to the song and Dina really makes the it her own. This song played a huge part in me taking voice lessons and wanting to be involved in musical theatre. Furthermore 1993 was something of a great year for me and the festive season of that year was probably one of the most memorable we’ve ever celebrated, and The Perfect Year naturally reminds me of this wonderful time and the fab early nineties. Oh how those years passed by so very quickly!

 

The beautiful Dina Carroll

The beautiful Dina Carroll

 

1993 could also be described as the perfect year for Dina Carroll too – the only British singer to have had a natural American accent! She’s worked with David Cole and Robert Clivillés of C&C Music Factory. Her album So Close, released that year, entered the Top Ten of the UK Album Charts. Her hit Don’t Be A Stranger – wonderfully soulful ballad – reached number three in the charts becoming Dina’s biggest hit. Not only that but when The Perfect Year entered the UK singles chart, Dina became the only British female singer in the 1990s to have had two singles simultaneously in the Top Ten, along with  Don’t Be a Stranger. And in February of the following year, Dina topped off her phenomenal success with a much deserved Brit award.

 

Unfortunately even though Dina had accomplished a lot and still had the potential to go much further in her career, she gradually faded from the music scene. Sure she was still in the music industry and she made a couple of comebacks, with her last release was back in 2003 but since then very little has been heard about her. It’s a shame because she was a stunning lady with a stunning voice, and vocally, she was right up there with Whitney and Mariah. Dina also acted with a great deal of grace and class – something we don’t always see from celebrities nowadays. I still remember how apologetic she was when accepting her Brit award, and a couple of semi-rude words accidentally escaped her lips. How times have changed!

I do hope that Dina will return to the music scene soon but in the meanwhile, I will forever be thankful to her for recording the most beautifully sentimental track that makes New Year complete.

gingham-apron-pie-lady2

 
2 Comments

Posted by on December 31, 2014 in The Sound Of Our Youth

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Video

I Know Its Christmas When I Hear These Pop Tunes!

Christmas is so around the corner, I know I’ll hear it knocking on my door any second now. But we’ve all known that Christmas was about to descend upon us from the moment we heard Christmas songs being blared from the radio. I know a lot of people complain about Christmas songs – and quite frankly I think there might be something wrong with them – but I absolutely love them. It doesn’t matter whether they’re hymns, carols, or pop songs – if it’s Christmassy, I’m bound to love it!

Thinking back to the days of Top Of The Pops, discovering who was at the top of the charts with the Christmas number one was one of the highlights of the festive season. I’d say that within the last twenty years or so, the Christmas number one didn’t always have a Christmassy theme but nonetheless, they still bring back memories of Christmas.

Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, I don’t really follow mainstream chart music anymore. It’s just not as good as it used to be in my opinion (and I’ve been told that my views indicate that I’m most definitely getting old!)

Old or not, there are some pop songs that to me just scream Christmas and bring back a lot of childhood memories. The festive season just wouldn’t be the same without these songs. If you came over to my house on Christmas morning, these songs would be played on repeat. So in no particular order:

1. Do They Know It’s Christmas? Band Aid

The brainchild of Sir Bob Geldof and Midge Ure in order to raise money for the victims of the Ethiopian famine, the original version in 1984 featured a whole host of stars which read like a list of who’s who in British pop. It was the first time I’d ever seen a huge number of pop stars collaborate together like this, so I was totally in awe. Of course, I was too young to understand that it was a charity single and thought that the likes of Bananarama, Paul Young, Wham!, Culture Club, Phil Collins, Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet, Paul Weller and a whole host of famous faces had formed a massive band – and would be putting out singles as a collective. So naturally I was confused when they went back to working as individual acts.

So far, four versions of this song have been released with the most recent one being this year, thirty years after the original was released, featuring among others Bono, Seal, Paloma Faith, One Direction, and Chris Martin. However the original along with the second version from 1989 which featured Kylie Minogue, Lisa Stansfield, Sonia, Chris Rea, Cliff Richard and Bros.

But whichever version I listen to, it never fails to make me feel incredibly emotional.

2. Last Christmas, Wham

I really do think this could be my ultimate Christmas song. But then I probably say that about all Christmas songs. Nonetheless there’s some very special about this Wham! track from 1984. My aunts were massive Wham! fans back in the day and would buy every record on the day it was available to buy in the shops, so to say we grew up with the sounds of Wham! is an understatement and probably explains why we love this track so much. However, Wham! duo George Michael and Andrew Ridgely were kept off the top spot by Band Aid but thirty years later this song is till played every Christmas without fail on radio stations, shops and households everywhere.

