"Too young to die" is an inspirational collection showcasing all of Saint Etienne's output whilst signed to the Heavenly imprint. An utter joy from beginning to end, the album opens with the heartrending balearic classic "Only love can break your heart". Amazingly, this pioneering track was produced way back in 1990 yet hardly shows its age at all. Featuring vocals by Moira Lambert, it was Andrew Weatherall's epic 'a mix of two halves' which propelled this pop/dance/ambient hybrid into the public consciousness. Next up is the equally magical "Kiss and make up". Featuring a different vocalist this time, "Kiss and make up" perfectly encapsulates the evolving britpop sound of the early '90s, in fact it doesn't sound too dissimilar to those other early '90s pseudo electronic innovators One Dove, helmed by Andrew Weatherall and the enduring Dot Allison. The third track to be featured on the album is the distinctly more poppy "Nothing can stop us", which reaks of '90s nostalgia and does sound a tad dated in comparison to the previous two classic tracks. The stratosphere-cruising "Join our club" is up next, a genre straddling affair which walks a fine line between dance music and pop-indie. Unfortunately "Join our club" sounds a tad dated now, but let us not forget that it was actually produced in 1991 and sounded and indeed was hugely innovative for that era. "People get real" and "Avenue" are the fifth and sixth tracks on the album respectively, the latter a more downtempo and moody affair, the former harking back to the days of "Only love can break your heart", St. Et's debut production. The classic "You're in bad way" is up next and remains a delight thirteen years after its release. Having lost none of its originality and charm whatsoever, the dangerously infectious "You're in a bad way" was one of Saint Etienne's biggest chart hits to date. "Who do you think you are", track eight, capitalised on the success of "You're in a bad way" and is another fast paced, feelgood track to which Sarah Cracknell's distinctive vocals are entirely suited. Track 9, "Hobart paving" is a sublime, introspective affair which really pulls on the heartstrings. Almost balladic in feel, "Hobart paving" is one of the highlights of Saint Etienne's extensive back catalogue and really demonstrates their chameleonic quality. "I was born on Christmas day" is one of the best and most underrated festive numbers ever. A duet between Cracknell and Tim Burgess of the Charlatans, this was released as part of an EP entitled "Xmas 1993" and hasn't aged a day over a decade since its release. 1994 saw Saint Etienne embracing their true electronic potential, the outcome of which in the first instance was the euphoric trancelite number "Pale movie". A soaring slab of uplifting electronica, "Pale movie" again demonstrated Saint Etienne's uniquely ability to cruise from genre from genre with little discernable effort. Quite simply a stunning aural affair. "Like a motorway" is a plaintive, understated brooding number which again sees Saint Etienne immerse themselves firmly in the dance music arena. This is one of the highlights of the album, but the remixes of "Like a motorway" failed to do it justice. It's a shame that this is one of the least known Saint Etienne compositions. The joyously upbeat "Hug my soul" is the penultimate track on the album and sees St Et again perfectly encapsulating their simply unclassifiable sound. "He's on the phone" was the last Saint Etienne track to be released on Heavenly. Issued in late 1995, it was produced by dance outfit Motiv 8 aka Steve Rodway, who was earlier commissioned to retweak "Hug my soul". An unashamedly cheesy yet unabashedly uplifting experience, "He's on the phone" gave new definition to the term euphoric and perhaps shows that after all their genre-hopping, Saint Etienne felt more comfortable embracing the electronic sound of the day. Unfortunately the release of "He's on the phone" heralded something of a hiatus for Saint Etienne, who would not be back in the public eye until 1998's "Sylvie". This album however hasn't aged a day and is an absolutely joy to listen to, showcasing the immense talent of Saint Etienne, one of the most enduring and talented British acts ever.
I bought this record on the strength of one of my friends' recommendations. I knew nothing about the band. It is a great, great collection of songs. The above two reviewers are completely correct- there is a very successful blend of styles here. The members of St Etienne know how to create songs- this is a rare skill but these guys have got it by the shed load. There is real craft in there. The really marvellous melodies are perfect for the girl's (great) voice. The surprise is that this is a "collection" because these songs really fit together. The end product is almost like a film score.
I am listening to it now ..... "I heard you drove the silvery sports car .......".
Saint Etienne defined the '90s. From the sublime (Only Love can Break Your Heart), to the ridiculous (I was born on Christmas day), this was a group that epitomised the decade's cuckoo attitude to preceding decades, mixing '50s cool, carefree '60s, hedonistic '70s, '80s naff, and '90s beats in a brew of heady ... something or other; it wasn't pop, but it appealed to teenies; it wasn't indie- it was too stylish; it wasn't House- it was more substantial; it wasn't rock- it had synthesisers. It was, however, unique. Join Our Club became their, our, song; we got it , and no-one else did. You're In a bad Way, two/three years before the advent of Britpop, slammed doleful grunge and slothful indie; it was, dammit, fun.
Hard to believe, but once upon a time Sarah Cracknell was girlfriend of Lawrence from Felt. She even features doing backing vocals on 'Forever breathes the lonely word'. St Etienne took the cool indie from the 80s - felt, fieldmice (who they covered of course), cocteau twins, primitives, the sundays - and added a bit of 70s kitsch and some synths and created a sound and a coolness all of their own.
I bought this on a whim, and was amazed that I remembered so many of their songs (having never bought an album before) but more than that just how bloody brilliant they were (are), it is simply infectious. It has been on constant play as I sit working.
So anyone with a hankering for a good song, a lovely voice and gentle melodious rhythms - you need this.
I am baffled how I have missed Saint Etienne over the years what with the quality of their music and the blond girl singer but somehow they managed to get past me. I had the good fortune to discover them recently when I rented the very decent Words And Music from the library. I intend to buy that album but whilst I am waiting I thought a good progression would be to buy this compilation of 90's singles while certainly looked well worth a punt. It is indeed a nice walk in the park and contains several top quality songs and nothing really likely to be skipped over. The highlight for me is the sublime 'Avenue', but like I say plenty of good stuff on here. So easy for bands to get missed these days with seemingly millions of them vying for attention and Saint Etienne are well worth checking out. The only reason I have not given this album a five star rating is because of my suspicions that this CD was not actually new.