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Sunday, 15 October, 2000, 01:36 GMT 02:36 UK
CD Review: All Saints
All Saints
All Saints: Saints and Sinners (London)
By the BBC's Nigel Packer

With two chart-topping singles, one cinematic disaster and a mountain of tabloid gossip to their name, it's been an interesting 12 months for All Saints.

Now they round off a year of decidedly mixed fortunes with an album to match.

Given the quartet's consistently high media profile, it's easy to forget that three years have elapsed since the release of their multi-million selling debut.

Recently they seem to have become more of a celebrity soap opera than a functioning group, leaving them with a big point to prove on this belated comeback.

To help them out, they have followed in the footsteps of Madonna by calling on the services of producer William Orbit, who shares the billing with previous All Saints collaborators Karl Gordon and Jonny Douglas.

All Saints
All Saints' second album was three years in the making
The decision to use Orbit's liquid techno sound sparingly was a sensible one in terms of avoiding too many Ray Of Light comparisons, but it also leaves the album with an oddly disjointed feel.

His contributions are easily the best here, and they sit uncomfortably alongside the more traditional - and pedestrian - pop/R&B sound with which they made their name.

Shaznay Lewis once more proves to be the group's driving force as she takes on the lion's share of lead vocals and writing duties, although All Saints' most striking quality remains their velvety harmonies.

Lyrics are again served up with bags of attitude, from the raunchy All Hooked Up to the feisty Ready, Willing and Able, although this time strong melodies are thin on the ground.


Highlights include former number one Pure Shores - with its deep sea bass and dolphin splash keyboards - and the pure pop of its chart-topping successor Black Coffee.

There's a nod to the 1960s on the vaguely psychedelic Whoopin' Over You, while Love Is Love proves to have a more imaginative arrangement than title - even if the scurrying keyboards are a little on the frantic side.

The sensual charge of Surrender marks another successful launch into Orbit, but then it's back to earth with a bump - on the self-congratulatory Ha Ha.

For a complete change of style there's the (over) elaborate I Feel Love, a Stuart Zender-produced ballad with string quartet, gospel choir and Mel Blatt on vocals.

And Natalie Appleton takes a co-writing credit on Dreams - an unusual creation in which Orbit appears to seek the missing link between slick 21st century pop and ancient prog rock.

It's a sign of just what Saints And Sinners might have been with Orbit at the helm throughout. Instead we're left with one strong EP trapped inside a pretty run-of-the-mill album.

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See also:

31 May 00 | Entertainment
All Saints movie flops
16 May 00 | Entertainment
Violence mars All Saints party
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