I also love the sentimental video in which gorgeous George experiences the pain of a lost love – and furthermore has to see ‘lost love’ flirting with a only too happy to oblige Andrew! Every time I watch that video I think ‘Damn, I live the eighties!’ – and laugh at George’s tumble in the snow!

3. I Still Believe In Santa Claus, New Kids On The Block

I first heard this track when our music teacher played this track in class in order for us to answer questions on it: time signature; what instruments can be heard etc.

To be honest I wasn’t really bothered with answering the questions as I was totally taken with the song – and not just because it was by New Kids On The Block. True, Joey, Jordan, Donnie, Danny and Jon can do no wrong in my eyes but it was such an emotive, meaningful song and little Joey’s vocal’s sounded so cute on it. Taken from their platinum selling Christmas album from 1989, Merry, Merry Christmas, I Still Believe In Santa Claus wasn’t released in the UK as a single. The equally amazing This One’s For The Children taken from the same album was released here instead, but for me, there’s something super special about I Still Believe In Santa Claus.

4. The Power Of Love, Frankie Goes To Hollywood

I absolutely love this song from 1984 (what is it with me and Christmas tracks from 1984???)  and I adore the video even more. There’s something so poignant about this  song and I get very emotional listening to it – and I positively blub when I watch the highly evocative video. As far as I know, the video for The Power Of Love is the only one to illustrate the real meaning of Christmas  (sorry people, it’s not all about trees, Christmas shopping stampedes and the Queen’s speech) and it’s so beautifully depicted. Well done Frankie Goes To Hollywood!

I remember when I first heard the song being announced on TOTP, I thought Frankie Goes To Hollywood were doing a Jennifer Rush song! But as fantastic as her song was, I’m so glad they did this one instead.

5. I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day, Wizzard

This song from 1973 was a bit before my time, but from the moment I first heard it aged eleven, I loved it. It’s exactly the kind of song to get the family dancing around to on Christmas morning. You cannot sit down to I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day! It’s more than forty years old but it could beat more current Christmas tunes hands down. It seems hard to believe but the band, led by Roy Wood, who looks like Santa’s free-love, hippy dippy, younger brother were kept off the top spot that year by Slade and their equally fab Merry Xmas Everybody.

Typical. You wait for one good Christmas tune to come along…

6. Step Into Christmas, Elton John

This is another song from 1973 which I first heard when I was about eleven (again) and I thought it was great. Before I heard this track, most of the Christmas songs I’d heard and that were played at home were the ones you’d sing around the piano. Too bad we didn’t have a piano at home – we always had keyboards but it’s not quite the same! Anyway the man with the piano and the big glasses, Elton John (or Sir Elton John as he is called now) proved that you could play songs at a piano and get people grooving. And groove we did to this fantastic Christmas song.

7. Mistletoe And Wine, Cliff Richard

Mistletoe and Wine is a 1988 Christmas classic from the legendary Cliff Richard, and he clocked up his twelfth UK number one with this hit. My mum absolutely loves this song, and thinks she’s at karaoke every time  she hears this song. But then she is a massive Cliff fan.

A beautiful and meaningful song, it’s so evocative of Christmas. I can’t remember how many weeks this song was at the top spot for, but it seemed as though Cliff was never off TOTP!

8. Merry Xmas Everybody, Slade

I think this song is definitely a family favourite. I still have memories of my aunt singing this song so loud, I’m sure the neighbours who lived at the end of the street could hear her. British glam rockers, Slade released this in 1973 and it went to the top of the charts, giving the band, fronted by Noddy Holder their sixth UK number one – and preventing Wizzard from hitting the top spot.

9. 8 Days Of Christmas, Destiny’s Child

I was a huge Destiny’s Child fan and I loved the girls’ take on the Twelve Days Of Christmas carol. I know this song came in for a lot of criticism, (but then what song doesn’t) and I don’t think it’s gone down as a Christmas masterpiece, but I like this song and it reminds me of my entrance into adulthood. Plus there’s the mention of ‘dirty denim’ in the song lyrics, which really takes me back!

10. I’ll Be Missing You Come Christmas, New Kids On The Block

OK, OK, you get it, I’m a huge New Kids fan. But that’s not the only reason why two New Kids On The Block songs have made this list. This is another Christmas song that I just have to hear during the festive season each year. It’s slushy and sentimental and just perfect for Christmas. Also love Jordan’s falsetto!

 

gingham-apron-pie-lady2.jpg

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 22, 2014 in The Sound Of Our Youth

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Video

E(xpress) Y(ourself) C(learly): I Feel It!

EYC: Damon, Dave and Trey

EYC: Damon, Dave and Trey

I got a text from a friend last night in which she told me that she’d been to a club and heard a song that we used to love when we were teens (music was so much better back then!) This led to a conversation about other groups and songs we used to jam to back in the day, and I remembered a group we really, really used to love way back when. I cannot believe I ever forgot them in the first place but it’s as though a piece of the jigsaw that is my memory has finally slotted back into place!

