The Apollonia post has now been updated with the Apollonia 6 album added! Enjoy!

My sister blog, Lost Pop Treasures, is back in action! Check it out!!

If you wish to download an album off of this blog and the link is dead, please request it either in the comments or the Chat Box and I will reupload it as soon as possible. :)

And don't forget to follow the Isle on Facebook and Twitter!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

R.I.P. PRINCE



Just as I was finally coming to terms with the death of Vanity, the unbelievable news that Prince died assaulted me last week.  I couldn't, and still can't, process it properly.  I have already expressed my adoration and memories of Vanity and her influence on my life on this blog, and obviously if it wasn't for Prince, there would be no Vanity, so his influence is even greater.  He changed my life through his music and image as well, and I really cannot express just how important he has been to my life. To me, he WAS music, and every piece of music I enjoy to this day has some sort of Prince influence in it. In fact, this blog would not exist without Prince, as he encouraged me to explore different and less popular artists and music, especially though his protegees. Suffice it to say, I've been having a listening marathon to his music ever since, and I encourage all of you to explore his vast body of work and go beyond the hits.  Every single album that he has released, from the late 1970s to his death in 2016, have amazing album tracks that need to be heard, not to mention his b-sides and demos.  No surprise, those are what I've been indulging myself in.  In fact, my boyfriend asked me what my favourite Prince song is, and I immediately said "Space", which is from his Come album, an underrated and disregarded album released to fulfill his contract with Warner Bros. after he severed ties with them. I think it's one of his best albums, and "Space" is a masterpiece.  But there are so many others, I couldn't possibly list them.  And then there are all of the songs he wrote, produced, collaborated on or influenced for a multitude of other artists, all of whom I adore, like Sheila E., The Time, The Family, Sheena Easton, Jill Jones, Wendy & Lisa, Andre Cymone, and Chaka Khan, to name only a few. And of course the Isle has featured many of these artists as well. In honour of his unexpected passing, please visit the following posts and revel in his genius: Amar, Apollonia, Bobby Z, Carmen Electra, Carole Davis, Dale Bozzio, Day Zs, Elisa Fiorillo, Good QuestionIngrid Chavez, Lois L., Mayte, Taja Sevelle, Tyka Nelson, and, of course, Vanity.

"You better live now, before the grim reaper come knocking on your door."

                                                                                   Prince - Lets Go Crazy 
(Let me know if the links need to be reupped. :) )

Friday, April 1, 2016

Abstrac' - Abstrac' (1989) and M&M - Get Ta Know Ya Betta (1992) DOUBLE POST!!

Recently I downloaded the 12" single mixes of the song "Right And Hype" by R&B trio Abstrac'.  I had not heard the song in a very long time and was surprised by how good it was.  I was curious to hear the album again, so I searched furiously through my collection and finally located the CD.  One listen convinced me that I had to share it on the Isle.  The trio consisted of Alvina "Topaz" Del Bettis, Mary Brown and Marsha McClurkin, and was formed by Gene Griffin and Teddy Riley. In the late 80's, Griffin and Riley started perfecting what would become known as the New Jack Swing sound, which took the popular-at-the-time pop-funk R&B sound of producers like L.A. Reid & Babyface and Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis and gave it a more street sound, mainly by adding hip hop flourishes.  Encouraged by their extremely successful collaboration with Johnny Kemp, "Just Got Paid", they started working, both separately and together, with different acts.  The first all-female act that they worked with together was Abstrac'.  (Riley had had experience producing another female trio the previous year on the track "Wishing You Were Here" by The Gyrlz.) The three ladies of Abstrac' were unknowns, yet they managed to get an album deal with Reprise Records.  The self-titled album was mainly written and produced by Griffin along with Riley's brother Markell, with three tracks written and produced by another New Jack pioneer, Bernard Belle.  Riley focused on the keyboards, mixing and arranging.  The first single was "Right And Hype", and it managed to dent the Billboard Hot 100 at #89. A promo was released for the second single, "You Are The Party (I Am The Fun)," but it failed to make an impact and the group was dropped.  However, three years later, Marsha and Mary reemerged as the duo M&M and released the album Get Ta Know Ya Betta on Atlantic Records.  By now the New Jack sound was in full swing (pun intended) and while Abstrac' had still held on to the dance-funk sound, M&M was full on New Jack R&B. The ladies also had a lot more involvement in the writing of the album's material, along with its main producer, Herb Middleton. Unfortunately for the ladies, their new incarnation was even less successful and their two singles, "Talk To Me" (which was remixed by Markell Riley) and the album's title track, floundered on the charts and they were again dropped from a major label. (As a side note, two of the ladies from the aforementioned trio The Gyrlz also later formed a New Jack duo a year later, Terri & Monica, and they were moderately more successful. Perhaps they will be featured in the Isle at some point in the future...) The writing experience on the M&M album ended up being a godsend for Mary Brown, however, as she later found great success as a songwriter, most notably with Destiny's Child's "No No No". Fortunately I have been meaning to feature the M&M album for a couple years now and had it on hand, so when I unearthed the Abstrac' album I thought it was finally time to share it with you all as well, and therefore I've presented them together. Enjoy!

