Track: Only Love Can Break Your Heart
Artist: Saint Etienne
For reasons unknown, British alternative dance band Saint Etienne never saw much success in the US, so millions on this side of the pond aren't familiar with their phenomenal portfolio of hits from the past 20+ years. One of my favorite St. Etienne tracks is Only Love Can Break Your Heart, a cover of Neil Young's 1970 tune.
Writing for The Independent in 1993, music journalist Ben Thompson described the metamorphosis from Neil Young's slow-paced classic to the 4/4 beat Saint Etienne track:
They took the whole thing out of waltz time, changed the chords slightly to make them more melancholic, and added a big shuffling mystery drum sample, a clanking keyboard off-beat, a resonantly thin female vocal and something that certainly sounds like Augustus Pablo's melodica, even if it isn't. 'What I liked about the original,' Stanley says, 'was that it's very cyclical, repetitive - almost mantra-like.' These were the qualities Saint Etienne emphasised, but the spirit of the original was still in place, and if anything almost intensified - even if the words did seem to have been changed from 'down that he's found' to 'gown that he's found'.
I love the infectious Italo-house piano riff in the Saint Etienne version and the fact that Moira Lambert's delicate vocals tease the chords to timeless effect. Killer lyrics too, but I guess credit Neil Young for those...
St. Etienne's version:
In terms of mixes, there's a couple great ones. I'm especially fond of the Masters at Work Dub, released on Warner Brothers in '91. MAW's dub mix samples Nikita Warren's I Need You (1991) and probably qualifies as a Top 10 or 15 MAW track (out of the hundreds of mixes they've done):
And then you have Andrew Weatherall's superb A Mix Of Two Halves - considered to be one of the best remixes in house music history. It's very much a mix of two halves, but I won't spoil it - do yourself a favor and listen to the whole thing all the way through. The DJ eases a spliff, from his lyrical lips, and smilingly orders....CEASE!