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Sunday 3 September 2023

Forty Five Minutes Of Saint Etienne

When Saint Etienne appeared in 1990 they seemed too good to be true. Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs love of 60s pop and kitchen sink drama, 70s TV and films and late 80s dance music blended together into a dizzy, heady style of dance/ pop/ indie- dance, knowing but inclusive, cool but not taking itself too seriously. Their first few singles were all totally loveable and Foxbase Alpha remains one of 1991's best albums- a year stuffed full of great albums. They kept it up into the mid- 90s, So Tough and Tiger Bay, with Sarah Cracknell firmly now part of a trio. This forty five minute mix focusses on those early/ mid 90s records, songs in love with pop music in all its forms, with samples from their extensive record collections and a real sense of joie de vivre. There's nothing wrong with much of what came later but these early songs have a thread running through them that the late 90s ones (and onwards) don't. 

Putting this together made me think of several other things. Firstly, a second Saint Etienne mix pulling a lot of the remixes of their songs together might work (and one dealing with their post- 1998 songs). Secondly, I have a load of Two Lone Swordsmen dubs of Heart Failed (In the Back Of A Taxi) that should show up int he Weatherall Remix Friday series. Thirdly, I've been meaning to go back to 2021's I've Been Meaning To Tell You for some time and promised a post about it here ages. 

Forty Five Minutes Of Saint Etienne

  • Speedwell
  • Girl VII
  • Everlasting
  • Mario's Cafe
  • Kiss And Make Up (Midsummer Madness Mix)
  • Conchita Martinez
  • Like A Motorway
  • Only Love Can Break Your Heart (A Mix Of Two Halves by Andrew Weatherall)
Speedwell was the B-side to third single Nothing Can Stop Us from 1991. A lovely deep sound, warm bass, vocal sample from an old gospel record. There were a pair of remixes by Dean Thatcher and Jagz Kooner too, the Flying Mix one of the sounds of summer 1991. 

Girl VII is from Foxbase Alpha- any of the songs from that album could have shown up here, the freshness of the songs, the samples, Sarah's singing, the sheer fun involved in them. In Girl VII Sarah reads out a list of places, 'June 4th, 1989, Primrose Hill, Staten Island, Chalk Farm, Massif Central, Gospel Oak, Sao Paolo, Boston Manor, Costa Rica, Arnos Grove, San Clemente, Tufnell Park, Gracetown, York Way, Videoton, Clerkenwell, Portobello, Maida Vale, Old Ford, Valencia, Kennington, Galveston, Holland Park, Studamer, Dollis Hill, Fougeres, London Fields, Bratislava, Haggerston, Lavinia, Canonbury, Alice Springs, Tooting Graveney, Baffin Island, Pollard's Hill, Winnepeg, Plumstead Common, Hyderabad, Silvertown, Buffalo', one of my favourite lists in any record ever. 

Everlasting was supposed to be a single with You're In A Bad Way as the B-side. THeavenly disagreed and wanted You're In A bad Way as the single and Everlasting was unreleased until the 2009 CD re- issue of the album. 

Mario's Cafe and Conchita Martinez are both from 1992's So Tough. Mario's Cafe is instant 1992 with its KLF references and very located in London, specifically a cafe in Kentish Town. Conchita Martinez samples Rush. 

Kiss And Make Up is a cover of a song by The Field Mice, one of 1990's essential 12" releases, in its EU flag sleeve but in green and white. The remix 12", in reverse coloured sleeve, green stars on a white backdrop, came with two remixes, the Midsummer Madness and midsummer Dubness remixes, both by Pete Heller. 

Like A Motorway is from 1994's Tiger Bay and a single too. The band hid themselves away in the Forest Of Dean to write the album, thinking they'd come back with some pastoral folk songs. They were planning on writing an album of death songs too. Like A Motorway is a sleek gliding rush of Morodor- esque synth- pop, borrowing the melody from a 19th century folk song, Silver Dagger. Once you realise the vocal is about a death not the break up of a relationship it changes it somewhat. The line, 'She said her life/ Was like a motorway/ Dull, grey and long/ Til he came along' is a cracker. The 12" came with a David Holmes remix that can shatter dancefloors, full on acid- techno. 

Only Love Can Break Your Heart was their debut single, a cover of Neil Young's 1970 classic. Saint Etienne turned from a waltz time song into one with a four four house rhythm and changed Neil's major chords to minor ones. Summer 1990 gold. Andrew Weatherall's remix is one of his best, the song turned into a dub with the dub half first and the song half second. Andrew pulls the dubby bassline to the fore, adds an Augustus Pablo inspired melodica line (played by Loft/ Weather Prophet Pete Astor) and the pair of samples from Jean Binta Breeze's Dubwise ('cool and deadly' and 'the DJ eases a spliff from his lyrical lips and smilingly orders... cease' sending sample spotters down a rabbit hole or two, and not for the last time). The song is pre- Sarah, with Moira Lambert on vocals. 


Khayem said...

Just what the doctor ordered. Thanks, Adam!

Nick L said...

Great stuff. What a well put together mix. I'd be interested to know your favourite Saint Et album? Foxbase is obvs great but mine's probably Tales From Turnpike House. I rate the Words And Music album highly too.

thewalker said...

This does indeed hit the spot.

Michael Doherty said...

Conchita Martinez does not get enough love!

Swiss Adam said...

Thanks everyone, was pleased with it when I listened back yesterday, glad its hitting the spot.

Favourite SE album? I always come back to Foxbase Alpha. I have a lot of time for IBTTTY. I think you (Nick) were the person who commented last time and I said I'd go back to it and write about it- which I will. Big fan of So Tough too. Need to relisten to the 2 you mention which I don't know nearly well enough

blureu said...

Thanks. Love SE!

jesseblack said...

I'm actually not that familiar with their early numbers. It seems like Speedwell has the same drum machine loop as the MIx of Two Halves of OLCBYH? Is this just coincidence?

Swiss Adam said...

Not sure what's happened at the start of that mp3 of OLCBYH, the vocal sample from Speedwell reappears, sloppy editing somewhere along the line. Sound quite good though.

Khayem said...

That version of OLCBYH with the additional 'Speedwell intro' appeared on last year's succinctly titled Heavenly Remixes 3: Andrew Weatherall Volume 1 compilation. As you say, Adam, I put it down to sloppy editing but it does sound pretty good.

Jesse, Speedwell was officially released after the Weatherall remix of OLCBYH, so it's possible that Messrs. Stanley and Wiggs were suitably inspired by the loop. Don't recall any mention of the comparison before, but I see what you mean.

jesseblack said...

Knowledge! Thank you.