This information-packed (and quirky) little page introduces the sensational singers, Alisha's attic, includes original analysis, and links to other Aa sites on the WWW.
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Two British singer-songwriters who have produced a very special sound and lyrics. The debut album Alisha rules the world was released in 1996, the second album Illumina in October 1998, the third The House We Built late in 2001. A special limited edition CD The Vaults was made available to fan club members in November 2001.
Alisha is the Eastern-sounding name of the group's mascot, an imaginary little girl with a part wicked part good personality that the singers say reflects their own.
The Attic was originally that in their co-songwriter's father's home, where many of the songs were crafted. It also refers to the flat that was specially re-created at the studio where the first album was recorded.
Tactically it was quite a good name for a group, placing it at the head of the queue alphabetically!
Bb Bargain bin
It is a good time to buy Alisha's attic back titles, e.g. on Ebay. Keep reading to see how to put your name down for their next release of archive material, Vaults 2.
Cc Church connections
Apart from having honed their singing skills in a church choir, the band's lyrics and promotional material sometimes draws on religious imagery. The mascot, for example, has an angelic basis. The first album and some of the second were also recorded at Church Studios in London.
Dd "Dagenham duo"
Alisha's Attic is actually two sisters, Karen and Shellie Poole, who were originally from the Barking/Dagenham/Chadwell Heath area. Having served nine years apprenticeship, as backing singers and as "Keren and Chelle", they are versatile, and skilled at creating integrated and harmonious lead and backing vocals.
To go with their creative voices Karen and Shellie adopted a fascinating alternative look, helped by a keen eye for classy clothes (secondhand and new designers), distinctive eye make-up, and a liking for going on stage barefoot.
Ee Eurythmics' expertise
A number of the guys behind Karen and Shellie on the album Alisha rules the world were with the internationally successful Eurythmics, and other bands associated with David Stewart. Apart from Chucho Merchan, the bass and double bass player, they included David Stewart himself, who played guitars on the album and produced it, and Olle Romo, the drummer who programmed Air we breathe. There is no doubt that as with many other groups (such as Shakespear's Sister and Fun Boy Three) Dave Stewart's operation was invaluable in launching Alisha's Attic's mainstream career.
Ff Fairytale & feist
One of the attractions of
the Attic sisters and their work is that they have displayed a strong
degree of unity, yet nevertheless managed to combine - almost
simultaneously at times - opposing forces of fairytale and feist.
There is a refreshing purity and simplicity, straight out of the
Wizard of Oz, and on the other a "don't you mess with me"
streetwise awareness of the harsher realities of life,
particularly for many women. Perhaps it is just the same
paradoxical life that we all live, but here it is uniqely
highlighted, and set to music.
Gg Great guitarwork
Guitars are used to good effect in Alisha's Attic's music. Stone in my shoe in particular is reminiscent of the great classics such as Led Zeppelin's Stairway to Heaven or Genesis' Horizons (from "Foxtrot"). On one of the Single CDs is also a great acoustic guitar version of Air we breathe. Dave Stewart and Marcus Meyers deserve bags of credit here.
Hh Hardly home
In its first year Alisha's Attic were often on the road, touring the UK, Indonesia, Australia, Japan, Thailand, Singapore, and New Zealand, then later the USA, where they returned recently to work on their latest album.
But they are keen not to let fame and fortune go to their heads nor to entirely forget their "Dagenham roots".
Ii Interesting influences
A number of influences have been alleged, including:
A little credit is perhaps
also due to Sixties and Seventies' pop/rock music and the great
move into synthesized sounds in the Eighties'. Karen and
Shellie's own favourite music has included: the Spice Girls, Fun
lovin' criminals, Primal Scream, Blur, Supergrass, Radiohead, No
Doubt, Neil Diamond, Simon and Garfunkel, Adam Ant, and Blondie.
Just don't play them any Pet Shop Boys or Mark Morrison!
Jj Jukebox jury
In 1997 Alisha's attic was nominated as one of the Best British Newcomer bands at the Brit Awards and had one of its singles nominated for Best Song at the Ivor Novello awards. It's first album spent months in the UK top 40 and despite a lukewarm reception for the second, the third is highly regarded. Several of its singles have also been hits in the UK:
In Tokyo Aa went to number
one in the Hot 100 Airplay Chart. But most important to Karen and
Shellie have had much fun creating innovative music.
Kk Konfident Karen
Born in 1971, Karen is Big sister and provided most of the harmonic and percussive backing vocals on the tracks. She has a versatile and well-controlled singing voice which is both cute and a little foxy. And on stage she just seems to float. It comes as no surprise to learn that at school she used to win the prize in the dressing-up competitions.
