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Saint Etienne

Foxbase Alpha - 30th Anniversary Edition

    Originally released via Heavenly in October 1991 the album was quickly recognised as one of the most important and influential releases of the year and nominated for the first Mercury Music Prize.

    Foxbase Alpha includes the classic Neil Young cover version of ‘Only Love Can Break Your Heart’ (possibly one of the best cover versions ever!) plus the single ‘Nothing Can Stop Us Now’.

    TRACK LISTING

    Side A
    1. This Is Radio Saint Etienne
    2. Only Love Can Break Your Heart
    3. Wilson
    4. Carnt Sleep
    5. Girl VII
    6. Spring

    Side B
    7. She’s The One
    8. Stoned To Say The Least
    9. Nothing Can Stop Us Now
    10. Etienne Gonna Die
    11. London Belongs To Me
    12. Like A Swallow
    13. Dilworth’s Theme 

    Saint Etienne

    Her Winter Coat

      Talking about the single, Bob Stanley said:

      We love Christmas, as you probably know, and it feels like it's been a while since our last really Christmassy Christmas record. But I think Pete has done a properly beautiful, icy, frosted, festive job on 'Her Winter Coat’. Alasdair's film for it is the icing on the yule log. I hope you love it as much as I do. We're really looking forward to playing it live!

      Pete Wiggs added:

      To complement 'Her Winter Coat', Sarah and Gus Bousfield have come up with the incredibly catchy 'A Kiss Like This', laden with swirling hibernal synths, and for a touch of Cold War frost we have the brooding melancholy instrumental 'Lillehammer' to complete the package. Hope you love 'em all!

      TRACK LISTING

      1. Her Winter Coat (edit)
      2. Lillehammer
      3. A Kiss Like This
      4. Her Winter Coat 

      Saint Etienne

      I've Been Trying To Tell You

        Can it be that it was all so simple then? Or has time rewritten every line?
        Marvin Hamlisch was not yet 30 when he wrote those words for the mouth of Barbra Streisand. Even then, Hamlisch was acutely aware that as a narrator of our own stories, the human memory is at best unreliable and at worst mendacious. That same awareness resonates through every bar, beat and breath of I've Been Trying To Tell You, the tenth studio album by Saint Etienne.

        The album is made largely from samples and sounds drawn from the turn of the new century, a period that was topped and tailed by Labour's election victory and the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers. “It's about memory,” Bob explains, “and how it can fog and play tricks on you. Specifically, it's about the late Nineties, and current nostalgia for the Nineties.”

        Formed in Croydon in 1990 by music journalist Bob Stanley with childhood friend Pete Wiggs, and soon joined by singer Sarah Cracknell, Saint Etienne arose within the context of the indie- dance movement of that era but created a unique sound which – albeit accidentally – paved the way for what would later become known as Britpop.

        Their earliest albums – 1991 debut Foxbase Alpha and its 1993 successor So Tough – tapped into the collective consciousness by using an accretion of disparate elements - Long Wave football commentary, a snatch of Four Tops vocals or a sample of Dusty Springfield strings, some dialogue from Billy Liar, a melody from a long-forgotten perfume ad – to create a richly evocative memory-world which was specifically British, even when the component parts themselves were not.

        The resulting emotion, of course, is bittersweet. Saint Etienne's music has always captured the feeling that the Portuguese call saudade, the Welsh call hiraeth and the Germans call sehnsucht: a combination of homesickness and longing, a melancholy yearning for a time, a place, a person or a mood that can never be revisited.

        It's what the Scottish comedian Brian Limond was driving at with the heartbreaking Limmy's Show sketch in which he visits a travel agent and shows them a blurred colour photograph of himself and his friends on a teenage holiday in the Ayrshire resort of Millport. “Can you tell me how I get there?”, Limmy asks the confused agent, who initially tries to sell him a ticket to Millport. “No, not the place,” Limmy replies. “The feeling.” Saint Etienne's 2002 single “Action” expresses a similar desire: “Cos I've been searching for all the people I used to turn to, and all the people who knew the answer... Let's get the feeling again...”

