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Friday, July 27, 2018

Absolute - For All Seasons (1990)

I was just looking through some files and noticed that I ripped this CD some time ago, so thought I'd share.  I talked about Absolute on my Lambada soundtrack post, but I'll share the info here as well. Absolute were Tiarra LeMacks and Carolyn Griffey. Griffey is the daughter of Solar Records founder Dick Griffey and singer Carrie Lucas. The ladies first appeared on the Lambada: Set The Night On Fire soundtrack.  Their ballad "This Moment In Time" was included, as was the amazing dance track "Gotta Lambada". "Gotta Lambada" was apparently intended for Isle postee Vanity, as she was supposed to star in the movie.  But her drug use became severe and she was replaced, so the song was given to Absolute. Carolyn's mother Carrie was also featured on the soundtrack.  That same year they released the single "Cheap Shot" and their one and only album.  Conveniently the album was released on Carolyn's father's label, Solar.  Despite having her father's full support and influence, neither the single or album were remote hits, and that was it for Absolute.  At the time that I bought this album I was disappointed, as I had hoped the songs would be similar to "Gotta Lambada", but instead they are early New Jack Swing and ballads.  But having listened to the album again recently, I found that there are some really fun and funky songs on it.  It was produced in part by Rickey "Freeze" Smith, who also produced Isle postees The Day Z's. Tiarra appears to have done backing vocals after this and, from what little I can find, it appears that she is still involved in the music industry.  Carolyn ended up joining Shalamar in 2005 when they reformed, and they appeared on the British TV competition show Hit Me Baby One More Time singing their original song "A Night To Remember" as well as Outkast's "Hey Ya".  They won the episode but ended up losing the show to Shakin' Stevens.  Since then they continue to tour together, though they had a battle with original singer Jody Watley over the name.  She apparently ended up winning the rights to use the name, but it appears that has since changed as she has renamed her group and Carolyn and the boys still use the name Shalamar.

Video for Cheap Shot

Download For All Seasons

1 Cheap Shot
2 Crazy Little Thing Called Love
3 You And I
4 I Count On Your Love
5 Imaginary Love
6 True Confession
7 For All Seasons
8 Kiss Me
9 When We're Eye To Eye

Friday, June 15, 2018

Love To Infinity - Classic Paradise (1998)

Love To Infinity are well known remixers and producers, having remixed everyone from Celine Dion to Grace Jones to Madonna to Shania Twain to Michael Jackson, etc.  While their remix work hasn't been as prodigious as it was in their 1990s and 2000s heyday, they are still on the scene, most recently producing Camille's current Billboard Dance chart hit "Choose Hope". It was this song that made me seek out their only album, which I am sharing with you now.  Brothers Andy, Pete and Dave Lee formed the group in 1992.  Their work as remixers began soon after, with one of their first most notable remixes being Michael Jackson's "They Don't Care About Us". At the same time, they formed a musical act, bringing in soulful singer Louise Bailey. They released a couple of singles in 1993, "Somethin' Outta Nothin'" and "Saviour".  Both received little attention.  However, the next year their remix of Melanie Williams' "All Cried Out" became a hit, and they were in demand.  The following year they released "Keep Love Together", and it became a dance smash, as well as reaching #38 on the UK pop charts.  Their follow up singles "Someday" and "Pray For Love" also hit the UK charts at #75 and #69, respectively. An album was recorded, but the diminishing chart positions kept the label from releasing it, and by 1997 Bailey was no longer a part of the act.  The album did finally get a two CD release in Japan in 1998.  The boys then focused on remixing and producing full time, only releasing two more singles as Love To Infinity, "No Apology' with Loleatta Holloway in 1995 and a remake of CeCe Peniston's "Finally" featuring Charlotte Day in 2005.  Luckily we have this one amazing house album of their original work, very upbeat and of its time.

Video for Keep Love Together

Video for Pray For Love

Download Classic Paradise

1 Keep Love Together
2 No Apology
3 Pray For Love
4 Someday
5 Build Me Up
6 Love's Got A Hold
7 Burnin Up
8 Back To The Love
9 Somethin Outta Nothin
10 Surrender
11 Don't Turn Away
12 Let The Music Play
13 Keep Love Together '98
14 Early Warning
15 I Can't Hold Back
16 Pray For Love (Morales 12" Mix)
17 Someday (CJ Mackintosh Mix)
18 Keep Love Together (Red Leader Mix)
19 Someday (Johnny Vicious Mix)
20 Build Me Up (5th Circuit Mix)
21 No Apology (Blue Ikon Mix)
22 Keep Love Together (Classic Paradise Part 2)

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Angie Giles - Surface (1993) & Stone Prayers (1996)