Video for Right And Hype

Download Abstrac'

1 Lookin' Out For #1
2 I'll Be Your Friend
3 Sleaze
4 Right And Hype
5 Make Me Sweat
6 Strategy
7 Trust Me
8 Buggin' Over You
9 You're My Kind Of Guy
10 You Are The Party (I Am The Fun)

Download Get Ta Know Ya Betta

1 Feel No Shame
2 We're Falling Apart
3 Talk To Me
4 Never Let Go
5 My Way
6 Get Ta Know Ya Betta
7 Losin' Control
8 If I Give My Love To You
9 Go On
10 You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Various Artists - Lambada: Set The Night On Fire (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) (1990)

In my Vanity post, I mentioned that I read that she was supposed to star in the movie Lambada: Set The Night On Fire and was supposed to record the song "Gotta Lambada" for the soundtrack. This got me thinking about the soundtrack again, which I only ever had on cassette.  I remember loving that soundtrack (even though I've never seen the movie), so I had to find and buy the CD immediately. While only once before have I featured a compilation, this one seemed to fit the Isle perfectly, since some current and future postees and people they've worked with are on it. So here it is.  The film was based on the Afro-Brazilian dance called the Lambada, which was a sexy partner dance that became popular in the 1980s.  It was also referred to as "The Forbidden Dance" because of its suggestiveness. In 1989, the French group Kaoma released their version of the Los Kjarkas' Bolivian song "Llorando Se Fue" from 1981, translating it to Portuguese and renaming it "Lambada".  The song instantly became a worldwide hit (it even reached #46 on the Billboard Hot 100) and a dance craze.  Looking to capitalize on the craze, as well as rekindle the success of 1987's Dirty Dancing, two American films based around the dance were quickly made.  Vanity was reportedly tapped to play the lead female role in Lambada: Set The Night On Fire, but was unfortunately soon replaced by Melora Hardin. likely due to personal problems.  The two films, Lambada: Set The Night On Fire and The Forbidden Dance, were both released on March 16, 1990.  The Lambada craze was already waning by then, and Lambada: Set The Night On Fire, while both commercially and critically the more successful of the two, was still far from a hit.  (Looks like Vanity dodged a bullet there!)  It also had the better soundtrack, in my opinion.  Three promo singles were released from the album.  The first, the title song "Set The Night On Fire," was recorded by the R&B/funk trio Sweet Obsession, which consisted of sisters Keena, Kimmala and Michelle Green. The trio released two modestly successful albums in 1988 and 1991 (download them both at The Music Spectrum), and two less successful but funkier albums previously, but under different monikers - Razor by Greens III in 1984 (which included "You Want My Body", which was their 'interpretation' of Vanity 6's "Nasty Girl") and Set Me Free as Foxx in 1986.  The second promo single was the song supposedly originally intended for Vanity, "Gotta Lambada," which ended up being recorded by R&B duo Absolute, consisting of backing vocalist Tiara Le Macks and Carolyn Griffey, who was the daughter of Solar Records head Dick Griffey and disco singer Carrie Lucas, who also had a track on the soundtrack, the Lambada-ish "I Like The Rhythm".  "Gotta Lambada" was produced by one of the men behind Isle postees The Day Zs, Freeze. Absolute released the album For All Seasons and the single "Cheap Shot" that same year, though neither was a success. (Griffey would later replace Jody Watley in the reformed Shalamar in 2003, much to Watley's chagrin.)  The third single was "Perfect" by rapper Dina D, who released the album Never Seen A Rapper Like This (And I'll Betcha) and single "Groove With Me" in 1991, to little fanfare. Also included on the soundtrack were Tony Terry, who'd had a minor R&B hit with "On The Strength" with Isle postee Flame; Isle postee Kathy Sledge of Sister Sledge fame; freestyle and pop diva extraordinaire Brenda K. Starr; and Bill Wolfer, the producer behind Vanity's amazing solo album Wild Animal.  The soundtrack is more dance-pop than Lambada-esque, and though it and the singles didn't do that well, it is a solid dance workout and, in my opinion, an overlooked gem. So download it now and set your night on fire!

Download Lambada: Set The Night On Fire

1 Sweet Obsession - Set The Night On Fire
2 Absolute - This Moment In Time
3 Dina D - Perfect
4 Tony Terry - Tease Me Please Me
5 Kathy Sledge - Lambada Dancin'
6 Absolute - Gotta Lambada
7 Carrie Lucas - I Like The Rhythm
8 Johnny Thomas Jr. - Rock Lambada
9 Bill Wolfer - Wes Groove
10 Brenda K. Starr - Sata
11 Judette Warren - Give It Up

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Vanity - Vanity 6 (1982), Wild Animal (1984) & Skin On Skin (1986) TRIPLE POST!!!

