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  • Tony Harris

SOMEWHERE NOWHERE


Since I started to write these articles on "Should've Beens", I have normally managed to find a way to explain the public's lack of appetite for a record that really deserved far better. However, this week's example has always baffled me, as it it seemed to have everything going for it.


And history will show that I was not the only one.


What is quite interesting is that my first introduction to so many of these "Should've Beens" came either through Channel 4's "The Chart Show" - which used to preview a lot of music that was not always found on the mainstream chart as well as a lot of bubbling releases - or Radio 1's "Round Table" which would give you a taster of new releases on a Friday night.


I am going to admit a certain sense of superiority (and triumph of my own musical taste) when championing a record long before anyone else has cottoned on to it. There was also a corresponding disappointment when you realised that everybody else had found your so-called hidden treasure. You'll be delighted to know that having listened to very little that's new in the last 12 years, I am no longer such a pain in the arse.


But all of this brings me to "Somewhere" by Efua.


In summer of 1993, this was an ear worm that I am going to bet that when you click on the video at the bottom you're going to go, "of course I know this - it was massive".


But it wasn't.


It did not break into the Top 40 during a rather unimpressive period for pop - all late-grunge and bleeping faceless rave records.


Not only was it Radio 1's "Record of the Week" - and that was rarely a route to the bargain bins - but the 100% guaranteed all-hit "Now" series even put it on one of its compilations, at the beginning of its release cycle, so sure were they that it would have broken through by the time the compilation album hit the shelves.


And we were all wrong... and I still don't really understand why.


I thought it was a wonderful fusion of the rhythm of the great US Crossover Club singles of the time - think Kym Sims "Too Blind To See It" or CeCe Peniston's "We Got A Love Thang" - with this standout entirely British smokey spoken vocal. It was very rare to hear a soul single with such an English accent but it sounded sassy and smooth and seemed even its content to. be a kind of precursor to "girl power" or even a very vernacular stylist like Lily Allen. It seemed very unusual to hear such a British accent on this kind of record at this time whereas now you would be more likely to expect it.


I love some of her hugely characterful deliveries - "Showing the family snaps... like you do" or "I'm over it, lovey". It makes the record personal, intimate and yet it never loses its dance direction with its New Jack Swing backing. And she of course, looked like a real pop star - all cheekbones, eyes and fashion.


At a time of some of the most unlistenable dance records going - largely created for rave culture by a couple of lads with a computer and some synth programmes in their bedroom - "Somewhere" just didn't break through.


I can only imagine that it was too dance floor for the burgeoning British Acid-Jazz scene, too laidback for the clubs which seemed now to favour Euro-Techno (!!!!) and too British to be an authentic club classic.


For some of you, this just won't be your type of record at all so it won't be a surprise but really it had "Hit" stamped all over it. It was interesting, novel and really quite cool.


This came from the fact that it also had a sense of humour - not just in the story itself but in that lovely line where she says "I've got another one now... I'm just waiting for someone to show me the pictures" - this was a reference to her partner and father of her children, Jazzie B from Soul II Soul, whose significant influence on the UK dance scene couldn't throw any reflected glory onto the record either.


It's sassy and it's catchy without ever becoming irritating... and it still has the power to make me smile. Thank goodness for the Australians who seemed to take it to their ears and it finally landed "Somewhere".




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