Today’s POP RESCUE from a fate unknown, is the 1992 album Homebrew by Swedish rapper and songwriter, Neneh Cherry. Will this album be your best Buddy, or will it leave you feeling hungover? Read on…
This 10 track CD drops straight into whispering and record scratches of Sassy. A wonderful piano riff and bass line repeats throughout as Neneh raps and sings. She’s joined, in a million compliments, by Guru (from Gangstarr), whose rap is a nice contrasting vocal. The underlying track is really catchy, and perhaps a little too distracting.
Next up is lead single Money Love which carries a softer beat as Neneh takes a more tuneful singing approach to this song. There’s some great guitar thanks to guitarist J$ (Jonny Dollar of band Trout) and this gives the song a growling rawness that again sits in great contrast to Neneh’s softer vocal here. Neneh does drop a rap, and it feels perfectly placed, as she then later returns to her singing. The track gave Neneh a #23 charting UK single.
Move With Me is next and this takes the tempo down, with Neneh singing a somewhat heartfelt ballad over a set of synth pads and soft drum machines. I really like it when Neneh sings, and she does a great job here against occasional record scratches. The track was released as the album’s second single, but in Germany only.
That’s followed by I Ain’t Gone Under Yet, which opens with a mini-Cherry child (I think it’s probably Tyson) shouting, prompting Neneh to tell them to wait a moment whilst she records the song. What follows is a wonderfully chilled sound of record scratches, mellow bass and beats, and samples of songs by Motherlode. Whilst this track isn’t co-produced by Geoff Barrow of Portishead (that’s to come), it sounds influenced by the same sound.
Then it’s Twisted which gives us another nice mid-tempo track with shuffling beats and bass whist Neneh seems to sing so effortlessly over the top with a soulful sound. At times, it sounds like a 1990’s Lisa Stansfield song, but Neneh’s delivery makes it unmistakably hers.
Next up is third and final single Buddy X, a song that gave her a #35 UK single. The track contains a catchy little sample of Sam and Dave’s hit Rich Kind Of Poverty (1967), which anchors the song stylistically, but gives Neneh a mellow, swaggering sound from which to sing, joined occasionally by gurgling and beeping synths.
That’s followed by Somedays, opening perhaps bravely with a rendition of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, and enough record crackle and layers, that it sounds perfectly part of Portishead’s discography, which is just as well considering that it is written and co-produced by Geoff Barrow (of Portishead). The combination of Beethoven, drum machines, and Neneh Cherry works remarkably well. The track ends on a haunting Sonata play-out as a phone rings. This really should have become a single.
Trout follows that, and here we are treated to R.E.M‘s Michael Stipe, with Jonny Dollar (J$) returning to play a riff from Steppenwolf’s 1968 track The Pusher. The vocal play between Cherry and Stipe works a treat here, and even though he takes the mic first, Neneh owns the song. The track also sounds quite loose like a live gig recording, in which both vocalists had a lot of fun singing a semi-political song about how schools should teach sex education.
Peace In Mind is next, which drops soft soundscapes over a drum machine as Neneh sings over the top. This is a pretty chilled out song, with some far-off bell/chime sounds ringing in the background, helping to sew the song together as it evolves. It’s a nice relaxing sound.
The album closes with Red Paint, credited as ‘inspired by Moki Cherry‘ as the song is based on a story Neneh’s artist mother (Moki) told her. This track is a really strong song, and is perhaps the most full sounding song here, with a wonderful evolution, enhanced by the use of sound samples of the police. It’s a great song to end on.
Over all, this album feels like a different Neneh Cherry with a mixture of sounds, but the underlying relaxing bass, funky sounds, and soulful vocals delivers a more chilled out tone to 1989’s Raw Like Sushi.
There’s a lot of really nice musical and vocal sounds here, and the rich layers work well – whether they are synth pads, thick swaggering bass, or shuffling drum machines, or Neneh’s pristine vocals. Somedays is the strongest sound here, and perhaps the bravest too with its use of Beethoven. Buddy X and I Ain’t Gone Under Yet are also two great songs, with the latter and Somedays both really should having been singles along with Red Paint.
Whilst there aren’t any bad songs here, weaker tracks sadly include Trout with Michael Stipe, with the song saved by the repeated interpolation of Steppenwolf’s riff, and the middle of the road song Twisted. A bit more structure to these songs would have been good, but instrumentally and vocally, the album is rich.
If you’re coming to this album as a lover of her previous and debut album Raw Like Sushi, then you might be a little disappointed.
- POP RESCUE 2022 RATING: 4 / 5
- 1992 UK ALBUM CHART PEAK: #27
- POP RESCUE COST: £1.49 from a Discogs.com seller.