Saint Etienne

Only Love Can Break Your Heart

Song Review by

Proof, if one needs it, that Neil Young is one of the great songwriters comes in the way his songs can be adapted to new and unexpected ends. The opening track and first single from Saint Etienne's debut album is a perfect example of the trio's cross-cultural aesthetic. Pete Wiggs and Bob Stanley were, at heart, indie kids coming at electronic dance music from a wholly pop perspective, where melody and lyrics are at least as important as beats and samples. As a result, their dancefloor take on Young's "Only Love Can Break Your Heart," from his 1970 breakthrough After the Goldrush, both completely reworks the song and is surprisingly true to the original. The simple folk-rock arrangement of the original is replaced by sequencers, electronic drums, and lockstep synthesizers, but Moira Lambert's deliberately wavery vocals echo Young's phrasing in a way that sounds more like tribute than imitation. The ending of the song is entirely different, with Lambert repeating the key line "I was only thinking, games that I was playing" over and over at odd intervals over a thumping beat that, on the album version, cuts out abruptly, leading directly into the oddball sound collage "Wilson."

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
No Image 1990 Warner Bros.
Foxbase Alpha 1992 Warner Bros. 4:29
Indie Top 20, Vol. 10 1993
Various Artists
Dutch East 4:31
Too Young to Die 1995 Heavenly
Fairy Tales from Saint Etienne 1995 Warner Bros. 4:29
Best Album in the World...Ever! Vol. 3 1996
Various Artists
Casino Classics 1996 BMG International 8:48
Masterworks: Essential KenLou House Mixes 1998 Harmless
Cold Feet [Global] 1999
Various Artists
Varèse Sarabande 4:29
Chillout in Ibiza 2000
Various Artists
Smart / Universal International 4:29
Chilled Ibiza 2000
Various Artists
Warner Bros. 4:31
Smash the System: Singles and More 2001 Sony Music Distribution 4:30
Chill Out in Ibiza, Vol. 3 2001
Various Artists
Smart 0:00
Cream Collect: Balearic 2002
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 7:22
The Chillout Session: Ibiza Sunsets 2003
Various Artists
Ministry Of Sound 4:50
In the House 2004 In The House
Travel Edition 1990-2005 2004 Sub Pop 4:30
Inspired: The World's Greatest Covers 2004
Various Artists
V2tv 4:32
Ibiza: The Sunset Sessions 2005
Various Artists
Warner Music 4:27
Hed Kandi: Es Vive Base Bar Ibiza 2005 2005
Various Artists
Hed Kandi 4:29
Back to the Bus 2006 Back To The Bus 4:28
My Perfect List: Covers 2007
Various Artists
Warner Music / WEA 4:29
London Conversations: The Best of Saint Etienne 2008 Universal International / Universal
The Goa Mix 2011 2010 New State 0:28
Chillout Classics [MOS]
Various Artists
Ministry Of Sound 2:32
Defected Presents House Masters: Masters at Work
Various Artists
Defected 7:45
Defected Presents: For the Love of House, Vol. 11
Various Artists
Defected 7:38
Pacha Ibiza: 40 Years 1973-2013
Various Artists
New State / Pacha 4:24