Friday, May 08, 2009

Alison Limerick - "Time of our Lives"

Time for another oldie - well - I'm not sure how old it is, but it must be early to mid 90s at least, which in dance music, is forever. Could I get any more commas in a sentence? Stay tuned.

Where was I? Oh yes, an oldie, and one with vocals at that. I typically shy away from vocals in dance music (but sometimes towards them in other types of music). It's something to do with imagination versus explicit statement - sometimes I prefer the ambiguity that allows my imagination to figure things out. Also, so many dance music vocal tracks sound twee or weak or something.

Well here's a track that is very vocal. It's by Alison Limerick, and the original (a horrible weak poppy thing) is here. I think the original is a David Morales effort - the drums have that early 90s New York sound about them - in fact, there's a much more dancefloor version by Morales here, which has a bit of the wild pitch NY feel going on, and is a lot better than the original for it.

But - the killer remix is the "Lifetime Vocal Mix", which according to Discogs is (and I just found this out myself) by The Beloved. Thinking about it now, that's not too difficult to believe, as it's got emotional qualities that aren't so far removed from what The Beloved were up to back in the day (who remembers Sweet Harmony? Damn that was a great track)

Anyway - The Beloved took "Time of our Lives" by Limerick, and completely reconfigured it. Centered on a loping drumbeat, it's hugely understated with the deep thud of the kick, off beat hats, a ricochet double-snare and a couple bongos. The bass is just a rumbling wobble under the kick, but it's interesting in that it seems to be constantly playing the 5th - which as vocals and chords come in means the entire track hangs over a harmonic suspension.

Then there's the vocals. The vocals were always great, but they were neutered by the original pop mix. But here, they float free and easy over the rumbling bassline all the way through the first verse - walking pace soul that would shoot light and smiles straight through a club. And then at the first chorus, it changes from ordinary to extraordinary. From somewhere up above, the simplest 2-note chords fall down on the track, and in a short second it's transformed from a decent vocal track, into the rarest communal moment of catharsis. It's the sort of thing that if you were dancing, it might actually make you stop and stand still.

I heard this on the radio years ago, was blown away then, and it was a good while before I found it on vinyl. I've never got the opportunity to play it out (it's a long way from the sets I normally do, and the clubs I normally play), but I've always refused to throw it out or move it on, despite numerous clearouts of vinyl for space reasons.

Somewhere in the future, there is a dancefloor that will have been built up at the right pace, and held at the right pitch all night, and come 4am, it will be time to unleash this emotional bomb.

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