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    M People

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    Most Popular Songs (more)

    1Avalon lyrics
    2Dreaming People lyrics
    3Padlock lyrics
    Moving On Up lyrics
    5Landscape of Love lyrics
    6Open Your Heart lyrics
    7Love Is In My Soul lyrics
    8Believe It lyrics
    9Inner City Cruise lyrics
    10Lonely lyrics

    Most Popular Albums (more)

    1Ultimate Collection [2005]
    2Fresco [1997]
    3Elegant Slumming [1993]
    4The Best of M-People [2001]
    5Bizarre Fruit [1995]
    63 Originals [2003]
    7Northern Soul (Bonus Tracks) (Ger) [1995]


    Emerging out of the club scene at the turn of the decade, they were the first mainstream dance act, marrying the excitement of house music to the traditional pop virtues of crafted songs and strong melodies. Unlike others, they have never needed to use old samples as they have always had the happy knack of minting brand new soul songs that instantly sound like well-loved classics.

    M People are quite simply the ultimate feel good band, warm, uplifting and dynamic. They have become part of the soundtrack of the Nineties.

    Mike Pickering has lived his adult life in the music business. From his younger days as a Promoter, through signing Bands to Factory Records, to membership of seminal 80's House trio T-Coy he's done it all. He bought House Music to the UK as a DJ at Manchester's legendary Hacienda Club. Yet by 1990 he was disillusioned. "I'd been doing a lot of underground stuff and remixes and I was totally sick of it.

    Then I started writing songs with verses and choruses and hooks which I never really thought I could do", he says. He was introduced to Londoner Paul Heard, who knew Mike's manager from a wind-surfing holiday, and they began writing together.

    It was to prove a winning combination. But Paul Heard's first love was gospel music . "I was detached from contemporary music when I grew up because we didn't have a television in the house", he recalls. "My musical education was playing the organ in the Pentecostal church where my father was the pastor". He studied music at City University and went on to work with Orange Juice and Working Week before forming his own band Trouble.

    Their initial idea was to create a loose collective of musicians using a variety of different singers. One of them was Heather Small, who they had heard fronting the band Hot!House. "We weren't going anywhere and I was originally asked to do two songs", she says. "The first time I met Mike I thought he had a real sense of fun. He was witty and charming so I jumped at the chance of working with him. I'm not very extrovert and he and Paul make me feel very safe and comfortable". She fitted so perfectly that it became immediately apparent that she had to become a permanent member.

    "I'd always wanted to work with Heather. But she was a much rougher diamond then", recalls Mike. "When we recorded How Can I Love You More she said she had only ever sung ballads before. She'd never done an up-tempo number and it gave a totally different texture to her voice".

    The first single, How Can I Love You More, reached the lower echelons of the top thirty in October 1991. The first album Northern Soulwas released in 1992. The Top Ten breakthrough came in February 1993 with a Sasha remix of the first single. Before the end of the year three more massive hits had followed, all taken from the second album, Elegant Slumming - One Night In Heaven, Moving On Up and Don't Look Any Further.

    "It evolved very quickly", says Mike. "The record did well in the clubs and I was still DJ-ing. We started playing live and went down a storm during our very first gig at the Hacienda. I suddenly realised that 2,000 people had all stopped what they were doing and were just looking at Heather, totally captivated. That's when I realised it was going to happen". M People quickly became stalwarts at legendary clubs such as Renaissance and Soak.

    By now the band's core quartet had been completed with the recruitment of the irrepressible Shovell on drums. He had spent nine years as a plumber in South London but was playing by night in pubs up and down the Old Kent Road in a collective called Natural Life. One day in late 1992 M People were playing the Brixton Academy when their percussionist failed to show for the sound-check after breaking down on the motorway. Shovell sat in.

    "I offered to play the gig that night for fifty quid but unfortunately the bloke turned up", he says. "But they took my number and phoned me back a couple of moths later. I thought they were just inviting me to a session. That was six years ago and they haven't been able to get rid of me since".

    He enjoys a reputation as the party animal in the band. "They're not all as innocent as they make out", he says of his colleagues. "I'm just the honest one. But yes, I spent nine years as a plumber looking down toilet pans and dreaming of being in a band, so if you think I'm not going to enjoy every minute of this you've got to be joking".

    Elegant Slummingwent on to win a Brit Award as well as the prestigious Mercury Music Prize and 1994's third album Bizzarre Fruit[another Brit Award winner] produced another string of hit singles, beginning with Sight For Sore Eyes, followed in 1995 by Open Your Heart, Search For The Hero and Love Rendezvous.

    Bizarre Fruit was to stay in the charts for two and a half years and sell over two million copies in Britain alone and, not surprisingly, every one wanted a piece of the action. Everyone from car makers and political parties through to school teachers and marrying couples were using M Peoplesongs to inspire, motivate or celebrate.

    1995 ended with another huge single, their version of the Small Faces' Itchycoo Park, long a stage favourite and recorded in response to demand from fans. By now they had graduated to massive arena shows and Heather was emerging as a towering performer, despite her legendary stage fright.

    "When I joined M People I had no confidence in my ability. Mike says that the first time he saw me sing he never saw my face because I gazed at the floor through the entire gig. Even now before a concert I'm in turmoil and its wise to give me wide berth", she says.

    To anyone who has seen the way she commands and audience, this seems astonishing. But she puts her fear down to her anxiety not to disappoint anyone. "I know I will never sing below a certain standard but I demand more than that. I think people deserve more. They have invested time and money in coming to see you and you have a duty to do the best for them. I can't deal with being mediocre".

    The lengthy chart sojourn of Bizarre Fruit allowed M Peopleto take their time over the fourth album, Fresco. Finally released in autumn 1997, it saw the band recording in New York for the first time. "The first two albums were basically recorded at my old house in Hackney" says Paul Heard. "We started Fresco and we're now recording the new stuff at my current house. All of Heather's vocals have been recorded in the bedroom. Studios can be quite intimidating and it's more relaxed recording at home. That's where we get all her best vocals".

    Yet New York helped to take M Peopleto new musical heights. "We used these guys who had played with everyone from Miles Davis to Ray Charles", says Mike Pickering. "They were totally up for what we were doing and so full of enthusiasm. And being in New York was just such a buzz because of that whole history of American soul music".

    The album produced further hit singles in Just For You, Fantasy Island and Angel Street. Then in April 1998 they recorded a one hour BBC Television special for Jools Holland's 'Later' show, joining Paul Weller and the Beautiful South among a handful of acts who have been afforded the accolade.

    Now the release of 'The Best Of M People' finds them preparing for their fifth British arena tour. After eight years they are still good friends when most other bands would be killing each other. They take holidays together and all live ten minutes apart. "One of the secrets is that, strange to say, we actually like each other", says Heather.

    They have already started writing material for the next album. "It will be a progression", says Mike Pickering. "But it will still have all our trademarks - positive, up-beat, confident music that makes you feel good". And there is no one who does that better than M People.

    Biography courtesy of www.m-people.com

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