It is with a very heavy heart that I make this latest post.  In case you haven't heard yet, my idol Vanity aka Denise Katrina Matthews passed away at the age of 57 due to kidney failure on February 15, 2016.  It has taken me a few days to deal with this, but now I feel I must honour her with a (very lengthy) post, a post that has been requested by several of you over the years. Vanity was the reason I started this blog nine years ago.  Like so many featured on this blog, Vanity was an unsung pop star who was forgotten over the years yet deserved recognition.  She did have a higher profile, at least in the 80s, than many acts featured here, which is why I resisted doing a post on her then.  But she was my initial motivation, as I was a huge fan of hers from the moment I saw her and she remained my ultimate diva.  I had even originally named this blog after her first major film, Tanya's Island, which she made before she was known as Vanity and was using the moniker D.D. Winters.  Even my 'Nasty G' name comes from the Vanity 6 song "Nasty Girl".  Much has been written about her over the past few days, so her past is well documented on the internet and I won't go into too much detail here.  For that you can also check her Wikipedia page. But I do want to share my personal memories of her.  The first time I laid eyes on her was in 1984 when I was 14 and she appeared on the Canadian music TV show The New Music.  They were doing a feature on Prince's female protegees.  At the time I was a casual Prince fan and had just become a Sheila E. fan, so I was curious about these other women.  The moment they showed an image of Vanity I was smitten.  She was the most beautiful woman I had ever laid eyes upon (and still is) and she had an irresistible magnetism just through that one image that drew me in forever.  Then they showed some clips from her music videos and I was all hers.  The fact that she was a fellow Canadian was a huge bonus.  This was around when she released her first solo album Wild Animal, and it was the only thing I cared about receiving for Christmas that year, which I did. I adored the album (despite family and friends insisting that she couldn't really sing) and I practically wore out the cassette the first week!  I was consumed with finding images of her after that and snatched up every magazine that she was in, from Right On to Playboy to Creem, The photos went on my wall immediately.  I also scoured the television for appearances by her, though back then we had limited channels and only video cassettes to capture things on.  But I wore out those video tapes as well whenever I was able to capture anything Vanity, especially her "Pretty Mess" video.  She was always a coquettish and magnetic presence in both her performances and interviews, with undeniable charisma.  Soon after a family friend managed to find a vinyl copy of the Vanity 6 album and I was in heaven!  The sexuality and naughtiness of both albums were just the kind of rebellion I needed as a lonely, overweight, awkward teen.  I delighted in shocking everyone around me with her lyrics and image.  Her outlandishness empowered me.  I remember my father watching the "Nasty Girl" video and dismissing her after she claimed that she needed "seven inches or more", clearly intimidated by her beauty and sexuality, as he fancied himself a Casanova but knew he'd never have a chance. This pleased me even more.  Soon her movie The Last Dragon was being promoted and I longed to see it, but living in a small town with a two cinema theatre, it was never shown, so I had to satiate myself with the soundtrack and soundtrack poster, which I begged to have from the only record store in town.  Obviously I immediately adored the song "7th Heaven" from it.  Luckily our theatre did show Purple Rain and I had become a bigger Prince fan because of it, as well as a fan of Apollonia, who had replaced Vanity in the movie after Vanity, having realized that Prince would never love and focus only on her, pursued the independence that could make her career flourish.  Unfortunately Apollonia (who is also featured on the Isle) paled in comparison to Vanity in my eyes, lacking her extreme magnetism and sensuality - though I do still adore Apples. As Apollonia herself admitted this week, Vanity was a tough act to follow. ;)  I wished at that time that Vanity had stayed with Prince, as everyone's career who was connected to him was blowing up.  (Though she managed to do quite well on Motown and had two Billboard Hot 100 hits.)  Teenagers being complicated and fickle, I was soon distracted with my awkward social world.  That, combined with the extreme difficulty in tracking anyone's career in those pre-internet times, led to my surprise when I came across her second album Skin On Skin. Of course I snatched it up, though while I adored the first single "Under The Influence", the rest of the album was a bit of a let down.  It lacked the extreme electro-funk and sexuality of  Wild Animal, and while she wrote and co-produced all of the material on Wild Animal, she was barely present in the creation of Skin On Skin.  Though her vocals had noticeably improved, it seemed a lot less personal. Of course, I still loved the album, and songs like "Animals" and "Ouch!" kept up that sexy silliness. The album didn't seem to get as much attention, however, and Vanity showed up on TV less and less. During that time she was also starring in many movies like Never Too Young To Die and Action Jackson (I adored the Jesse Johnson produced track "Undress" from it and was thrilled she was in the video for the Pointer Sisters' "He Turned Me Out", also featured on it), though of course they never made it to my two cinema town, and it took years before anything new came out on video back then.  These things combined to take my focus off of her.  There was one time in 1989, however, when she was filming an episode of the Friday The 13th TV series in Toronto entitled 'Mesmer's Bauble'  (in which she starred alongside Isle postee Robey), that a friend's brother was lucky enough to be at the filming, and he came back regaling me with stories of her.  I was extremely jealous.  She had been so close! But soon I was off to university and was distracted by my new academic and social life and all that that entailed.  I thought of her occasionally (like when I randomly scored a publicity poster of her as "Miss Audio-Visual 1984", and when I used "Strap On Robbie Baby" to shock a sociology class), but she fell to the back of my mind and became a bit of a teenage embarrassment.  In 1990 I did hear that she was filming a movie called Lambada: Set The Night On Fire and was extremely excited about the new song she was to record for it, but it was soon revealed that she dropped out of the film, and the song, "Gotta Lambada", ended up being recorded by female duo Absolut instead.  She did appear in the TV movie Memories Of Murder that year, which was the first Lifetime movie ever, but of course I didn't get Lifetime. After that she was totally off my radar until 1992, when she appeared in the Jackie Collins TV mini-series Lady Boss, which I watched with a sort of sentimental melancholy.  Around that time rumours were surfacing that she was a born-again Christian, and she then shockingly (to me, at least) appeared on The Joan Rivers Show that same year, renouncing her past and emphatically preaching the word of God.  It was very jarring and, I confess, made me very uncomfortable.  She talked about how she detested her carnal identity as Vanity, and discussed her addiction to smoking crack, which led to extreme kidney damage, a kidney transplant, and almost death!  It all came as a shock to me, though looking back it suddenly seemed obvious that she was on drugs in many of her early interviews and performances. I have to admit that this new Vanity, or Denise Matthews, as she now wanted to be called, frightened me, and like one of Joan's audience members suggested, it seemed to me that she had just substituted one drug for another.  She was an extreme literal bible thumper and even spoke in tongues!  It was all too much for me, though I felt ashamed for wishing that the old Vanity would return.  It seemed like a freak show, and I chose to turn my back on it.  Then, in the later 2000s, I started to feel nostalgic and began listening to all of the older music again, Vanity most of all.  Now that the internet was everywhere, I sought out copies of her old movies and finally saw many for the first time, including the extremely controversial Tanya's Island - now I finally knew what the song "Wild Animal" was about!  I introduced her into my new world and forced her on my friends and especially my boyfriend, who was (and still is) a huge Madonna fan, but he eventually warmed up to her as well.  I pulled out old pics and posters and put them up.  I joined forums and met friends while talking about her, and created several monikers for websites derived from her various aliases, songs and films.  I made her my computer and phone wallpaper and screen savers.  I was again entrenched in the world of Vanity. Only after she passed this week did I realize just how much of her physically surrounds me in all aspects of my world.  I did check up on the real Denise Matthews at times, visiting her website and Facebook page, and I was happy that she had found happiness through religion, even if I didn't get it myself.  I felt horrible for her continuing illness, and the revelations of her abuse as a child and adult.  I read Nikki Sixx's Heroin Diaries, about his drug addiction in the year 1987, when he was dating Vanity and she was going through an equally destructive drug addiction.  She wrote several passages in the book, and I got a better idea of what she went though.  But, though Denise preferred it, I couldn't let Vanity go, and I created a Facebook page dedicated to her. I was thrilled at the response from followers and realized that I was far from alone in my love for Vanity.  Then a year or two later, I got a Facebook message from Denise Matthews herself!  In it she asked that I take the page down, as she no longer wanted her old self to be celebrated.  She asked me to call her so we could discuss it and gave me her phone number.  You can imagine my delight and horror!  Out of respect I immediately removed the page, but I could never call her.  I don't want to meet my idols, and I was also wary of her possible attempts to "convert" me.  Now that she is gone, I regret that decision.  I had no idea that she was so ill in the past months, and though I knew she was lucky to have lived this long, I was still so saddened by her death.  And though I know that she did not want people to celebrate Vanity, and I do also celebrate the amazing woman that was Denise Matthews, I need to post this tribute to her and share the music that made me so happy all of these years.  As I told her when we corresponded about the Facebook page, though she was regretful about her personal life the years she was known as Vanity, she should not dismiss or forget the joy that her music and films gave so many of us.  Without her, I would not be who I am today, which I'd like to think isn't so bad, as for some undefinable reason she instilled in me a strength and sass that I desperately needed as a teen, and I'm not sure that I would have discovered that without Vanity.  I am sorry that her life was often so sad, but I think in the end she was truly happy to go to the God she loved so dearly, and that is how I'll remember her.  Please celebrate and enjoy her work and life!

