Saint Etienne – Continental

Continental isn’t a real album. Not in the sense that anyone thought of it as a studio album when it came out, anyway. Initially released two decades ago this week, but only in Japan, this follow-up to Tiger Bay (1994) compiles highlights from the singles, compilations, and other bits and bobs that appeared during the group’s first wilderness period. But then in 2009, it got a surprise inclusion in Saint Etienne‘s series of deluxe edition albums, so now we get to enjoy it as a real album after all.

It opens with the lovely Shad Thames, a bright and chirpy synth instrumental which hadn’t appeared anywhere prior to this point. If you only know them for their pure pop songs, it might come as a surprise to know that Saint Etienne have a great line in quirky instrumental, sample-based, and also long tracks. It’s a perfect opening track.

Burnt Out Car is next, a fantastic song, and in common with the timeless nature of this album, it did eventually appear as a single, but not until the end of 2009, when it heralded the London Conversations compilation. Here, it’s in its original form which first appeared in 1996 on the Casino Classics collection, mixed by Balearico.

Sometimes in Winter follows, another track that appeared in remixed form on Casino Classics, although this time we get Saint Etienne‘s original take. It’s a sweet slice of 1960s-style pop – the kind of thing the group have a justifiable reputation for being very good at. Then comes Winter Melody, kind of a continuation of the previous track, as it takes elements of Psychonauts‘ remix from the earlier release and stretches them a bit. A slightly odd inclusion, but also very much in line with the rest of this release.

One slightly trippy oddity leads into another, the short drum and bass-inspired Public Information Film, and then comes The Process, which was one of the b-sides of He’s on the Phone, presumably the track that necessitated this compilation in the first place. It’s also the track that comes next, and it’s a difficult one not to love. It’s a Motiv8 production, and his mixes do have a tendency to sound pretty much exactly the same as one another, but this one is pretty much as good as they ever got. You’ll find it very difficult not to sing along.

Side B opens with Stormtrooper in Drag, the cover version which originally appeared a few months earlier on the Gary Numan tribute compilation Random. It takes a lot of inspiration from He’s on the Phone too, with a pulsating mid-1990s synth line in the background and occasional rippling piano, and honestly once you accept that it’s a little bit dated now, it’s pretty great too.

Then things go unexpectedly glam with Star, the first of two tracks here on which singer Sarah Cracknell shares a writing credit with Ian Catt, so it’s probably safe to assume that this grew out of her solo album sessions and then maybe gained a bit of Saint Etienne production along the way. Good, but not really up to the standard of most of the other things on here.

The next pair of tracks consists on Down by the Sea and The Sea, which are pretty much two parts of the same song again. The latter appeared on Casino Classics with a lovely spacious, maritime-flavoured drum and bass remix from PFM, whereas the former is a full, although slightly avant garde, song. Together, they make up around ten minutes of music, a fifth of the entire release.

After several minutes of frantic drumming, we’re left with Lonesome, the second Ian Catt collaboration, and closing track Angel. It’s a slightly alarming change of pace, as Lonesome is largely acoustic pop, but it’s rather pleasant. Then Angel is the Broadcast remix which had appeared already on Casino Classics, which is nice, and very ethereal, but definitely not quite as good as Way Out West‘s version which appeared on the same release.

So Continental may or may not be a real album, and it’s definitely a slightly odd mix of tracks, but it’s also rather good, and is definitely worthy of its insertion into Saint Etienne‘s back catalogue.

The double-disc version of Continental gets a reissue of its own in just a few days, and comes with a bonus disc of early and alternative versions from the period. It will be available here.

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Music for the Masses 19 – 24 May 2000

For my penultimate show on Bay Radio, I managed to recruit my very good friend Tom to come along and co-host. Which made for a much more varied show all round.

show19

Show 19: Wed 24 May 2000, from 10.55am-1.00pm

Tracks taken from the playlist (Total 13 tracks). A indicates A-list (7 tracks); B indicates B-list (3 tracks) and C indicates C-list (2 tracks). S indicates the Single of the Week. R indicates tracks taken from my own collection (Total 5 tracks). L indicates the ones from the “library” (Total 4 tracks). X indicates tracks from Tom’s record collection (Total 5 tracks).