Thanks to a request from Giba, I present you with Angie Giles' only two solo albums.  Much thanks to the kind people who saw these on my want list and shared them with me. Funny enough, it was already my next planned post.  This just put a fire under my butt. And since I have little time for the blog lately, it's just as well that I can't find much info on the lady.  I do know that she was born in the UK, but has connections to Perth, Australia. Her big break was in 1988 singing back-up on British singer-songwriter Julia Fordham's debut album.  In 1991, pairing with Fordham collaborator Michael Moran as The Main Thing, she released a remake of Fordham's "My Lover's Keeper".  That same year Fordham recorded a song the duo wrote, "Melt". Soon Giles moved on to a solo career after being signed to Island Records. In 1992 she released the single "Submerge".  This was how I heard of her because I came across the 12" single many years ago, which features remixes by Driza Bone and Perfecto.  The song was an underground club hit, with its soulful and almost deep house sound. The less club bound "Silent Way" was released soon after, but to little fanfare.  Her album Surface followed in 1993, but was only released in Japan due to the lukewarm reception of the singles.  It also included "My Lover's Keeper" and her version of "Melt". She also did a feature vocal on the song "Abracadabra" by Dreams 2 Reality that same year. Following this, she continued to work with Fordham and also did back up vocals for other artists, including Isle postee Eve Gallagher. Then, in 1996, she released her second album, Stone Prayers. It was also a Japan only release, and the vibe was much less soul and much more folk. After this she went back to backing vocals again, most notably appearing on Atomic Kitten's hit "Whole Again". In 2002 she did another feature vocal on the house song "Say You'll Be Mine" by Mimosa.  Moving to the US, she hooked up with her nephew Pat Giles (aka Hiro?) and formed the duo The Life Project. They released two albums, Life Project in 2005 and LP2: The Cut + The Mix in 2008.  Their sound was very chillwave and drum n' bass.  Since then it's anyone's guess what Angie is up to, which is a shame, since she has an amazing deep and soulful voice.  In my opinion, her albums were not the right platform for her voice.  They are somewhat snoozy, and I think she would have been better served to belt out on house songs.  Perhaps this is how she will emerge in the future, as the full on house diva she deserves to be.

Download Surface

1 Silent Way
2 Sleeper
3 Submerge
4 My Lover's Keeper
5 Surface
6 Anybody's Guess
7 Melt
8 Liberty
9 Only Human
10 Patch Of Blue
11 Submerge (The Perfecto Remix)

Download Stone Prayers

1 Now You're Gone
2 Save Me
3 In My Dreams
4 Still Call You Baby
5 Main Thing
6 Stone Prayers
7 Nobody Moves Like You
8 House Of Shadows
9 Love's Window
10 Surface In Time
11 Now You're Gone (Extended Mix)

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Countess Vaughn - Countess (1992)

I remember downloading Countess Vaughn's only album a couple of years ago, but I lost the files, so I decided to buy the CD.  Luckily one seller in China was selling it brand new at a cheap price, as all of the other offers were way too expensive.  I guess it's fairly rare?  Anyway, I became aware of Countess way back in 1988 where she became the junior vocalist champion and overall junior champion on Star Search at age nine.  I remember her specifically because she was very precocious and got on my nerves. lol This win got her a gig on the sitcom 227 that same year, where she stayed for two years.  She continued doing guest spots on television until she finally got a record deal with Charisma Records in 1992. Now thirteen, she was able to perform more mature music, the result being a mainly New Jack swing sound.  Her first single, obviously chosen to showcase her vocals, was the ballad "It's A Man's, Man's, Man's World", which was a James Brown cover. It barely dented the R&B charts, and the album and follow-up single, "Wait For Me", were stillborn, which was disappointing because of her vocal talent.  It is likely they didn't know how to market her given her age.  Whatever the case, Countess went back to acting and landed her signature role in 1996 on the show Moesha, playing star Brandy's best friend.  She won a NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series in 1998. This led to friction between Countess and Brandy, as Countess thought herself the reason for the show's success.  This feud lasted until 2015, when Countess finally apologized on Instagram. But there's no denying that her popularity led to the 1999 spin-off The Parkers, where Mo'Nique played her mother. The show was an instant success and lasted five years.  After this, however, her gigs were few and far between.  She finally appeared as a regular again in 2006 on the reality show Celebrity Fit Club, where she failed to lose weight.  She then appeared as a contestant on MTV's Celebrity Rap Superstar, but she had to leave the show due to illness. She wouldn't land a regular gig again until she was chosen to star in the reality series Hollywood Divas on TV One in 2014.  She also joined the BET series According To Him + Her, where she continues to do reenactments for the show.  She also appeared with her Hollywood Divas co-stars in the low budget film The White Sistas in 2017.  It is interesting that her music career took a back burner all of these years, since she won Star Search as a vocalist.  She did try to capitalize on her Hollywood Divas success by recording the song "Do You Love Him" aka "Wifey" in 2016, and the making of the video was a plot on the show.  She eventually fired co-star Paula Jai Parker as director and asked another co-star, Lisa Wu, to help her find a director.  The result was an instant disaster when it was released, and Twitter went crazy making fun of it.  The video was ridiculous and didn't feature Countess singing, and the song itself was horribly produced.  It was reedited to feature Countess lip-syncing, but the damage had already been done.  It will be interesting to see if she attempts to step back in to the music world.  If so, please get a new producer, Countess!