        Another constant in Saint Etienne's music has been their understanding of the power of dreams. There's a strand of pop which stretches from The Beach Boys' SMiLE through Saint Etienne to The Avalanches' Since I Left You and beyond which defies the reductive term 'dreampop', and instead evokes the genuine sensation of dreaming: blissful, yes, but also unsettling and disorienting. Saint Etienne's early career masterpiece “Avenue” conjured that realm for seven minutes, and I've Been Trying To Tell You inhabits it entirely. The album ties together these two Saint Etienne threads – memory and dreams – and tells us directly something which has always been implicit in Bob, Pete and Sarah's work: that memory is a dream.

        “I spent a lot of last year thinking about optimism for the future,” says Bob, “and the almost total lack of it at the moment. That got me thinking about the last time there was a general optimism in the country and I thought about May 1997, the window between then and September 2001, which it's easy to look back on as some kind of innocent golden age, even if it didn't feel like one at the time. In reality, of course, there was good and there was bad.... Primary schools and art galleries and hospitals were built versus we bombed Belgrade and introduced PFI!”

        Reflecting upon that era, and upon the collective (mis)remembrance of it, led to this new Saint Etienne album. “We thought, if you used samples from the late Nineties - the supposedly promising bit between Labour winning the election and September 11th - what would the music be and what could you do with it? Modern nostalgia culture often draws on corporate American Nineties mall culture, but what about British BBC radio culture? Could those sources be used to actually sound like the era, but through the fog of memory?”

        Two decades on, a combination of False Memory Syndrome and collective amnesia has grown up around those early New Labour years. The first Blair administration is nowadays viewed variously as a lost golden age, or a period of naïvete, delusion and folly, and a million different shades in between. “YouTube has so many nostalgic clips of slowed-down grainy footage of shopping malls,” says Bob, “often tagged 'liminal spaces' or something like that, post-Burial, post-Mark Fisher, with vaporwave-like music made by people younger than me who see the Eighties and Nineties as a simpler time. I find this fascinating. What you choose to remember or choose to forget... ASBOs and paediatricians getting death threats in Wales... those bits get forgotten.”

        Even at the time, a complacent illusion about the Nineties had taken hold, filtered down from Francis Fukuyama's The End Of History, that benign liberal democracy had triumphed forever and there were no struggles left to be fought. And, even at the time, an equal and opposite sense of disillusion had taken hold of Bob Stanley. On the first anniversary of Blair's election victory, Bob went to the Granita restaurant in Islington, where Blair and Brown had famously struck their power-sharing deal, and felt a sense of emptiness which he later described in the first verse of “Heart Failed In The Back Of A Taxi”: “Took a trip down Granita way/Had to go on the 1st of May/Didn't have much to celebrate...”

        Saint Etienne have always understood that pop music is the nearest thing we have to time travel, the closest we can get to breathing the air of a different time. On this album, they take that theory to its logical conclusion. I've Been Trying To Tell You uses sounds and samples from 1997 to 2001, evoking the folk memory of the period by using and twisting recordings from the time, re- working them into new songs. “They're all by people you'd have heard on daytime Radio 1 or 2 at the time,” Bob clarifies, “not Boards of Canada or anything.” Opening track “Music Again”, for example, begins with some gorgeously poignant electric harpsichord from a long-forgotten R&B hit.

        For the first time, Saint Etienne didn't record together in a studio. The album was completed remotely, in Hove (Pete), Oxford (Sarah) and Bradford (Bob, in collaboration with film and TV composer Gus Bousfield, who contributes to a number of tracks). Communication was handled via Zoom meetings and emails. “We had the idea for the album before the pandemic, and it was surprisingly straightforward.” The results are exceptional. “I'm really excited about the way the album has turned out,” says Bob. “It feels like something brand new.”

