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 Saint Etienne - London Conversations: The Best of Saint Etienne
 

From the euphoric beat of "London Belongs To Me" to the gritty "Side Streets" and the futurism of "This Is Tomorrow", the trio of Bob Stanley, Pete Wiggs and Sarah Cracknell have tracked in words, music, film and distilled emotion the moods and the changes of London. Pulling together 35 songs from an eighteen year-old odyssey across several different record labels, "London Conversations" travels from blissful baggy ecstasy through breakbeat Rap ("Filthy"), proto-Britpop and early folk-tronica to a dalliance with the brilliant 21st century pop machine, Xenomania and beyond.
 
Press Release
 
London can offer untold personal and material riches. It's a place of transformation, a magnet for people all over these islands and the wider world, its a place of extremes, heaven and hell, love and poison - you can switch from top of the world within an instant. For many people, London life is a series of negotiations, a round of small pleasures set against harsh conditions where the huge, sprawling behemoth is cut down to size by habit and necessity into a series of villages, personalised pathways through the dangers and temptations of the big black smoke. This is the territory that Saint Etienne have obsessively mapped since the early 1990's. From the euphoric beat of "London Belongs To Me" to the gritty determination of "Side Streets" and the hopeful futurism of "This Is Tomorrow", the trio of Bob Stanley, Pete Wiggs and Sarah Cracknell have tracked - in words, music, film and distilled emotion - the moods and the changes of the capital. Pulling together 35 songs from an eighteen year-old odyssey across several different record labels, "London Conversations" travels from blissful baggy ecstasy through breakbeat Rap ("Filthy"), proto-Britpop and early folk-tronica to a dalliance with the brilliant 21st century pop machine, Xenomania and beyond. This is the secret history of the city that they love.
 
Biography
 
Croydon schoolmates Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs came up with an idea of a perfect pop group, named after the glamorous French football team. By the time that the duo came to make the move from concept to actuality, the technology favoured them, covering "Only Love Can Break Your Heart" with Moira Lambert as guest vocalist. "Only Love Can Break Your Heart" had an impact beyond its immediate sales - although it did make the top 40 when re-released a year or so later. But the band really clicked when Sarah Cracknell joined for the third single.

The first fruit of this collaboration was the popular "Nothing Can Stop Us" in early 1991. This was a busy year for Saint Etienne with the highpoint being the release of their first album,"Foxbase Alpha" which went top 40. The second album, "So Tough" was 'the soundtrack to an imaginary movie' with found sound and snippets from the soundtracks of "Peeping Tom" "That'll Be The Day" and "Lord Of The Flies". "So Tough" included three top 40 hits - including "Hobart Paving" and "Who Do You Think You Are" (with Debsey Wykes, and a title later appropriated by the Spice Girls) − and reached number 7 in the album charts. 1994's "Tiger Bay" went top ten. It included three top 50 hits, all of which are included here. From their next album "Good Humour", the first single, "Sylvie", was another slice of teenage melodrama with an echo of "I Saw Her Standing There". "Good Humor" convincingly repositioned the group - it went top 20 in late 1998 and became their biggest seller in the US.

Saint Etienne then returned to the source for their next project, "Finisterre". This presented a view of the city that, although realistic, was explicitly hopeful: 'I love the feeling of being slightly lost, to find new spaces, new routes, and new areas'. This mood continued on Saint Etienne's next record, 2005's "Tales From Turnpike House".

By this time, the group had signed to Sanctuary. The idea was to represent 'a microcosm of London. Lots of our songs had been about London and we decided to stop being indirect and make the city the theme of an album that hung together properly'. "London Conversations" finishes with the brand-new "This Is Tomorrow": hard-won optimism in a fizzing electro setting. It's the title theme to the most recent Saint Etienne movie about the Royal Festival Hall and the 1951 Festival of Britain exhibition − an optimistic projection into a future that never quite happened, even though it continues to thrive as a cultural zone.
 
 
 
Saint Etienne
London Conversations: The Best of Saint Etienne
Universal Music
Download available: 16th February 2009
CD released: 16th February 2009
 
Sample Album Tracks (not in order)
Burnt Out Car
Only Love Can Break Your Heart
Who Do You Think You Are
Sylvie
Hes On The Phone
Youre In A Bad Way
Hobart Paving
 
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