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All Saints

All Saints

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Album Review

As the first group of consequence to be saddled with the "new Spice Girls" tag, it would be reasonable to expect that All Saints would be cut-rate dance-pop without the weirdly magical charisma that made the Spices international phenomenons. It is true that All Saints lack the personality of the Spices, but they make up for that with musical skills. All four members have better voices than the Spices, and they all have a hand in writing at least one of the songs on their eponymous debut, with Shaznay Lewis taking the most writing credits. More importantly, they and their producers have a better sense of contemporary dance trends — there are real hip-hop and club rhythms throughout the record, and samples of Audio Two, the Rampage, and (especially) Steely Dan are fresh and inventive. But what really makes the record are the songs. The singles are the standouts, with the party-ready, Steely Dan-fueled "I Know Where It's At" and the extraordinary gospel-tinged "Never Ever" leading the way, but the covers are well chosen (their take on "Under the Bridge" eclipses the Red Hot Chili Peppers', boasting a better arrangement and more convincing vocals) and the lesser songs are pleasantly melodic. Sure, there's some filler, but that should be expected on any dance-pop album. What counts is that the performances are fresh, the production is funky, and there is a handful of classic pop singles on the album, and you can't ask for much better than that from a dance-pop record, especially one from a group that almost beat the Spice Girls at their own game. [This edition of All Saints released in Japan includes a bonus track.]

Biography

Formed: 1993 in London, England

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Those unfamiliar with pop music would be forgiven for confusing All Saints with another hotly tipped music property, the Spice Girls. The four members of All Saints could have stood for Spice Girls body doubles in a lineup: two brunettes, one blonde, and one of West Indian descent. While the Spice Girls were always pure pop and barely musically functional, the members of All Saints,...
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All Saints, All Saints
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