Review Summary: For Tomorrow: A Guide to Contemporary British Music, 1988-2013 (Part 7.5)
M People’s Elegant Slumming
has no legacy. Despite spawning nothing but top 10 hits (including two US dance number ones) and going triple platinum, Elegant Slumming
’s diva house doesn’t fit in with the britpop ascendancy narrative prescribed to 1993. With Blur’s Modern Life is Rubbish
and Suede’s debut album setting the stage, 93 was the primer to Britpop’s formal 94 breakthrough. M People on the other hand, were too pop and too frivolous to have any serious stake in the times. It’s been quietly forgotten about and it’s only real claim to a legacy today might be that it upset Blur’s Parklife
for the 1994 Mercury Music Prize.
It’s a shame because as a pop-dance album Elegant Slumming
might even surpass Soul II Soul’s Club Classics Vol. One
as the most solid full length the genre produced. Opening with the mighty “One Night in Heaven”, which I can only assume used to send packed clubs into bedlam, M People present their key strength in Heather Small’s powerful, distinctive vocals. She sounds amazing deliver the confident get-the-***-outs of “Movin On Up” (“Take it like a man baby if that’s what you are”) as she does calm and collected on the quiet storm “Love’s in My Soul”. Mike Pickering and Paul Herd take up their role as shadowy producers and turn in beats that bear the distinct marks of early 90’s pop-dance (were producers passing around keyboard patches or something?) but make room for live saxophone and flute solos to spice things up. Smooth R&B joint “Natural Thing” and the proto-Remedy
“La Vida Loca” also guaranteed interest once the singles have been left behind.
While maybe not an essential listen, Elegant Slumming
is proof positive that there was more happening in the UK in ‘93 than boys making guitar sounds. If you need a blast of early 90s diva-house but don’t want to be as obvious as C+C Music Factory or Snap!, reach for M People’s Elegant Slumming