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coverpic flag England - Luna Kafé - Full Moon 21 - 07/09/98

Saint Etienne
Good Humor
Creation

If my review is about Saint Etienne, it isn't to recall the legendary green-stripped French footy team (in a bad shape today) or to report from the World Cup France 98, but about the band Saint Etienne. Even if this group isn't French but English (London), being French I have my reasons for choosing to review their latest record. First, the name, a French town near the place where I live, and they've collaborated with the French pop singer Etienne Daho in 1995, for the single Reserection and the famous song Le Baiser Français (The French Kiss...), lastly the lack of success of their music in France. So...

Bob Stanley, Pete Wiggs and Donna Savage (singer just for one year) recorded their first single in 1991 (Only Love Can Break Your Heart, by Neil Young), and distinguished themselves with the new singer Sarah Cracknell in 1992 with Nothing Can Stop Us and You're In A Bad Way. Very pop and melodic, but also very electronic, like the first album Foxbase, released in 1991 (Heavenly Records). The electronic music and programming of sounds take an important place in the production on the albums released in 1993 and 1994, So Tough and Tiger Bay (Heavenly Records), mixing folk and techno (!). No news since 1995, except a lot of compilations: You Need A Mess Of Help To Stand Alone (Heavenly Records, 1993), Too Young to Die (singles compilation, Heavenly Records, 1995), Casino Classics (remixes compilation, Heavenly Records, 1996), Fairy Tales From Saint Etienne (Japanese compilation, Warner Bros, 1995) and Continental (Japanese compilation, L'appareil-Photo, 1997). There is also the pop-techno solo album of Sarah Cracknell, Lipslide (Gut Records, 1995), with a song recently re-issued in French by Etienne Daho with the name Le Premier Jour. And then we have the history (failure) of the label Emidisc, founded by Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs.

So we have waited four years for the new album Good Humor, the fourth of the group and the first released by Creation. Four years, and a real change in the sound of the group. Recorded at Tambourine Studio, Malmø (see Cardigans), this album shows perfect self-control, with the music sounding more live than on the earlier albums, sometimes pop (Postman), sometimes groove (Lose That Girl), accompanied by harmonica (Been So Long), by trumpets (Mr Donut), and by organ (Wood Cabin). Two singles are already released: Sylvie and The Bad Photographer. Good Humor will perhaps be the album of the consecration.

Remember that Pulp in 1992, unknown at this time, and Oasis in 1994, also unknown, were playing support for Saint Etienne in England. Perhaps this group soon will get the recognition they deserve, also in France. Here, people just remember the collaboration with Etienne Daho and the single Reserection, which was a big hit for Saint Etienne, but just a bad sale for Etienne Daho!

Copyright © 1998 Patrick Dubail e-mail address

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