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Smith & Mighty - A Retrospective CD [!K7]
Smith & Mighty - A Retrospective CD [!K7]
Tracklist:
01. Carlton - Come On Back
02. Fresh 4 - Wishing On a Star
03. Smith & Mighty ft. Jackie Jackson - Walk on By (Mellow Mix)
04. Smith & Mighty ft. Andy Scholes - Down In Rwanda
05. Smith & Mighty ft. Tammy Payne - Move You Run (Blue & Red Mix)
06. Smith & Mighty ft. Louise - Life Has A Way
07. Smith & Mighty ft. Rudy Lee - No Justice
08. Smith & Mighty ft. Niji 40 - B Line Fine Blow
09. Smith & Mighty ft. Jackie Jackson - Anyone (Edit)
10. Smith & Mighty ft. Marilyn Mc Farlane - Higher Dub
11. Smith & Mighty ft. Tammy Payne - Same
Smith & Mighty are old skool producers stepping out of Bristol and in the past they have done some serious damage to the charts, but to many people they will have disappeared without a trace since their heyday. More recently they have release DJ Kicks in 1998 and Big World Small World in 2000, but back then they were on a par with such enduring acts such as Soul II Soul and Lisa Stansfeild etc. This LP is a long overdue look back at their career, a greatest hits if you like. And there certainly are some classics on here and most likely more than you would associate with these producers.

The LP starts off with the dub influenced street souls of Carlton's Come On Back. The track forms a template for that UK sound which spread like wildfire throughout the world. Echoed pianos reggae style, a touch of an acid bass line and big drums all topped off with a gospel singer. Next up is the funky drummer looping Wishing On A Star which was released under the name of the Fresh Four. My vinyl of this is a bit scratched now so to have this on here is a bonus. Simple and generic so many people copied this sound and it is hard now to see Smith & Mighty as the originators, but it is true that they were amongst the first. Back in the day this would reverberate around dances and as I think back it is like the past was lived in slow motion as clubbers would happily fill the floor to this. The rap by Kelzo sounds a bit weak by today's standards, but this is one track that brings back memories in abundance and I'm sure it would do for so many others as well.

Another really big track which several people came out with at around the same time was Walk On By. Smith & Mighty's version featured the vocals of Jackie Jackson and the Mellow mix in the one included on here. Due to the beat and drum sounds this one sounds a bit different to some of the other versions doing the rounds and although the mix and engineering sounds a bit thin now the originality of the way this was put together still for me stands the test of time. There are elements of Suzanne Vega, Mantronix and Marly Marl all combined for a classic. Down In Rwanda is a heavy dub house track. I have probably coined a new genre there, but this was what Bristol and a lot of UK urban music is all about. Combining influences as in Hip Hop, but invariably we increase the Jamaican elements. The bassline here is massive and the vocals from Andy Scholes are just like Yellowman or another dub artist. The echo box gets a good work out and the following Move You Run which feature the vocals of Tammy Payne continues in the same vibe with a heavy bassline and touches of dub echo on the guitar lick.

Life Has A Way introduces another new vocalist - Louise Rhodes and also introduces more of a two step beat. I'm guessing this is a later production and as the UK headed down the rave route Smith & Mighty were there laying down the tracks which enabled this transition. However here there is still a groove and some soul which demonstrates the versatility of the production duo. The sentiments of the track are deeply political as are those of No Justice which follows. Rudy Lee this time lays down his thoughts on social injustice and how the system fails certain elements. More up-tempo the large sounding reggae bassline remains intact and this is one of the continuing themes to be heard throughout Smith & Mighty's music. As the LP moves on the tempo rises, B Line Fine Blow would be a right !K7dance floor filler with the reggae vocals, skippy beat and acid bassline. Anyone was another massive smash that Smith & Mighty produced. With Jackie Jackson who also appeared on the original classic Walk On By on the vocals, together they were once more able to push their formula forwards for a wider appreciation.

What is an impressive collection of back catalogue of tracks is rounded off with Marilyn Mc Farlane featuring on the more instrumental Higher Dub and Tammy Payne returning to bless Same. For me Wishing On A Star is the real stand out, but all told this is a top CD. After so much time has passed it is hard to tell what peoples reactions will be to this selection, but I for one feel the time is right for this and really the music stands on its own as classics and very few allowances need to be made by the listener to take into account the age of the tunes. Smith & Mighty helped forge a distinctive UK sound and need to be commended for that.

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Intro Early Doors:
1979-1985
False Dawn:
1985-1990
Underground Years:
1990-1995
The Renaissance:
1995- 2000
The Future:
2000 & Beyond
Artists &
Discographies

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