REVIEWS: ‘Saints & Sinners’ by All Saints (Ltd Edition CD, 2000)


Today’s POP RESCUE from a fate unknown, is the 2000 second album Saints & Sinners Limited Edition album by All Saints.

This 14 track album opens with huge single Pure Shores, which was produced in collaboration with William Orbit (who had recently worked with Madonna on her Ray Of Light album). The song was also taken from the hugely popular film The Beach (2000) starring Leonardo DiCaprio, so this would have contributed to the exposure that ultimately gave them a UK #1. I find this song flawless. The vocals and harmonies are beautifully pitched against Orbit’s production which aptly feels somewhat tidal.

This is followed by third single All Hooked Up, which is quite a mellow, funky, RnB song. There’s some wonderfully warm vocal harmonies here, that remind me a bit of En Vogue. Well, almost. This song gave them a #7 hit, which is odd as I don’t really remember it.

Third track is Dreams, a song that was revealed to have been co-written by Samantha Fox under the ‘K Wilkin’ pseudonym. This song clearly has William Orbit all over it through the choice of synth sounds and softer drums. This song sounds like it’s been left over from Ray Of Light – perhaps more so than Pure Shores. Joining Orbit, was producer Cameron McVey (Neneh Cherry, Sugababes, Massive Attack etc)

There’s a nice bassline on next track Distance, and this feels very much like an All Saints album track. As usual, there’s plenty of backing vocals with that ‘down-the-phone’ vocal style that features on so many of their songs.

Second single Black Coffee follows, and this is another wonderfully beautiful Orbit collaboration. Unsurprisingly this topped the UK singles chart. There’s plenty of sounds that you’ll be familiar from the Madonna album, but it also reeks of her Beautiful Stranger track of the previous year – in tempo, bass and beats. It feels like something that might have sampled something from the 60s (hence the Beautiful Stranger/Austin Powers feeling).

Whoopin’ Over You follows, which is laden with samples and even some vinyl crackle. This song feels even more 60s inspired than Black Coffee. Perhaps it’s unsurprising that their late-60s film flop, Honest, was also released in 2000.

Next up is I Feel You, which gives the group plenty of chance to show off their vocal harmonies, and (i think) Melanie Blatt has the lead here. They’re joined by a choir, as the gentle drums are kept busy in the background before some cello lead the song out.

Acoustic guitars usher in next song Surrender, and Orbit’s keyboard is at it again, giving this song a great dreamy sound to it. However, whilst this is a nice sounding song, it is definitely album territory. However, promos of this song did do the rounds, hinting that maybe this would have been the fourth single… but it wasn’t to be.

Ha Ha follows, and this is quite a funny little track that feels like an adult Sesame Street number (complete with counting), but reminds me a bit of Bootie Call on their previous album.

Tenth track Love Is Love zooms in with lots of breathy vocals and RnB beats. Sadly, it falls short and sounds a bit messy with too much going on, or like something that fell off a Mis-Teeq album.

Ready, Willing & Able opens with those ‘down-the-phone’ vocals, night-time nature sounds of birds and crickets, finger snaps, and a two-step beat (remember, 2-step and garage was raging in the charts in 2000). Vocals (both lead and harmonies) are the main element of this song, with the beats playing the only other real element of this song. A slinky bass joins in at about 1m 45s.

The title track Saints & Sinners follows this, starting with some slightly wonky vocal harmonies, before the group start singing over samples and a growling guitar. Again, vocals and beats control this song, with occasional bass. This song is a grower and ends up being fairly catchy.

Penultimate track I Don’t Wanna Be Alone starts with some nice sampled vocals and vinyl crackle. This song is a really nice song – complete with some lovely little percussive sounds and a wonderfully plodding simple bass.

The album closes with a song that doesn’t really sound like All Saints at all – One More Tequila. This song contains a sample of 1967’s salsa track Sola Te Dejare by the late Ray Barretto, and makes the group sound like a cross between something that you’d find on a Lina record, and Natalie Williams’ Secret Garden album. I think it works really well, and might have been an interesting song for them to have released.

Over all, there’s some wonderfully rich songs here – mostly at the hands of William Orbit, but there’s also some fragmented sounds here too.

The cracks in All Saints are evident here, and the album doesn’t play as easily as their debut album did. NME’s review stated ‘it’s better than the new Spice Girls album [Forever], but that’s not good enough‘.

I think that without William Orbit, this album would have been a difficult jumble to listen to. In the three years since their debut, the album musically evolves very little, leaving it feel like it’s made up of some scraps left over from that 1997 debut.

 

Where are All Saints now?

All Saints split up after the release of third single All Hooked Up, scuppering plans for potential single Surrender. A career retrospective (of just 2 albums) titled All Hits was swiftly released in 2001.

Shaznay Lewis and Melanie Blatt both embarked on solo careers whilst sisters Nicole and Natalie Appleton formed the duo Appleton, releasing Everythings Eventual in 2003.

The group re-formed for their 2006 album Studio 1, but by then, their success was over – managing to gain one charting #3 UK single – Rock Steady. The group managed to follow it up with a download-only single Chick Fit, which only charted in Slovakia.

All Saints re-formed again, briefly in 2014 for a small number of performances, but no further recordings appear to be planned.

POP RESCUE RATING

  • POP RESCUE RATING: 3 / 5
  • 2000 UK CHART POSITION: #1, certified 2x Platinum
  • POP RESCUE COST: 99p from an AgeUK store

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