The Stereo MCs are a group any self respecting 90s kid will remember. They played a electronic-style of hip-hop and, despite being formed in 1985, were most successful during the 90s. Their most popular album Connected (the source of most of their major hits) came out in 1992 and was hugely successful globally. It would be difficult to find a teenager in the 90s who couldn’t finish the iconic line: ‘If you make sure you’re connected, the writing’s on the wall, but if your mind’s neglected…’
If you really were lost in a haze in the 90s, you might have forgotten, but the majority of us would be able to croon ‘stumble you might fall’ to finish the chorus, usually followed by a repeated echo from anyone else standing nearby of ‘stumble you might fa-all’. Yes, there was not a dance club in the 90s which didn’t play the hit Connected to crowds of drunk teens and twenty-somethings, all of whom would nod their heads and bop around, trying to look cool.
When seen live, the band’s distinctive ginger-haired vocalist Rob Birch would almost groan the lyrics into the microphone. Backed by three glamorous looking female vocalists, he looked sweaty and scruffy in comparison, but 90s baggy hip-hop style almost demanded this kind of look. Complete with oversized baggy Joe Bloggs-style t-shirts and Pepe jeans, one hand on the mic and the other in the air, he would literally bounce up and down in time to the music, eyes half closed, and the crowd would bounce with him. From the USA to Australia and New Zealand and in European countries such as France and Sweden, Connected was popular everywhere.
An iconic hit for 90s clubbers
A second big hit for the group from the same album was Step it up, another iconic hit for 90s clubbers. Anyone watching the video for the song would be forgiven for believing they had had their drink spiked, the camera creating some kind of swirling, headache-inducing effect. The use of rapidly edited shots of various members of the band meant you couldn’t focus on who was who, and the constant panning and zooming in and out made viewers feel dizzy. Add to this the repetitive lyrics (To the left, to the right, step it up step it up, it’s alright) and the song could induce a haze without its listeners taking any kind of drug.
The Stereo MCs were a massive part of the indie dance scene of the 90s. Despite not being from Manchester, they fit well with the ‘Madchester’ sound and bands like the Happy Mondays and the New Fast Automatic Daffodils. Their dance fans might be surprised to discover that they also successfully remixed the tracks of other artists and created a number of new hits for existing stars, working with, among others, U2, PM Dawn, Queen Latifah and Electronic. One of their most successful remixes was Madonna’s hit ‘Frozen’, which worked so well it was rumoured that Ms Ciccone used their remix in her 2001 Drowned World Tour.
Unlike many other 90s groups, the Stereo MCs never officially split up. Nostalgia fans will be pleased to hear that they are still at work today, mostly as producers for other bands.
Clearly they don’t want to give up on the music business. In the words of their biggest hit, they “wanna do it again”.