        I've Been Trying To Tell You has an internal unity, its heartbeat always at the low end of mid- tempo/high end of downtempo, landing at the approximate pace of Tricky's Pre-Millennium Tension (an album released on the very cusp of the era in question). This helps sustain the dream-state.

        That hypnagogic sensation is enhanced here and there by the eerie sound of seagulls and garden birds. It's like falling asleep listening to Minnie Riperton's “Lovin' You” and coming a- dreamwake in Kew. This, it turns out, is another turn-of-the-millennium reference. “In the early series of Big Brother,” Bob explains, “when Channel 4 used to broadcast live from the house in the daytime, they'd dip out the sound whenever the housemates talked about real life people, or swore or whatever, and they'd replace the sound with quite avant-sounding field recordings of birdsong.”

        The lyrics, too, obey the fractured logic of dreams. Sarah Cracknell sings in short phrases - “here it comes again”, “never had a way to go”, “ruby dust”, “a love like this again” - looped and repeated, rather than a traditional verse-chorus-verse structure. “They are all snatched phrases that could have been used at the time,” Bob explains, “from news items, or songs, or magazines.” The album's centrepiece is arguably “Little K”, the fourth track of eight, a six-minute oneiric ocean which ends with the sound of lazily lapping waves. The words that filter through the haze are ones which define the album: “No reason to pretend. In my reverie, the mind will carry me...”

        The reverie has interludes with no words at all, at least not sung. “Blue Kite”, made from backwards strings and synths and bassy beats from the room next door, is entirely instrumental, as is “I Remember It Well” apart from snatches of mysterious voices which evoke childhood holidays. Some tracks, like some dreams, are simply too strange for analysis: the inscrutably- titled “Penlop” (a Tibetan term which translates loosely as 'governor') has a refrain which appears to run “I don't really know you/But I'd like to show you/Chester town/We went all around...”

        The accompanying film, which premieres at the NFT in the first week of September and will also be available as a DVD with the album, came about when Bob Stanley contacted Alasdair McLellan after the latter had used Saint Etienne's “Nothing Can Stop Us” in a Marc Jacobs commercial. They met a few times, pre-pandemic, in a cafe under Shipley clocktower. “Alasdair understood the album straight off,” says Bob. “We talked about youth, and the A1, and British identity, and memories of the recent past. He's really made a beautiful film, and it perfectly complements the album. Alasdair's film also taps in to the way we think of our youth, and sense of place, and where we come from.”

        McLellan's film – a still from which adorns the album sleeve - is a slow-motion travelogue that takes in “a lifetime's worth” of locations, including Felixstowe, Blackpool, Portmeirion, Avebury, Southampton, Doncaster, Grangemouth, as well as London. It its vignettes, we see a couple breaking up on a Westminster bench, a man skimming stones across the water from an oil terminal, a ballet dancer rehearsing, a raver dancing in the headlights of a Ford Cortina, youths playing in a Yorkshire waterfall, teams meeting in caffs. The album dovetails immaculately with the visuals. When we do hear anyone speak, it's only to recite lyrics from classic Saint Etienne songs, all taken from the Nineties.

        The dreamlike mood of the album, and the film, is a statement in itself: namely that memory is a largely fictionalised product of the human mind, rather than a reliable record. I've Been Trying To Tell You – the album, and the film – sifts through those Hamlischian misty watercolour memories of the way we were, and poses the question: was it all just a dream? Saint Etienne have always known the answer. They've been trying to tell you.

        Simon Price, 2021

        STAFF COMMENTS

        Barry says: While Saint Etienne are well known for pulling together a host of influences into their own particular clever brand of indie, their latest outing is perhaps the most confidently nostalgic tribute yet, crafted from found sounds and snippets of samples from the early 00's, leading to an evocative and wonderfully realised triumph.

        TRACK LISTING

        1. Music Again
        2. Pond House
        3. Fonteyn
        4. Little K
        5. Blue Kite
        6. I Remember It Well
        7. Penlop
        8. Broad River

        Robin Turner

        Believe In Magic - Heavenly Recordings: The First 30 Years - Saint Etienne Exclusive Edition

          We're super excited to be able to get our hands on some of these limited edition versions of this fantastic book. 

