POP RESCUE: ‘Changing Cabins’ by Nomad (CD, 1991)


Todays’ POP RESCUE is the 1991 debut album Changing Cabins by dance act Nomad, but is this album really worth a stay? Read on…

Nomad - Changing Cabins (1991) albumThis 12 track album opens with what sounds like gentle saloon bar piano tinkling of Something Special, before upping the tempo with some great house piano sequences, a synth, dance beats and a thick heavy bass. Vocalist Sharon D. Clarke ad-libs and teases at her vocal range before hitting the verse. This song is quite a nice gentle pop track and not really like the group’s two big hit singles, but at 5m 52s it does feel like it’s about a minute too long. The song was the third and final single to chart from this album, stalling in the UK singles chart at #73.

(I Wanna Give You) Devotion follows this, complete with it’s audience cheers as Sharon declares that she wants ‘to give you devotion’ before that familiar bassy synth follows and she lets out that unmistakeable ‘heeee-eee-hooo-oooo‘ piece. Rapper MC Mikee Freedom joins in, in what is a great example of early 90’s chart rap – somewhat slower and devoid of the sexual violence that you’d expect in most rap now. Feint, in the background there’s a ‘whoo whoo‘ sample that plays over, and I wonder whether this is an uncredited sample, which reminds me a lot of Bananarama’s 1990 hit Only Your Love from the same year. Again, this song is very long – lasting 6m 28s, which was obviously edited down for the single release which scaled to #2 in the UK during 1990.

Next up it’s Higher Than Heaven with a soft synth that gives way to what sounds a direct lift of the stringed intro from Madonna’s hit Papa Don’t Preach without the resolve. Electronic beeps take over as Sharon delivers some long breathy notes. Damon Rochefort joins in via some heavily affected vocals, but whilst this song seems to use that riff, there’s little else here apart from some nice sounds.

This is followed by Love Smile, which takes a much more up-beat sound, laden with beats, bass and house piano. Sharon is back with some more dance-pop vocals, with occasional vocals from Damon. This is a really nice light catchy dance track, and it’s sad that this wasn’t a single as it’s better than the two follow ups they did release.

Barcelona follows this and it is a rich instrumental of percussion, dance beats, brass and minimal vocal samples. This sounds musically really quite good, but sits weirdly on this album. It could be anyone.

The cheering audience returns for second single Just A Groove, a song which sees Sharon declaring ‘Nomad’s got the music, Nomad’s got the groove‘. This is certainly a funky sounding song and somewhat different from the album’s lead single, and she is joined here by co-writer and produced, and rapper Bruno. This gave the act their second hit, reaching #16 in the UK.

This is followed by The Ragamuffin Number which sees Daddae Harvey take the vocals over a plodding bassline. The song is musically simple, giving Daddae plenty of time and space to shine. His vocals are perfectly timed and in pace with this slightly chilled out track. This song was actually released as a single in 1989, although it failed to chart in the UK. There’s a tiny little flute riff that reminds me of the one in Soul II Soul’s hit Get A Life and then i realise that Daddae worked with Soul II Soul.

Don’t Make Me Wait follows this, which starts off sounding like something left over from Rick Astley’s early album tracks (particularly in the chorus). Bruno is back for another rap, but it doesn’t particularly add anything of value to this song, if anything it breaks it  up too hard. The track itself is quite a nice little pop song, apart from the rap.

Up next is I Don’t Wanna Be The Last which starts off sounding like quite a funky track with some synth saxophones (or at least I think that’s what they’re meant to be). This is quite a mellow song, with male backing vocalists taking the song title, although it’s screaming out for some verses, resulting in what feels like a somewhat empty song (even if it musically sounds quite nice).

Devotion (Soul Mix) follows opening with some wonderful house piano chords. This song gives Sharon plenty of time and space to actually show off her rich and warm vocal style as this version sounds much slower. The piano, backing singers, and a thick bassline really change the genre of this track.

Penultimate track is Just A Groove (Heller And Farley Monday Club Remix) opening with plenty of ‘boo boo boo de boo, HEY YEAH!‘ over some ‘get funky‘ James Brown-esque samples. Sharon then bursts in with ‘it’s just a grooooooove‘ before Bruno takes over the rap (he’s clearer here). This mix is okay, and is very 90’s sounding, and doesn’t really offer much more than the single, only that it’s a bit longer.

The album closes with another version of Devotion (Italohouse Remix), which sees a stronger bassline and more synths boost the track further. Gone is the almost ‘live’ sound to the song, with this sounding much crisper. Sharon’s vocal moments are as powerful as ever and MC Mikee Freedom sounds better here.

Over all, this is a bit of a patchy album, where a couple of dance hits led to a whole album. Dance acts have always struggled to fill an album with dance music that doesn’t just sound the same (Rozalla, of a similar style, suffered from this) – perhaps melody or instrument wise. Nomad manage to break this somewhat with songs like The Ragamuffin Number and Barcelona sounding completely out of sync with the rest of the dance songs. I’m genuinely sad that Love Smile didn’t make it as a single… after Devotion, it’s the best song here.

Where are Nomad now?

After this album’s lowly chart position, the act followed it up by releasing brand new tracks Your Love Is Lifting Me and 24 Hours A Day, but the commercial success of their first two hits was not to be repeated, with these singles stumbling at 60 and 61 respectively in the UK singles chart in 1992.

The act had one further charting, a re-release of their debut single, which saw moderate success in 1995, charting at #42.

Sharon Dee Clarke went on to a successful acting career in the West End – most notably in Ghost the Musical, and We Will Rock You. She has also appeared as a long-running cast member in Holby City, Eastenders, and Tree Fu Tom.

MC Mikee Freedom, who only appeared on the act’s lead single, was, according to an interview in 2008, been working as a DJ in the Bristol area of the UK.

Songwriter and producer Damon Rochefort switched from songwriting to script-writing and has written for Birds Of A Feather, more than 200 episodes of Coronation Street (including Deirdre Barlow’s funeral).

 

POP RESCUE RATING

  • POP RESCUE 2015 RATING: 3 / 5
  • 1991 UK CHART PEAK: #48
  • POP RESCUE COST: £2.99 from an eBay seller.

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