Smith & Mighty Biography
Rewind, this is history:
The oft-mentioned Bristol sound, associated with artists like Massive Attack, Tricky, Portishead, Roni Size and DJ Krust, was hugely influenced by Smith & Mighty. Starting in the mid 80s, DJs like Nellee Hooper (who later founded Soul II Soul), Miles Johnson, Grant and Mushroom established the "Wild Bunch Sound System" with its heavy-bass fusion of dub, reggae, soul and hip hop. Not content to simply DJ, the Wild Bunch started churning out original tunes beginning with the local hit, "The Look Of Love," co-produced by Rob Smith & Ray Mighty of the 3 Stripe Soundsystem. In 1987, Smith & Mighty released cover versions of the Burt Bacharach classics, "Anyone (Who Had A Heart)" and "Walk On By.” With these tracks, marked by low-frequency basslines, soulful vocals, and deep arrangements, Smith & Mighty created a sonic blueprint which would come to the sound of their native city of Bristol. In late 1989, Smith & Mighty produced "Wishing On A Star" by the outfit Fresh Four, beginning a frustrating relationship with the corporate record industry lasting nearly five years. After the huge underground success of "Wishing On A Star," major-labels were eager to get their hands on the pioneers of the emerging Bristol sound. Eventually, London Records won out and signed Smith & Mighty. But the label didn’t understand Smith & Mighty ´s visionary downtempo at a time when fast house and techno-beats were the rule, and the company never released any Smith & Mighty material. Only after 1995, when the deal with London ended, were Smith & Mighty able to release their first album, Bass Is Maternal on their very own label, More Rockers. Despite rave reviews and much press adulation, the album only found its way to the die-hard Smith & Mighty fans due to weak distribution. Musically, Bass Is Maternal fused their already iconic soundsystem vibe with upfront breakbeats and the influence of London’s burgeoning drum & bass scene. During the euphoria for drum & bass in 1998, Smith & Mighty finally had their international breakthrough. After fantastic set at Radio 1´s Essential Mix, the Bristol outfit got catapulted into the spotlight. The subsequent release of their DJ Kicks mix for !K7 Records elevated the buzz to global proportions. Taking their sound on the road, Smith & Mighty showcased their musical eclecticism to much acclaim in Germany, England, France, Japan and the USA. Then, as now, the timelessness of their tracks, many of which were made more than ten years ago, that fascinated audiences and the press alike.
And now: It’s time for Life Is..., Smith & Mighty ´s third album. Naturally it is also shaped by this soulful, timeless bass sound that only Smith & Mighty create. The laidback and relaxed atmosphere of Big World, Small World is still there, but this time, it’s spiced with a more tune-orientated approach. Yes, call it a very contemporary soul album, but don’t forget to mention the signature Smith & Mighty vibe. And this time, Smith & Mighty have kicked it up a notch, moving the music away from the downtempo realm, filling their songs with grooves hovering between drum & bass´ rhythmic energy and classic variations of steppers riddims. Guest singers like Tammy Payne, Rudy Lee, MC Kelz, Hazel, Nigi 40 and many more ensure that Life Is . . . is nothing if not a masterpiece.