          We fell in love with Saint Etienne from the off here at Piccadilly, when they released their Kiss And Make Up single back in 1990. This was the year we took over the shop and their debut album Fox Base Alpha was a firm favourite back in our old Brown Street base. 

          This exclusive edition includes a 7" single: Spring b/w Spring (instrumental). 
          Spring is taken from Saint Etienne’s debut LP, Foxbase Alpha. It is the first time it has been released as a single. The instrumental on the flip side is previously unreleased.

          Heavenly was already a state of mind. Seemed like the right time to make it something really special. We were all deeply immersed in music that we loved. None of us could believe our fucking luck, really. (Jeff Barrett)

          It was thirty years ago today - or thereabouts - that Heavenly came to be. In celebration of this big ol’ birthday comes Believe in Magic - a chronicle not only of Foxbase Alpha, Working Men’s Club and 28 of the releases in between that got the label to where it is today, but also of the haircuts, nights down the pub, pencil-eraser-carvings, cheese toasties, acid houses, Sunday Socials and lost Weekenders - Yorkshire and otherwise - that are as much a part of its story.

          As Jeff Barrett puts it at the beginning of the book, if there’s a continuous theme that runs through all of this, I think it’s that everything comes down to conversations with people about music. It might seem like it all starts with someone on one side of the counter who is selling you something, or someone writing excitedly in a magazine telling you about a band you need to hear, but I don’t think I’ve ever really seen things as one-way transactions. It’s more an ongoing dialogue, one that never really stops and helps to build up this growing soundtrack to our lives, something that’s passed from one person to another. That’s really the ever-present thread. That’s why we still believe in magic.

          Though we are three decades distant from The World According to Sly and Lovechild, lineup changes, ups, downs, and a good few office cleanups under the label’s belt, the Heavenly firm continue not to believe their fucking luck; at still being here, keepin’ on keepin’ on doing what they love, and at being able to pass all of this - then, now, and next week - on to you.

          Believe in Magic is a fully illustrated history of one of the most colourful and exciting independent British record labels; a label responsible for creating satellite communities of fans around the country and at all the major festivals.
          After several years working at Factory and Creation, Heavenly Recordings was set up by Jeff Barrett in 1990 as the acid house revolution was in full swing; early releases set the tone and tempo for the mood of the decade to come - their first release was by perhaps the most revered acid house DJ of them all, Andrew Weatherall; and this was quickly followed by singles from St Etienne and Manic Street Preachers.

          Heavenly was always different to other labels; more of a 'club' with a defiant spirit of inclusiveness, and in 1994 they set up The Heavenly Social, which alongside the Hacienda, became perhaps the most famous club in recent British history, where the Chemical Brothers made their name.

          Over nearly 200 releases in thirty years Heavenly have consistently produced some of the most exciting music across all genres - dance, acid house, singer-songwriter, psych-garage - and this book collects rare photographs, ephemera, artwork into a celebration of a label that is, alongside Rough Trade and Factory, one of the most beloved institutions on the independent landscape. Running though the book are thirty stories, mostly told in the form of oral history by artists like James Dean Bradfield, Flowered Up, Beth Orton, Doves and Don Letts, which capture the presiding personality of the label, its bands and the people associated with its success.




          TRACK LISTING

          Spring
          Spring (Instrumental)

          Saint Etienne

          Words And Music

            Like the other seven titles in the Saint Etienne Deluxe Edition series both discs are packaged in a gatefold card sleeve with a 24 page colour booklet.

            The original sleeve notes by Travis Elborough are included alongside new notes by Adey Lobb of The Big Issue. The booklet also contains previously unseen photographs by Karen Robinson and Paul Kelly plus a blow by blow account of each song penned by the three members of Saint Etienne.

