Tour Date Changes

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SHEFFIELD TOUR DATE RE-SCHEDULED: 
M People are now playing at the Hallam FM Arena on MONDAY 10TH OCTOBER instead of THURSDAY 6TH OCTOBER. Check out the Hallam FM Arena website for details.

BRIGHTON TOUR DATE RE-SCHEDULED: 
M People are now playing at the Brighton Centre on THURSDAY 6TH OCTOBER instead of TUESDAY 4TH OCTOBER. Check out the Brighton Centre website for details.

Welcome!

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I will post any announcements about the band here! Thanks for checking out my new website. For now here are the most recent releases:

Heather Small has re-released the single Proud due to the successful bid for the London 2012 Olympics. Highest chart position - 33

M People Feat. Heather Small - Ultimate Collection. A new Greatest Hits compilation including Heather's singles - Proud and Holding On. Highest chart position - 17

M People Feat. Heather Small - Ultimate Collection: The Remixes. 10 Remixes of the band's hits.

Bizarre Fruit 2005 Inlay

Inlay: Information by Paul Lester, Deputy Editor, Uncut:

Despite the amazing success M People enjoyed on the back of second album 'Elegant Slumming', there was no sense of anti-climax when it came to the release of follow-up 'Bizarre Fruit' in November 1994. It peaked at Number 3, stayed on the charts for a massive 115 weeks and bequeathed an incredible five hit singles. Basically, on the British music scene in the mid-'90s, there was Britpop, there was trip hop (Massive Attack, Tricky, Portishead) ...and there was M People.

The later front cover of 'Bizarre Fruit' features singer Heather Small with attendant gravity-defying upturned black pineapple hair-do upfront in the frame while her bandmates - inspired amateur Mike Pickering, the more formally trained musician Paul Heard and percussionist Andrew Lovell alias Shovell - are further back, admiring a series of surreal paintings of pears (the bizarre fruit of the LP title and featured here-on the original sleeve) in some modern art gallery. There was no lyric sheet this time, although you didn't really need one, first because of Heather's crystal-clear intonation and second because daytime radio hammered the songs so relentlessly from day one that you soon knew every word of every track by heart.

Those singles were all big hits, and they comprise virtually the whole of the first half of the album. 'Sight For Sore Eyes' (which reached Number 6 in November 1994), with its startling salsa break, opens proceedings in powerful style, and features a Heather Small co-writing credit, the first on any M People album. 'Search For The Hero' (Number 9 in June 1995) instantly became an awards ceremony, and sports event, perennial. 'Open Your Heart (also Number 9, in February 1995) is a typically M People-ish infectious burst of hands-in-the-air happy handbag house, complete with duelling saxophones. 'Love Rendezvous' (Number 32 in October 1995) was the first M People single not to reach the Top 30 since their cover of Marshall Jefferson's 'Someday' in April 1992, although the gospel-blues deconstruction of psychedelic mod classic 'Itchycoo Park' (Number 11   in November 1995) soon made ammends.

Of the remaining non-single tracks, 'Precious Pearl' has an almost 'new jack swing' style rhythm that recalls the early-'90s swingbeat style of Teddy Riley et al. 'Sugar Town' is gospel-infused house, with brass elements and a driving beat. 'Walk Away' is a ballad with a rousing coda. 'Drive Time' features blazing horns and, lyrically, employs a car metaphor to talk about love'n'sex while 'Padlock' goes for a key image to discuss a similar theme. And Finally, "...And Finally", another Heather Small co-write, includes references to Marvin Gaye and Van Morrison and remains a haunting paean to love overcoming the most cataclysmic scenario of all...'Bizarre Fruit' is a fine testament to the studio nous of Britsoul's Fab Four, effortlessly merging Motown, Stax, funk, gospel, disco, techno, salsa and '60s influences and, in the process, creating something uniquely British and new. The album also saw M People consolidate their reputation as a superb live band, augmented as they were on the road by a large contingent of instrumentalists and backing singers. As third albums by Manchester bands go, it merits contention alongside Simply Red's 'A New Flame', New Order's 'Lowlife', Happy Mondays' 'Pills 'n' Thrills And Bellyaches', 10cc's 'The Original Soundtrack' and Magazine's 'The Correct Use Of Soap'. And yet they still had one more Top 3, hits-strewn long-player in them. But that's another story.

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.

