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In 1995 Mark Rae fulfilled a long-tern dream by founding Grand Central Records in his hometown of Manchester. Around the same time he began work with techie genius Steve Christian and they have forged a brilliant partnership, making their own albums and producing or re-mixing the work of numerous mainstream and established artists, such as Texas, The Manic Street Preachers, M-People and Lamb.
Mark says, "We committed ourselves to promoting good music; hip-hop, soul, jazz, breakbeat, jungle, Jamaican reggae, house...we work with everything. I think a lot of people are under the impression we're just a hip-hop label, but we're actually just an "anything" label which is based in the pioneering sounds of everything from bleep house from Sheffield to London jungle."
Their first release was in June'95 under the name of First Priority and was an EP called "Pure Arithmetic". In 1998 they released their debut solo album, "Northern Sulphuric Soul", and this was very well received and nominated for a Mercury Prize.
The duo then developed a live show and did some frenetic touring. They travel with their own percussionist; double bass player; female vocalist; scratch DJ, sax, flute and rhodes players, to compliment the skills of Mark behind the deck and Steve on the guitar. This enabled them to sharpen up their act even further, before producing another cracking album "Sleepwalking" in 2001.
Their reputation has enabled them to gain collaborations with big names such as Bobbie Womack, the soul legend, and Glasgow's Texas, whose 'Good Advice' was produced in 1996 by Rae & Christian and first appeared on the Grand Central Compilation "Central Heating". Later, Steve re-mixed their top two hit 'Say What You Want' and then Texas's Sharleen Spiteri wrote 'The Hush' which appeared on Northern Sulphuric Soul.
ALBUMS: Northern Sulphuric Soul (1998) Reviewed by the Guardian newspaper as the 'finest British hip-hop album ever recorded' A smooth mix of electronica and soul, the record features contributions from alternative rockers Texas, New York rapper Jeru tha Damaja, New Jersey's YZ, DJ Q-Ball, and Curt Cazal. In addition, the album contains four collaborations with the duo's long time partner recording partner, a 22-year-old platinum blonde gospel singer Veba, from Old Trafford, Manchester
Sleepwalking (2001); Much acclaimed new album Featuring Bobby Womack on 'Get a Life' and a cover of Melvin & the Bluenotes' 'Wake up Everybody'. Other guests include The Pharcyde, the Congos, Kate Rogers (Mark Rae's talented cousin), Siron & Tania Maria
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