Mix, Mix A Song.

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I’ve recently acquired some new toys in my music studio here at the house that allows me to do some really nifty stuff. Do people say “nifty” anymore? “How cute is he? Oh he’s ‘nifty'”. Hmm, I don’t think nifty is a common phrase anymore.

Well my new toys are nifty. And groovy. And keen.

Anyways, I have a couple of remix ideas floating around in my head that I’m hoping to get down on virtual tape over the next couple of weeks. One of these ideas includes remixing an upbeat Carpenters track to adapt it for a dance floor. I realize the mound of legalities involved with that, so it would never, ever be commercially released in any shape or form but I’d still like to play around with the track in the studio, even if only for learning purposes and my own amazement.

I think Karen Carpenter has _the most beautiful_ pop female voice ever. Ever. Hands down, bar none. She has a natural musicality about her that has not been duplicated to this day, regardless of how many try with electronic gizmos. She was truly a talented musician and when she passed on at such a young age this world truly lost something special.

Because of the great respect I have for The Carpenters’ music, I’m wondering if today’s audience would be receptive to a remixing of one of their uptempo tracks or if it would just smack too close to tacky. I’m not talking about vocal or instrumental replacement in the track, but rather percussion and instrumental augmentation to make it a little more danceable. I shudder when I hear these remixes on satellite radio; some dance diva wannabe taking an 80s ballad, croaking it out with lots of electronic processing and then proclaiming a dance hit. That’s not what I’m looking for. I’m looking to preserve the music of the Carpenters by bringing a slightly updated sound to it for modern audiences to enjoy.

Am I crazy?

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Stock Aiken Waterman.

I admitted this onMark’s blog the other day, so I figure I might as well come clean and admit it right here on my blog too.

I love 80s and 90s mass produced music by Stock Aiken & Waterman. Dare I say, my love for this “hit factory” music was a driving force in my becoming a club DJ in the late 1980s.

There I’ve said it.

If you’re not familiar with producers Stock, Aiken and Waterman, here’s some titles that may revive some memories (or nightmares) for you:

Rick Astley, “Never Gonna Give You Up” and “Together Forever”
Donna Summer, “This Time I Know Its For Real”
Dead or Alive, “You Spin Me ‘Round”
Boy Krazy, “That’s What Love Can Do”
Bananarama, “I Heard A Rumor”, “Venus” and just about everything else they ever released
and the dance diva herself, Kylie Minogue, “The Locomotion” and “I Should Be So Lucky”.

Through the wonders of YouTube, I’ve found some beefcake and musical nuggets from the late 80s and early 90s to share. Enjoy.

Jason Donovan, “Too Many Broken Hearts”
Kylie Minogue, “I Should Be So Lucky”
Sonia, “You’ll Never Stop Me From Lovin’ You

Now where are my cassette singles?

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While I was surfing around on YouTube, I came across another bunch of 80s gems by Alisha:

Into My Secret
Baby Talk

Alisha performed at one of the radio station concerts we hosted in the late 1990s. As program director, I asked the music director if he could get a hold of “Alisha’s people” as our retro act for the show. I about pooped my pants when he got her to sign on! As I recall she was very nice when we met her and put on a great show.

Stuck.

I have a song stuck in my head this morning. Do you think I’m doing a little bit of daydreaming at my desk?

“Summertime, Summertime”, Nocera, 1987.

Take me, take me to the water
Summertime, Summertime
Maybe, we can fall in love
In Summertime, Summertime

WAAAAAY Ahead Of My Time.

So I was catching up on blog reading and came across Jimbo.Info (one of my favorites) and read about a new dance track is shooting up the charts in Europe and is hitting the trendy clubs here in the States. It’s by Global Deejays and it’s called “Stars On 45”.

Oh. My. God.

Stars On 45, also known as just “Stars On”, made all those medleys that were big in the early 1980s. There were two Beatles medleys, a smattering of Abba hits, “Stars On Stevie” and many more. I was a Stars On 45 fanatic in my early teens and still have all three of their albums, appropriately named “Stars On Long Play” (and II and III).

I taught myself to beatmix by lining up the hand claps on the 2nd and 4th beat of every Stars On 45 record. I made my own medleys. My interest in radio and recorded music was spawned by Stars On 45.

And now Global Deejays has mixed their “Stars On 45” jingle tags into a house track. Here’s a sample you can listen to.

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My Invite?

Being in a “music” mood of sorts today, I did some searching around on the internet to see if my two favorite groups from my teen years, The Human League and Animotion, were out on tour these days. I would love to see these two groups perform.

Imagine my surprise to see that they performed *together* in Las Vegas recently! Hello? Where was my invitation? And to think I still have the letter I received from Astrid Plane back in 1985 in response to a fan letter I had written.

It seems like I never have any luck trying to meet The Human League either. I tried pulling strings back when I was a program director for the radio station, no dice. I had to sit in the audience like everyone else.

The closest I can get right now is this lucky fan’s photo on the internet. Time to crank up the iPod baby.
Animotion and The Human League
Astrid Plane of Animotion and Susan Sulley and Joanne Catherall of The Human League with an unidentified fan.

Wow Worthy: Black Fras.

Black Fras

I just listened to a great song called “Moving Into Light (Freemasons Mix)” by Black Fras. This is an awesome Italian House track – now if I could just find the single on iTunes.

XM Radio’s BPM followed it up with “Move Your Feet” by Junior Senior. Another Wow Worthy track, perfect for dancing on a flatbed in a parade.

Retro Spin.

It’s always good to perk up your evening with a retro dance track or two off your iPod. We’re not going way back tonight, as I’m currently listening to “Justified and Ancient” by the KLF featuring Tammy Wynette, The First Lady of Country Music.

