Well, I had another LP of the Week in mind as per my last post, but it is not exactly the best weekend music, so I will save it for next week.
So instead, the All Saints eponymous debut.
If the Spice Girls never happened, who knows how the All Saints career would have ended up. This is just my speculation, as their origins date back before the Spice Girls, even though their first album came out after the Spice Girls debut Spice. Even though the two groups are practically worlds apart, the Spice Girls perhaps prepared the world for the girl group once again. And no doubt the Spice Girls have sold more records, and do not get me wrong, I am a fan, however as a whole, I think All Saints have the stronger discography. They both have three albums to their name, but perhaps the All Saints hiatus after Saints & Sinners was a good one, as they then released the very solid Studio 1 in 2006. Whereas the Spice Girls had the turmoil of Geri Halliwell leaving and the likely rushed release of their last album. This resulted in the weak final effort that is Forever, barring any Backstreet Boys style comeback. I cannot see that happening, especially after their reunion tour a couple of years back.
Of course I mentioned how the All Saints are what would almost amount to being worlds apart from the Spice Girls. The Spice Girls being more teen pop orientated, while the All Saints are urban pop/R&B.
All Saints, is a fairly solid release. All the singles aside, some of the tracks are a little weak, mostly on the songwriting side, production is for the most part decent. These albums cuts could be qualified as ‘filler’ if you will. Songs that are okay, but not exactly groundbreaking, or even great. “Trapped” being an example. “Heaven” is a decent non single. Speaking of songwriting, Shaznay Lewis has a songwriting credit on most tracks, while the Appleton sisters and Melanie Blatt have a couple of credits. The group, along with Magnus Fiennes and Cameron McVey penned the aforementioned “Heaven”. The Appleton’s released an album (Everything’s Eventual)during the All Saints hiatus under the moniker Appleton in February 2003, which I have been meaning to listen to again. Shaznay Lewis also released her own solo album, Open, in July, 2004. Her album being very good, for the most part leaving the urban aspect out if I recall correctly, another one I have to listen to again, but that is a future LP of the week!
Where the album shines however is really the singles (“I Know Where It’s At”, “Never Ever”, “Under the Bridge”, “Lady Marmalade”, “Bootie Call”, and “War of Nerves”). To be honest though I just started playing the album again for the first time in a long time just a few days ago. So some of the tracks that were not singles could grow on me more. For instance “Beg” is not too bad. Although a single, it is not familiar to me as a single, the slow jam qualities of “War of Nerves” makes or a good slower track.
Until I just looked at the liner notes, as I Tweeted earlier today, I did not know “I Know Where It’s At” sampled Steely Dan’s “The Fez” (from 1976). A very nicely done sample, as to me I recognise that as the start of the first All Saints song I ever heard and saw (I chose it as a Music Video of the Day pick back on All Saints day!). Probably my all time favourite All Saints track. On it Shaznay Lewis shows she can spit (rap) a verse if required.
The two covers on the album, “Under the Bridge”, and “Lady Marmalade”, released as a double single are both quite good. The Red Hot Chili Peppers cover staying true to the original, while adding their personal touch, and omitting the “Under the bridge downtown, is where I drew some blood”! And I will take their version of “Lady Marmalade” over the Moulin Rouge cover with Christina Aguilera, Pink, Mya, and Lil Kim.
The All-Star Mix of “Never Ever” could have been omitted in favour of another track, or just left out period.
Finally, “Bootie Call” really shines as a very nice urban R&B/pop track, almost anthemic even in certain regards. And the video (which follows) is very easy on the eyes!
All in all, a solid effort, and no doubt influenced artists and groups to come, whether consciously or subconsciously.
More of their music videos from All Saints:
“I Know Where It’s At”
“Never Ever” and the American version.
“Under the Bridge”
“War of Nerves”
“Let’s Get Started” originally by All Saints 220.127.116.11, and re-recorded for the album as “If You Wanna Party (I Found Lovin’)”
And going back into their history as All Saints 18.104.22.168 before the Appleton’s joined and replaced Simone Rainford, “Silver Shadow”. It still has the old school late 80s early 90s R&B style going, and Simone Rainford is on main vocal duties.