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Sneaker Pimps: Becoming X

"Sneaker Pimps are a British Trip-hop band formed in Hartlepool in 1995. They are best known for their first album 'Becoming X' and particularly the singles '6 Underground' and 'Spin Spin Sugar' from the same album. They took their name from an article the Beastie Boys published in their Grand Royal magazine about a man they hired to track down classic sneakers."

 

BECOMING X  by  SNEAKER PIMPS

 

Released August 1996

 

 

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The band's founding members were ex-DJ's Chris Corner (guitar) and Liam Howe (keyboards), who then recruited Kelli Dayton (formerly of Lumieres, now recording under the name Kelli Ali) for vocal duties. After the 'Becoming X' album, the band felt that demos for second album (on which Corner provided the guide vocals) better suited his voice, especially in regard to the more raw, personal quality of the lyrics. Combined with the fear of being identified with the fad for trip-hop acts, Dayton was asked to leave the group, and Corner became the singer.

 

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That sounded for the death knell for the band commercially, though as their next release was half-decent, they lost most of their fanbase and the stragglers from the mainstream.

 

Where fellow bands like Massive Attack, Tricky and Portishead went from strength to strength and kept their legacy, Sneaker Pimps were more or less forgotten, which is a real shame as the 'Becoming X' is a bloody good album.

Alot of bands of the dance music ilk really struggle to nail down a consistantly brilliant album from start to finish (Faithless etc.), something Sneaker Pimps just about managed with 'Becoming X'

 

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Tracklisting:

 

   1. "Low Place Like Home" - 4:38

   2. "Tesko Suicide" - 3:48

   3. "6 Underground" - 4:06

   4. "Becoming X" - 4:15

   5. "Spin Spin Sugar" - 4:21

   6. "Post-Modern Sleaze" - 5:21

   7. "Waterbaby" - 4:12

   8. "Roll On" - 4:28

   9. "Wasted Early Sunday Morning" - 4:29

  10. "Walking Zero" - 4:31

  11. "How Do" - 5:03

 

 

'Becoming X' is one of the most engaging byproducts of post-Portishead trip-hop. While the Sneaker Pimps don't have the doomed romanticism of Portishead or the nasty experimental tendencies of Tricky, they have a cool sense of pop hooks and an edgier guitar attack than their predecessors.

'Becoming X' creates an airy, urban atmosphere, and it is an exciting, entrancing listen.

 

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I remember the first time I put on Becoming X. I had purhcased the album on the strength of the two hit singles 'Spin, Spin Sugar' and '6 Underground', but was shocked by the first two tracks on the album.

'Low Place Like Home' comes at you snearing with jagged guitars, eary synths and dangerous beats, followed by much of the same with 'Tesko Suicide'..........I was hooked.

Then up comes some of what I was expecting with the two singles and the title track.

 

The quality and diversity never lets up for the rest of the album.

 

There are quite a few moments on 'Becoming X', which saddle-up right next to any of Portishead's, Massive Attack's or Tricky's work, but that of course is a massive compliment, but it's the sheer braveness and variation that I was immediately taken with.

 

Kelly Dayton's vocals are soulfully intoxicating all the way through and mention must go to the impressive drumming from David Westlake.

 

There a few beautiful slower tracks here too with 'Post-Modern Sleaze', 'Wasted Early Sunday Morning' and the last last track 'How Do'.

‘How Do' is a cover of the song known as ‘Willow's Song' featured in the movie ‘The Wicker Man' (1973). Britt Ekland lip synched the song (completely naked) in the movie; Sneaker Pimps' version begins with a short sound clip from the movie. It is in turn used in the movie ‘Abre los ojos ‘(‘Open Your Eyes'). Most recently, ‘How Do' was used during an intimate scene in the 2005 Eli Roth movie, ‘Hostel'.

 

The album later spawned a remix album Becoming Remixed with DJs such as Paul Oakenfold remixing tracks from Becoming X.

 

Fueled by the hit '6 Underground', the album spent 23 consecutive weeks on the US Billboard 200.

 

The greatest compliment I can give 'Becoming X' is that I revisit it fairly often and am always surprised how good it always sounds.

 

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