Video for He's So Dull

Video for Nasty Girl

Video for Drive Me Wild

Download Vanity 6

1 Nasty Girl
2 Wet Dream
3 Drive Me Wild
4 He's So Dull
5 If A Girl Answers (Don't Hang Up)
6 Make-Up
7 Bite The Beat
8 3 x 2 = 6

Video for Pretty Mess

Live performance of Samuelle

Live performance of Pretty Mess & Wild Animal

Download Wild Animal

1 Flippin' Out
2 Pretty Mess
3 Samuelle
4 Strap On "Robbie Baby"
5 Wild Animal
6 Mechanical Emotion
7 Crazy Maybe

Video for Under The Influence

Live performance of Romantic Voyage

Live performance of  Under The Influence & Animals

Download Skin On Skin

1 Under The Influence
2 Manhunt
3 Romantic Voyage
4 Confidential
5 Animals
6 Skin On Skin
7 Gun Shy
8 Ouch
9 In The Jungle

Friday, February 12, 2016

Smart E's - Sesame's Treet (1992)

Surprise!!  Finally, a new post after forever.  Luckily I have a spare moment, and thought you all deserved a little Valentine's Day "treet".  While most of you likely remember the theme to the children's show Sesame Street, how many of you remember the rave remix by Smart E's? In 1992 their song "Sesame's Treet" hit #2 on the UK charts and managed to hit #60 on the Billboard Hot 100, staying in the charts for 16 weeks. The group was formed by DJs Christopher Howell (aka Luna-C) and Tom Orton (aka Mr. Tom) and producer Nick Arnold.  The three were heavily into breakbeat hardcore music, the music of choice at raves, which were huge at the time.  The boys decided to take samples from the film Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure and put them over a breakbeat track, releasing "Bogus Adventure," backed with "Fuck The Law", which took samples from the film Nightbreed.  "Bogus Adventure" caught the attention of local DJs and this encouraged the trio to record another sampled novelty track, this time using the theme from Sesame Street.  This was one of the first "happy hardcore" tunes, which focused on upbeat and childlike themes and samples, which appealed to the drug fueled rave crowds.  The song quickly caught fire and ended up debuting at #2 on the British charts, which was a first at that time.  The boys were snatched up by Big Beat Records and quickly put together an album.  Most of the album maintained a similar vibe to their previous tracks, using fast techno beats and many samples.  They also enlisted vocalist Jayde to add diva vocals on some tracks, including the next single "Loo's Control". The album failed to capitalize on "Sesame's Treet"'s success, however, and it was largely panned by critics as garbage.  It also led to many copycat acts who used samples from various child-centric sources, and the influx of similar tracks is said to have hurt the rave scene as a whole.  They did release one other song from the album, "Love Is Blind," though this was released under the moniker Echora, likely to distance themselves from the Smart E's name.  Also, the track was quite different from the rest of the album, as it was a straight-forward house number featuring the soulful vocals of Jayde.  It was also given many R&B remixes to appeal to the urban market.  It didn't do well on the charts, however.  The group split after this and all went their separate ways, though they all continued to release their own spin on dance music.  Howell probably had the most success, both with his solo music as well as numerous releases under different aliases, and also ran his own record labels.  Arnold released music under several aliases as well, the most successful likely being the happy hardcore group Bang!, who released two albums.  Initially Orton assisted with Bang! and then also went on to release tracks under different aliases and as part of various groups.  But they will all likely best be remembered for "Sesame's Treet," for better or for worse.

