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Play With the Changes

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Album Review

A couple years before OutKast's Dré and Big Boi diverged creatively while retaining their group identity, 4hero's Dego and Marc Mac took up a similar division of labor. The initial result, 2001's mostly brilliant Creating Patterns, was even more elaborately musical and past-indebted than 1998's Two Pages, despite continued protests from those who had come to demand nothing less than renegade innovations. The detractors will only continue to feel betrayed by Play with the Changes. Despite six years away and a long list of extracurricular projects, including DKD's Future Rage and the 4hero Life: Styles mix, the album is Creating Patterns' twin. You could even look at a thorough description of Creating Patterns, switch around some pronouns, and have a fairly accurate perception of the album's makeup. Marc Mac again helms classicist songs that take cues from the work of Charles Stepney and the Mizell Brothers, with sky-high production values and ample string arrangements. Dego tends to stick to the meeting point between broken beat, neo-soul, and contemporary R&B, and the lone instantly discernible difference with his work here is that a couple tracks feature prominent guitar from Dave Okumu, an acolyte of Ernie Isley and Prince. Key contributions from multi-instrumentalist Kaidi Tatham, Minnie Riperton disciple Carina Andersson, and hip-hop poet Ursula Rucker: check, check, check. A couple dream collaborations, this time with Larry Mizell and Jody Watley: check. A few appearances from up-and-comers, this time from Jack Davey and Darien Brockington: check. A cover of a '70s classic that's more like an impersonation than an interpretation (Stevie Wonder's "Superwoman"): check. The lack of progress can be especially frustrating when you consider that it took them a shorter amount of time to shift from "Combat Dancin'" to "Universal Love." Beyond that potentially deal-breaking issue, Play with the Changes is an undeniably well-made, tightly wrapped album that is almost as easy to enjoy as Creating Patterns.

Customer Reviews

15 superior tracks from 4hero.

Innovators in dance music since the early 1990’s London band 4hero have waited six years for their highly anticipated new release, Play With The Changes. Their career has been littered with awards including a Dance album of the year and a Mercury Music award in 1998. 4hero are back better than ever with 15 tracks crammed with superior guest vocalists, delicate beats, lush orchestrations, drums and sampled sounds. The opening track Morning Child is fresh, lively and soul filled with airy stings and brass, while regular vocalist Carina Anderson excels over the Curtis Mayfield styled groves. The mellow Sink Or Swim features vocals from Lady Alda over a superb Fender Rhodes and a shuffling drum track. The title track has sunny vocals and excellent piano and bass with an interesting change of direction midway, it also features Larry Mizell who has written and produced for Marvin Gaye and the Jackson 5. Other notable tracks are Why Don’t You Talk which is jazz rock filled with improvisation and touches of Be-bop, the Stevie Wonder classic Superwoman is a remix which works well even though this version does not add any new dimensions to the original. While Look Inside is pure funk returning to the original 4heros House Music style, Play With The Changes proves their importance as artists and innovators in contemporary music.

Biography

Formed: 1989 in Dollis Hill, London, England

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Consistently on the front lines of the drum'n'bass battleground, the duo of Dego (McFarlane) and Marc Mac (Mark Clair) nevertheless failed to receive the exposure of luminaries like Goldie and Roni Size, mostly because they didn't release much 4hero material during jungle's crucial crossover years, from 1994 through 1997. Despite beginnings in London's hip-hop underground during the mid-'80s, the duo moved into the hardcore/rave scene later in the decade and recorded classics like "Mr. Kirk's Nightmare"...
Full Bio
Play With the Changes, 4hero
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