            Disc one is the original 13 track album whilst Disc Two contains all 10 tracks from the long deleted US only ‘More Words And Music’ release plus 3 songs appearing on CD for the first time. ‘Pocket Call’ and two previously unreleased recordings ‘Starlings’ and ‘When I Was Seventeen (single mix)’. We think you’ll be pleased.

            More notes on this underrated gem from the Saint Etienne cannon:

            'Words and Music by Saint Etienne' was the bands eighth studio album released on 18 May 2012 by Heavenly Recordings. The record features collaborations from longtime Saint Etienne associate Ian Catt, as well as Richard X and former Xenomania members Tim Powell and Nick Coler. The title was provided by Lawrence of the bands Felt, Denim and Go-Kart Mozart.

            According to Bob Stanley the record deals with "how music affects your life. How it defines the way you see the world as a child, how it can get you through bad times in unexpected ways, and how songs you've known all your life can suddenly develop a new attachment, and hurt every time you hear them. More than how it affects and reflects your life though, the album is about believing in music, living your life by its rules.”

            TRACK LISTING

            Disc One
            01. Over The Border
            02. I’ve Got Your Music
            03. Heading For The Fair
            04. Last Days Of Disco
            05. Tonight
            06. Answer Song
            07. Record Doctor
            08. Popular
            09. Twenty Five Years
            10. DJ
            11. When I Was Seventeen
            12. I Threw It All Away
            13. Haunted Jukebox

            Disc Two
            01. Solid Gold
            02. Your Valentine
            03. Jan Leeming
            04. Racing Car
            05. Landscape
            06. Manhattan
            07. You’re Not Alone
            08. Just Friends
            09. Fairground Rock And Roll
            10. Lullaby
            11. Pocket Call
            12. Starlings
            13. ????????

            Saint Etienne

            Sound Of Water

              ‘Sound Of Water’ was first released in 2000 and was developed as Saint Etienne’s ambient and trip hop statement.

              The album’s lead single was the sprawling, multi-movement ‘How We Used To Live’, which was not edited down from its 9-minute running length for single release.

              Their previous US release ‘Places To Visit’ was clearly the beginning of this new direction. Many of the artists with whom they collaborated on that EP are present on ‘Sound Of Water’.

              Finally available on LP since original release. Includes postcard digital download card and printed inner sleeve.

              Saint Etienne

              Tiger Bay

                ‘Tiger Bay’ is the third studio album by Saint Etienne.

                It was released in 1994 by Heavenly Recordings.

                In an interview with Record Collector, band member Bob Stanley stated that the title is a reference to the 1959 film ‘Tiger Bay’.

                The album is described by Bob Stanley as “an album of modern folk songs done in Twentieth Century styles like techno and dub.” ‘Like A Motorway’, for example, blends Kraftwerk-style techno with the melody from the Nineteenth Century folk song ‘Silver Dagger’. Some of the songs, such as ‘Marble Lions’ and ‘Former Lover’ forsake electronics for classical folk instrumentation and orchestral arrangements. One, ‘Western Wind’, is a traditional English folk song.

                The original cover art is James Cook Harts’ ‘Welcome Bonny Boat’, doctored to include the band members.

                The Home Counties are an embarrassing place to come from. The name itself suggests that somehow the rest of Britain isn’t ‘home’, not even London. Saint Etienne grew up in the Home Counties. Here are sixteen new songs they have written about a day in the life of this doughnut of shires that ring the capital, punctuated by bursts of BBC radio to remind you what time it is and all connected by train journeys - main lines, branch lines, commutes, escapes.

                The love / hate relationship people have with ‘home’ is particularly acute in the Home Counties. Yet Saint Etienne understand that if you squint, it could be almost utopian.

                The album was produced by Shawn Lee of Young Gun Silver Fox, with support from Augustus (Kero Kero Bonito), Carwyn Ellis (Colorama, Edwyn Collins), Robin Bennett (The Dreaming Spires), Richard X (Girls On Top / Black Melody) and long-time collaborator Gerard Johnson (Denim, Yes). It was recorded in Central London. Sarah, Bob and Pete commuted to the studio every day for six weeks.

