Produced by Steve Jolley & Tony Swain
I fought with this record for a long time. I resented the ‘star’ it made of me as though I didn’t have a hand in it myself. I like Swain and Jolley. They were nice blokes. We had some issues but they could be solved with a little care from the record company. They were getting what they wanted then so didn’t help.
After working with Vince who never used a chord, it was really interesting to work in a different way. I was glad to be working again. Everything I had done had been so different from the previous projects I though this would be more of that. I wasn’t prepared for the way it was going to define me. It was well received but in many ways it is not helpful to have so much success early on… before you understand the game and your own part in it.
Along with making a record that appealed to the mass market, I had grown decidedly fat during a year of legal wrangling. All of this presented an image of unthreatening cosy womanliness that would haunt me forever. I was a dark and tortured individal and I was expected to be a very fat retiring lady.
Blah Blah Blah. Record sold loads. Record company wanted another single. I didn’t want to sell my supporters more of the same and so suggested recording That Ole Devil song that I did live and was loved by the punters. This was at a time when these old songs were not everywhere. It was not supposed to be a safe move. As it transpired, it sold massively all over … all the old records were re-released, many more re-recorded and there was I, in the middle of the road. To boot I was heavily pregnant and the video of me lounging in velvet, diamante and bouffant sealed the deal. Bugger. Even here I am attributing that to Alf… it all became one time.
So… I blamed that album and that time for everything. Yes… there are sounds and production values that have dated considerably. I’m not fond of many of my performances…but there are a couple of fine songs (see All Cried Out recorded by Fink… stripped of the production values that have dated and the original bombast…Fink refocuses on chord structure, melody and lyrics…which are to my mind well formed. A good song can stand alone without bell trees and hooky samples. This is how I judge a song well written. Great “tracks” and “records” are a different thing. A big distinction. It is always said for a lyric to work…as simple as it may be..it has to be sung like you mean it. On Alf, my production team always wanted me to be singing at the very top of my range. That I could make a big noise was milked.
It is often received that yelling equals angst. The singing experience then becomes one of physical exertion alone. That passion gets read into is a mirage. My vocal on All Cried Out is one of the better ones on Alf but I lost my enjoyment of it through years of performing it. The vocal in his recording has an honesty. It reminds me what I liked about the song. It was a time of relative freedom. It does not deserve the approbation I heaped upon it…and it supported me in leaner years.
Hoorah that Alf!
Alison won a Brit award for Best British Female Solo Artist in 1985 after the success of Alf
Alf lingered in the UK album chart for nearly two years and went quadruple platinum.
Alf was hugely popular in New Zealand – the album went to #1 and would go eight times platinum there.