Video for Sesame's Treet

Video for Loo's Control

Download Sesame's Treet

1 Apollo (Lunar Mix)
2 Magnificent
3 Make It Happen
4 Sesame's Treet
5 Love Is Blind
6 The Law
7 Charlie
8 Loo's Control
9 A Most Excellent Choon
10 Intruder Alert
11 Bizzarely Odd
12 Time Out
13 Beautiful Noises

Friday, July 10, 2015

Nu Civilization - Nu Civilization (1993)

Emerging from a very modest upbringing in Brooklyn, Glenn Toby began his career in music in the burgeoning genre of hip hop. Known as Mr. Sweety "G", in the early 1980's he released a couple of underground rap hits, "At The Place To Be" and "We Want To Get Down". By the mid-80's he'd moved on to house music, most notably doing featured vocals for producer Winston Jones, recording under the name Cultural Vibe. Though he had dabbled in hip hop production, Toby's first notable foray into house music production was on the 1987 song "I Can Tell" by MSG, for which he also performed lead vocals.  Over the next few years he released more house tracks under aliases like Private House, The Klub and Kustom Made.  But it was the 1990 release of "Wake Up (Shay-Ama)" under the moniker Nu Civilization that got the attention of the world.  Released on Toby's own label Permanent Records, it started as a local club hit but blew up over the next couple of years, especially here in Canada.  UK label Vinyl Solution signed Toby to an album deal, and the album was released in the UK three years later (and on SPG Music Productions in Canada).  The album featured Toby on vocals on most songs, though he also included several other vocalists, most notably club divas Tafuri, Channelle and Chandra Simmons. While "Wake Up" was a huge club hit in Canada, the follow up singles, "When Will I Be Free," "You Are" and "Destiny", met with less success in Canada and elsewhere.  Over the next couple of years Toby deserted the Nu Civilization name but produced and recorded a few more songs, and he also co-wrote songs with Sybil, including her minor 1993 hit "You're The Love Of My Life".  In 1998 he put music aside when he founded the Book Bank Foundation, which provides tutoring and education in order to encourage literacy in inner city youth.  He then formed Glenn Toby Enterprises, a marketing, management and business development company with a focus on the entertainment industry, which he still runs to this day. Now, instead of making music himself, he's helping others get their music out there.

Download Nu Civilization

1 When Will I Be Free?
2 I Need Someone
3 You Are (Featuring Tafuri)
4 Street Jazz (Featuring Dwayne D. Kerr)
5 New Breed (Featuring Disciples Of Sound)
6 Follow Me Now
7 The Way
8 Destiny (Featuring Chandra Simmons)
9 All Of Me
10 Life Still Goes On (Featuring Chanelle)
11 I Still Believe
12 Revelations
13 Wake Up (Shay-Ama)

Friday, June 5, 2015

Ruby Amanfu - So Now The Whole World Knows (1998) and Smoke & Honey (2003) DOUBLE POST!!

Here we have an artist who, like so many other lost pop stars, was a victim of record label turmoil and interference. Ruby Amanfu was born in Accra, Ghana, and as a small child moved to Tennessee, where she honed her songwriting and vocals and, while attending high school, recorded and released her debut album, So Now The Whole World Knows, on an indie label (Thanks Liz!). She then attended Berklee College Of Music in Boston, but soon moved back to Nashville to attend Belmont University and worked on promoting the album. Ruby was compared to artists like Tracy Chapman and Jewel due to her thoughtful lyrics and folk sound. She was soon snatched up by Polydor - but in the UK. It's actually not that surprising, as Ruby comes off as a cross between two once popular British singers, Gabrielle and Samantha Mumba. She was teamed up with a slew of popular Nordic producers, some who worked with artists like Britney, Dannii, Geri, and Sophie, and also on other albums featured here like Stella SolielJuliette, and Lene, who recorded Ruby's song "Surprise" for her solo album. The resulting album contained very soulful pop laced with rock. The first single "Sugah" became a huge hit in the UK and Europe. The second single, "Chocolate Pie", did not. But by this point Ruby was back in the US, tired of label pressure and strife. She asked to be dropped, and the album never made it over the pond. She then pursued an independent path, writing songs for others (one - The Duhks' version of "Heaven's My Home" - was even nominated for a Grammy in 2007) and also hooked up with longtime friend Sam Brooker for the folk duo Sam & Ruby in 2005. They have released one album on Rykodisc and two EPs since, and they also joined Nashville vocal group The Collective and appeared on Season 3 of The Sing Off, coming in eighth.  In 2011, Ruby toured with Jack White and did vocals for his album Blunderbuss, and she released her EP The Simple Sessions the following year. She also sang co-lead vocals on the single "Love Interruption" with White, which they performed on the Grammy's in 2013.  That year she also released the single "I Wonder" with Brittany Howard, the lead singer of Alabama Shakes, on Jack White's label. Most recently she appeared on Jack White's second album, Lazaretto, and has been touring with indie sensation Hozier and appeared with him on Saturday Night Live in 2014, so clearly she is still going strong and the best is likely yet to come...and it has!  Ruby released a new album at the end of August, 2015!  Check out Standing Still on iTunes!!

