dispatches from the pop scene...minus the corn syrup.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Friday Trashback 2: Waterlillies

For this week's Friday Trashback, we move on to dreamy dance duo Waterlillies, who, despite crafting what I consider to be some of the best jams of the 1990s, sadly disbanded after releasing only two albums on Warner Bros. imprint Sire: Evoluptuousity (1992) and Tempted (1994).

As they broke up just on the cusp of the Internet coming into widespread use the world over, there's actually not a whole lot of info out there about the onetime New York-based duo, which consisted of vocalist Sandra Jill Alikas (now going by her married name Jill Alikas-St. Thomas) and producer/instrumentalist Ray Carroll.

When stacked up against their pop/house music contemporaries at the time, Waterlillies were more than just an American Saint Etienne, far more mysterious than Deee-Lite and in a different league than Sunscreem. Their first LP was packed with solid tunes like "Hip To My Way," "Day And Age" and the sadly-overlooked single "Tired Of You."

Waterlillies, "Tired Of You"

Their second album, Tempted, arrived two years later, and its singles fared far better — in dance clubs at least. The title track hit #4 on Billboard's Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart in 1994, while Junior Vasquez's "Deep Factory Mix" of second single "Never Get Enough" sent the track to the top of the same chart in '95.

Waterlillies, "Tempted"

While I was always aware of Waterlillies, I actually didn't own either of their albums until this year. I stumbled upon Tempted while doing a bit of research on songs that topped the dance charts, and downloaded it off iTunes in January. Unfortunately, Envoluptuosity isn't available on the digital store, but I found a CD copy for a couple bucks on eBay.

Personally, I can live without the Vasquez mix of "Never Get Enough." That said, the album version is my favorite song by the duo. It's so subtle, housey and of its time:

Waterlillies, "Never Get Enough"

Side note: I've had and on-again, off-again subscription to Entertainment Weekly since I was 19, and grabbed a bunch of old issues from my parents' attic last year to bring back with me after a visit. I finally got around to opening up the August 12, 1994 issue a couple months ago, and imagine my surprise when I found that Waterlillies' Tempted was the main music review in that issue.

Said EW:
"...Waterlillies, a New York duo whose thoroughly alluring second album Tempted could be the future of dance — or one of its futures anyway. The concept is stunningly simple: put a human on techno by layering a female voice and pop hooks onto this most electronic and inhuman of musics... you don't come to club music for lyrics, but rather for a charged sonic rush, and that's where Tempted delivers the goods. In the hands of folks like the Waterlillies, dance music will continue to catch us off-balance just when we thought we knew all the stops. A-"
I should also point out that Tempted made Entertainment Weekly's Top 10 Albums list at the end of 1994.

Anyway, personally, I'm glad Waterlillies had their brief day in the sun. They've certainly sound-tracked many solitary walks and drives through the night for me all these years later.

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  • At 12:08 AM, Blogger Jef said…

    This is weird--I was listening to The Waterlillies on my iPod on my way home, tonight.

    The remixes of "Tired of You" are pretty good, too--if you like the E-Smoove style that was so popular in '92.

    Personally, Junior Vasquez remixes are way too long for me; I get really nervous if a song clocks over eight minutes. A great pop song, like a heartless lover, should leave me longing for more.

  • At 1:55 AM, Blogger wpmsd said…

    Once again, thanks for shining a light on a heretofore unknown pop act. I may download some of these on iTunes.

  • At 1:15 PM, Blogger D'luv said…

    Jef, I have an equally odd story for you, after looking at your blog. Very nice, btw! I've never heard any of the "Tired Of You" mixes.

    wpmsd, no problem! Let me know if you have a hard time tracking down the first album. I had to get it off eBay (for like 99 cents ;)

  • At 5:16 PM, Blogger Michael said…

    I had that first album. Didn't realize they'd ever done a second one.

  • At 11:37 PM, Anonymous Gavin said…

    It can't work in reality, that's exactly what I think.
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