Sometimes vocabulary runs through head ...

Music All Saints were always one of my guilty pleasures for no readily apparent reason, especially considering how long I held a torch for Debbie Gibson in my teens. I can remember feeling guilty when I bought Bootie Call, probably because I was by then in my twenties and this was girl pop (I thought). I might be one of the few people in the country to have one of the very early releases from after Simone Rainford left and the Appletons joined. On reflection, this was actually some of the best, most influential pop of the late nineties. Whereas the Spice Girls begot a certain Liverpool threesome, All Saints lineage continues through the Sugababes, including the manic infighting. And I loved it.

Given that infighting, the matter of a new single from The Saints is miraculous (their enmity has apparently dissolved having had their little talks) so I'm pleased to report that although it's not brilliant, it's a grower. The problem with Rock Steady is that, although its an above average bit of pop, it lacks the innovation that was always their forte. Say what you like about Never Never but that opening monologue was distinctive and surprising, both for its length and insight. Sure they had their fair share of misjudged cover versions and film roles, but Pure Shores outlived its film soundtrack origins to underscore a time.

There's no doubt that Rock Steady is catchy. You can sing along to it, and dance probably. But it doesn't have that distinctive voice -- it does sound like both Girl's Aloud and the Sugababes yet somewhat more generic which could be seen as backwards step. All Saints were always about presenting individual voices and yet here they are in chorus, which no doubt it supposed to indicate that they're united again but simply doesn't point to their vocal strengths. Inevitably the b-sides are better, particularly Do Me which contains all the mad percussive elements and quasi-verse and choruses that digressions. But again, the vocal is hidden and there's a rather disappointing fade out at the end. The Calvin Harris remix of Rock Steady favours the vocal and works far better -- but my taste is for demos and underproduction so I'm bound to say that.

And yet. And yet.

It's still great to see the girls back together in their hoodies, leathers and chav on the cover. It's only been five years but worth noting that they still look incredible. Like Paul hovering about the zebra crossing, there's probably some reason why Melanie's eyes have been obscured by the shadow from her cap. And it's a shame that the Appletons still couldn't muster a smile -- or perhaps the photo was taken before the reconciliation. The single has already charted at 11 based on downloads which isn't bad. I'll still be buying the album out of curiosity although I can't imagine it'll be as exciting as The Bangles' comeback Doll Revolution -- now that was amazing.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sir,You have impeccible taste in film but awful taste in music. You seem obsessed with female performers, of the pop variety what's all that about?