Thursday, June 16, 2022

"Buffalo Stance" by Neneh Cherry

Top 10 Alert!
Gold Record Alert!
Song#:  3853
Date:  04/01/1989
Debut:  83
Peak:  3
Weeks:  24
Genre:  Hip-Hop, Dance-Pop, Freestyle

Pop Bits:  This Swedish-born singer/songwriter would spend part of her childhood in Sweden and then part in the US when her family made a move. However, in her mid-teens Cherry dropped out of school and moved to London. Once there, she became immersed in the city's punk rock scene and began to perform and record with several bands. She also became involved with the influential Ray Petri-led fashion/design house called Buffalo and it was through that collective that she met musician/model (and future husband) Cameron McVey. The pair would begin to collaborate and after McVey's attempt to kick off a music career (see below) didn't pan out, the focus turned into launching Cherry's solo career. Virgin Records would give Cherry a chance and an initial single, "Buffalo Stance," was worked up and issued out late in '88. It took off in the UK and made it to #3. Meanwhile, the song got pushed over to the US and it rapidly moved up the Dance chart and by the end of April it would reach #1. A few weeks before that, the tune crossed over to the Pop chart. It would make a steady climb finally peaking at #3. The single would sell well enough to reach gold status. The hit prompted an album to be assembled and it would be released a couple weeks prior to "Buffalo Stance" reaching its peak on the Pop chart.

ReduxReview:  This was another one of those singles that I bought on a whim without hearing it. The title intrigued me and I knew there was a buzz about the tune. I wasn't disappointed. It was a genre-bending, swirling dance track that felt more 90s than 80s. The highlights were aplenty with Cherry's rap and sung portions creating their own hooks alongside that indelible keyboard lick. It was a cool track with attitude that sounded a bit futuristic at the time. I was hoping it would become a big hit and indeed it did.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  This song is not necessarily a cover, but more of a reworking of a track that Cherry had previously recorded in '87. Buffalo members Cameron McVey and photographer/musician Jamie Morgan decided to launch a music career together. Their concept was to do vocal harmonies over reggae beats. Their demos got the attention of Sony Records, who signed up the duo for a one-off single to see what would happen. The new duo initially floundered a bit so Sony chose to hook them up with the famous production team Stock Aitken Waterman (Bananarama, Rick Astley). The team along with McVey and Morgan got the tune "Look Good Diving" recorded. A video for the song was then made that featured Neneh Cherry playing guitar and another Buffalo co-hort and soon-to-be famous model Naomi Campbell on keyboards. The single was released under the name Morgan|McVey, but it ended up flopping. It disappeared quickly as did the partnership. However, the b-side of the single would later provide Cherry with an international hit. Cherry would collaborate with Morgan and McVey on an altered version of their song titled "Look Good Diving with the Wild Bunch." On it, Cherry would be featured rapping and singing. The new lyrics included the phrase "buffalo stance," which was sort of a shout-out to the Buffalo collaborative and also to a certain model pose. The song also featured The Wild Bunch, which was a DJ collective that included future star producer Nellee Hooper (Bjork, Madonna, Gwen Stefani). Other members of The Wild Bunch would later go on to form the influential trip-hop group Massive Attack. The b-side slated track was done and that seemed to be the end of it. Flash forward a couple years to when Cherry was starting work on her solo album with McVey. McVey happened to go into a local club where DJ Tim Simenon (aka Bomb the Bass) was working. Simenon saw McVey and started talking to him about the b-side to the Morgan|McVey single. He loved it and asked if he could rework it with Cherry. They all got together and reformed the track into "Buffalo Stance." When done, Cherry and McVey realized they had been sitting on a hit for years and didn't know it. The track was then pushed out as a single and it became an international success.


1 comment:

  1. Ohh yeah. Surefire 10. Very much worth checking out the album version -- about 1:30 longer and just chock full of great House-ish hooks in the extended outro courtesy of BTB.

    I was considerably younger, but between InSoc's "WOYM" and "Walking Away" and this, I was so excited at where pop music was going. Sure, glam was still rising and you had stuff like Phil Collins around, but this was THE modern sound and it pointed to Pop radio programmers becoming comfortable with all kinds of great dance-first tunes and house/rap hybrids (KLF, Technotronic, etc.) that remain some of my favorite music to this day.