Video for Wait For Me

Download Countess

1 Wait For Me
2 Let's Call The Whole Thing Love
3 Summer Love
4 Unconditionally
5 Just Being With You
6 You Could Fall In Love With Me
7 Fallin'
8 Give Me The Love
9 Once More
10 It's A Man's, Man's, Man's World

Friday, March 23, 2018

L.A. Mix - On The Side (1989) & Coming Back For More (1990) DOUBLE POST!!

Time for another post, finally.  This time it's British house and soul group L.A. Mix.  Luckily Wikipedia has done most of the research for me, so I'm going to use mainly their entry here.  L.A. Mix (the L.A. stands for Les Adams) was comprised of husband-and-wife production team Les Adams & Emma Freilich, along with producer Mike Stevens.  Their first hit was "Don't Stop (Jammin')" in 1987, which was based on a simple 8-track demo that Adams had formed in his home studio, and it reached #47 on the UK Singles Chart. That record got L.A. Mix in trouble, as the bassline had been taken from the song "Love is the Message" by MFSB, resulting in group member Vincent Montana attempting to take an injunction out on the group.  But the single got them a record deal with A&M Records, though it was initially only for one single. But then Adams remixed Maurice Joshua's "This Is Acid" by taking the vocals, adding a synth lead from Black Riot's "A Day In The Life", using the rhythm synth from Inner City's "Big Fun", sirens from some of Todd Terry's records and some assorted sexual screams of unknown origin from his collection. The result was "Check This Out", which was a UK #6 in 1988 and was their biggest hit. That also raised legal ire, this time of the then-owner of Easy Street Records as the song included a short sample of "You Don't Know" by Serious Intention, and the owner of that label was one of New York's top lawyers. The matter was settled out of court for $15,000.  Next, in 1989, they released "Get Loose", which featured rapping by Jazzi P and charted at #25. A fourth single, also released in 1989, "Love Together" featuring Kevin Henry, charted at #66. These four singles appeared on the album On the Side, which was released in 1989.  The album featured vocals by Isle postee Juliet Roberts.  In 1990, the first of three singles from L.A. Mix's second album were released. The album departed from the hip house and R&B flavour of the first album, with a more soulful sound.  "Coming Back For More", also the title track of the new album, was released as a single. The song featured vocals from Franceso, and charted at #50. In 1991, "Mysteries of Love", featuring Beverlei Brown on lead vocals, D. Marcus C. on rap and co-production from Andy Whitmore, was released and made #46. Their final single, the ballad "We Shouldn't Hold Hands In The Dark", also featured vocals from Franceso but also from Juliet Roberts and charted at #69. Adams and Freilich also produced the track "Fools Paradise" for Isle postee Ruth Joy, as well as Jazzi P's hit and only single "Feel The Rhythm". They also produced two UK Top 40 hits (one of which was a top ten hit) for Dannii Minogue's 1991 album, Love and Kisses: "I Don't Wanna Take This Pain" and "Jump To The Beat".  Their output seems to have ended in the 1990s. Discogs indicates that Emma died in 2011, though I have not be able to find any more info regarding that, so who knows. Mike Stevens went on to produce a couple tracks from Juliet Roberts, as well as tracks for Ruby Turner, Fast Food Rockers, Sugababes, Annie Lennox and Take That, for whom he was also musical director, so clearly L.A. Mix was a stepping stone for his success.

Video for Check This Out

Video for Get Loose

Video for Love Together

Download On The Side

1 Get Loose
2 You Are The One
3 Breathe Deep
4 Don't Turn Away
5 Love Together
6 Just Waiting
7 Mellow Mellow (Right On)
8 Don't Stop ('89)
9 Check This Out
10 Get Loose (Definitely Def Remix)

Video for Coming Back For More

Download Coming Back For More

1 Coming Back For More
2 Miss My Love
3 Slap
4 One Love One Touch
5 We Shouldn't Hold Hands In The Dark
6 Mysteries Of Love
7 Love Thang
8 Live For Love
9 All Mine
10 Discover Reality
11 Breathe Deeper (Deeper Mix)

Friday, February 2, 2018

Nemorin - Creole Dance (1992) and Mission Of Love (1995) DOUBLE POST!!


