Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Alisha - Alisha

This month marks the thirtieth anniversary of Alisha, the self-titled debut album from Brooklyn born freestyle/pop/dance singer Alisha Ann Itkin. She began vocal lessons at age eight, and by age fourteen she was performing as part of a singing and dancing group called the Babysitters of Brooklyn. Their demo tape crossed the desk of Mark Berry at Vanguard Records who hired her, at age fifteen, as a vocalist for the single “All Night Passion”. That single lead to a full-length album release in 1985 which was mixed by Shep Pettibone.

Side one opens with the original six and half minute version of “All Night Passion”, her first single from 1984. It stopped at number 103 on the US Billboard Singles chart and number 84 on the US Billboard R&B chart, but shot all the way to number 4 on the US Billboard Dance chart. Backed with a pulse-pounding beat, she confesses that thoughts of passionate nights get her through the day. I’ll admit that when we were dancing to this one in the clubs and at campus parties back in the day (which was a ton back in 1984 and 1985) that we had no idea that it was performed by an underage teen.

“Stargazing”, the fourth single, soared to number 16 in 1986 on the US Billboard Dance chart. This one has a slightly slower beat yet is still quite danceable. The lyrics reflect an innocent dreaming viewpoint. The producers jump through a number of audio loops on this one; some (like the stuttering effects) don’t completely work for me.

The album version, five and a half minutes in length, of “Baby Talk” is next. The third single from the album hit number 75 on the US Billboard R&B chart, number 68 on the US Billboard Hot 100, number 67 in the UK, number 23 in Switzerland, number 19 in Germany and France, number 9 in the Netherlands, and number 1 in Belgium and on the US Billboard Dance chart. This was Alisha’s biggest hit and probably the one song for which most of my “80’s Babies” will remember her. The lyrics emphasize the importance of communication in a relationship.

Side two opens with the up-tempo, hot-and-bothered “Too Turned On”. As her second single, it went to number 6 on the US Billboard Dance chart. At over six minutes long, this one has a lot of room to groove.

“Boys Will Be Boys” point out that young guys tend to macho posing and usually have one thing on their mind. The song has a girl-group pop bounce to it that makes it light and fun.

The B-side to the third single was “One Little Lie”, a mid-tempo tune that strips back the production a bit and really puts Alisha’s vocals in the forefront. One of my favorite touches is the ominous synth hook about midway through the song; it is short and only used twice but it was enough. It really drives home the lyrical message of the fragile line of trust in a relationship.

A nearly seven minute remix version of “Baby Talk” closes the album. This one has an extended instrumental opening and bridge that made it perfect for clubs.

I loved these songs by Alisha back in the mid-80’s when I lived for my weekends out dancing. They are a part of the soundtrack of that period of my life. But, over time, I had forgotten all about them – that is until 2011. That summer, these songs came back into my consciousness and I very soon added Alisha to my digital music collection.

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