  • 1. Billie Piper “Day & Night” C
  • [IRN 11.00 News]
  • 2. Heaven 17 “Dive” R
  • 3. Richard Ashcroft “Song for the Lovers” L
  • 4. Leftfield “Storm 3000” X
  • 5. Asian Dub Foundation “New Way New Life” C
  • 6. Phoenix “Too Young” A
  • 7. Kelis “Good Stuff” L
  • 8. Eagle-Eye Cherry “Permanent Tears” X
  • 9. Paul van Dyk feat. Saint Etienne “Tell Me Why (The Riddle)” R
  • 10. DJ Jean “Love Come Home” L
  • [Advert Break]
  • 11. Dum Dums “I Can’t Get You Out of My Thoughts” B
  • 12. JJ72 “Long Way South” A
  • 13. Jimi Hendrix “Hey Joe” X
  • [IRN 12.00 News]
  • 14. Kraftwerk “Expo 2000” R
  • 15. Broadcast “Come On Let’s Go” S
  • 16. Dandy Warhols “Get Off” A
  • 17. Jean Michel Jarre “Tout est Bleu” R
  • 18. Assassins of Sound “Slipping In & Out of Consciousness” X
  • 19. Wannadies “Big Fan” A
  • 20. Super Furry Animals “Ysbeidiau Heulog” A
  • 21. Dubstar “Take It” R
  • [Chart rundown]
  • 22. Len “Cryptik Souls Crew” A
  • 23. Depeche Mode “It’s No Good” R
  • [Advert Break]
  • 24. Pitchshifter “Dead Battery” B
  • 25. The Creators “The Music” A
  • 26. Southside Spinners “Luvstruck” B
  • 27. Simon & Garfunkel “Mrs. Robinson” X

Producer: None.

Co-host: Tom.

Notes: Yeah, I really enjoyed it this week – it’s definitely much more fun with a co-host… (even if you do have to relent & play Simon & Garfunkel and Jimi Hendrix…)

Music for the Masses 18 – 17 May 2000

One of the perils of the early days of Bay Radio was that it involved presenting from the DJ booth in the Aberystwyth student union. This meant that there was a fair chance that at some point your equipment might be suddenly removed for one reason or another…

show18

Show 18: Wed 17 May 2000, from 10.55am-1.00pm

Tracks taken from the playlist (Total 15 tracks). A indicates A-list (9 tracks); B indicates B-list (3 tracks) and C indicates C-list (3 tracks). S indicates the Single of the Week. R indicates tracks taken from my own collection (Total 8 tracks). L indicates the ones from the “library” (Total 5 tracks). X indicates tracks from other peoples’ record collections (Total 1 track).

  • 1. Muse “Unintended” A
  • [IRN 11.00 News]
  • 2. Watergate “Heart of Asia” A
  • 3. Planet Perfecto feat. Grace “Not Over Yet 99” R
  • 4. Richard Ashcroft “Song for the Lovers” C
  • 5. Inter “Radio Finland” B
  • 6. Wannadies “Big Fan” S
  • 7. Dubstar “Take It” L
  • 8. Billie Piper “Day & Night” A
  • 9. Sarah Cracknell “Coastal Town” R
  • 10. Asian Dub Foundation “New Way New Life” B
  • 11. Looper “Mundo 77” C
  • 12. Sneaker Pimps “Six Underground” L
  • [Advert Break]
  • 13. Jean Michel Jarre “Tout Est Bleu” R
  • 14. Chicane feat. Bryan Adams “Don’t Give Up” L
  • 15. Moby “Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad?” L
  • [IRN 12.00 News]
  • 16. Beloved “Sweet Harmony” R
  • 17. William Orbit “Water from a Vine Leaf” [Part 1] R
  • 18. Elton John “That’s Why They Call it the Blues” [About 3 minutes thereof] X
  • 19. Looper “Mundo 77” [About 2 minutes thereof] C
  • 20. William Orbit “Water from a Vine Leaf” [Part 2] R
  • 21. Utah Saints “Funky Music” A
  • 22. Dum Dums “I Can’t Get You Out of My Thoughts” B
  • 23. Len “Cryptik Souls Crew” A
  • 24. Broadcast “Come On Let’s Go” A
  • 25. Dandy Warhols “Get Off” A
  • 26. Phoenix “Too Young” A
  • [Advert Break]
  • 27. Monaco “Sweet Lips” R
  • 28. Moloko “The Time is Now” L
  • 29. Andreas Johnson “Glorious” L

Producer: None.

Notes: Ooh crumbs, well I’m not one to moan. Well, not too much… but having your levels played with, the lights played with, your entire CD player equipment removed (yes, you guessed it, I didn’t actually choose to play Elton John. Or Looper a second time – especially given how much the latter resembles a pair of new born pants. Well, the former too actually, if it comes to that)…