Cameo – She’s Strange

Cameo black and white

Cameo were debutants on the American music scene as the New York City Players, a 13 strong group producing soul-infused funk music. When minimising their group size they took on the name by which they would become commercially popular, avoiding confusion with another funk band The Ohio Players. Under the guise of Cameo, they would go on to be heavily involved in regular production, starting off with a past in funk music with a vision to producing danceable music.

She’s Strange was released by Cameo in 1984, and it can be recognised as the single providing the catalyst for their commercial explosion in the mid- eighties. With a real nod to the dance floor, it also assumed the title of the respective LP, which was the outfit’s tenth record in as many years. It also managed to get on the Billboard chart and also peaked as the number one Hip-Hop and R&B record.

Inclusive of many electronic elements, it would be a track that was part of an evolving landscape for popular music at the time. In the verses, a sultry spoken word vocal is backed by percussive timbres and synthesisers that are completely rooted in the mid-eighties. The timely addition of a repetitive guitar line at the end of each chorus embraces a proper funk vibe. The version fit for airplay only musters just shy of three minutes. The 12” version however, spans in excess of seven, in which Cameo have the time and space to exercise a track with a huge range of elements and a really novel structure.

Although Cameo were best known for a 1980’s prominence, they enjoyed a career spanning right through to the nineties. Their inventive and unique quality left a musical legacy, having their sounds sampled by the likes of the late Tupac Shakur, Snoop Dogg, The Beastie Boys and The Wu-Tang Clan. From 2009, some members of Cameo got back into performances, whilst some were also recruited to become a part of Atlanta’s unmistakable hip-hop outfit, Outkast.


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