She had a quarrel, but is this the right time to re-evaluate Lisa Stansfield, and what is she doing now?
by Mark Keen
Many of us grew up with Lisa in the mid 80s, but probably didn’t know it as she was a teenage presenter on Razzmatazz, an afternoon pop show. I had a paper round so I never had the pleasure. It would be a few more years before Lisa (born 1966), from Rochdale, would come to my attention. In 1984 she would start her pop career in the group, Blue Zone, although there had been some solo singles beforehand. The group released a number of singles, but none hit the UK charts and neither did their album “Big Thing”. Big things were predicted for their single “On Fire” and it would have been a hit if it had not been withdrawn by the record company in the wake of the tragic Kings Cross Fire.
A minor hit (number 54) was achieved in 1988 in America with the cover of “Jackie” (originally recorded by Elisa “Who Found Who” Fiorillo) coincidentally written by Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly who wrote “Like A Virgin” and “I Drove All Night” to name but two. Blue Zone’s recordings have recently been re-released on CD.
Lisa would soon be cutting a solo path, although her band mates from Blue Zone would remain a vital component of her pop career – she married one of them! In early 1989 with kiss-curl intact (at one point as synonymous with Lisa as the eye patch was to Gabrielle) Lisa would enjoy a big hit with dance outfit Coldcut with “People Hold On”, hitting number 11 in the UK and a top ten dance hit in the US, where Lisa has enjoyed enormous success over the years.
Lisa would enjoy a successful follow up with “This Is The Right Time” hitting number 13 in the UK and number 1 in the US dance charts, the first of many, and more crucially hitting the top 25 in the Hot 100 and despite being a white girl from Rochdale, Lisa also had a R&B hit in the US.
However, a worldwide hit was just around the corner. In fact it was her most famous song “All Around The World”. It was a huge number 1 hit in the UK and hit the top 3 in the US. In fact it was a top 10 hit in most territories.
Lisa would solidify her new found fame with a memorable contribution to Band Aid II “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” the 1989 UK Christmas number one, before going on to have several more hits from her first solo album “Affection” including “Live Together” (UK No.10), “What Did I Do To You?” (UK No.25) and the big US hit “You Can’t Deny It” (No.14).
“Affection” was a worldwide hit reaching the top 10 in most countries, selling five million copies to date, and entirely written and produced by Lisa and her pals from Blue Zone. Lisa would also make a great contribution with “Down In The Depths” from the AIDS charity album “Red Hot + Blue”.
Lisa would return in 1991 with her classic, and in my view, best album “Real Love” which reached number 3 in the UK album charts. The album took more of a classic Philly sound rather than the pop/dance of the previous album and Lisa’s love of Barry White was clear to see. The first single, the still memorable “Change”, was an international hit and made the UK top 10 and the US dance and R&B charts (number 1) showing a more sophisticated Lisa. Her voice had never sounded so rich and soulful.
Equally well known, if not such a big hit, was “All Woman” hitting the top 20 in the UK. Perhaps a bit corny, but nevertheless quite touching and a real emotional tune, and a great video.
A number of further singles were released from the album including the sexy UK top 20 “Time To Make You Mine” and “Set Your Loving Free”. You can catch a glimpse of Ken ‘Coronation Street’ Barlow’s son, Linus Roche, popping up in the “Set Your Loving Free” video.
It may have looked like the top 10 pop hits had dried up, but Whitney came to the rescue in 1992 and the success of a song on ‘The Bodyguard’ soundtrack has probably paid the bills ever since. It can’t be underestimated how huge the film was and how enormous the accompanying soundtrack was. It’s actually the fifth best selling album of all time selling just short of 30 million copies. “Someday (I’m Coming Back)” is a great pop song supported by a classic Frankie Knuckles remix and no doubt being signed to the same record label, Arista, as Whitney obviously helped.
Lisa would return in 1993 to the UK top 10 with another song from a film soundtrack. The story goes that Lisa auditioned for the main part in ‘Indecent Proposal’, but lost out to Demi Moore. Nevertheless, Lisa’s prize was to record the theme song, the John Barry assisted “In All The Right Places” (UK No.8), which I have always found a haunting song, although avoid the flat album soul mix.
To find out what happens next, join myself and Lisa in PART TWO