Stereo MC's Connected
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Released late in 1992 (and then early 93 in the US) the Stereo MC's stuck a chord with audiences on this, their fourth release. The album would spawn four singles with "Connected" being the most widely known. The band would tour for the record and gather even more momentum. The band, a group of perfectionists and "not wanting to repeat themselves", would wait almost 10 years before their next studio album would be released. In 2000 the British magazine "Q" placed "Connected' at number 52 on its list of the 100 Greatest British Albums ever. The lead off single and probably the most recognized Stereo MC's track "Connected" opens the record. There is really not a lot I can say that you probably don't already know. Opening with a "whistle" the track "Ground Level" gets rolling. A strong bass and sampled loop lay the foundation on the track. The female vocalist sign high parts and the lead vocal track is rolled from male to female for a nice touch. Each gets their own solid solo breakdown as well. Starting with low bass and a spoken word sample roll up "Everything". The female lead is very uptempo for the first minute or so of the track before the male lead takes a quick fast rap like route. There is actually a flute interlude (sampled or not) it fits really well on the solid break before verse two. The lyrics and overall feel are slower on "Sketch" while "Fade Away" has a strong bass groove to it. The lyrics here are quick with a lot of call and response going on from the female singers. They slow it down some once more on "All Night Long". There are a lot more percussion instruments with a big false ending placed at the right time before the loop grove comes back. A single keyboard line opens "Step It Up" with a strong horn sample. The bottom loop on this track is infectious. See for yourself in the download portion. We get an even deeper groove on "Playing With Fire" that gets a nice touch from the wah-wah guitar parts. The vocal delivery is slightly slower than other tracks giving it a soulful sound. Another track with a really strong back beat is "Pressure". There a few randomly strewn about keyboard notes over the top of the track. The track also has a more "live drummer" sound to it as well. "Chicken Shake" has another great groove to it although it keeps the heavy break beat sections. This track is totally instrumental. A lot of "oooh yeahs" start of "Creation" which is a return to form. The male/female vocals are given at a good clip and the flute portion returns once more. This track has the fastest vocal delivery of any track on the album. A hockey arena organ sound brings up an album stand out "Don't Let Up". The females sound great on this track and this is one of the true gems of the record. The album wraps up with the aptly titled "The End". It is a slower grove but still has a heavy bottom to it that even infuses a saxophone solo. Overall Take - If you are looking for a fun record that sort ot mixes Electronica, Pop, hip-hop as well as a few other genres this is a rewarding listen. Granted the band might rely a lot on samples in a live setting there are instruments played to fill the void. This band might not be for everyone, but the single, as well as other tracks are easily recognizable and easy to get you going. If it is not your thing, that is cool too.