It’s funny, when I listen to music I tend to look up these lost artists I’m listening to on Google. I’m kind of curious as to what they’re up to. Of course Tammy Wynette is no longer with us, but as I was doing a little research on her participation with The KLF for “Justified and Ancient”, the next song on my iPod came on…

“Boom Boom Boom (Let’s Go Back To My Room)”, Paul Lekakis, 1987.

Who would know that Paul Lekakis would have his own website? And it has his resumé on it. Very odd. I feel rather old as this song came out in 1987 and it seems like it was just yesterday that I was dancing to this track in a little bar in Jamestown, N.Y. called “Doc’s”. My college roommate Steve and I would go out with a bunch of friends from the music school at SUNY Fredonia. The bar was called “Doc’s” because it was in the basement of a doctor’s office. That must have been a hoot for the patients in the waiting room. “What’s that thumping noise?” “Oh, it’s just the gay boys cranking up the tunes in the basement.” “Oh.”

“Baby Love”, Regina, 1986.

Now we’re on to “Baby Love” by Regina. I remember this song very well as it came out when I graduated from high school. Co-written by Stephen Bray (who worked with Madonna on early records), this could easily have been a Madonna cast-off, but contrary to the rumors, this track was never offered to her.

Because I first heard this song in spring ’86, I always think of summer when I hear this track. It does have a summertime feel to it. This song is definitely in the J.P. Top 25. I should compile that list some time and share.

Speaking of summertime, it’s always good to spin this track up at the end of January…

“Summertime, Summertime”, Nocera, 1986.

Another track from 1986, the year that dance tracks started making a return to radio. One of the first freestyle tracks I ever heard, I found the syncopation in this type of music very fun. “Together Forever” by Lizette Melendez and “Temptation” by Corina were both bigger freestyle tracks as far as chart action goes. Both of those songs use almost identical beat tracks, in fact, when I was a DJ I used to spin those two back-to-back, followed by “What Goes Around (Comes Around)” by Giggles. It worked for a while but then the crowd would get bored and I’d have to change it up.

“Situation”, Yaz, 1983.

Yaz/Yazoo (depending on what record you’re looking at) can always fill the dance floor with “Situation”. At least they could up until 2001 when I stopped spinning. But it had to be late in the night. Always late in the night, after folks were liquored up a little bit. The later into the night, the more daring I could get with music selection. That’s what makes spinning in Buffalo or Albany fun, the bars are open until 4:00 a.m. and people really get into the music in the later hours.

“Because of You (The Original Mix)”, The Cover Girls, 1987.

The last song on my iPod tonight. When I worked in a home for disabled senior adults, this song used to come on the radio as we were driving back from the day treatment center. (I always hated that term: “day treatment”.) Anyways, my co-worker and friend Dawn and I taught the folks some hand movements to do to this track. It made the drive go by faster. Now that I think about it, Dawn and I once took the folks out for a ride and drove to a place where there were rumored to be satan worshippers. So there we were in two vans full of senior adults driving in a gravel bed. It’s a wonder we didn’t get fired.

“Because of You” is a great track but it never really did that well on the charts. People are more familiar with “Show Me” and “Wishing On A Star”, the latter being a remake of the Rose Royce classic. “Wishing…” was also the last song ever played on the radio station I used to work for.

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Fab.

With traditional television having little to offer these days, Earl and I often find ourselves watching Logo, the “all-gay” channel owned by Viacom, parent of CBS, MTV and that whole bunch of stuff. One of tonight’s offerings was “Kyliefever 2002”, Kylie Minogue’s 2002 concert in Manchester during her “Fever” promotional tour. What a fun concert to watch! Energetic, colorful and full of catchy tunes, I really feel the need to go out and grab the DVD so I can see it without commercial interruption. I wish I knew about this concert sooner!

Kylie Minogue

Kylie Minogue has been around since the late 1980s. She began her career as a star on the soap opera “Neighbours” and then hit the charts as a female vocalist for the production team of Stock, Aiken and Waterman, who also produced a bunch of other music at the time including “Together Forever” and “Never Gonna Give You Up” by Rick Astley, “That’s What Love Can Do” by Boy Krazy and Donna Summer’s late 1980s album “Another Place And Time” which includes the single “This Time I Know It’s For Real.” Her early singles included “I Should Be So Lucky” and the number one remake of “The Locomotion”.

Kylie’s fame was then pretty much limited to Europe and Australia, though she maintained a gay following here in the states. In 2000 she made her comeback here in the states with the album “Light Years”, which featured the single “Spinning Around.” It was popular in the clubs, but not that big on the radio.

I have always been a fan of Kylie Minogue, so I tried to help her along here in the states by programming “Spinning Around” into heavy airplay back during my radio days. The song is fun and was very “Wow Worthy” at the time. I didn’t even get an autograph for my efforts. (At least Madonna sent me a gold record for helping out with “Ray of Light”.) Oh well.

Kylie then released the album “Fever”, featuring the songs “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head” and “Come Into My World”, the former being written by a dance diva from my baby DJ days, the wonderful Cathy Dennis.

Cathy Dennis

Many remember Cathy Dennis for her 1990 album “Move To This”, which includes “Touch Me (All Night Long)” and “Just Another Dream”. Side note: Contrary to popular belief, Rick Astley did NOT sing the male backups on “Just Another Dream”, they were sung by D-Mob’s Dancin’ Danny D.. Cathy stepped out of the limelight and became known for her songwriting. In fact, if you’re a fan of American Idol, you hear her ever week; she co-wrote the theme song and she’s the voice of the “Oh Whoa Whoa”.

It’s music like this that gets me jazzed about being a DJ. It’s totally fabulous.