tremble clef

Monday, November 07, 2005

Saint Etienne, "Missing Persons Bureau (Live on Mark Radcliffe)" (2005)

Saint Etienne's latest single, "A Good Thing," has stormed into the UK charts at #70. STORMED! IN! AT 70! With a...RUBBER PELLET USED TO DISPERSE MILDLY ILL-BEHAVED CROWDS!

Actually, 70 is not too bad considering how you can't buy the single. The screwup is probably well-known by now (even Popbitch picked up the story): the marketing wasabipeabrain at Sanctuary took the band's wish that the 7" be limited as meaning that all three formats, including the two CD singles, should be similiarly restricted to 1000 copies (each, I think, although you never know). Eee gawds. To be honest, I'm not sure why this is such an irrevocable error: couldn't the band have busted Sanctuary's ass, held back the release, and increased the print run? Whatever it is, the damage is done, and fans are reporting that the single is definitely hard to get a hold of.

Shame: the track should have been all-conquering, and the four b-sides, and new mix of the song, sound fantastic. One of the new songs is a cover of Womack and Womack's "MPB (Missing Persons Bureau)" from 1988, and this is a live version that the band performed on Mark Radcliffe's Radio 2 show a week ago. This sounds very Birdie-like -- i.e., gentle, lulling, organic, and a bit bossa novaish -- which is appropriate given the prominence of Debsey's backing vocals. Sarah herself sounds great: her voice can, how you say, sometimes be a bit off on live performances, but here she sounds carefree and yet still melancholic. I had never heard the original before, but in retrospect the lyric likely had some influence on Everything but the Girl's "Missing": both songs paranoidly imagine that an absent (or errant) lover may actually be missing in the more tragic (kidnapped, disappeared) sense. I also like to think that the song is addressed to -- or rather, upon singing it, as if it's a bat signal, you will be able to summon Anthony LaPaglia's brooding, soulful Jack Malone from Without A Trace. These are a few of my favorite things.


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