Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Move With Me

Song: Move With Me
Artist: Neneh Cherry
Album: Homebrew

From the start I loved Neneh Cherry. Her debut single, “Buffalo Stance” back in 1989 sounded like the future to me. It was hip-hop, but her smart, confident female voice was something different in an era of MC Hammer, Candyman, & Biz Markie. Her debut album, “Raw Like Sushi” must have been a surprise hit back then. It certainly wasn’t safe and didn’t fit into the pop landscape of the time. Yet there was no denying the catchiness of “Stance” or follow up single “Kisses on the Wind.”

Cherry was born in Stockholm, Sweden in the mid-sixties, daughter of a West African percussionist and artist, raised in Sweden and New York City by her mother and step father, jazz figure Don Cherry. She relocated to London after dropping out of school at fourteen and joined such varied bands as the Slits, the Nails, the Cherries, Rip Rig & Panic, and their spin off group, Float Up CP. But it wasn’t until she hooked up, both musically and romantically, with Cameron McVey (AKA Booga Bear.) Together they co-wrote much of what would comprise “Raw Like Sushi.”

Despite the hit songs, and the world waiting to see what she would do next, Neneh was sidelined with Lyme disease and it would not be until 1992 that she would release her sophomore album “Homebrew.” The album is an eclectic mix of trip-hop, dub, jazz, you name it… this kitchen sink style album, while much more quiet than her debut, is Cherry’s definitive statement, and one of the best albums of the 90’s. This time Neneh acted as chief songwriter, collaborating with Lenny Kravitz (who is rumored to be the subject of the biting “Buddy X”,) Michael Stipe, Gang Starr, as well as writing and production help from Geoff Barrow of Portishead. It is too varied to be placed in any one category, but it is a musical journey well worth taking.

I first heard “Move With Me,” in dub remix form on the Until The End of the World Soundtrack. It was only then that I realized that Cherry indeed had made a follow up to “Sushi.” The song is pure trip-hop with a cinematic open-spaces vibe. Lyrically it is more straight-forward than a lot of her work, yet it is very smart and emotional, balancing the sometimes cold aspects at the essence of trip hop.

It would be another four years until Cherry released the European only “Man” in 1996. That album was a flat out disappointment, especially after the high of “Homebrew.” She has yet to release another follow up, instead working with a variety of collaborators as vocalist and co-writer, with such artists as Timo Maas, Speech of Arrested Development, The The, One Giant Leap, Groove Armada, Pulp, Gorillaz, and most recently, Stockholm’s the Teddybears.

Neneh is an amazing artist and I really hope she puts together a new album in the future.


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