Foxbase Alpha is the debut studio album by English band Saint Etienne, released on 16 September 1991 by Heavenly Recordings.[13]

Foxbase Alpha
Studio album by
Released16 September 1991 (1991-09-16)
Recorded1990–1991
StudioCat Music (London)
Genre
Length48:27
LabelHeavenly
ProducerSaint Etienne
Saint Etienne chronology
Foxbase Alpha
(1991)
So Tough
(1993)
Singles from Foxbase Alpha
  1. "Only Love Can Break Your Heart"
    Released: May 1990
  2. "Kiss and Make Up"
    Released: September 1990
  3. "Nothing Can Stop Us"
    Released: May 1991
  4. "Only Love Can Break Your Heart (reissue)"
    Released: August 1991
Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic[3]
Robert Christgau(dud)[4]
Entertainment WeeklyB+[5]
The Guardian[6]
The Irish Times[7]
Mojo[8]
The Observer[9]
Pitchfork8.7/10[1]
Q[10]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide[11]
Select4/5[12]

The album was recorded in a style which drew on the club culture and house music of the time, but also incorporates the group's characteristic love of 1960s pop, with tracks also bridged by samples from films or by short songs. At the time of recording, Sarah Cracknell was not fully part of the group, and as a result she does not sing on "Only Love Can Break Your Heart", which is sung by Moira Lambert.

Foxbase Alpha was on the short list of nominees for the 1992 Mercury Prize. It was accompanied by several successful singles, including "Nothing Can Stop Us". The album was also included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[14]

Songs edit

The album includes one of the group's best-known songs: a cover of Neil Young's "Only Love Can Break Your Heart". The cover quite differs from the original in that the original's mostly major chord progression is turned here into mostly minor, which emphasises a more melancholic feel. It is also arranged in 4/4 (as opposed to the original's waltz time), with a driving piano-bass-drum section. Andrew Weatherall later remixed the song to further emphasise the dub bassline; this remix was featured on both releases of the single and on the compilation Casino Classics (on American and European versions of the single, a Flowered Up remix is erroneously featured instead of the Andrew Weatherall mix). The follow-up single "Kiss and Make Up" was also a cover version, of a song written and originally recorded by The Field Mice. Ian Catt was the engineer/co-producer on both versions.

"Carnt Sleep" is based on the Youthman riddim, a backing track that reggae producer Glen Brown has used on dozens of records since the late 1970s. "Wilson" is based on a loop of the intro to Wilson Pickett's version of "Hey Jude" and spoken samples from a decimalisation training record.[15] "Nothing Can Stop Us", one of the group's most famous singles, features a very prominent sample of Dusty Springfield's track, "I Can't Wait Until I See My Baby's Face" (from her 1967 album Where Am I Going?). Saint Etienne later recorded a version of "Nothing Can Stop Us" with vocals by Kylie Minogue.

The dialogue heard in the track "Etienne Gonna Die" is from the movie House of Games.

Saint Etienne members have named OMD's Dazzle Ships as a prominent influence on the album.[16]

Artwork edit

The young woman on the cover of Foxbase Alpha, Celina Nash, was a member of the group Golden alongside Lucy Gillie and Candida Richardson; they released two singles ("Anglo American"/"Don't Destroy Me" in 1992, and "Wishful Thinking", written by Jarvis Cocker, in 1993) on Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs's Icerink Records label.[17][18][19] Nash also appears in Saint Etienne's 1993 album So Tough; she is the waitress who can be heard on "Chicken Soup". She is also in the video for the Pulp song "Babies".[17]

Releases edit

US edition edit

The US version of the album, released in January 1992, adds two bonus tracks: a new version of "Kiss and Make Up", rerecorded with Cracknell, and a unique version of "People Get Real", which was released as a double 'A' side single with "Join Our Club" later the same year.

2009 Deluxe Edition edit

The album was re-released in May 2009 as part of the Universal Music Deluxe Edition re-issue program. The album has been remastered, and is accompanied by a second disc featuring B-sides, mixes and five previously unreleased tracks. The CD booklet features new sleeve notes by Jon Savage and Tom Ewing, images and memorabilia.