Northern Soul 2005 Inlay

Inlay: Information by Paul Lester, Deputy Editor, Uncut:'With 20 Top 40 hits to their credit, M People are without question this country's most successful exponents of pop-dance-soul. But they don't just produce sublimely crafted four-or-five-minute singles. As 'Northern Soul', their 1993 debut album proves, they are eminently capable of sustaining what they do so well over the distance.As befits its title, 'Northern Soul' (no relation to the similarly titled long-player by Wigan band The Verve) is a new take on the old northern soul scene. M People themselves were born out of the modern version of that scene - the northern house movement. They came together in the early -'90s when veteran of the Manchester music scene Mike Pickering decided to form a band.Pickering had already been in two groups: early -'80s leftfield dance outfit from the legendary Factory label Quando Quango, and late -'80s UK proto-house trio T-Coy. In addition, he had signed the likes of James and Happy Mondays to Factory, been a DJ at troubled but influential Manc nightspot the Hacienda and generally been what they call a mover and shaker in Britain's most consistently inventive rock city.By the early -'90s, however, Mike had become disillusioned with the club scene, with life on the underground circuit, doing remixes and DJ-ing. And so he started looking around for likeminds who would welcome his new soul vision and help him to realise, musically, the songs he'd been writing - proper dance songs, only with verses, choruses and actual pop hooks.The first person he recruited was Londoner Paul Heard, who'd grown up immersed in gospel music - he'd played the organ in the Pentecostal church where his father was the pastor - and spent much of the '80s with New Jazz acolytes Working Week. The idea, initially at least, was for Mike and Paul to head a band with a revolving door policy with regard to lead singers, a la Soul II Soul. Then they met Heather Small.By all accounts a shy girl from a West London council estate who'd fronted an act called Hot!House, Heather had a powerful soul voice that revealed a childhood exposed to the likes of Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight, Nina Simone and Mavis Staples. It wasn't long before she realised she had a future with the Manc stalwart - Heather, like Paul was going to be one of Mike's People. As soon as final member, percussionist (and former plumber) Andrew Lovell aka Shovell, was on board, M People were ready to take flight.And Northern Soul was their first port of call. As debuts by Manchester bands go, it's in spitting distance of Simply Red's Picture Book, Magazine's 'Real Life' and 10cc's '10cc', if not more routinely revered first outings by Joy Division, The Stone Roses and Oasis. 'Excited' is northern soul with a house beat and an uplifting chorus. As the strings, pure Philadelphia International, sweep through the middle of the song, you wonder why it peaked no higher than Number 29 on its release as a single in October 1992. 'How Can I Love You More?', M People's first chart entry (Number 29 in October 1991), is anthemic yet intimate, no mean feat.'Colour My Life', third of four hits from 'Northern Soul' (it got to Number 35 in March 1992) has a plaintive melody, while 'Someday' (Number 38 in April 1992) took Marshall Jefferson's original into previously uncharted soulful dimensions.From the urban hubbub of 'Inner City Cruise' and bright techno-pop clatter of 'It's Your World' to the self-explanatory 'Sexual Freedom' and latterday 'R.E.S.P.E.C.T' that is 'Man Smart', 'Northern Soul' delivers. And although it only reached Number 53 on its release in March 1993 (and Number 26 on its re-release in September 1995, on the back of the success of second album 'Elegant Slumming'), it was an assured debut hinting at even greater things to come.'

Ultimate Collection 2005 Inlay

Inlay: Information by Paul Lester, Deputy Editor, Uncut:

After over a decade of beautifully sung, expertly played and sumptuously arranged music - unofficial national anthems like "Moving On Up", "Search For The Hero" and "One Night In Heaven" - it's probably safe to say that M People are the most successful soul-dance band this country has ever produced. With 20 Top 40 single chart entries, including 10 Top 10s, between 1991 and 1999, and more than 10 million sales worldwide, it's hard to think of another act in the same commercial ballpark. Not bad for a group who emerged out of northern England's underground club culture.

M People were formed in 1990 by Mike Pickering: they were, literally, Mike's People. And they all had impressive CVs. Pickering had the longest track record. A mainstay of the Manchester music scene (the one-time fish factory worker had shared a flat with New Order manager Rob Gretton and booked The Smiths for their first local gig), Pickering played saxophone and sang with early-'80s indie-dance favourites Quando Quango. By the late-'80s he was a globally renowned DJ at legendary Manchester nightspot the Hacienda - "the Godfather of UK House," they called him - as well as A&R man for Factory Records, signing James and Happy Mondays. Londoners Paul Heard (bass, keyboards, programming), formerly of Working Week, who were part of the early-'80s New Jazz movement, and erstwhile plumber Andrew Lovell alias Shovell (percussion) completed the instrumental wing of M People.

Then there was vocalist Heather Small. Born and raised on a west-London council estate, she apparently battled with shyness from an early age. Not that you'd guess as much from the songs on this CD. Few singers are as capable of such raw power and intense emotion as this. A fan of gospel, soul, reggae and blues growing up, Heather managed to channel a lifetime's immersion in black music into her highly distinctive, soul-baring performances with M People. The spirits of Nina Simone, Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight and Mavis Staples are rarely far away.

Our fab soul four began their chart domination in 1991 with "How Can I Love You More?" while "Colour My Life", a cover of Marshall Jefferson's "Someday" and group composition "Excited" continued their run of modest success throughout 1992. But it was during the following year, with the release of a remixed "How Can I Love You More?" (Number 8), "One Night In Heaven" (Number 6), "Moving On Up" (Number 2) and a version of Dennis Edwards' '80s soul classic "Don't Look Any Further" (Number 9), that M People became a permanent fixture at the top of what they used to call the hit parade.

They weren't just master craftsmen (and women) of perfect pop singles, either. Their albums were superb examples of sustained creativity. 'Northern Soul', the debut issued in 1993 whose title referenced Mike's mis-spent youth at the famous Wigan Casino, hinted at future greatness, but it was the group's second LP, 'Elegant Slumming', another 1993 release, that truly put M People on the map. Spawning numerous hit singles and peaking at Number 2, the album spent months in the charts and was one of the signature sounds of the mid-'90s. It wasn't just a commercial success. It was critically adored, too. In fact 'Elegant Slumming' became the third album to win the prestigious annual Mercury Music Prize, in the process beating Britpop faves Blur and Pulp, as well as The Prodigy and Paul Weller.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

Of course, they didn't just peak there and leave it at that. This was merely the launch-pad for further triumphs throughout the '90s: hit singles like "Renaissance", "Sight For Sore Eyes", "Just For You" and "Angel Street" and Top 3 albums such as 'Bizarre Fruit' (1994) and 'Fresco' (1997). For Heather Small, there has been more recent solo success with 2000's "Holding On", "You Need Love Like I Do" (a duet with Tom Jones) and "Proud",  the title track of her Number 12 charting debut solo album of the same name. In fact, the latter single has been chosen as the official tune for London's 2012 Olympic Bid.

As for M People the band, whether or not they are currently enjoying a New Order-style lenghty hiatus remains to be seen. They've achieved and bequeathed enough. Some of the best soul music of the modern era.