Foxbase Alpha album cover
Foxbase Alpha

Saint Etienne


Saint Etienne’s piano house-smudged cover of Neil Young’s “Only Love Can Break Your Heart” was Heavenly Recordings’ second ever release and 1991’s Foxbase Alpha its first album. Fired by the magpie tastes and encyclopedic knowledge of former music journalist Bob Stanley and his childhood friend Pete Wiggs, Foxbase Alpha not only summed up the anything goes approach of the era, but also the label itself. An enchanting, jumble sale patchwork of the UK’s current club culture and its pop past, Stanley and Wiggs’ passions — C86, Chicago house, Dusty Springfield, King Tubby, football, 1970s children’s TV to name a few —  came together to form a charming bridge between the old and new which would set the tone for much of Britpop.

Chris Catchpole

Coming off their fluke success with their cover of Neil Young’s “Only Love Can Break Your Heart,” Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs recruited Sarah Cracknell as their full time singer and created one of 1991’s most sparkling, unusual pop albums, Foxbase Alpha. Fusing their interest in both pop music nostalgia and the rush of then-contemporary electronic and dance sounds, not to mention Stanley and Wiggs’s own background in mid-to-late eighties UK indie rock, the trio created a very English, instantly approachable set of songs, including “Nothing Can Stop Us” and “She’s The One.”

Ned Raggett

The first album from UK trio Saint Etienne was released at the height of acid house/rave in the UK and the album highlight, their dark dubby cover of Neil Young’s “Only Love Can Break Your Heart” becoming a rave/Balearic anthem. Foxbase Alpha is a rich, magpie-approach selection of songs that blended house beats, funk/hip hop drum breaks and liberal sampling, with a sixties easy/lounge/Bacharach-esque pop sensibility, resulting in a very British, sweet, eclectic and idiosyncratic album. House-ish vocal club tracks, dreamy pop, some epic semi-ambient-gaze for good measure, along with gorgeous 60s pastiches like the second album highlight, their hit single “Nothing Can Stop Us,” all add up to a charming and engaging debut.

Harold Heath

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