So, I was looking into the work of Toby Gad, the Danish super-producer and songwriter who has worked with the biggest pop stars in the world, including Madonna, Fergie, Ricky Martin, Selena Gomez, Kelly Clarkson, Demi Lovato, and Beyonce, and I came across an artist he worked with who I had never heard of before, Nemorin.  I checked out a couple of her videos and liked what I heard, so I ordered her two CDs.  Little did I know at the time that she was once Toby's girlfriend and that she had an extensive career of her own. Jacqueline Nemorin was born in Mauritius. She moved to London with her parents, and then to Germany on her own, where she married German producer and composer Frank Diez.  In Germany she also hooked up with disco composer and producer Veit Marvo and became part of his Red Point Orchestra in 1972.  She also did a lot of session singing.  She soon changed her name to Jackie Carter and briefly became part of disco trio Silver Convention.  Before they released their first album and biggest hit, "Fly, Robin, Fly", Jackie was replaced in the group and only sang lead on one album track, "Please Don't Change The Chords Of This Song".  However, she soon signed a solo deal with Atlantic Records and released her first album Treat Me Like A Woman in 1976.  She released the moderately successful singles "Treat Me Like A Woman" and "Just Like Lightning", but then lost her deal with Atlantic. In 1977, she performed in the German musical Tell!, and in 1978 she released disco remakes of the Rolling Stones' "Paint It Black" and The Supremes' "You Keep Me Hangin' On". In 1979, she released her second album, Ruby Shoes, which was produced by her husband.  She released the singles "Stay For The Night" and "Ohh, What A Way To Go" to little success. In 1980, she and her husband joined Eric Burdon's Fire Dept. for one album.  She did mainly backing vocal gigs after that and then released her last single as Jackie Carter, "Heat Of The Night" in 1985.  She also returned to Mauritius that year for her own TV special. Also that year, she joined the pop vocal quartet The Hornettes.  She stayed with the group until 1993, wanting to concentrate on her solo career.  During her time in the group, she released the solo single "A Ci Lelao", which took influence from her Mauritian background and took on a world pop sound. In 1990, she met Toby Gad, who at the time was best known for his work with producer Frank Farian with Milli Vanilli.  She had divorced her husband in 1987. When Jackie left the group, she and Toby started writing together, which led to her first album as Nemorin, Creole Dance.  It included "A Ci Lelao" and took it's overall sound from that.  Toby took the reigns as producer, and they both wrote the songs.  "It Feels Good To Be Loved" was the only other single released.  Working on the album began a long romantic and professional partnership between the two, and Jackie started to write and produce as well.   In 1994 she had two songs on the soundtrack for The Neverending Story III, "Mission Of Love" and "Dream On (The Neverending Story)".  "Mission Of Love", which was in the eurohouse vein, was released as a single and saw some success in clubs.  An album followed the next year, with Toby again producing and the sound again incorporating world music. "Boat On The River" was released as the only other single. Jackie and Toby also formed the group Love You that year, and released three singles. including "Countdown For The Summer". The two then moved to New York and started working together for other artists, writing and producing pop songs for artists like Enrique IglesiasTaylor DaynePYTSita and K-Otic.   They also released a song, "Free As A Bird", as Qute in 1999. After they separated in 2000, Jackie moved back to Germany and sang with the band Rubbersoul, and later moved to London, where she continues to write, produce and record. A pretty full career, I'd say, especially for someone I'd never heard of before!

Video for Accillelao

Live performance of It Feels Good To Be Loved

Download Creole Dance

1 Accillelao
2 Creole Dance
3 Aloha Mahe
4 Bajo
5 Tale About Freedom
6 It Feels Good To Be Loved
7 Around The World
8 Blood Of The Kings
9 Merry Go Round
10 Wheels On Fire


Video for Mission Of Love

Live Performance of Aloha Wahine

Download Mission Of Love

1 Mission Of Love
2 Aloha Wahine
3 Boat On The River
4 Angelina
5 Fire Of Love
6 Why?
7 Shine On
8 Le Le Kasbah
9 What If?
10 For The Children
11 Dream On - The Neverending Story III
12 Mission Of Love (Classic Version)

Friday, January 26, 2018

Lindy Layton - Pressure (1991) & No Other Star (1996) DOUBLE POST!!

