Inlay: Information by Nigel Williamson:There are a lot of reasons why M People have sold more records than almost anyone else this decade. The cleverly crafted songs, Heather Small's extraordinary voice, the sophisticated arrangements and the calibre of the musicianship are all hugely impressive. Yet one reason above all others explains their phenomenal success. M People are the ultimate feel-good band: warm and uplifting, vibrant and dynamic, positive and soulful. Their uniquely accessible take on modern dance music has insinuated its way into the nation's consciousness and has become part of the soundtrack of the Nineties.M People were born out of the burgeoning dance scene at the turn of the decade. Mike Pickering had been a member of seminal House trio T-Coy and a DJ at Manchester's legendary Hacienda club. Paul Heard had served his musical apprenticeship in a number of bands including Working Week and Orange Juice.Their initial idea was to create a loose collective of musicians using a variety of different singers. One of them was Heather Small, who had formerly fronted Hot!House. She fitted so perfectly that it became immediately apparent that she had to become a permanent member. Shortly afterwards the core quartet was completed when the irrepressible Shovell was recruited on drums. A former plumber, he was invited to sit in one day when the Band's regular percussionist broke down on the motorway. "That was six years ago and they haven't been able to get rid of me since" he says.The trademark up-beat M People tone was set by the exuberant first single How Can I Love You More, which launched an unbroken string of hits that includes such anthemic favourites as One Night In Heaven, Sight For Sore Eyes, Moving On Up and Search For The Hero. By the middle of the Nineties everyone from car makers and political parties through to school teachers and marrying couples were using M People songs to inspire, motivate or celebrate.The band has won virtually every accolade the pop world has to offer. Two Brit Awards were gained in successive years, and the lifting of the Mercury Music Prize from under the noses of the Britpop cognoscenti in 1994 was a particular triumph.
Ever greater success was to come with Bizarre Fruit which camped out in the British Album Chart for a staggering two and a half years and became one of the biggest selling albums of the decade. It stayed in the charts so long that their fourth album, Fresco was delayed until 1997. The wait was more than worth it, for the album took the M People sound to new heights with such classic hit songs as Fantasy Island, Angel St and Just For You.In an era characterised by either attitude or hype M People have also restored the simple virtues of honesty and entertainment to their live shows. From the early hot and sweaty club gigs to the current polished arena shows the Band have always delivered a top night out; great songs deserve great performances.Now comes this compilation of their biggest hits. But being M People, of course, they weren't satisfied only to repackage the old favourites. They insisted on adding three stunning new tracks too. If the band were given to boasting they might have called this collection "The best feel-good album in the world - ever!" They are not, and so I shall say it for them. Enjoy.