Sunday, February 3, 2013

A-Z of Pop Music - A - All Saints

All Saints, some people labelled them the poor man's Spice Girls, I labelled them one of the most influential and ground-breaking girl groups of all time. If they were to be compared to the Spice Girls and it came down to a fight, All Saints would win hands down! 

Forming in 1993 the group consisted of Melanie Blatt, Shaznay Lewis and sisters Nicole and Natalie Appleton. They became one of the most successful British pop groups of the 1990s, with nine top ten singles (including five number-ones), two multi-platinum albums, two gold albums and record sales in excess of ten million worldwide.

Their debut self-titled album was released on November 24, 1997 by London records and was certified platinum in the USA, reached #2 on the UK charts and top 5 in Australia, Switzerland, New Zealand, Canada and The Netherlands. 

The debut single Never Ever was one of the biggest songs of 1997 and was a number one hit in the US, UK and Australia and is still one of the most played songs on radio to this day. The gritty and honest break up song was written by the band members and also had one of the most spectacular and memorable videos in pop music history. 

Each track on this album was solid, it was a consistent and memorable piece of pop music history. Bootie Call was dark and sexy and had a gritty black and white music video that complimented the song perfectly. I Know Where It's At one of the party anthems of the album was considered as a first single and would have been a great introduction to the girls but was instead a stand out album track. Heaven, Alone, Take The Key and Trapped took the band in a more urban, hip-hop direction while still retaining their pop slickness. These tracks truly pushed the boundaries of pop music and vocal effects (at the time) and still retain heavy rotation in my music collection today. 

Under The Bridge/Lady Marmalade was released as a double single and saw the band do their first covers and were a commercial and critic success. The videos ran on from each other with Lady Marmalade being a pumping party track and Under The Bridge a soulful and cool swag track that opened the girls up to a whole new audience. These are still two of my favourite videos to this day, the crowded party apartment dancing and going off to Lady Marmalade, to having the apartment rip open its foundations and fall down, and have the girls singing Under The Bridge in the debris mess was inspired. 

When the charity album for the death of Lady Diana in the UK was assembled, All Saints submitted a hauntingly beautiful track War Of Nerves which made the album and was released as a consequent single. The single did not chart too well, but it is definitely worth a listen. The soulful lyrics and sound literally brought me to tears and this is one of the stand out tracks on this album. 

A big issue for me is JAPAN! Why do they get all the good bonus tracks? ? ? Britney, Christina, they all release Japan only tracks and they are usually some of the best!! This was the case with All Saints as well, releasing Let's Get Started (If You Wanna Party) as an official single and accompanying video, this was a song I used to play and hear at parties A LOT and still do to this date. 

A lot of critics have noted that they felt this album lacked personality, but I feel that this album oozes with it, the girls present themselves as a very grainy, serious, down to earth group with depth, which they show through tracks like Take The Key, Trapped, War Of Nerves and Heaven, but they also have a crazy wild side with the party songs Lady Marmalade, Beg, Let's Get Started, I Know Where It's At. 

Overall this album is solid from start to finish, there is rarely a need to skip a song and the combination of Lewis's raspy rapping, Blatt's smooth and sexy vocals and the Appleton's bleating in the background it all comes together and works. This will remain for me one of the best albums in pop music history and the group cemented themselves as my clear and definite favourite of the 90's.

Review by Alaisdair "Arrow" Dewar

You can purchase All Saints via the links below

I Tunes

Google Play

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