The One Word Countdown – #32

Pass me the suitcase baby….

Avenue – Saint Etienne (1992, Heavenly Records, Taken from ‘So Tough’)

Points 113

“Are we scoring the album version of ‘Avenue’ or the radio edit because they are two very different songs – my score is based solely on the album version”

Jury Member 7 has a point, the album version of ‘Avenue’ is 7 minutes in length and the radio edit is some three minutes shorter and they are quite different.  But he is also right, because the album version is the definitive version.  The ‘So Tough’ version of ‘Avenue’ is wonderfully elegant, full of sumptuous “ooohs” and regal sounding harpsichord solos, and wistfully distant sounding vocals.  It is based around several lengthy instrumental bits, all of which are wrapped around Sarah Cracknell’s wonderful vocals that nostalgically reminisce about some long lost relationship (with a male called Maurice who seemingly smells of lemons) as a chorus of “Young Heart” chimes away beautifully. 

The radio edit clocks in at just under four minutes and very much just focuses on the vocal with some of the instrumental bits hacked off and whilst its still great, you lose quite lot of ambition shown in the album version, so there is no real competition.

There was one other Saint Etienne track that was under consideration

Speedwell – Saint Etienne (1991, Heavenly Records, Taken from ‘Casino Classics’) – although the best version is on the 12” of ‘Nothing Can Stop Us

A few years after the release of ‘So Tough’, Saint Etienne released an album of remixes, called ‘Casino Classics’, that included a remix of ‘Avenue’ by a chap called Gordon King.

Avenue (Gordon King Mix) – Saint Etienne (1996, Heavenly Records, Taken from ‘Casino Classics’)

Gordon King was for those of who need to know these things used to be the vocalist in a band called World of Twist.  World of Twist were one of those bands that never quite achieved success, despite seemingly being an big influence on Oasis (who famously were going to be named after a World of Twist song ‘Sons of the Stage’ until they became Rain (and then Oasis)).  King later went on to form the excellent Earl Brutus, who again bubbled under the radar of most people and now he is in a band called Quatermass III, who are worth ten minutes of your time.

Sons of the Stage – World of Twist (1991, Circa Records, Taken from ‘Quality Street’)

Super Star – Quatermass III (can’t find the dates or label)

Bands with a city in their name #4

Hobart Paving – Saint Etienne (1993, Heavenly Records, Taken from ‘So Tough’)

It was inside a small shop on a campsite in the tourist village of Wissant, France, that a 16 year old me realised that, despite being taught the language for five years, when it came to the crunch I couldn’t actually speak French at all. Around six weeks earlier, I had taken my French GCSE exam, which folks included a bit where you had to have a conversation with the teacher, in bloody French.

The problem was that the three chaps I was with spoke even less French than I did and the shopkeeper thought we were stealing his biscuits. It turns out that French people don’t speak really slowly about driving a Citroen to La Rochelle, they talk really fast about phoning the police and point angrily at large sticks kept behind the counter when you accidentally insult their wife.

Of course it was a misunderstanding, I had already paid for the biscuits, I just didn’t know how to say that. His wife served me about ten minutes earlier, “Ton Femme, Monsieur m’a appris” I kept telling him over and over again. Apparently his wife wasn’t a teacher and I was “Une Brule”. Something which I could only be offended by a hour later when I looked it up in the French Dictionary that I had stupidly left inside the tent.

Saint Etienne are an indie dance band from Croydon, that are named after a French football team (but also a city). ‘Hobart Paving is taken from their second album the excellent ‘So Tough’. Hobart is also the capital city of Tasmania (or Tazzy, as every single Australian I have ever met calls it) so we have double city bubble this week.

‘Hobart Paving’ was a top 30 hit when it was released in 1993, it was backed with a cover of the Jigsaw classic ‘Who Do You Think You Are’. Which is also brilliant.

Who Do You Think You Are – Saint Etienne (1993, Heavenly Records, Taken from ‘So Tough’)