Download So Now The Whole World Knows

1 Crybaby
2 Sleeper And The Gong
3 Hide Away
4 Aaron
5 Mr. Cunningham
6 Empty
7 Because Of Love
8 Simplicity
9 Release
10 True Love

Video for Sugah

Download Smoke And Honey

1
Sugah
2
Chocolate Pie
3
Just Until
4
Know You Better
5
Different Is Good
6
Work It Out
7
For Life
8
I Will Pray
9
Morning
10
Whether You Fall
11
You Can't Use Me
12
Bless You
13
Ying To The Yang

Friday, May 29, 2015

Goddess Of Destruction - Goddess Of Love (2005)

Pretty much all I need to say about Goddess Of Destruction was already said in my Darling Nikkie post, since the woman behind both is the one and only Nikkie Van Lierop. I made my adoration for her and her work known there, and Goddess Of Destruction is no exception.  I must again thank Konstantin for sharing this with me awhile back. Goddess Of Destruction was marketed as a band, but Nikkie is clearly the star of the show here, though she uses the moniker Max RedStone to downplay her past and make the project seem fresh and new.  After testing the waters of light, alterna-pop-rock as Darling Nikkie - to minimal success - Nikkie went back to her roots of techno, but this time pushing it harder, adding many industrial elements to the mix, a sound she explored as part of Lords Of Acid.  Goddess Of Destruction is even more rock-based, and Nikkie goes into it full throttle.  From what I gather, the album was only released in Belgium, and no official singles were released, though a video for "To The Limit" was made, which is great as it's my fave song from the album.  If you're like me and have a taste for hard music, this rarity is for you.

Video for To The Limit

Download Goddess Of Destruction

1 I Am
2 Goddess Of Love
3 Addicted To Sin
4 Warrior
5 The Wrongers
6 Goddess Of Sexxx
7 Howling To The Moon
8 Soulmate
9 Goddess Of Insanity
10 Desperation
11 To The Limit
12 That's How I Play
13 Love Or Leave
14 Behind Smiles

Friday, May 15, 2015

The Zummos - Modern Marriage (1985)

Oh dear, are we already 5 months into 2015 and I haven't posted anything?  I must say I don't have the time or desire that I used to, but I figure I should add a little something to keep you all interested. Isle fan Raymond generously sent me this awhile back, as it was on my wishlist after I heard about them when researching for my David Morales post (their single was his first major remix).  It is definitely fit for the Isle.  New York native Vinnie Zummo grew up in a musical family and taught himself how to play guitar. He got his big break when he met established British new wave/power pop artist Joe Jackson in 1983.  Joe asked him to play on his 1984 album Body And Soul and he ended up playing with Joe for the next five years. With Joe's help, Vinnie managed to get an album deal with Joe's label A&M, after enlisting his wife, singer Janice, to form the pop duo The Zummos. Their album was produced by the Zummos along with Joe Jackson, and it was similar to Joe's pop/new wave sound, though perhaps a little more bubblegum, thanks mainly to Janice's perky vocals.  "An Obsession (Over You)" was the first and only single, likely chosen for it's very upbeat dance-pop groove. The rest of the album is varied, from straight up new wave to retro '60s.  Overall it is a happy, fun listen.  "An Obsession (Over You)" was not a hit, though it did have some dance club attention thanks to the aforementioned David Morales remix, which really didn't alter the song too much. (You can download the remix on Lost Pop Treasures.) The duo was soon dropped, though Vinnie continued to record with Joe Jackson until 1989, and then went on to play with other artists.  He hooked up with Joe again in 2012 for his album The Duke.  That same year he and Janice released their second album together, Jazz Album, which obviously delved into their love of jazz music.  They still perform together to this day, and Vinnie has released several retro guitar-based albums which explore many genres, with Janice doing vocal duties, the most recent being A Retro Cool Mixed Bag Christmas in 2014.

Download Modern Marriage

1 'Scusa Mi Please
2 An Obsession (Over You)
3 Do It Again
4 Nightmare
5 Please Stop Dancing
6 Fool For You
7 Leopards In Love
8 Modern Marriage
9 Jaguar
10 No More Goodbyes

Friday, January 16, 2015

The Isle Of Deserted Pop Stars' Top 20 Albums Of 2014!


So, now that the dust has settled and 2014 is history, it is time to share my top 20 albums from last year.  Though this blog is about the old school, one day these albums will be too and they should not be forgotten.  There were many amazing albums released last year, too many to list them all, but these were the ones I found myself repeatedly drawn back to. Like this blog, they encompass all styles of music from house to rock to electro to soul - but all with a POP heart.  Hopefully some of you will find and explore these albums.  They are all deserving of repeated listens, and gave me a great deal of pleasure over the last year.

1) Music Go Music - Impressions
2) My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult -  Spooky Tricks
3) Leisure Cruise - Leisure Cruise
4) White Sea - In Cold Blood
5) Alpines - Oasis
6) Larkin Poe - Kin
7) The Pierces - Creation
8) Kiesza - Sound Of A Woman
9) The Asteroids Galaxy Tour - Bring Us Together
10) Glass Animals - Zaba
11) Basement Jaxx - Junto
12) Adore Delano - Till Death Do Us Party
13) Jungle - Jungle
14) La Roux - Trouble In Paradise
15) Blondfire - Young Heart
16) Gorgon City -  Sirens
17) Queen Of Hearts - Cocoon
18) The Acid - Liminal
19 ) Ali Love - P.U.M.P.
20) Meshell Ndegocello - Comet, Come To Me

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Mishka And The Urban Groove - Legalize Love (1998)

