Monday, September 21, 2009

Saint Etienne. Fox Base Alpha (1991/2009).

While the Beatles are getting a great deal of attention for the reissue of their remastered recordings, Saint Etienne is also in the process of re-releasing their entire recorded output with additional discs of supplementary material, starting with their first CD, Fox Base Alpha.

One can only imagine artists such as Springsteen or Dylan receiving such special treatment in the States. Saint Etienne's fans are often completists, so the band will most likely have no problem selling scads of these repackaged gems. Despite the seeming homogeneity of pop music worldwide, Saint Etienne is recognized in the UK as a marvelous and sublime entity, while being only a rare delicacy around these parts. But true fans anywhere are inspired to an almost religious level of unconditional devotion. Lucky folks in the UK are being treated to
concerts during which they will perform the entire Fox Base Alpha record.

While the trio produces their own dance-pop masterpieces, they have occasionally covered other tunes, most notoriously, Neil Young's "Only Love Can Break Your Heart." Here's a live performance on Top Of The Pops of a hit single originally recorded in the 70's by Jigsaw. Anything Saint Etienne touches they make their own, so it ends up sounding like something they would have written anyway.

Who Do You Think You Are:

One of the (many) things I appreciate about Saint Etienne is how they maintain a profound level of chic while being kind of surreal and whimsical. And they've never been too cool to be a little silly. The royal getup that Pete is wearing during this performance is the same costume he wore in the official video
(unavailable on YouTube), in which he portrays a king with Elvis glasses. A very recent and fascinating interview with Bob Stanley is here, if you're interested in his thoughts on the history of pop music.

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