Today’s POP RESCUE from a fate unknown, is the 14 track debut album from Neneh Cherry – 1989’s Raw Like Sushi. Does this album take the perfect stance, or is it overcooked? Read on…
Neneh Cherry, and her hit Buffalo Stance (which opens this album), first came to my attention on my double vinyl NOW That’s What I Call Music 14 album. This track really stood out for me in 1989, and rightly so – it’s (OMG!) got a female rapper, record scratching, and a fast beat, and this was a fresh sound. Only Salt-N-Pepa could have got close.
Manchild is the second track, and single from the album. A contrasting slower track than Buffalo Stance, and one that makes me feel like it is clear here that Neneh Cherry was involved with early Massive Attack (she essentially bank-rolled it) – it carries rich strings. They get a mention here in 1989, on two tracks.
Kisses On The Wind has a strong 80s pop feel to it – it’s about boys. I could imagine Debbie Gibson or Tiffany singing this track. We clearly had the same drum machine. This track was the third single from the album – I don’t remember it though.
Track four, Inna City Mama, was the sixth and final single from the album, and it’s a nice rounded track that should have performed better than it did (#31 in the UK).
Next, we’re on to The Next Generation, which opens with Neneh and some tweeting birds, before she goes straight into a rebellious rap. Then it evolves into a party-fuelled rap, about society and youth culture. It’s particularly dated.
Love Ghetto opens with Neneh singing ‘I need a home run, I need a home run’. I’m not really what she’s singing about here. This track is musically more interesting than its scattering of vocals. I’d have ditched this track.
Heart, which sadly didn’t chart in the UK when it was released as the fourth single, is the closest to Buffalo Stance near the beginning, but then it throws in a few pop verses and a chorus in, which may have led listeners astray if they only heard the beginning. Whilst the chorus is a bit dated, the track as a whole should have performed better in the charts. Perhaps it should have been the second single – maintaining the style people had been introduced to?
Neneh puts her intentions clear in Phoney Ladies (which sounds like a Destiny’s Child song title) with her ‘nobody’s gonna mess me up’ and ‘no money, money, money, can buy us what we need’ she makes it clear that she’s not easily bought, or influenced. Grrrr!
Up next is Outré Risqué Locomotive – another somewhat odd title, but a great track. This track has some clear nods to house music, with its orchestra stabs (I also had that keyboard), and feels close to Salt-N-Pepa meets Bobby Brown meets The Wee Papa Girl Rappers. I think that this would have worked well as a single.
Up next, is the funky So Here I Come, and I can honestly say that I love this track. I think it’s impossible to hear this track and not dance. The samples, the scratching, the funky bass, the lyrics. This track is genius.
My Bitch is the 11th track, and a duet with Gilly G, but essentially feels like they were just mucking about whilst a beat was playing and someone recorded it.
The album finishes with three versions of earlier songs – first up is Heart (It’s A Demo!), which feels odd to be included here when the album version is far better. This one has a heavier bass line and strings, and no scratches.
Buffalo Stance (Sukka Mix) and Manchild (The Old School Mix) are two bonus remixes for those who survived the Heart demo. The Buffalo Stance remix is a nice alternative version, and by surprise, she drops in a few ‘motherfucking’ lyrics, and even mocks Janet Jackson. There’s no ‘Explicit Lyrics’ sticker on this album – it was the 80s after all. Both this remix and the Manchild mix have delicious beats, but aside from the chorus, the rest isn’t that good.
I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this album. I’ve always been a big fan of Buffalo Stance from the moment I heard it on my NOW14 vinyl album. I also enjoyed her Man album a lot too, but wasn’t sure how well this album would sit.
Yes, it’s musically dated in style, but it still hangs together perfectly well. The demo and the mixes on this CD version feel like fillers that I would never have missed though, so I’d have cut those out. Give it a spin.
- POP RESCUE 2014 RATING: 3 / 5
- 1989 UK CHART POSITION: #2
- POP RESCUE COST: £1.00 (from a Poundland store)