Karen's pet hates are pink scum in the bath and real fur. She loves the Wizard of Oz and other old films and her ambition was to swim with dolphins, something she writes and sings about in Me and the Dolphins. Since working as Alisha's Attic Karen has helped several budding singers and continued her song-writing career.
Ll Lunatic lyrics?
At times the lyrics take on a surreal quality, but they exhibit careful observation of humanity, humour, (e.g. Personality lines) and betray a good education. Some of the recurring themes in the first album were:
Mm Missing Mercury
The marketing money behind Alisha's Attic used to come from a division of PolyGram called Mercury Records. (Thank you Mercury for your past support )
Nn No naughtiness
Karen and Shellie were not into the excesses of Girl Power or flaunting themselves about - it was music first. Which is nice.
Oo Others obliging
Obviously there are many people behind Alisha's Attic's success who regularly go unmentioned. Terry Martin, for instance, has received far too little credit. For the benefit of those researching connections, however, a few more names of musicians associated with the first album are listed below:
Alisha Rules the World:
Pp Papa Poole
Patently Karen and Shellie have been gifted with musical ability in their own right, but they also have an inspirational father. Brian Poole was successful in the Sixties with a British band called The Tremeloes, and in later years had a revival band nicknamed The Travelling Wrinklies.
The sisters also say that their vegetarianism comes as a reaction to their father being a master butcher, and interestingly what looks like a butchers knife found its way into the imagery in the cartoon strip that accompanied the first album!
Qq Quick quibbles
Rr Recommended reading
For most fans the best sources of information about the group, including pictures, video clips and samples of tracks are to be found on the Internet, particularly since the establishment is driven more by chart ratings than musical quality. The Fanattics ensure that even tiny snippets of news or radio/TV interviews are faithfully transcribed and posted.
Shellie, 14 months younger than Karen, has striking hair, goes in for strong make-up, and sings like she really means it. In an interview for Top of the Pops Magazine in 1997 she admitted to being a bit fearful of bad omens - although this did not stop her performing on Friday 13th June! Apart from things slightly macabre, Shellie likes ethnic items, e.g. from India. Shellie is now married.
Tt Top tracks
The author's favourite in September 2001 was the new single:
but now he doesn't know!
Uu Under upheaval
Perhaps that is a little exaggeration, but with the association between Alisha's Attic and Mercury Records having recently ended, and Shellie having married, a new page turns in the story of Alisha's Attic. The good news is that you can put your name down for their next album, Vaults 2 here. Listen out for Karen's influences on the new artiste, Amy Studt.
Vv Virtual videos
Videos of the group are available on Ebay and more lately on enhanced CDs. The promotional videos accompanying Indestructible and Air we breathe were made by the award-winning production company Intro. For Indestructible a virtual moving world was created from a synthesis of video shots and computer animations, onto which was superimposed film of the sisters. This enabled it to appear as if Shellie and Karen were inhabiting a world of toys. (Incidentally, Karen did once, as a sales assistant!) In this world they perform death-defying stunts. The final touch was to "distress" the digitised images in order to give them the feel of the early cartoon animations.
The video for Air we breathe includes expansive shots of the mediterranean countryside and architecture, and of the expanse of an Indian elephant.
For Push it All Aside the theme, the relationship between two sisters through their lives, is conveyed in a series of simple scenes. Directed by Sophie Muller.
In Pretender Got my Heart the simple themes of infatuation, the wrong guy and rivalry are worked out in a simple but striking coastal setting.
Ww Wonder women
One of Karen's ambitions has been to be Wonder Woman. Well at least to do something equally exciting in the movies - helping people and looking glamorous.
Fans of the group would
already say that the two sisters have already achieved this
ambition. Many people's lives have been touched for the better by
Karen and Shellie's music. That kind of gift only comes to a few.
Xx Kiss kiss
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Yy Yawning yet?
You've nearly come to the end of this introduction to Alisha's Attic. Thanks for visiting. I hope you have found it of some interest or help, and most of all positive about the group. Whatever your views and tastes, let's thank God for giving us good music and (in most cases) the hearing to appreciate it. And happy surfing!
Why not Zzzip away now to another planet. The group has a fan club, fanzine, Internet email discussion list where up-to-date news on TV appearances and gigs is posted daily by a core of FanAttics, an IRC (DALnet) channel, official website and many other unofficial WWW pages with a wealth of information, videos and sound clips.
"Wanna come with
Shell and me
Updated Dec 2004 (minor editd to keep site open). The first edition of this site was published in May 1997 as "Alisha'S Attic's Alternative Alphabet" and at the url http://www.netcomuk.co.uk/simono37/aaaa.html. Take it as a tribute to Alisha's Attic that this simple site, by one of their oldest fans (b. 1958) is still quirkily surviving.