Saint Etienne

Avenue

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    8
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The first single from Saint Etienne's second album, So Tough, 1992's "Avenue" is one of the best the group ever released. "Avenue" is an epic ballad built around a pastoral melody, a genius arrangement, and a lovely vocal by Sarah Cracknell. It is presented on the corresponding EP in its album mix. The other three tracks are classic Saint Etienne as well. "Some Place Else" is a melancholy ballad with excellent piano and synth hooks and a shatteringly sad vocal by Cracknell. The song would have fit in perfectly on Altered Images' unjustly overlooked Bite record. "Paper" features the guitar artistry of former Felt member Maurice Deebank and sounds like a mash up of a Felt song and an obscure girl-group tune. "Johnny in the Echo Café" is a four-minute soundscape that escapes being mere filler and is instead more proof of the group's mastery of sound. Adding to the value of the single is the relative scarcity of the B-sides. "Some Place Else" is only available on the rare You Need a Mess of Help to Stand Alone and Fairy Tales From Saint Etienne collections, "Paper" is on You Need a Mess of Help as well as the Smash the System collection, and "Johnny in the Echo Café" is only on this disc. So seek it out if you are a Saint Etienne fan. Even if you have the aforementioned comps, it is worth hearing it on its own.