About Saint Etienne
Saint Etienne are an English band from London, formed in 1990. The band consists of Sarah Cracknell, Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs. They became associated with the UK's indie dance scene in the 1990s, beginning with the release of their debut album Foxbase Alpha in 1991. Their work has been described as uniting 1990s club culture with 1960s pop and other disparate influences. The name of the band comes from the French football club of AS Saint-Étienne.
Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs were childhood friends and former music journalists, who once had a fanzine called Caff which had developed into a record label by 1989. They originally planned that Saint Etienne would use a variety of different lead singers, and their 1991 debut album, Foxbase Alpha – influenced by sources such as club culture, 1960s pop, and Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark's Dazzle Ships – features several vocalists, including Moira Lambert and Donna Savage. However, after working with Sarah Cracknell on "Nothing Can Stop Us", they decided to make her the permanent vocalist, and Cracknell has written or co-written many of the band's songs.
Saint Etienne were associated with the "indie dance" genre in the early 1990s. Their typical approach was to combine sonic elements of the dance-pop that emerged in the wake of the so-called Second Summer of Love with an emphasis on songwriting involving romantic and introspective themes more commonly associated with traditional British pop and rock music. Early work demonstrated the influence of 1960s soul, 1970s dub and rock as well as 1980s dance music, giving them a broad palette of sounds and a reputation for eclecticism. Years later, The Times wrote that they "deftly fused the grooviness of Swinging Sixties London with a post-acid house backbeat". Their first two albums, Foxbase Alpha and So Tough, feature sounds chiefly associated with house music, such as standard TR-909 drum patterns and Italo house piano riffs mixed with original sounds, notable by the use of found dialogue, sampled from 1960s British realist cinema.
In 1991, the band also released two singles, "7 Ways to Love" and "He Is Cola", under the name Cola Boy with different singers ; their explanation for publishing under a nom de plume is that the tracks were "too cheesy for Saint Etienne. We'd have been finished overnight". The band would later produce an updated electro-house version of "7 Ways to Love" for Japanese singer Nokko for her 1993 album "I Will Catch U" , in which she added lyrics to the song in both Japanese and English.
During the early 1990s the group enjoyed extensive coverage in UK music weekly papers NME and Melody Maker and gained a reputation as purveyors of "pure pop" in the period immediately prior to the Brit-Pop explosion. So Tough reached No. 7 in the UK Albums Chart. Their most popular singles of this period were "You're in a Bad Way" and "Join Our Club" .
Tiger Bay represented a change of direction: the entire album was inspired by folk music, combined with modern electronica. Although the album reached No. 8 in the UK Albums Chart, the singles performed disappointingly, with "Pale Movie", "Like a Motorway" and "Hug My Soul" reaching No. 28, No. 47 and No. 32 in the UK Singles Chart. In a 2009 interview, Bob Stanley said that in retrospect the band "got ahead of ourselves a bit" by releasing such an uncommercial album, which "definitely could have done with a couple more obvious songs".
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