Elegant ballads and slow grooves from the eighties paint a romantic, sometimes elusive picture of city nightlife. ‘Smooth’ radio shows blur together into the distant cars as hundreds of tiny lights fill the darkness.
golden war – blue camera / subterraneo amor – cecilia toussaint / lilly et bill – blues trottoir / living in confusion + living all alone – phyllis hyman / midnight mood – kashif / victor should have been a jazz musician + i’ve done it again – grace jones / make me a believer – luther vandross / esquinas – djavan / pleurer des rivieres – viktor lazlo / to tak jak gdyby ktos – ewa bem / ten minutes – isabelle antena / don quijote – tania libertad / all the world loves lovers – prefab sprout / fantasy (pioneerball remix) – tesla boy / che vita ha fatto – lucio battisti / ocale cie – 2plus1 / cowboys and angels – george michael / the night owl – nits / slow – sunset rollercoaster / transeunte sin identidad – virus / fear – sade / from a late night train – the blue nile / when all things are well – dani lee pearce / no te cuesta nada – javiera mena / love is here where i live – everything but the girl / scarlet ribbons – roisin murphy / holding back the years – simply red / gullible fool – la roux
If Sophisti-Pop Summer was the soundtrack to a voyage by cruise, this is a montage of picturesque cities, with morning walks downtown and thoughtful discussions with friends by the sea. Maybe: that bittersweet feeling of summer becoming fall.
Expect lots of gentle orchestration, wistful vocals and breezy guitar. This one’s for you if you like Prefab Sprout.
prisoner of the past – prefab sprout / copernicus – basia trzetrzelewska / summerdays – weekend / children say – level 42 / mahalia – the bible / one better day – madness / my girl and me – gangway / obi & vida real – djavan / change – lisa stansfield / wildflower – blow monkeys / lá vem você – elza soares / teletrips – ice choir / iris – tadashi shinkawa / listen – johnny hates jazz / jocelyn square – love and money / second sight – the dolphin brothers / won’t you come back – breathe / advice for the young at heart – tears for fears / tell tale signs & the soul awakening – china crisis / new brighton – it’s immaterial / desconocido – golpes bajos / everybody’s gotta learn sometime – the korgis / far too hard – dead or alive / don’t ask me why – eurythmics / no te cuesta nada – javiera mena
It was way past midnight and she still couldn’t fall asleep. This night the dream was leaving she tried so hard to keep. And with the new day’s morning she felt it drift away. Not only for a cruise, not only for a day.
– Double, “The Captain Of Her Heart”
To mark it’s year anniversary I re-upped one of my best mixes with a few new songs for Mixcloud, a much more convenient way to listen. Go here for the Youtube list if you prefer that.
A summer mix invoking the romance, mystery, scenery and varying emotions of a lavish cruise as it begins a long journey overseas. Think sipping a cocktail as you watch the sunset, a romantic embrace by the docks or a suited pianist enchanting the crowd during their buffet.
This naturally doubles as a spotlight for the sophisti-pop genre best known for Sade and Prefab Sprout. Its cross of slick production and synths with elegant piano, strings, clean guitars, sax and/or brass has close ties to this imagery.
One reason I adore sophisti-pop is it’s SUPREME breeziness. Albums like Lilas have such a luscious yet steady groove that I lose myself in a blissful fantasy of the most refreshing morning walk. It’s something about the way the glittery keyboards shimmer over the smooth bass and such clear, idyllic pillows of harmony. On a song like “Esquinas”, the saxophone gets me lost in the image of endless cities or candle-fit cocktail parties. Music for having an easygoing Good Time, but the wistful way it frames the vocals leaves room for deeper thought without disrupting things.
I’d say the only thing that can enrich this further are some strings.. oh wait, they’re here, and they have a gorgeous way of flourishing into the arrangement just enough.
Well then, how about some Brazilian flavor? Evocative, romantic singers like Nascimento or Jorge Ben are sophisti bait, are they not? Having a past in samba himself, Djavan brings plenty of that, and the result is true ear candy if you like it smooth and don’t mind some subtle eighties-isms. (I don’t, of course.) As you may guess, the elegance of Portuguese and the samba-like atmosphere makes a breezy genre like sophisti even more breezy. For one, “Obi” brings a bossa nova vibe and the album’s richest strings, meaning Lilas has about anything I could ask for in a sophisti album.
This stuff is like gourmet strawberry pie as music; I’m sure my ears will always have room for that.
B.Y.O.B. – sister sledge / let’s go together – change / she’s strange – cameo / driving satisfaction – grace jones / heartbreaker – evelyn champagne king / still a thrill – jody watley / oh sheila – ready for the world / back and forth – cameo / have you heard the news? – high fashion / let it whip – dazz band / party train – the gap band / didn’t mean to turn you on – cherrelle / the character – morris day / don’t disturb this groove – the system / slow dancin – – phyllis hyman / thinking about you (prod. kashif) – whitney houston / all of you – pointer sisters / i love you too much – stevie wonder / family man – kathryn white / why you treat me so bad – club nouveau / the glamorous life – sheila e. / i want my girl – jesse johnson / i betcha – klymaxx
I’m addicted to that intro with the little echoing bell. Cinematic, fierce, even a little tragic. Skyscrapers are peering over the TV credits.
I considered Luxury Elite’s edit a main theme for my mix Is It A Crime?, AKA my ‘dream Miami Vice soundtrack’. At the original pace it’s a slamming euro-disco tune with more urgency than most in it’s genre. It’s that glittery maximalist sound you come to expect, but even with the expected hammy vocal, “Silver” sounds more like a confrontation than another melodramatic love story. Why it wasn’t a single is beyond me.
High-drama pop songs and sinister instrumentals channel the big cities of eighties thrillers and neo-noir.
bella d’estate – mango / empire + expose – luxury elite / devil’s ball – double / byłaś serca biciem – andrzej zaucha / balade de lisa + blueser – viktor lazlo / kisses and tears (my one and only) – bad boys blue / do you really need me – k.b. caps / amour combat – tangui / johnny johnny – jeanne mas / theme from lily was here – david stewart and candy dulfer / deserted streets + illusions – match music library / vision 1 – alan hawkshaw / psychose + champs elysses 2 – robert viger / nothing has been proved – dusty springfield, pet shop boys and angelo badalamenti / vibraphonoid (d) – laszlo bencker / white collar crime – grace jones / granite – anne dudley / hand to mouth – george michael / is it a crime? – sade / weakling heart – haircuts for men / only for one girl – alan shearer / rain [from miami vice] – jan hammer / pictionary – eyeliner / this city never sleeps – eurythmics
I love fall but I’m not ready for it. For one thing, it feels less fitting to post more of my findings in sophisti, a style screaming ‘cocktail party at the beach’. I meant to do more than my August mix, but that time flew as usual. Thus, a title like Autumn In The Neighbourhood enticed me.
I’m not sure if this is autumnal as much as windy and down-to-earth, but it’s close enough for me. I wish more sophisti had this imagery, I know that much. This being their ‘comeback’ album (2015!), China Crisis perform with more ease and nuance than ever. Decades later, they’ve kept that same elegance that defines sophisti-pop. The subtle keyboards, clean guitars and hints of brass are all here. Add a nostalgic, thoughtful mood and you have a great scene-setter. It’s the kind of British eighties(-styled) pop where you can just feel the busy city and morning breeze. It’s hard to name favorites but this comes from the impressive coherence more than anything else.
♥︎ – “Smile”, “Down Here on Earth”, “Joy And The Spark”, “Tell Tale Signs”