Thursday, July 3, 2008


Speaking of female singers who keep us waiting--and wanting, I began to think of a few distaff artists who are way overdue for some new music. You've got to wonder what a singer is doing while they're taking decade-long breaks from music. Kate Bush, who returned with the two-disc Aerial in 2005 after a 12-year lay off, was busy raising a kid. So much for being a working mom. But what about the others? Here are five ladies who've kept us waiting way too long.

BASIA When I interviewed Basia (left) in 1994 after she'd taken a five-year break between London Warsaw New York and the then-about-to-be-released The Sweetest Illusion, I took half-jokingly scolded her for staying away so long. She promised it wouldn't happen again. Fourteen years later, we're still waiting for the follow-up to Illusion. Basia, now 53, has done guest spots here and there, most notably on the 2004 Matt Bianco CD, Matt's Mood, and she is supposedly working on a new album called It's That Girl Again. I'll believe it when I see it.

SADE I remember being surprised in 1985 when Sade released her second album, Promise, only one year after the still-kind-of-hot Diamond Life. Why the rush, I wondered? It would be the last time the Anglo-Nigerian would act so quickly. She released just two albums in the next seven years, and eight more passed between 1992's Love Deluxe and 2000's Lovers Rock. Since Rock, aside from a live CD in 2002, there hasn't been so much as a peep from Sade, now 49. Something tells me that no matter how long she waits, her comeback will still sell by the truckload.

NENEH CHERRY Like Basia, Neneh Cherry has made occasional guest spots on other people's songs and she's a member of cirKus, which released the Laylow CD in 2006. But since 1996's Man (which didn't even come out in the U.S.), there's been no album of new solo music. Neneh didn't have much commercial success after her 1989 debut, Raw Like Sushi and its No. 3 single, "Buffalo Stance," but her non-charting 1992 CD, Homebrew (a high point of '90s pop), landed her on the cover of Rolling Stone. I suspect that her commercial potential is a thing of the past, but imagine the lyrical depth the now-fortysomething grandma would bring to a new collection of solo songs.

SHARA NELSON Two great CDs--1993's flawless What Silence Knows and 1995's Friendly Fire--and then nothing. (The latter includes one of my favorite post-break up lyrics: "After you after you after you, I close the door. Ain't no one getting in.") There's been the occasional spectacular dance diva turn on someone else's record, but they only increase our hunger for what we still don't have: a album's worth of new Shara. A solo CD is supposedly on the way, but stop me if you think that you've heard that one before.

TONI CHILDS The year 1988 gave us four great new female voices: Sinead O'Connor, Tracy Chapman, Melissa Etheridge and Toni Childs. I still remember watching the Grammys in 1989 when all four were up for awards (it was pretty much a foregone conclusion that Chapman, not Toni, would win Best New Artist), and they each performed on the telecast. I did know much about Toni Childs at the time, but I was so blown away by her performance of "Don't Walk Away" that I went out and bought her debut LP, Union, the next day. (Yes, at the time, I was still into vinyl.) Her two follow-ups didn't match the creative or commercial heights of Union, but who'd have thought that she'd exit without so much as a goodbye after 1994's The Woman's Boat. Toni, now 50, has a new CD, Keep the Faith, on deck for a January 2009 release, but if I've said it once (which I actually haven't), I've said it a thousand times: promises promises.

While we wait for these five ladies to get their act together, here are links to my favorite songs by each.

Basia: "My Cruel Ways"
(from The Sweetest Illusion)

Sade: "Fear"
(from Promise)

Neneh Cherry: "Red Paint"
(from Homebrew)

Shara Nelson: "Pain Revisited"
(from What Silence Knows)

Toni Childs: "Stop Your Fussing"
(from Union)
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