Here is another little known Canadian artist for your listening pleasure. And another artist whom I know virtually nothing about. I can tell you that lead singer, Mishka Meunier, is French Canadian and apparently still lives in Quebec. And the Urban Groove consisted of fellow Canadian musicians Andy Stewart, Dan Godro, Eric Brass, and Harry B.. Their sound was very diverse, with some tracks having a strong reggae vibe - like their only single, a remake of James Brown's "Try Me" - while some veer into folk, and others are very funky soul. Altogether it is a great earthy sound, with powerful, soulful vocals from Mishka. The whole album is reminiscent of the work of fellow Canadians The Parachute Club, IMO.  The album was released locally and independently and didn't get much attention.  It also didn't help that soon after the album's release, singer Heather Nova's brother released his own folk and reggae-inflected music under the name Mishka, which could only add to the confusion.  Should you dig this album and wish to connect with Mishka, she has her own Facebook page, and perhaps she can fill you in on the full story of Mishka And The Urban Groove, and what she's been up to since.

Video for Try Me

Download Legalize Love

1 Legal Love
2 Love War
3 Your Touch
4 Save The Children
5 Try Me
6 Could It Be
7 Happiness Runaway
8 Feel The Change
9 What If?
10 Too Young

Friday, November 7, 2014

Mayomi - Mayomi (1995)

A couple of days ago a delightful friend of the Isle, Konstantin, sent me several albums off of my wantlist.  Thanks a TON for that, K! One I was looking most forward to was the only album by Japanese-Swedish rapper Mayomi.  And it does not disappoint. It was impossible to find anywhere when I first looked for it, but while researching Mayomi I saw that it was re-released in 2010 and several copies are now available on Amazon and eBay, and it's even on iTunes. Ah well, now you know where to go if you want high quality versions of your own.  I didn't find out much else about Mayomi, unfortunately.  I'm not even sure where I first heard about her, though it was likely due to her involvement on eurohouse act Melodie MC's track "Bomba Deng" from 1995.  Three years prior she and a friend appeared on the The World Rap Contest as Sista's Of Soul.  They didn't win, but ended up meeting Statikk, the producer behind Melodie MC and several other Swedish pop acts. He produced a track for them, "Make It Your Way", which was their only single before they broke up in 1993.  Mayomi went solo and released "Whatever I" the following year. Apparently it had moderate success, and with the track's producers, Collén & Webb, who were collaborators of Statikk's, she recorded her debut album for Virgin.  Three singles were released from the album in 1995 - "The Best A Man Can Get", "How Can I Get By" and the title track - and they met with some success as well.  But she only released one other single, "So In Love" in 2006, and hasn't been heard from since.  But if you enjoy other Europop rappers like Leila K, Leki, or Isle postee Daisy Dee, then you should get to know Mayomi.

Live performance of How Can I Get By

Live performance of I'm There

Download Mayomi

1 Commin' At Ya
2 I Am
3 Is This A Dream
4 How Can I Get By
5 I'm There
6 The Best A Man Can Get
7 Steppin' Out
8 Women Cry
9 Time Changes
10 Lullaby
11 Whatever I (Remix)

Friday, October 3, 2014

David Morales & The Bad Yard Club - The Program (1993)

After I posted the Arthur Baker & The Backbeat Disciples post, I was reminded of another album from around the same era that was fronted by a legendary producer and featured several vocalists.  It was David Morales & The Bad Yard Club, but I only had it on cassette and hadn't listened to it in decades.  I immediately found the CD online, and here it is! David Morales was born and bred in a rough section of Brooklyn and frequented the New York club scene as a teen, becoming a DJ in the late 70s, most notably at Paradise Garage. His success as a DJ led to his being asked to remix several singles, his first being married synth-pop duo The Zummos' "An Obsession (Over You)" in 1985.  From there he was in demand as a remixer, remixing an endless stream of pop and R&B singles (including remixes for several Isle postees like Pam Russo, Sequel, Adventures Of Stevie V, Nerissa, Nayobe, Alison Limerick, Jamie J. Morgan, Slam Slam, Ana, Blue Pearl, Temper Temper, Ya Kid K, Malaika, Eve Gallagher, India, and, yes, even Arthur Baker & The Backbeat Disciples), with his first remix for a major artist being Whitney Houston's "Love Will Save The Day" in 1988. In 1987 he also began making his own music, joining up with other future remix and production legends Chep Nunez, Robert Clivilles and David Cole to form 2 Puerto Ricans, A Black Man And A Dominican, whose single "Do It Properly" was a huge underground club hit. But it wasn't until 1993 that he decided to use his own name to release original music.  Like Arthur Baker, he chose to add a group name after his name, branding his supporting players, producers and vocalists The Bad Yard Club. He signed to Mercury and released the single "Gimme Luv (Eenie Meenie Miny Mo)" featuring Jamaican ragga vocalist Papa San.  The song became a huge club hit, eventually hitting #1 on the Billboard Dance chart.  The album soon followed, and it maintained the ragga house sound introduced in the first single.  The title track, also featuring Papa San, was released next and hit the #1 spot on the Billboard Dance chart as well.  While the next single, "Sunshine", failed to chart, its follow-up, "In De Ghetto", hit #3 on the Billboard Dance chart in 1994 and is probably the best remembered single from the album.  (It was re-released in 1996 featuring the original vocalist, Delta Bennett, as well as house diva Crystal Waters.) It would be the last single from the album and from David Morales & The Bad Yard Club.  (Of particular interest to pop fans, the track "Forever Luv" is the first song to feature the vocals of future pop superstar (in Europe, at least) Anastacia.) Morales went on to even huger, superstar success in the following years as a producer, remixer and artist.  He was nominated for Grammys three years in a row - as a producer on Mariah Carey's Daydream in 1996, and for Remixer Of The Year in 1997 and 1998, the latter year for which he won.  This was helped by the success that same year of "Needin' U", a mostly instrumental house track that he released as David Morales Presents The Face, which hit #1 on the Billboard Dance chart and #8 on the UK Pop chart. He released it again in 2001, as "Needin' U II", this time featuring vocals by Isle postee Juliet Roberts, and it again hit #1 on the Billboard Dance chart and #11 on the UK Pop chart.  He has since released many successful singles using his own name and as part of various groups, the biggest being "Higher" by Moca in 2000, and also released two albums using just his own name, 2 Worlds Collide in 2004 and Changes in 2012.  He has produced, remixed and released a lot less since then, as he dedicates most of his time touring the world as a highly sought after DJ, thus returning to his first love.

