Here’s a personal baker’s dozen of cuts that remind me of NYC at the dawn of the Eighties, hanging out in gay Latin/black clubs and chilling to the crossover radio hits of the era…
by Andy Polaris
Freeez I O U – This British electro classic crossed the Atlantic and was pumped in NY clubs. It’s actually genius. Co-written with the legendary Arthur Baker and mixed along with Jellybean Benitez. The very similar Blue Monday from New Order came out the same year. The video of a multi-racial crew bodypopping and breaking on what looks like a Peabody estate while kids whizz around on BMX bikes seems so innocent now.
Donna Summer Lucky – I’m going to squeeze this in from the end of the Seventies because the combination of Donna Summer’s sublime voice and Giorgio Moroder‘s electro pulse had been a game-changer and influenced so many artists who followed on. This was a track from the Bad Girls masterpiece.
Adele Bertei Build Me A Bridge – Quality dance pop from an artist who was in the original Contortions, written for Sheena Easton and Pointer Sisters and sung with Thomas Dolby amongst others.
Company B Fascinated – A high-energy synth-pop club favourite that dominated US radio. I can hear them counting those dance moves when those cheap wigs looked better on Daryl Hannah, the sexy android in Blade Runner.
Noel Silent Morning – Broody young handsome Latin singer who smashed it with this electro dance hit exploring the aftermath of his lover’s absence. It’s the best song Depeche Mode never made.
Paul Hardcastle 19 – Innovative electro club monster that was number one on both sides of the Atlantic and one of the most potent political songs to get under the radar from the underground and force radio stations to play. It highlighted a lot of the world to a largely ignored war and the treatment of veterans.
Strafe Set It Off – Underground gay club track I think I heard first in Catacombs in Philadelphia. A stripped down electro early call-and-response anthem, it sounded almost experimental at the time. Click to play track in a new window
Whodini The Freaks Come Out At Night – Early hiphop anthem flying that freak flag with style. Video opens with acapella Friends and glimpses of Run DMC. The Zorro trademark hat of lead vocalist Exctasy combined with leather jacket and shorts to display the confident cool fashion of the time. A good reference is the early street photography of Brooklyn native Jamel Shabazz that documented the emerging styles adopted by hiphop fans.
Sheena Easton Sugar Walls – A lot of people underestimated her but Prince didn’t. This specially penned track was a US hit with sexually charged lyrics perfect for dancefloor flirting. It changed her image overnight.
Lisa Lisa and the Cult Jam Band I Wonder If I Take You Home – Club hit debut single and one I brought back from the US on Columbia import before it hit UK airwaves. It was a global hit for the Brooklyn Latin freestyle group. Click to play track in a new window
Nuance featuring Vikki Love Loveride – Another invitation to take me home. Huge US Billboard No 1 club hit and great vocal from featured artist. Click to play track in a new window
Barbara Roy Gotta See You Tonight – Billboard No 1 that sounds like soulful house with that driving bass and her gutsy gospel vocal but started out in underground gay clubs.
Jane Child Don’t Wanna Fall In Love – Pop RnB crossover hit from the late Eighties. Her almost goth/indie look disguised her funky dancefloor style on this under-rated track about resisting the look of love. Love cuts just like a knife/ You make that knife feel good/ I will fight you to the end/
THE WAY WE WERE…