Also released was a boxed-set version, which was limited to 1000 copies. In addition to the two CDs this package also included a 6" Subbuteo figure and a replica Foxbase Alpha poster, as well as a set of four badges.[20]

Foxbase Beta edit

In 2009, Foxbase Alpha was 're-produced' and remixed from the original multi-tracks by Richard X. This new version was called Foxbase Beta, and formed the basis of much of what was played during the band's May 2009 tour, which saw Foxbase Alpha played live in its entirety for the first time. Foxbase Beta was packaged with an additional CD titled Foxbase Extra, featuring a commentary on the album by Bob Stanley, Pete Wiggs and Richard X, and additional out-takes. A single disc version was sold at their 2009 shows and through Rough Trade Records in London.

25th Anniversary Edition edit

Available for pre-order in 2016, the 25th Anniversary Edition shipped in 2017. The set included the original album pressed on two 12" vinyl records, a second 12" vinyl record entitled Remains of the Day with additional tracks not previously available on vinyl, and a 7" single of Kiss and Make Up, featuring vocals by Moira Lambert. In addition to this, the special edition included a 12"x12" book, download code for the entire album in MP3 format, as well as reproductions of promotional material from the original release.

Track listing edit

1991 releases edit

All tracks are written by Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs; except where noted

CD, LP, Cassette: Heavenly HVNLP1CD (UK and Europe)
No.TitleWriter(s)Length
1."This Is Radio Etienne" 0:42
2."Only Love Can Break Your Heart"Neil Young4:29
3."Wilson" 1:59
4."Carnt Sleep" 4:43
5."Girl VII" 3:46
6."Spring" 3:43
7."She's the One" 3:09
8."Stoned to Say the Least" 7:42
9."Nothing Can Stop Us" 4:21
10."Etienne Gonna Die" 1:32
11."London Belongs to Me" 3:57
12."Like the Swallow" 7:41
13."Dilworth's Theme" 0:38
CD: Warner Bros. 26793 (US)
No.TitleWriter(s)Length
1."This Is Radio Etienne" 0:42
2."Only Love Can Break Your Heart"Neil Young4:29
3."Wilson" 1:59
4."Carnt Sleep" 4:43
5."Girl VII" 3:46
6."Spring" 3:43
7."She's the One" 3:09
8."People Get Real" 4:44
9."Stoned to Say the Least" 7:42
10."Nothing Can Stop Us" 4:21
11."Etienne Gonna Die" 1:32
12."London Belongs to Me" 3:57
13."Kiss and Make Up" (Sarah Cracknell version)Robert Wratten, Michael Hiscock5:14
14."Like the Swallow" 7:41
15."Dilworth's Theme" 0:38

2009 release edit

CD: Heavenly HVNLP1CDDE – Disc one (same as CD: Heavenly HVNLP1CD)
No.TitleWriter(s)Length
1."This Is Radio Etienne" 0:42
2."Only Love Can Break Your Heart"Young4:29
3."Wilson" 1:59
4."Carnt Sleep" 4:43
5."Girl VII" 3:46
6."Spring" 3:43
7."She's the One" 3:09
8."Stoned to Say the Least" 7:42
9."Nothing Can Stop Us" 4:21
10."Etienne Gonna Die" 1:32
11."London Belongs to Me" 3:57
12."Like the Swallow" 7:41
13."Dilworth's Theme" 0:38
CD: Heavenly HVNLP1CDDE – Disc two
No.TitleWriter(s)Length
1."Kiss and Make Up" (extended version)Wratten, Hiscock6:19
2."Filthy"Stanley, Wiggs, Mais5:33
3."Chase HQ" 3:30
4."Sally Space" 5:02
5."The Reckoning" 1:28
6."Speedwell" 6:31
7."Parliament Hill" 2:35
8."People Get Real" 4:43
9."Sweet Pea" 4:46
10."Winter in America" 5:53
11."Fake 88" 5:02
12."Studio Kinda Filthy"Stanley, Wiggs, Mais4:57
13."Kiss and Make Up" (Sarah Cracknell Version)Wratten, Hiscock5:13
14."Sky's Dead" 7:26

Personnel edit

The liner notes list the album's personnel as follows:

  • Saint Etienne – producer
  • Ian Catt – engineer (at Catt Music, Mitcham)
  • Sarah Cracknell – vocals
  • Bob StanleyRoland Jupiter 4, Korg M1, tambourine
  • Pete WiggsSCI Prophet 5, Emax sampler, bongos
  • Ian Catt – guitars, keyboard programming
  • Moira Lambert – vocals on "Only Love Can Break Your Heart"
  • Harvey Williams – bass guitar on "Only Love Can Break Your Heart"
  • Pete Heller – additional programming on "Kiss and Make Up"
  • Bo Savage, Gazareth Sweeney, Uncle Vibes, Billy Nasty – The Inspirational Choir
  • Jeff Barrett – press
  • Alan McGee – management
  • Joe Dilworth – photography
  • Anthony Sweeney – sleeve design
  • Paul the Tailor – suits
  • Andrew Wickham – spin bowler
  • Jerry Jaffe – American psyche
  • Kate Askey – long leg
  • Martin Kelly – the cage
  • Celina Nash – girl with sign
  • John Savage – liner notes

B-sides edit

Charts edit

Chart performance for Foxbase Alpha
Chart (1991) Peak
position
UK Albums (OCC)[21] 34
UK Independent Albums (OCC)[22] 2

References edit

  1. ^ a b Harvell, Jess (19 June 2009). "Saint Etienne: Foxbase Alpha". Pitchfork. Retrieved 24 July 2016.
  2. ^ Nina Corcoran (27 October 2022). "The 25 Best Indie Pop Albums of the '90s". Pitchfork.
  3. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Foxbase Alpha – Saint Etienne". AllMusic. Retrieved 24 July 2016.
  4. ^ Christgau, Robert. "Robert Christgau: CG: Saint Etienne". robertchristgau.com. Retrieved 7 January 2023.
  5. ^ Wyman, Bill (14 February 1992). "Foxbase Alpha". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 24 July 2016.
  6. ^ Petridis, Alexis (6 November 2009). "Saint Etienne: Fox Base Beta". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 July 2016.
  7. ^ Carroll, Jim (28 December 2016). "Saint Etienne – Foxbase Alpha album review: Still brilliant 25 years on". The Irish Times. Retrieved 22 February 2017.
  8. ^ Tyler, Kieron (January 2017). "Saint Etienne: Fox Base Alpha". Mojo. No. 278. p. 113.
  9. ^ Lynskey, Dorian (17 May 2009). "Pop review: St Etienne, Foxbase Alpha: Deluxe Edition". The Observer. Retrieved 22 February 2017.
  10. ^ "Saint Etienne: Foxbase Alpha". Q. p. 139. Fusing '60s girl group pop with cut-ups and samples, their records reimagined Burt Bacharach as a house producer.
  11. ^ Berger, Arion (2004). "Saint Etienne". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. pp. 713–14. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  12. ^ Maier, Dan (November 1991). "St Etienne: Foxbase Alpha". Select. No. 17. p. 78.
  13. ^ Richards, Sam (16 September 2016). "Was September 1991 the best month ever for albums?". BBC Music. Retrieved 18 September 2016.
  14. ^ Stanley, Rod (2006). "Saint Etienne: Foxbase Alpha". In Dimery, Robert (ed.). 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. Universe Publishing. p. 668. ISBN 978-0-7893-1371-3.
  15. ^ VintageLynx (28 August 2017), Decimal Currency Training Package - 1971 - 7" record, archived from the original on 21 December 2021, retrieved 20 September 2017
  16. ^ Ware, Gareth (4 March 2013). "OMD: Of All The Thing We've Made: 'Dazzle Ships' At 30". DIY. Archived from the original on 26 January 2016. Retrieved 21 May 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  17. ^ a b "Golden". Saint Etienne Disco. Retrieved 15 August 2022.
  18. ^ "Celina Nash | Discography | Discogs". Discogs.
  19. ^ "Golden – Anglo American – Into the Popvoid". 20 April 2015.
  20. ^ "Saint Etienne Foxbase Alpha Deluxe Subbuteo Edition Heavenly". Retrieved 12 December 2010.[permanent dead link]
  21. ^ "Official Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 10 February 2022.
  22. ^ "Distribution: Indie Albums" (PDF). Music Week. 2 November 1991. p. 22. ISSN 0265-1548 – via World Radio History.