Video for Gimme Luv (Eenie Meenie Miny Mo)

Download The Program

1 The Program (Reprise)
2 The Program (Featuring Papa San)
3 Sunshine (Featuring Stanryck)
4 In De Ghetto (Featuring Delta)
5 Games (Featuring Ce Ce Rogers)
6 Jazzy Mo
7 Gimme Luv (Eenie Meenie Miny Mo) (Featuring Papa San)
8 Beautiful Thing (Featuring Stanryck)
9 Forever Luv (Featuring Anastacia)
10 Work That Body (Featuring Natural E)
11 Gimme Luv (Eenie Meenie Miny Mo) (The Jackie 60 LP Experience) (Featuring Papa San)

Friday, September 19, 2014

Rainy Davis - Sweetheart (1987) & Ouch (1988) DOUBLE POST!!

When I began this blog, you would be hard-pressed to find one iota of info about Rainy Davis.  Luckily the internet has grown over the years and lesser known and under-appreciated artists have gotten their due (I'd like to think this blog had something to do with that in some small way. ;) )  So, finding info now on Rainy is much easier, and makes this post easier to put together as well.  Born Denise Lorraine Davis in Brooklyn, Rainy's first major singing gig was as part of a band called Jamilah, which also included her sister Charisse and R&B crooner Keith Sweat. Soon after she joined disco trio Musique for their live shows, and her association with its founder Patrick Adams led to writing and arranging for other acts.  Her first major success was in 1979 as co-writer of disco group Inner Life's "I Want To Give You Me".  During this time she also connected with singer/songwriter/producer Pete Warner, who was also working with Adams. Together they wrote for and produced a few artists over the next few years, most notably Canadian disco singer Chatelaine's second album in 1980. They also wrote the song "Sweetheart" together in 1986.  According to Rainy, her Nana overheard them playing the song and told her she would give them her next social security cheque to record it.  Once the demo was recorded, they were planning on submitting it to Janet Jackson for her career altering Control album, but luckily they missed the deadline.  So Rainy released her version on a local indie label and it got immediate attention on urban radio, which led to rotation on pop radio.  The song hit both the Dance and Black Singles charts on Billboard, reaching #24 on the latter.  Columbia Records then noticed her potential and signed Rainy to an album deal. Her debut album, which was produced by Rainy and Warner, hit the R&B album chart and included similar sexy electro-funk tracks. The next single, "Lowdown So & So", reached #9 on Billboard's Dance chart and #14 on the Black Singles chart.  Her third single was a remake of Prince's 1980 release "Still Waiting", and it almost made the top 40 on the Black Singles chart. The final single, "4-Ever", failed to chart. Rainy and Warner quickly went to work on her next album, Ouch, which was released the following year. Unfortunately it did not have the same success.  The first single, "Indian Giver" (which was the first track I ever heard by Rainy, and I fell in love instantly), hit #16 on the Billboard Dance chart and, like "Still Waiting", #41 on the Black Singles chart. The song, as well as much of the album, used more straight-forward freestyle elements that were only hinted at on Sweetheart, and maybe that threw fans off.  I, for one, loved it!  The next single was the title track, and after it didn't chart, Rainy was no longer with Columbia Records.  She and Warner kept busy writing and producing others, with their biggest success likely being The Cover Girls' "Spring Love".  Rainy also released the single "Storybook Romance", a sort of reworking of "Sweetheart", in 1993 (and again in 2008). Then, in 1998, Jermaine Dupri remade "Sweetheart" for his Life in 1472 album, thanks to a suggestion by Mariah Carey, who loved the track as a girl and sang the chorus. Though Mariah and Jermaine's "Sweetheart" wasn't a huge hit (thanks to the label pulling the commercial single right before its release, and the Billboard chart eligibility rules changing), Mariah included it on her hugely successful hits album #1's the same year, and the song was introduced to a whole new generation and was even nominated for a Grammy award. Mariah also included the song on her Greatest Hits in 2001, The Remixes in 2003, and The Essential Mariah Carey in 2011, further rejuvenating Rainy's career (and bank account!). In 2005 Rainy ended up founding her own full service digital distribution company, Rainysongs Entertainment, for which she is president, and it has continued to successfully support new music artists.  

Live performance of Sweetheart

Download Sweetheart

1 Sweetheart
2 4-Ever
3 Love-At-Last
4 Still Waiting
5 Lowdown So & So
6 Kiss & Make Up
7 Come Back
8 Do-U-Remember?
9 Sweetheart (Reprise)
 
Download Ouch

1 Indian Giver
2 Ouch
3 Be My Man
4 Choosey Beggar
5 Save It
6 Lets Make Up
7 Tell Me
8 Danger