It’s no secret that I was and still am a massive New Kids On The Block fan. But there was another American boy band in the early nineties who arrived on the scene just as NKOTB were preparing to make their long awaited comeback. They may have been tagged with the boy band label but the truth is they were a lot slicker, edgier and cooler than all the boy bands who had popped up after the New Kids split. They veered more towards r’n’b/pop rather than cheesy pop, and for all those who think that boy bands are for twelve year old girls, well, this was a boy band with a difference. They were a raunchier, sexed-up version of a boy band with a more mature look and sound. In interviews, they certainly didn’t act as though they’d never been kissed and that’s putting it mildly! Yep, this was definitely one for the adults.

yec

Who am talking about? EYC of course! In fact said friend pointed out that we first spotted them more than twenty years ago. Twenty years? That’s crazy! I swear it was just last week!

WHO ARE EYC?

EYC – which stood for Express Yourself Clearly – comprised of the gorgeous Trey Parker, Dave Loeffler and Damon Butler. They formed in 1990 and were signed to MCA Records. The band were influenced by R n b, hip-hop and gospel music. Their motto was express yourself clearly, but their catchphrase was “EYC-ya!” which they yelled at the end of performances and interviews.

Their debut album

Their debut album

The first time I saw them perform was when they appeared on The Smash Hits Poll Winners Party back in December 1993 where they won the award for best new act. Rumour has it – and this is just a rumour – that EYC were scheduled to perform in order to fill in for NKOTB who had been due to make their first live UK appearance since getting back together. However, the Boston boys had been asked to change some of the lyrics to their controversial new single Dirty Dawg, so they refused to perform and pulled out from the show. Enter EYC! Incidentally, there’s also another NKOTB connection as before they formed the band, both Damon and Trey were backing dancers for teen sensation Tiffany… when she supported the New Kids on tour!

While sat at home watching The Poll Winners Party, I wondered who these guys were. They were awesome! I liked their style, their moves, their vocals, their energy, their stage presence… and their song Feelin’ Alright wouldn’t leave my head! For guys who were relatively new to the scene, they arrived with an almighty bang! And at school the next day, EYC was all my classmates and I could talk about:
“OMG! Did you see those three guys?”
“Do you mean EYC?”
“Yeah, I did!”
“OMG, they’re so hot!”
“I like the blond one.”
“The one with the brown hair’s really cute.”
“When’s the single out?”
“What happened to New Kids? I thought they were performing?”

Trey Parker

Trey Parker

After that Damon, Dave and Trey were everywhere, and I do mean EVERYWHERE! Their faces were on the covers of teen mags; you couldn’t watch Saturday morning TV without seeing the band; they regularly performed on Top Of The Pops and other music shows; they toured all over the world… In a nutshell, EYC were making it big! I specifically remember an interview the group gave to Smash Hits magazine in which the topic was… cola! One member of EYC said that he loved Coca-Cola, another said he preferred Pepsi, while Dave, bless him, said he’d never touch either – or any kind of fizzy drink for that matter – because it always made him feel as if his teeth were disintegrating! One thing I loved about EYC is that they really seemed to gel and they worked well together. You got the feeling that they weren’t just members of the same band – but that they were great friends as well.

Dave Loeffler

Dave Loeffler

A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE GUYS

All-round entertainer Trey had worked in film, TV and musical theatre when he moved to California from Alabama in the hope of hitting the big time. There he met dancer Damon from Los Angeles, and the two hit it off and became firm friends. They both later became backing dancers for Tiffany.

damonbutler

Trey then met Dave, who was also from LA, at a party and after introducing him to Damon, the three teenagers, drawn together by their love of music and dance, decided to form a group and began working on material. Thus EYC was born.

GETTING STARTED

Despite being so young when they started out, the trio knew that they wanted to have creative control and a say in what they did as a group, and were desperate to avoid falling into the manufactured band trap. They were lucky when they signed with MCA that they were allowed a say in their image, their sound, who they worked with etc. Industry puppets, they were not!

imagesLVQ57FL7 Their first album, Express Yourself Clearly was written and produced in a year.

