Singles going steady 15: Coldcut

Monday, 7 January 2008, 13:30 | Category : Uncategorized
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It’s about time that I got back onto this series. We’re up to the Cs now, which means that it’s going to take some time to get to the end, but bear with me, there are heaps of musical treats along the way.

Today it’s the turn of Coldcut, who for anyone who doesn’t know is John More and Matt Black, true legends in the world of British breakbeat music (a small field, for sure, but they’re still legends). The two CD singles I have are from two very different parts of their career.

The first one is a cracker and comes from Coldcut’s golden pop period, back when they were regular fixtures in the top ten. Jon and Matt first rose to prominence in 1987 with their still-classic remix of Eric B and Rakim’s Paid in Full, then had chart success in the UK with Yazz (remember her?) and Doctorin’ the House, and the immense Northern Soul cover The Only Way is Up (under the guise of The Plastic Population) which was the biggest selling single of 1988. The next year there was yet another big hit as they introduced Lisa Stansfield to the world on the house-pop classic People Hold On. This is the single I have, and is posted below. I’ve gone for the nine and half minute glory of the full length disco mix. It’s still one of the best things Coldcut have done, and easily the best thing Lisa Stansfield ever did, even though she went onto fame in her own right.

Download: Coldcut feat. Lisa Stansfield – People Hold On (full length disco mix)

Skip forward 12 years to something completely different. 2001 saw a general election in the UK, and four years after the Labour Party’s landslide victory of 1997, something of the initial sheen had begun to wear off, and Tony Blair’s smile had stopped becoming promising and was now just false or creepy. In the midst of the campaign, Coldcut did something that it’s usually unwise for any artist to do – record a political single. Of course they did it in their own skewed way, but almost seven years later, it does sound pretty dated. They sampled speeches from various politicians and cut them up over a backing track of other samples and beats, but it’s to great effect and most of the politicians sampled are no longer at the forefront of British political life.

Still, it wasn’t a bad effort and I remember going along to an event/publicity stunt they hosted on the Victoria Embankment to support the single under the name of The Guilty Party (one of them may even have stood for Parliament somewhere that year – I can’t remember), but failed to blag one of the free CDs they were handing out. It’s a bit of a curiosity, and I think I was keen to get it mainly because it came during a typically long absence of any new Coldcut material (it was nine years between Let Us Play and Sound Mirrors in 2006). I’ve spared you from the political soundbites and posted the instrumental version of Re:Volution.

Download: Coldcut – Re:Volution (instrumental)

Though if you really want to hear (and see) what the track was like in its original format, complete with the politicians themselves, try this youtube clip.

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