I posted a Sneaker Pimps video on my Facebook page the other day. I used to love spinning them — fascinating music, and with the wonderful Kelli Ali singing. I thought I’d share the musical journey my brain went through in the 30 minutes or so leading up to that moment, because I find the connections music makes fascinating and beautiful. Yes, this is music-nerdy. Hopefully a few of you will appreciate that, and those who don’t will still enjoy the music. And no, there’s nothing overtly spiritual about the music, but I think most music is spiritual at its core.
So sit back and follow my brain through this journey. It starts here…
That song was part of a fusion happening in England of soul, pop, hip hop, and house. Thinking of that always brings up two performers. One is Cathy Dennis
The other British group that always comes to mind — at the less pop, more soulful end of that scene — is Soul II Soul (1989). I remember when Soul II Soul came out and it was such a breath of fresh air. We all studied and dissected it. It was exciting, something fresh.
Soul II Soul is an important bridge to another scene. Soul II Soul member and record producer Nellee Hooper was already a DJ in a Bristol, England sound system called the Wild Bunch, which dates back to 1983. That collective eventually evolved into Massive Attack, the defining and original trip hop band, also spinning off Portishead, Tricky and Smith & Mighty. You can best hear their crossover from house to trip hop in this early 1990 Massive track.
Massive Attack went on to make some of the most important music of the 90s, but in this musical thread I’m staying with Nellee Hooper. While still part of Massive Attack and after, Hooper produced many of the best known trip hop crossover tracks of the 90s, including Bjork’s Isobel (1995) and Madonna’s I Want You (1995). (Most of the rest were done by Portishead’s Geoff Barrow.) One of Hooper’s best known trip hop production jobs was the Sneaker Pimps’ 6 Underground (2000).
And that led me to my favorite Sneaker Pimps song, Spin Spin Sugar, featuring Kelli Ali before they got rid of her, and I posted this live version of it on my FB wall.
Thanks for joining me. Do you think music is as magical and spiritual as I do? I plan to post a few more of these. Do you like this approach — a musical journey in videos?