Elegant Slumming 2005 Inlay

Inlay: Information by Paul Lester, Deputy Editor, Uncut:'These days, records tend to come and go. Longevity is a thing of the past. M People's second album, on the other hand, had what you might call staying power. Released in October 1993, 'Elegant Slumming', the group's follow-up to 'Northern Soul', would reach Number 2, spend an astonishing 87 weeks on the album charts and spawn no fewer than four Top 10 singles. It also earned the band a BRIT award for Best British Dance Act and won the highly coveted annual Mercury Music Prize, beating such obvious candidates for the gong as Blur's 'Parklife', The Prodigy's 'Music For The Jilted Generation' and Paul Weller's 'Wildwood'.The album's title was taken from a description of New York City nightlife by notorious US pioneer of New Journalism, Tom Wolfe. For M People's mainman Mike Pickering, who'd spent plenty of time exploring club life and culture on both sides of the Atlantic, the term 'elegant slumming' struck a chord, as he said at the time: "Youth culture has always been England's greatest contribution to the world," he told a journalist. "Elegant slumming' seemed to sum it all up for me: that cross between the night life and the economic realities of England."It may have been born out of harsh, gritty, underground northern club culture, but 'Elegant Slumming', if anything, sounds impossibly rich, lavish and luxurious. Featuring M People's patented sophisticated, song-oriented brand of R&B, it is like a modern, British take on the music of the Mowtown, Stax and Philadelphia International labels of the '60s and '70s: a lush escapist fantasy soundtrack for people trying to survive in grim socio-political situations.As ever the music was mostly written (save for a cover of Dennis Edward's 1984 hit 'Don't Look Any Furhter') and produced by former DJ Pickering and the man he chose to realise his sonic visions, ex-Working Week boy wonder Paul Heard. Enhancing powerful lead singer Heather Small on backing vocals were Juliet Roberts, Beverly Skeet, Paul 'Tubbs' Williams (erstwhile bassist with Britfunk greats Light Of The World) and queen of UK Lovers Rock Carroll Thompson.On the tracks lifted from 'Elegant Slumming' as singles, 'One Night In Heaven' (which reached Number 6 in June 1993) was a rousing album-opener. The uplifting 'Moving On Up' (Number 2 in September 1993) moved with the insistence of an express train and instantly achieved semi-national anthem status. 'Don't Look Any Further' (Number 4 in December 1993) was sung by Mark Bell and chosen for the LP by Pickering because, according to the Hacienda decknologist, 'That was always my last song of the set when I would DJ. It's one of those timeless, powerful tracks.' And 'Renaissance' (Number 5 in March 1994) also seemed to achieve radio ubiquity within moments of its release.As ever, the music was mostly written... ...Carroll Thompson (this paragraph was repeated?!).Elsewhere, there was gospel-infused dance ('Natural Thing'), soul balladry ('Love Is In My Soul'), a brass construction called 'Little Packet', 'La Vida Loca' (no relation to the Ricky Martin tune of the same name) with its atmosphere of Brazilian favelas and 'Melody Of Life', an updated version of the sort of euphoric anthem The O'Jays purveyed circa 'Love Train' or 'I Love Music'. A bit of a classic, all told.