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Music Capital

Part 5

As Oasis made it big, M-People grew as well. M-People is a band with strong Manchester links rather than being from Manchester. Their leader is ex-Hacienda DJ, skilled musician and general good-egg Mike Pickering - the band name comes from the initial of his christian name. M People But M-People is as much about Heather Small's extraordinary voice as it is about Pickering's musicianship and song-writing skills: and Small is from London. Songs from 1991 include Colour my Life, How can I love you more?, the anthem Moving on Up, One Night in Heaven and Search for a hero. At their best M-People produce magnificently danceable mature pop music. Their live shows are both exciting and superbly professional. Albums include Elegant Slumming and Bizarre Fruit. In 1994 they were voted best all round British act in the Mercury Music awards.

One of the biggest surprises of the mid-nineties was the return of Shaun Ryder heading up his group Black Grape. What was more surprising was the real quality to much of the output following the shambolic demise of Ryder's previous band, the Happy Mondays. Black Grape With ex Ruthless Rap Assasin , Kermit, in the band, and reunited with ill-looking dancer Bez, Black Grape produced a darkly funky series of songs which maintained Ryder's ability to shock despite his coming off the drugs. The album It's Great When You're Straight was marvellous as was the single Reverand Black Grape. Black Grape eventually tore itself apart a couple of years ago and then came the biggest shock. After the aforesaid shambolic demise of the Happy Mondays they have now shambolically reformed, in their own words, to generate some cash to pay off their tax bills. Honesty after all is a virtue.

In the last few years Manchester has been innovative without generating huge new bands. Afterall this is an age where the DJ rules in Britain and like other cities Manchester has produced its fair share of famous club nights, from Manumission to Counter Culture. Dance acts such as N-Trance have also made an impression in the charts with tracks like D.I.S.C.O. Grand Central Records created by Rae and Christian has produced good music. Hip-hop songs mingling with more mainstream material from local girl Veba produced some strong music on their 1998 album Northern Sulphuric Soul. Dove are an indie influenced band which promise much. Here it Comes is a good recent single. Some of the most interesting music in the city is being generated from Damon Gough aka, Badly Drawn Boy, from the Twisted Nerve stable. A mess live, Gough produces memorable studio music. A mixture of indie and mainstream the most recent EP Once Around the Block features an excellent title track.

Meanwhile Simply Red and James soldier on and much to everybody's surprise New Order have recently got back together and after a series of well-received concerts are working on a new album.

There might be no new big thing at the moment. But this is Manchester. We all expect the next big thing. When it comes is just a matter of time.

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