Neneh Cherry: Raw Like Sushi 30th Anniversary review – still fresh, still funky as hell

Fri, Jan 17, 2020, 05:00


Raw Like Sushi

Neneh Cherry



It’s a funny old world. Neneh Cherry could never have guessed that the 30th anniversary reissue of her debut album would be vying for sales and streaming targets with her own daughter’s music. These days, aforementioned daughter Mabel is forging her own path as a pop star, safe in the knowledge that both of her parents (her dad, producer Cameron McVey, also co-wrote much of this album) were the architects of a stone-cold classic pop album. Here, it’s remastered and reissued as a three-CD/LP set including remixes, demos and extended versions of some songs, as well as a 48-page booklet documenting its construction and its influence.

Of course, the pop landscape has fundamentally changed since 1989. When Raw Like Sushi was first released, the then 25-year-old Cherry was hailed as a visionary for blending her hip-hop, pop, dance and punk influences with the sort of fearless, attitude-driven sashay that young pop stars take for granted in 2020.

World-beating opener Buffalo Stance has aged superbly and still thrills, from the turntable scratch of that long intro to the sassy, self-confident chorus. Although the various remixes of the song supplied on this reissue (Arthur Baker is responsible for two alone) nudge it into the house realm, the original simply can’t be improved upon.

Neneh Cherry - Inna City Mamma official video

Of course, the reasons for Raw Like Sushi’s enduring draw is more than just that one song. Manchild sounds both nostalgic and progressive; it is co-written by Massive Attack’s Robert Del Naja, and his remix of the majestic track is excellent. Inna City Mamma offers a more considered approach, but the infectious giddiness of Heart and the freestyle jazz vibe of The Next Generation bring a vibrancy to the tracklist. It’s easy to see how Cherry laid the blueprint for a generation of female rappers (something she doesn’t get enough credit for) on the likes of So Here I Come; when she asks “Was that taping?” on the closing bars of Outre Risque Locomotive, it says it all: this album must have been a lot of fun to make.

It also sounds like the various DJs and producers who remixed these songs had fun with them, too – and the fact that they can be folded into genres such as house, trip-hop (courtesy of Smith & Mighty), Detroit techno (Kevin Saunderson also takes a bash at Buffalo Stance) and hip-hop via Dynamik Duo speaks volumes to its versatility. True, a smattering of tracks (Love Ghetto, Phoney Ladies) may betray this album’s ’80s roots, but, coupled with its pristine remastered crispness, Raw Like Sushi still sounds fresh, 30 years on.

Perhaps Mabel should be worried, after all.