Saint Etienne – Trumpton Comes Alive EP

January 01, 1970

(Lovers Unite)



“Hey Etienne Lover,” began the email message, sent out from
Saint Etienne HG last week. “Here’s a pressie, a musical pressie. We’ve been
digging through a bunch of live ‘tapes’ and we thought you might like to hear a
few things we’ve found…”


As the Saint Etienne back catalog overhaul continues apace –
the beloved British trio has, thus far, issued expanded editions of its first
two albums, 1991’s Fox Base Alpha and
1993’s So Tough, along with 1997’s Continental and 2000’s Sound of Water (both are also 2-CD
versions crammed with rarities and unreleased material) – it’s become obvious
that vault-trawling is fast becoming a mantra for St. E. Indeed, with a remix
of Alpha about to drop (wittily
dubbed Fox Base Beta), the band decided
to give fans a “thank-you” in the form of the digital freebie EP at hand.


Titled Trumpton Comes
, it comprises “Lose That Girl,” originally on 1998’s Good Humor and recorded in Barcelona at
the Wintercase festival in 2002; “Like A Motorway,” one of the key tracks off
1994’s Tiger Bay, here recorded at
the Royal Festival Hall in 2007 (at the band’s so-called “test” concert); and
“How We Used to Live” a lengthy (9 mins.) Sound
of Water
track now made even lengthier (11 mins. – or, as the band itself
puts it, “verging on ‘Supper’s Ready’ territory,” har har) courtesy a 2000 performance
at France’s
La Route du Rock festival.


The live “Lose That Girl” doesn’t, er, lose any of its
luster from the studio version, the pulsing, Spinners-like neodisco vibe as
elegant as ever and Sarah Cracknell’s deliberately offhand vocal lending a
certain icy, ironic undercurrent to the proceedings. “Like A Motorway” is
subtitled “Folky Version” and, with its spare arrangement – just fingerpicked
guitar, flute and doubletracked Cracknell vocals – the tune takes on an entire
new dimension from its clubbier electric incarnation and essentially proves the
maxim that a song proves its timeworthiness if it can be stripped down to its
acoustic roots and still delight the ears.


And at the risk of sounding hyperbolic, “How We used to
Live” is downright magnificent, building from the merest of percussion and
harpsichord into a harmony-rich, Beach Boys-styled epic that, about at the 4 ½
minute mark, begins morphing, suite-like, into anthemic “dance” mode then into
an extended jazzy piano-and-vocals section reminiscent of Laura Nyro’s complex


“Thanks very much, enjoy the rest of the night – I’m sure
you will,” enthuses Cracknell, by way of her outro for “HWUTL.” Yes, Sarah, I’m
sure we will – oh, and thank you for
the “pressie,” too.


Standout Track: “How
We Used to Live” FRED MILLS




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