Stereo MCs - "Deep Down And Dirty"

It can't be easy being a Stereo MCs fan. After a successful support slot to the happy Mondays, a handful of hit singles which included the amazing "Connected" and an impressive crossover album they appeared to have it all. When they failed to release a follow up single or album nobody knew if the band were still together. Salacious gossip and outrageous rumours spread like wild fire. Was it drugs or musical differences? Who knew?

Just when people began to give up, they returned a good nine years later with the album "Deep Down and Dirty". Obviously expectations are high, but the question remains - Was it worth the wait? The answer is yeas and no. Fans of the band will find much to enjoy, but musically they've neither improved or progressed. This may seem nit picking, but after waiting almost a decade it's a big disappointment. Time hasn't been kind to frontman Rob Birch. he looks even more dishevelled and unkempt as he did previously. The man himself with the rest of the band have returned like the prodigal son.

"Running" is funky, mellow yet immediate. The keys instantly recognizable as the Stereo's with the vocals low in the mix creating a suitably urban ambience. Rob's promise of "I'm gonna break some walls in peoples heads" sound forceful and final which is complemented by the sexy and sassy bv's from Cath Coffey and Sam Scott. The lyric "She's so sophisticated, I'm such a zero" on "Sofisticated" is a less articulate take on Radioheads "Creep" touching on the feeling of male insecurity when faced with female beauty and class. A simple song dealing with complex issues. "Stop At Nothing" uses more up to date recording techniques but lacks the style of say Merz, as exciting as Black Grape or as menacing as Massive Attack. At times the structure limitations has a tendency to plod along aimlessly and in truth is a poor mans Primal Scream.

"Deep Down And Dirty" is a good groove, but after a nine year wait I kind of expected to be captivated and enthralled rather than mildly satisfied. An average collection of songs from a band who are capable of so much more.

Nicholas Paul Godkin