Thanks to a wishlist fulfillment from Konstantin, I can now share both albums by British singer Lindy (aka Belinda) Layton.  I became aware of Lindy way back in 1990, when her group Beats International, which also included Norman Cook, aka Fatboy Slim, had a huge pop-reggae #1 UK and #1 Billboard Dance Chart hit with "Dub Be Good To Me", a remake of SOS Band's R&B hit "Just Be Good To Me". I knew that she had a solo career after that, but only managed to get my hands on her first solo album a few years ago, Now, thanks to Konstantin, I have both! And luckily Wikipedia has an entry on her solo work, which makes my job here easy. After having another UK top 10 hit with "Won't Talk About It", Beats International's subsequent singles and album did not fare near as well.  Before Beats started working on their second album, Lindy was snatched up by Arista for a solo career.  Her first single was a remake of Janet Kay's 1979 reggae UK #2 hit "Silly Games".  Lindy's version reached #22 on the UK chart. Her album soon followed, as did the #42 hit "Echo My Heart".  The album had many tracks similar to the reggae pop of Beats International, but it also moved into house music as well.  It also included a remake of Prince's "Do Me Baby".  After the next two singles "Wait For Love" and "Without You" failed to take off, Lindy was dropped from Arista.  She released the house single "I'll Be A Freak For You" the following year on a smaller label, and was soon signed to PWL.  On PWL she released two poppier singles, "We Got The Love" and "Show Me", which reached #38 and #47, respectively, on the UK pop chart. She was then dropped from PWL as well.  It would take her three years to release more music, which she passed mainly DJing. The album No Other Star was only released in Japan on the Cutting Edge label, and the only single release from it was "Who Do You Think You Are?", which failed to chart.  She had returned to her pop reggae roots, which was clearly out of vogue by the mid-nineties. She then teamed up with DJ Steve Proctor to form the breakbeat duo Hardknox in 1997. They released their first single "Coz I Can" on the Skint label, and two years later released their self-titled album on Jive Electro. It was not a great commercial success, but was favoured by the underground scene. Nothing much was heard from Lindy until 2009, when she appeared on tracks on albums by both the Dub Pistols and the Groove Diggerz, such as "I'm In Love" and "Body Flow", as well as a remake of "Just Be Good To Me".  She featured on two other Dub Pistols albums on the tracks "Rock Steady" in 2012, and "Our Life" in 2015.  She also had a daytime radio show in 2013 called The Mrs.  She now focuses on songwriting and DJing, but hopefully she will return to making music some time soon.

Video for Silly Games

Video for Without You

Download Pressure

1 Wait For Love
2 Echo My Heart
3 Do Me Baby
4 Without You
5 Keep It Up
6 Silly Games
7 Drop The Pressure
8 Lines
9 Cruel (To Be Kind)
10 This Isn't Fair
11 Best Thing
12 Let Me Keep You Here

Download No Other Star

1 Who Do You Think You Are?
2 Feeling Groovy (A.K.A. West Side)
3 Miracle
4 No Other Star
5 Running Away
6 Bedtime
7 It Must Be Love
8 Like We're Human
9 Truly
10 Can't Get My Eyes Off You
11 Why
12 High Time
13 Love The One You're With
14 Stay With Me Till Dawn

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Mamado & She - Wild (1989)

Mamado & She was a rap collective led by the formidable Mamado, a producer and engineer from Jacksonville, Florida.  The rest of the group, comprised of rappers, vocalists, musicians and dancers, were Joan York (Babe), Nancy Jones (Punk Rock), Sonja Lindsey (Cocoa), Talien Richardson (Kid Kusa), Victor Blanco (Spinbad), Gary Chisholm (Gee Man), and Gino Williams (Gino J).  They appeared seemingly out of nowhere in 1988 with the Miami-bass track "My Suzuki" on a local label. It garnered enough buzz that Epic Records imprint WTG signed them to an album deal.  The next single was a response to Tone Loc's "Wild Thing" called "I'm Your Wild Thang". It managed to reach #13 on the Billboard Hot Rap Songs chart in March of 1989. The album dropped in August that year and hit #53 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums. Later that month, the single "Can We Take You Higher?", which was a medley of hits from Sly & The Family Stone, reached #41 on the Dance Club Songs chart.  Despite having had some, though minimal, chart success, they were dropped by WTG.  The group scattered and most of the members have disappeared, but Mamado keeps writing, producing and engineering and is an executive at Railroad Records Swat Inc. in Jacksonville. She also released an independent film entitled Bad Influences in 2010, and is keeping the woman power alive and well.

Video for Can We Take You Higher?

Download Wild

1 I'm Your Wild Thang
2 Bac' Up & Live
3 I Don't Know Y
4 Gimme Dat Thing
5 My Suzuki
6 Can We Take You Higher? (Stone Cold Medley): Sing A Simple Song / Everyday People / Thank You / I Want To Take You Higher
7 Git Up Offa Dat Beat
8 J'ville Rock
9 R.U.N. 2 Me
10 A Short Break For Da Bass
11 Bac' Up And Live (Ditty Dope Dub)
12 I Don't Know Y (N 2 The Dawn Mix)
13 I Don't Know Y (Radio Edit)

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Kevin Aviance - Box Of Chocolates (1999) & Entity (2003) DOUBLE POST!!

Kevin Aviance was born Eric Snead in 1968 in Richmond, Virginia. With a love for music, theatre, fashion and drama, he moved into drag at a young age, with punk being a huge influence, as well as obvious influences like Grace Jones and Boy George.  He moved to Washington, D.C. to be a hairdresser and drag performer, but also developed a bad drug habit.  Luckily his life turned around when he was discovered by The House Of Aviance, a vogue-ball house based in New York City that was one of the premiere groups on the voguing scene. Changing his name to Kevin Aviance, he moved first to Miami and then to New York City where he became an acclaimed drag performer at the Sound Factory. In 1994 he made a cameo in Madonna's "Secret" video and soon made the natural progression to making music of his own.  His first single, "Cunty (The Feeling)", was released on Strictly Rhythm in 1996 as 'Rageous Projecting Kevin Aviance'.  It garnered enough notice to get him signed to legendary DJ François Kevorkian's Wave Music.  His next single was a remake of George Kranz's 1983 dance hit "Din Daa Daa".  It quickly went to the top of the Billboard Dance Chart in 1997, and also hit #65 on the UK singles chart in 1998.  It is likely his best remembered song.  His next single was a remake of "Join In The Chant", a 1987 dance hit by EBM group Nitzer Ebb.  Kevin's version managed to reach #8 on the Billboard Dance Chart. The success of the singles led to the album A Box Of Chocolates, released in 1999.  That same year he performed in the film Flawless. The first single "Rhythm Is My Bitch" climbed to #2 on the Billboard Dance Chart, though the next single, "Dance For Love", failed to chart. Interestingly, that was the first single that Kevin actually sang on, as his signature style was spoken word.  He signed to Centaur Entertainment a couple of years later and released "Alive" in 2002, which once again hit the top of the Billboard Dance Chart.  The album Entity soon followed, as did the single "Give It Up", another #1 hit and his biggest to date.  This album had Kevin singing on all of the tracks, and is much better than his first, IMO. After leaving Centaur, Kevin released another single, "Strut", which managed to reach #13 on the Billboard Dance Chart in 2006, a couple months after Kevin was robbed and gay-bashed by a group of up to seven men.  This resulted in his jaw being wired shut for a month, as well as a fractured knee.  He persevered and discussed the experience on The Tyra Show.  Since then he has returned to the stage and reamins a drag icon.  He has released a few singles including "Hold On Me" with Tom Stephan vs S-Man in 2007, a remake of Britney Spears' "Gimme More" in 2009, and most recently "Bang, DaBeat" with Samuri in 2017.  Obviously Kevin will not be going anywhere anytime soon, and the gay world wouldn't have it any other way.

Download Box Of Chocolates

Video for Cunty

Video for Din Da Da

Video for Join In The Chant

Video for Rhythm Is My Bitch

Video for Dance For Love

1 Fanfare
2 Din Da Da Da
3 The Need
4 Chocolates
5 Do You Know Me
6 Dance For Love
7 Everyday
8 The Beats
9 Cunty
10 Robots
11 Join In The Chant
12 Rhythm Is My Bitch
13 Tonight
14 Home

Download Entity

Video for Alive (Remix)

1 Aviancetro "Clap Your Hands"
2 Alive
3 You've Got The Groove
4 Give It Up
5 Interlube Chant "Love"
6 Freak It (Live Out Loud)
7 Power
8 Seattle
9 Twirl (Don't Bring Me Down)
10 Fire
11 Ready Set Go
12 Alive (Victor Calderone Vs. The Tribalist Remix)

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Connie - Connie (1986), No Tears (1995), The Best Of Connie (2002) & Party Time 1 (2015) QUADRUPLE POST!!!!

So, I guess I have left you guys waiting for a new post for a very long time.  It has been an extremely difficult year, as you can imagine, and I thank you all for your words of sympathy and support. I am in a better state of mind, rest assured. Recently I was thinking about Connie's rare album No Tears for some reason and wanted to hear it again.  After an extensive search in my messy collection, I located it and, after realizing how good it was, I felt that I needed to share it.  My partner Mark was very supportive of my blogs (and loved Connie), and with that in mind, I thought I'd come back with a quadruple post to make up for lost time. :) I originally fell in love with Connie in 1986 after hearing her song "Experience" on the radio.  This was when freestyle music was beginning to explode, and I was addicted! I managed to track the single down, and on the other side was "Funky Little Beat", which would become her biggest hit. After that, however, I never heard anything more from Connie. She had a lower profile that some of her contemporaries, and it wasn't until I found her self-titled album many years later that I could indulge in more of her fab music. Born Consuelo Piriz on July 30, 1964, in Miami, Florida, Connie dreamed of performing as a child, and in her early 20s was introduced to music producer Henry Stone. Stone was the co-owner and president of R&B and disco label TK Records, and he executive produced Connie’s debut single “Funky Little Beat”, which became an instant club hit and almost hit the Billboard Dance top 40.  Amos Larkins II produced the self-titled album that followed, and the singles "Experience“, “I Can’t Stop”, and “Rock Me” followed, though not to the same level of success.  They were instant classics in freestyle clubs, however.  While touring, Connie managed to record three more singles - a remake of KC & The Sunshine Band's "Get Down Tonight" in 1987 (included here on her first album), and "Tonight's The Night" in 1988 and "Rockin, Rollin Weekend" in 1989, both produced by Amos Larkins II. After touring for several years, Connie got married and decided to focus on family. It wasn't until 1995 that she would release her next album, No Tears, along with the same-titled single, on obscure label Black Olive, this time with different producers. Though the sound was still very much freestyle and Connie, both the single and album failed to have any impact, as freestyle was past its prime. Nothing was heard from Connie for 7 more years, when Thump Records released The Best Of Connie in 2002. Produced once again by Amos Larkins II, it wasn't a true "Best Of" since it contained remakes of four past songs, as well as remixes of "Funky Little Beat", three new tracks, and remakes of Trinere's freestyle hits "How Can We Be Wrong" and "All Night", and Debbie Deb's "When I Hear Music" and "Look Out Weekend" (also originally produced by Amos Larkins II). While mostly a freestyle album, the three new tracks were decidedly euro-house. By then freestyle was no longer in vogue, except for in retro clubs. Luckily, the internet would soon change that, and the demand for retro music grew rapidly as the internet did.  As with several other artists featured on this site, the demand for Connie grew as well. In 2006 she recorded the Latin reggaeton album Let's Party (Estilo Reggaeton) (no, I do not have it as I am not a fan of reggaeton, sorry!) and also released The Best Of Connie - Funky Little Beat (which is basically just a remastered version of her first album). After this, Connie toured in retro freestyle shows with other legends.  Finally, in 2015, she released another album, Party Time 1, again working with Amos Larkins II and returning to the freestyle sound that she was known and loved for.  Clearly Connie is on a roll once again, touring extensively, and we can only hope she releases new music again soon.

Video for Funky Little Beat

Download Connie

1 Experience
2 Your Eyes
3 I Can't Stop
4 Fire In My Heart
5 Funky Little Beat
6 Laughter In The Rain
7 I'm In Love With You
8 Rock Me
9 Get Down Tonight

Download No Tears

1 No Tears
2 Dream On
3 Together Forever
4 La La (Means I Love You)
5 I Like It (Street Mix)
6 Round And Round
7 I'll Be Comin' Back
8 Burning Desire
9 I Like It
10 No Tears (Hip House Mix)

Download The Best Of Connie

1 The Power Of Love
2 Spinning
3 Feel The Beat
4 Funky Little Beat
5 How Can We Be Wrong
6 Rock Me
7 Experience
8 All Night
9 When I Hear Music
10 Your Eyes
11 Look Out Weekend
12 Funky Little Beat 2.0 (Club Mix)
13 Funky Little Beat 2.0 (Radio Mix)

Download Party Time 1

1 Call 911
2 Get Up
3 Don't Want You To Go
4 The Night Is Still Young
5 Must Be The Beat
6 No One
7 Rock This Party
8 Romance
9 Don't Be Jealous
10 A Boy And A Girl

Friday, July 29, 2016

Dee Fredrix - Grace (1993)

Thanks to a request from Marco, I located the one and only album from Britain's Dee Fredrix.  Though I didn't realize it until now, Dee more commonly went by name Dee Lewis (though her maiden name is actually Fredericks) and she was mentioned on the Isle previously thanks to a post on her sister Shirley Lewis. Like Shirley, Dee did a lot of background work until she joined her older sisters Shirley and soul/disco diva Linda to form Lewis (aka The Lewis Sisters), who released five non-charting pop singles in 1986/87. Linda originally changed her last name from Fredericks to Lewis in tribute to soul singer Barbara Lewis, and her sisters soon followed. Dee was also featured in 1986 on two singles by Stock Aitken Waterman's bizarre bossa nova collective Mondo Kané and the charity single "Give, Give, Give" by Dance Aid.  While continuing to perform backing vocals for a wide variety of artists like Kylie Minogue and Donna Summer (thanks to the SAW connection), she also managed to release several pop singles of her own on Mercury as Dee Lewis, including three top 100 UK Singles: "Stuck On Love" (#90 in 1987 and recharting in 1988 at #95), a remake of the Emotions' "Best Of My Love" (#47 in 1988) and "Double Standard" (#89 in 1989).  Having had minimal success on the charts, she returned to backing vocals and regrouped.  In 1993 she reemerged with a new name, taking her real last name and changing the spelling to something shorter and catchier.  She also had a new, much more soulful sound.  Her first single was the ballad "And So I Will Wait For You", which hit #56 on the UK charts.  The follow-up was a house track, "Dirty Money", which managed to reach #74 on the UK pop charts, but also become a club hit thanks to remixes by Satoshi Tomiie. I have this 12" single and always loved this song, but until now, this was the only song I had ever heard by Dee.  I am glad to be able to hear more, and there are a couple other housey tracks on the album.  A promo of remixes of "Whatever It Takes" was also released, and Dee released one other non-album single in 1994, "Live My Life", but neither were hits. With solo stardom just out of reach, Dee went back to session singing.  Her Twitter account indicates that she is still singing and songwriting, especially for film soundtracks.  Hit her up there or on Facebook should you wish to know more.  Perhaps you could also ask her if a Lewis Sisters reunion is in the cards (fingers crossed). :)

Video for Dirty Money

Download Grace

1 Dirty Money
2 And So I Will Wait For You
3 Whatever It Takes
4 Hold On To What We've Got
5 How Can This Be Wrong
6 There But For The Grace
7 If I Could Relive Your Love
8 Don't Get In My Way
9 Buried Treasure
10 Look My Way

Friday, July 22, 2016

Mrs Robinson - Obsession (2006)

Hello again.  I am finally coming to terms with Prince and Vanity passing, and think it's time to add another post to lighten the mood here! This time I'm taking you into the mid-2000s, which is rare here.  There are other blogs that focus on this era of pop music (and I suspect some will 'borrow' this link for their own - if you must, give credit where credit is due, people!), but this album is special.  Earlier this year I discovered the Real Housewives Of Cheshire.  Being a rabid fan of the Real Housewives franchise, I was shocked that I hadn't heard of this series sooner.  But I binge watched and liked what I saw.  I usually need to look up info on all of the housewives, and these ladies were no exception.  During my research, I discovered that one of the ladies, Tanya Bardsley, was once in a girl group, when she was still known as Tanya Robinson, and they recorded an album.  Of course I needed that album ASAP! And I ordered it immediately.  Funny enough, the week I received the CD, I was finally caught up in the series, and in the new episode that week, Tanya finally discussed her brief time in the group, with a lot of self-deprecation. Tanya was a pretty successful 'glamour' model in the UK in the early 2000s, thanks to winning a modelling competition in 2003 thrown by magazine FHM, who were looking for the 'FHM High Street Honey'.  As a result, she became a presenter on two shows, Gamenation and Strike.  Also, unbeknownst to me at the time, she was featured in a video that my boyfriend and I used to love, a dance remake of Rod Stewart's "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy" by Girls Of FHM, which was a top ten hit in 2004.  The video featured a who's who of sexy British models, singers and starlets (catch her around the 2:34 mark).  She was also part of the offshoot FHM High Street Honeys, who had a top 40 hit with a dance remake of the Divinyls' "I Touch Myself" in 2006. Although she did not contribute vocals, this experience in music tempted Tanya to pursue a solo music career.  With the help and input of irritating photographer and media personality Darryn Lyons (whom I loathed when he was on Celebrity Big Brother), Tanya decided that perhaps a girl group would be a better idea, as she was not a very good singer. They soon recruited two other ladies, Shereen Guerin, who Tanya had met during the High Street Honeys competition, and Paula Jade (Cremin), a singer they met at a recording studio, who would end up singing all of the leads.  They chose the name Twisted Sisterz, though they were soon threatened with legal action by the heavy metal band Twisted Sister, and changed it to Mrs Robinson, a play on the Simon and Garfunkel song and Tanya's last name.  Hoping to copy the success of girl groups like Atomic Kitten and Girls Aloud, the ladies teamed up with Ryan Laubscher, who wrote and produced the whole album, except for the first single, "I'm A Little Obsessed".  The single was not a success, however.  They did get some minor attention for the follow-up, "Don't Forget My Name", which was a tribute to the troops and supported the Army Benevolent Fund.  This wasn't enough to garner worldwide - or even countrywide - fame, however, and the girls disbanded.  On RHOC, Tanya remembered her time in the group as fun but underwhelming, due to their lack of success and her lack of talent.  But she shouldn't be so hard on herself, as the album is full of fun pop songs that fit the time perfectly (though they do sound a bit dated...) And while the other ladies have maintained a low profile since, Tanya is killing it, having married hot footballer Phil Bardsley, and she continues to be a hoot on The Real Housewives Of Cheshire.  She is hilarious, and really should consider a career in comedy instead of music (though I must say, her battle with equally amusing Ampika last season did not please me.  I blame pregnancy hormones. ;) ) Though I won't hold my breath, would it be too much to ask for a Mrs Robinson reunion on the next season of RHOC?

Video for I'm A Little Obsessed

Live performance of Don't Forget My Name

Download Obsession

1 Teacher
2 I'm A Career Girl
3 Don't Ask Me
4 Beautiful World
5 Touched
6 I'm A Little Obsessed
7 Don't Forget My Name
8 Hollywood Film Star
9 Survive
10 Falling Asleep
11 Faded Heart

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