                TRACK LISTING

                The Reunion
                Something New
                Magpie Eyes
                Whyteleafe
                Dive
                Church Pew Furniture Restorer
                Take It All In
                Popmaster
                Underneath The Apple Tree
                Out Of My Mind
                After Hebden
                Breakneck Hill
                Heather
                Sports Report
                Train Drivers In Eyeliner
                Unopened Fan Mail
                What Kind Of World
                Sweet Arcadia
                Angel Of Woodhatch

                Saint Etienne

                Foxbase Alpha - Box Set

                  It’s hard to believe that Saint Etienne’s debut album ‘Foxbase Alpha’ turns 25 this year but the good news is that it still sounds as fresh, vibrant and relevant as the day it was released. Often hailed as one of the most important DIY albums of all time, ‘Foxbase Alpha’ became the first long player released on fledgling Heavenly Recordings in 1991 and went on to be nominated alongside ‘Screamadelica’ in the first ever Mercury Music Prize in 1992.

                  This special edition triple vinyl box set includes the original album cut over two discs at 45rpm plus a bonus album (at 33rpm) of associated recordings from the era, most of which appear on vinyl for the first time.

                  A one sided 7” single featuring a previously unreleased demo of Moria Lambert (vocalist for ‘Only Love Can Break Your Heart’) singing over a radically different version of ‘Kiss And Make Up’, plus a 32 page book and assorted inserts - including band photos, original press releases, Foxbase trading cards and a digital download code - complete the package.

                  The band kicked 25th anniversary proceedings off with three sold out shows where they performed the album in its entirety followed by a short set of career highlights. The shows were at London’s Heaven - scene of the first ever Saint Etienne show back in 1991 - and the Rockaway Beach Festival in Bognor Regis.

                  TRACK LISTING

                  LP1
                  This Is Radio Etienne
                  Only Love Can Break Your Heart
                  Wilson
                  Carnt Sleep
                  Girl VII
                  Spring
                  She’s The One

                  LP2
                  Stoned To Say The Least
                  Nothing Can Stop Us
                  Etienne Gonna Die
                  London Belongs To Me
                  Like The Swallow
                  Dilworth's Theme

                  LP3
                  Kiss And Make Up
                  Filthy
                  Chase HQ
                  Sally Space
                  Sweet Pea
                  The Reckoning
                  People Get Real
                  Winter In America
                  Speedwell
                  Fake 88

                  7”
                  Kiss And Make Up (Demo)

                  Saint Etienne

                  Sound Of Water - Deluxe Edition

                    "Sound Of Water" was Saint Etienne's fifth studio album, released in 2000. The album marked a shift in direction for the band from the polished, intelligent, perfect pop to an more experimental, ambient sound. A change of producer to the High Llamas' Sean O'Hagan and Berlin based 'post-rock' trio To Rocco Rot yielded a different but still as highly regarded album featuring the epic single "How We Used To Live" and classics "Heart Failed In The Back Of A Taxi" and "Boy Is Crying".
                    For the Deluxe Edition, the album has been completely remastered and expanded to a second disc of 17 bonus tracks of rarities, b-sides and unreleased tracks. The luxurious packaging includes a 24 page booklet featuring extensive sleevenotes.



                    TRACK LISTING

                    Disc 1
                    Late Morning
                    Heart Failed (In The Back Of A Taxi)
                    Sycamore
                    Don't Back Down
                    Just A Little Overcome
                    Boy Is Crying
                    Aspects Of Lambert
                    Downey CA.
                    How We Used To Live
                    The Place At Dawn

                    Disc 2
                    Roseneck
                    Northwestern
                    Red Setter
                    Blofeld Buildings
                    Bar Conscience
                    Shoot Out The Lights
                    Thank You
                    Chaos At The Gym
                    Tony Jacket
                    Garage For Gunther
                    Ivyhouse
                    52 Pilot
                    We're In The City
                    Artieripp
                    Sadie's Anniversary
                    Half Timbered
                    Empty Shop


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