THE FAME GAME

However, it was in 1993 that EYC really hit the big time – the same year they released their self-titled debut album and picked up a Smash Hits Poll Winners awards. In 1994, they toured Australia with Salt n’ Peppa. The following year, EYC opened up for Irish boy band, Boyzone, on their UK tour. They had also supported Prince and Whitney Houston, and even won an Australian Grammy. Furthermore, they came extremely close to touring with one of their idols, Michael Jackson, but turned down the opportunity to embark on their own international tour as the headline act. In addition, Dave bagged himself a girlfriend in the form of British then-model-now-presenter Lisa Snowdon. Lucky, lucky lady!

imagesZP5O9IXH

It was also in 1995 that EYC released their second album Put It On. Unfortunately it didn’t do as well as their first album, Express Yourself Clearly. but they managed to get things back on track for a while when they recorded a Dr. Pepper commercial in 1996. After years of solid touring, writing and recording, Damon, Dave and Trey decided that they needed a little time out and to take things easy, which sadly meant that their fans saw a lot less of them. However, in 1999 EYC went back to doing what they did best and embarked on a national US tour; made appearances on Nickelodeon, and supported The Backstreet Boys – another American boy band who’d experienced success in Europe before cracking the market in their homeland; and crack it they did! EYC put out their third album, I Feel It, which was released in the United States only. The bad news for fans was that I Feel It turned out to be their final album, as EYC disbanded in 2002, when Trey, Damon and Dave decided to concentrate on separate projects.

The boys released seven singles and put out four albums. I actually received their debut single Feelin’ Alright as a Christmas present from a school friend who was also a massive fan. I’m actually surprised that despite all their success, their highest chart position was No.13 for Black Book. And I was shocked to realize that EYC hadn’t even scratched the surface of the American market. They only releases two singles there, where their highest chart position was N0.30 for This Thing Called Love. I vaguely remember reading a magazine article in which the band were interviewed and they revealed that they had not yet cracked America, deciding instead to concentrate on Europe first. I was stunned as I had assumed that they were already huge in their homeland, and being the kind of act that EYC were, I would have thought that the Americans would have been eating them up with a spoon. One explanation could be that during the early to mid nineties, the United States were grunge mad. Oh well, America’s loss was our gain.

WHERE ARE THEY NOW

They may have put away their baggy pants and stopped wearing their caps back-to-front but Damon, Dave and Trey are still involved in entertainment – the industry that they know and love.

Dave is now described as an entertainment mogul. He is a producer, promoter and co-manages Usher. He has also worked with Justin Bieber. He has also cut his long brown locks, opting for a much shorter style. Trey resumed his acting career and was also in a band called The MVPs. He is also the owner of an entertainment company, The LA Allstars, and has worked with artists such as Anastasia. Very little is known about Damon but after the group split, he had starred in some movies including Hairspray.  It is believed that he still works as a dancer and has appeared on Broadway. With so many bands making or attempting to make a comeback, it doesn’t seem likely that EYC will ever reform as they all seem to have moved on. But one can only live in hope. They really were an awesome band. eyc2 EYC-ya! RELATED LINKS: http://luxepearllife.com/2013/02/09/memorable-cuts-feelin-alright-by-eyc/ gingham-apron-pie-lady2

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

 
rock, metal and more

All about music and other entertainment

Murder Mystery Blog

Corporate Murder Mysteries

LHB Blog

A girl, a blog and a cactus named Pudding

Tangled Up In Music

Music Reviews

Every number one

Journey through all the songs that topped the charts

YOU & HOME

Deco · Gastro · Style

vinnieh

Movie reviews and anything else that comes to mind

The Artisan Duck

Ramblings from my crafty corner.

Suburbiakid's Blog

Teen Ramblings from a suburban kid in the 1970's

My Eighties

Remembering what it was like to grow up in the '80s. Twitter: @MyEighties

Something Definitely Happened

A vintage fashion and style blog

Health News Library

Your On-Line Source for Alternative Health Care Solutions

My Berkeley Bowl

Making my way through the exotic fruits and vegetables of the Berkeley Bowl aisles, one delicious recipe at a time

Fitness on Toast

A Fitness Blog about Gym Training, Sport Fashion, Healthy Nutrition and Active Travel – By Faya Nilsson

Insidethelifeofmoi

An eccentric blogger with a pen and a thousand ideas

Cinema Parrot Disco

Musings on Mainly Movies from a Table 9 Mutant

Radical Departures

Infrequent blabbering about films, music, telly, beauty, Sheffield and other random stuff

goingplaceslivinglife

Travel, Food, and Slices of Life

~~~ lovely buns ~~~

~simple, delicious, beautiful, scrumptious bits and bobs to eat~

The Nostalgia Blog

Your source for everything retro. 70s, 80s, 90s and beyond!

Charlotte Fox

Style, Beauty, Tips, Tricks & Travel

The Sconnoisseurs

Recipes and Recommendations

Midday With Mindy

Encouraging Words From A Young Wife :)

Enjoy by Paula

be happy, healthy & radiate positivity

%d bloggers like this: