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Archive for the ‘Music – Artists’ Category

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Whitney Houston 1963-2012

Posted by Big Boo on February 13th, 2012

Whitney HoustonIt came as quite a shock when I happened to read this morning that Whitney Houston had died. I think because I saw it on a Google Alert e-mail my first reaction was “it must be a hoax” but no, a brief search seemed to reveal that it most definitely wasn’t.

At the time of writing this the cause of her death is still not known, but it is for sure that she was discovered in her hotel room in the Beverley Hilton, where she had been staying before being due to sing at a pre-Grammy awards party.

Whitney Houston was born in New Jersey in 1963. The daughter of John Houston, an entertainment executive, and Cissy Houston, a noted Gospel singer, her upbringing meant that becoming an entertainer was probably always very likely. Dionne and Dee Dee Warwick were her cousins, and Arethra Franklin was her Godmother, so singing was kind of in her blood.

She started her singing career when she used to get up on stage and sing in some of the nightclubs that her mother worked at. In 1977, at the tender age of 14, she became a backing singer for the Michael Zager Band, and the following year she featured as a backing singer on Chaka Khan’s hit I’m Every Woman, a song that Whitney herself would become noted for in later life.

The years that followed saw her mixing singing with modelling work, until in 1985 she got her own solo recording contract and her first album, title simply Whitney Houston, was released. Featuring such hits as The Greatest Love of All, How Will I Know and Saving All My Love For You, the album shot Whitney to stardom.

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Posted by Big Boo on September 26th, 2011

R.E.M.It came to my attention the other day that pop group R.E.M. have decided to call it a day and will be disbanding after their next album which is due imminently. This surprised me on two counts, firstly I didn’t really realise they were still going, and secondly, I didn’t realise they were actually a band from the Eighties!

Here in the UK I don’t think R.E.M. really made a big splash until the early Nineties, with the release of their album Out Of Time, which contained songs such as Shiny Happy People and Losing My Religion, and indeed I always thought that they were a new band at the time. How wrong I was though, as they actually formed right back in 1980!

In January 1980 lead singer Michael Stipe met guitarist Peter Buck in a record shop where Buck worked. They got chatting and discovered they shared similar tastes in music and became friends. Later they met up with bass guitarist Mike Mills and drummer Bill Berry, fellow students from the University of Georgia, who had been playing music together for a while, and they decided to have a go at forming their own group.

Before long the band felt they had something good going and dropped out of school to go touring around the southern US. They became a bit of a local phenomenon but it wasn’t until the summer of 1981 that they finally recorded their first single, Radio Free Europe. Despite only limited distribution, this song went on to become one of the New York Times best 10 singles of the year!

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The B-52’s

Posted by Big Boo on June 15th, 2011

The B-52'sI’ve covered bands before which have been popular in the UK but are considered one hit wonders in other parts of the world (e.g. Dexys Midnight Runners) so now it’s time for one which many in the UK would consider a one hit wonder – The B-52’s.

In the UK, the song they are best known for is Love Shack, one of those tunes that gets put on for parties because it’s such a happy sounding song, yet is still quite rock ‘n’ roll in it’s way. Some may also remember that they provided a version of the theme song for the live action Flintstones movie, though technically they were called The BC-52’s for that…

Anyway, as with most in the UK it was Love Shack that was the first B-52’s song I had knowingly heard, but the band name wasn’t new to me. I had heard of them before as, being a big fan of the Commodore Amiga home computer, I had learnt that several models of this computer had the name of a B-52’s song printed on the motherboard. For example, the extremely popular Amiga 500 had Rock Lobster printed on it’s main board.

It wasn’t until I went to college (mid 1990’s) that I actually heard some more B-52’s songs. A friend had a couple of albums, so as well as finally getting to hear what Rock Lobster sounded like I also heard a number of other songs such as Planet Claire, Is That You Mo-Dean and Good Stuff.

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Posted by Big Boo on March 21st, 2011

BananaramaBananarama were one of the biggest girl bands of the Eighties, and it may surprise you to know that they are still performing today, albeit with only two of the original three members. Formed in 1979 and consisting of Keren Woodward, Sara Dallin and Siobhan Fahey, Bananarama started off performing short sets or providing backing vocals at other bands gigs.

Interestingly Keren and Sara have been life long friends, and have known each other since the tender age of four. Sara met Siobhan at College, and that was how the three came together to first become friends and then become a musical group.

In 1981 they recorded their first proper demo song Aie a Mwana, which was perhaps a bit of a strange choice given that it is sung in Swahili. However, it got them noticed and they found there first chart success when they teamed up with Fun Boy Three for T’ain’t What You Do (It’s The Way That You Do It). I always remember it seemed a bit odd to me that Bananarama only got the “featuring” tag for this song, since it seemed like they did most of the singing!

This song set them up on the road to success, and it led to a string of chart successes including Really Saying Something, which was the return of a favour as it featured Fun Boy Three, Robert De Niro’s Waiting and Cruel Summer, which featured as part of the soundtrack on The Karate Kid.

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Stocking Fillers - Suppliers to Father Christmas
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Low Tide Theory

Posted by Big Boo on November 5th, 2010

Low Tide TheoryIf you are a fan of Eighties music then I have a great new band that you are bound to enjoy, particularly if you were into the synth pop stylings of bands like Depeche Mode or The Human League. They’re called Low Tide Theory, and their first track is called Crash.

Now, I’ll come clean and say that the reason I found out about them is because one of their number is actually and old school friend, but even if that weren’t the case I would still be writing this as I really enjoyed listening to Crash. It felt so retro that I almost had trouble in believing the song wasn’t actually a product of the Eighties for real.

Crash is their first track but they are busy preparing more audio delights for us, so why not pop over to their page on Reverb Nation or indeed the Low Tide Theory website (although at the time of writing this is still only in its early stages) to have a listen and find out more.

Alternatively, have a listen now with the little widget below…

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The Proclaimers

Posted by Big Boo on May 19th, 2010

the-proclaimersScottish identical twins Charlie and Craig Reid formed their two man band, The Proclaimers, in 1983, but it wasn’t until 1986 that they would hit the big time. A fan sent a demo tape of theirs to English band The Housemartins, who were so impressed they invited them to tour with them. This led to an appearance on Channel 4 music show The Tube, which gave them their first UK hit single, Letter From America.

Instantly recognisable from their glasses, jeans and thick Scottish accent when singing, Letter From America made them household names when it shot to number 3 in the charts. They had a unique style at the time, being both pop and almost folk music at the same time, the folk influence coming from the warbling sections of the song which is probably why the song was so popular, as everyone loved joining in with that particular bit.

They followed up with I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) which reached number 11 and has now become something of an anthem for Scottish football fans. This song also featured further strange voice work, and I can imagine that going down very well when sung by a stadium of football supporters!

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Kylie Minogue

Posted by Big Boo on January 18th, 2010

kylie minogueToday, Kylie Minogue is looked up to as a very popular singer and an inspiration after her battle with cancer, but back in the eighties, she perhaps wasn’t taken quite so seriously.

Kylie Ann Minogue (now an OBE!) was born 28th May 1968 in Melbourne, Australia. She is the oldest of three children, with her sister Dannii also being an actress and singer, whilst her brother Brendan is a news cameraman in Australia. As a child Kylie had bit parts in several Aussie soaps (including The Sullivans, which I remember was one of Mum’s favourite programmes when I was a kid), but initially Dannii was the sibling who enjoyed the greater success.

In 1985 this changed when Kylie was cast with one of the lead roles in The Henderson Kids, and then in 1986 she really made a name for herself playing tomboy Charlene Ramsey in Neighbours. Dannii was to follow in Kylie’s footsteps from them, as she then got a role in rival soap Home and Away, and then went on to launch her own singing career.

In 1987 Kylie entered the world of music with a cover of The Locomotion which topped the Australian charts. She came to England and signed up with Stock, Aitken and Waterman, releasing what most people in the UK will recognise as her first single – I Should Be So Lucky. Legend has it that Stock, Aitken and Waterman didn’t really know who Kylie was and had forgot she was coming to visit them, so ended up writing this track for her while she waited in the studio. The song was a phenomenal success, reaching number one in the UK, Australia, Germany and many other places.

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Posted by Big Boo on October 21st, 2009

erasureThe Eighties saw more than its fair share of musical styles, what with New Romantics, House, Sound Sample Mixing and several others. Much of the reason for this was the advances in music technology which brought us the synthesiser keyboard, and so was born Synthpop, and one of the biggest proponents of that particular style were Erasure.

Erasure were a double act comprised of Vince Clarke and Andy Bell. Whilst Bell was the exuberant front man it was actually Clarke who was the initial driving force behind the group. Prior to starting Erasure Clarke had been a member of several early eighties bands including Depeche Mode, Yazoo and The Assembly, but in 1985 he placed an advert in Melody Maker magazine and chose Andy Bell from the many applicants to fill the position of vocalist.

The group’s first releases failed to set the UK charts alight however, although they had some success with Oh L’amour, their third single, in Australia and France. Their next song changed all that though. Sometimes made its way to number two in the charts and this helped propel their first album, The Circus, to number six in the album charts, which eventually went platinum.

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