The Stereo's have successfully fused 60's psychedelia, 70's rock and 80's rap into a unique 90's sound.. The big breakthrough came with 'Connected' and this storming cut 'Step It Up' gave them a No. 12 hit in December '92.Did anyone really call them "The Stereo's"? It's slightly funny in retrospect to think of the Stereo MCs as the sound of the 1990s because as of 1992-3 you could plausibly have expected the music of the decade to carry on in this vein, but that didn't predict the rise of Britpop and harder forms of hip-hop and dance, nor the brighter pure pop of the turn of the century. Still less did it predict that the Stereo MC's themselves, after making possibly the most acclaimed album of 1992 (it won the Brit Award in 1994), would release a total of one more single in the entire decade. When they finally returned with the much-hyped Deep Down And Dirty album in 2001, it couldn't possibly live up to the hype and whilst they continue to record and tour their time as a popular or really even an influential act was over. They are however generally agreed to have been the first British rap act to score a US Top 40 single (with 'Elevate My Mind').
Even though I was aware of the fuss about the Connected album, I've never actually heard it - as I've mentioned before I wasn't really listening to modern music at the time and when I did start buying records in the mid-90s my tastes didn't really point that way. I did eventually buy a best of album for 99p and I came to the conclusion that they're a band best sampled in small doses. One or two songs can be very enjoyable but over the long haul they can get a bit boring; perhaps the trouble with fusing a variety of influences is that they can blend into a single style, and upbeat lyrics can get oddly repetitive. But when you hear this, their biggest hit, on its own, it is a fine piece of work, with a strong groove, catchy sythesiser and brass parts and a catchy chorus. Even though the lyrics are pretty daft you can ignore them easily enough. And it has a proper ending, which is good for the end of Side One.
Available on: The Playlist - Club Classics