Smith & Mighty have had their fair share of bad luck over the years. Their classic, groundbreaking covers of Bacharach & David’s “Anyone (Who Had A Heart)” and “Walk on By” (which can be found on their excellent DJ Kicks release) brought them the accolade as “the originators of the Bristol Sound.” However, after signing for London Records, Smith & Mighty practically disappeared from the music world for the best part of the last decade. When the deal expired, Smith & Mighty along with their long-time collaborator (and now third member) Peter D. Rose went on to form their own More Rockers label. Their debut album Bass is Maternal was critically acclaimed but was hopelessly uncommercial. So here we are, having influenced a generation of musicians, Smith & Mighty release what is only their second album to see the light of day.
Big World Small World has all the hallmarks of Smith & Mighty; dub, reggae, hip-hop and drum’n'bass are all mashed up and blended in their unique sound system style. With a little help from their friends (all of whom also hail from Bristol) they deliver an album with soulful vocals and conscious lyrics complementing their emotional vibe. On “Move You Run” the frequencies are brought down as low as you’ll ever hear as the echoes set the mood, leaving just enough space for the lush vocals of Tammy Payne to float over the top. The harder-edged “No Justice” (featuring Rudy Lee) reflects the nature of the track which was inspired by the brother of Rudy Lee—a victim of a racist attack. From the slamming beats of “The Way We Feel” (featuring Alice Perera) to the haunting ballad of “Same” and the gorgeous “Believers” (featuring Tammy Payne), this album oozes class.
There are many fine moments on this album but what is most striking is the timeless production. Some of the tracks (such as “Same” and “Seeds”) are a few years old but you would have never have guessed it. All in all a good return to form. But then some would argue they never went away. Give it a chance, you’ll grow to love it.
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