The Godmothers of Pop: Alison Limerick
Born in East London, Alison Limerick attended the London Contemporary School of Dance and sang backing vocals for The Style Council before finding fame with Where Love Lives, a song penned by Lati Kronlund and remixed by US legends David Morales and Frankie Knuckles. Kicking off with its distinctive keyboard intro, the track became one of the most memorable anthems of the 90s dance scene, with hit re-releases in 1991, 1996 and 2003. Limerick scored a further hit with the self-penned Make It On My Own – which charted in 1992 and 1996. Interview by Douglas McPherson.
Was your family very musical?
I was the first professional musician, but my whole family are very musical. I was a sponge as a child, open to everything – soul, funk, pop, heavy metal, briefly… and lots of show tunes. I still love a good musical.
Were your original ambitions in musical theatre?
Not exactly. I trained to dance and hoped to have a career in the contemporary dance world, but a girl has to eat so, when the opportunity to work in musical theatre presented itself to a poor ‘twirlie’, she took it and never looked back.
Was singing on The Style Council’s album Our Favourite Shop your first step into the music business?
I had been a jobbing vocalist for a little while before I got to sing with The Style Council. I had done a few sessions for signed artists, most lost to obscurity. I also sang live for a few bands. I met Steve White, the drummer, while working on a musical called Labelled With Love at a theatre in Deptford. At some point he started working with The Style Council and it was fortunate that Paul Weller was looking for a vocalist soon after the run of the show ended because Steve recommended me.
What do you remember about first meeting Lati Kronlund?
I’m not sure I can remember the first meeting with Lati, but I recall our initial telephone conversation. He had seen me sing at a very peculiar event at the Institute of Contemporary Arts and tracked me down after the show. It wasn’t easy because the ICA were not in the habit of giving out the numbers of women to eager young men who called and demanded their contact details. Thankfully, Lati was determined and somehow got my number. He called me out of the blue. You have got to love a determined man, especially one who would eventually pen a song that makes you smile every time you sing it.
What was your first impression of Where Love Lives?
I remember it was one of several songs he was working on with various vocalists. I was so happy that he had asked me to sing it, because he could have let one of the other vocalists on the project sing it!
Were you surprised when Where Love Lives came back in 1996 and 2003?
Am I surprised? Well, you could have knocked me down with an eyelash. Who knows why it keeps doing the rounds. You’d better ask BMG. They’re the ones who keep re-releasing it. I’m just happy that new audiences get to enjoy it.
Which of your albums do you look back on most fondly and which would you most like people to hear, and why?
I have a fondness for a lot of the work I have done… the tracks I did with This Mortal Coil, James Taylor Quartet, Vibraphonic, X-Press 2, and the work I’m currently doing with the Brooklyn Funk Essential. Working with Frankie Knuckles in New York on my second album, With A Twist, stands out. That was a special time and I have fond memories of Frankie and Laythan Armor who produced the vocals. My favourite song from that album is Crime To Be Cool. If I had to choose a whole album that I’d like more folk to hear, it would have to be 1998’s Spirit Rising.
What music project are you currently working on?
Right now I have a single out, produced by Lenny Fontana. Bye Bye is another uplifting song with its roots firmly in that old skool place. Phats & Small have delivered a remix that I think Frankie would approve of, which can only be a good thing. To come later this year, Brooklyn Funk Essentials will release the first of the singles from their forthcoming album, on which yours truly features quite a lot. I will also be working with Lati Kronlund again… we have been working together both in the studio and live all over Europe.
Alison Limerick will be singing with the Orchestra of Opera North, at The Symphonic Sounds Of Back To Basics festival in Leeds on 27 July.