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Sarah Cracknell – Ready or Not

220px-Sarah_Cracknell_Lipslide_UK

Solo careers are a tricky thing – just ask Rachel Stevens. Sometimes people go it alone purely for purposes of artistic expression, sometimes they’re refugees from a recently imploded band, and sometimes they’ve been unceremoniously kicked out (hi Louise Nurding) and don’t have much choice in the matter.

In the case of the lovely, lovely Sarah Cracknell from out of the best pop group ever, Saint Etienne, it was very much a case of artistic expression, what with the ‘tienne being on a bit of a break at the time. And so it was she came up with the Lipslide album, which had the misfortune to be released on the Gut label, who were responsible for Right Said Fred and didn’t, it’s fair to say, have much experience marketing lady pop. I’m getting ahead of myself though – let’s listen to Ready or Not, which was obviously the big hit single from the album but inexplicably wasn’t released.

You’re speechless at its amazingness aren’t you? The combination of a beautifully arranged orchestra with Sarah’s classic English girl-group voice is just perfect. Ready or Not wouldn’t suit one of those huge, technically stupendous vocals, and nor would it suit a bunch of melismas ruining the melody. It’s a simple song, gorgeously realised. I keep meaning to listen to it while cycling along a canal path on a sunny spring morning, waving at passers-by.

Of course 1996 wasn’t exactly the best time for this sort of record – let’s not forget that Peter Andre was “flava” of the month, so subtlety wasn’t exactly in. Interestingly, the song did get to be a moderate hit for Saint Etienne‘s old pal Etienne Daho (of He’s on the Phone fame) in France and Belgium under the title Le premier jour du reste de ta vie. I’m going to stick my neck out and guess that means “the first day of the rest of your life.”

Ready or Not got a new lease of life last year as the centrepiece for Paul Kelly‘s film about bygone London, the Pete Wiggs soundtracked How We Used to Live. I was thrilled to hear it performed live at the Barbican in London, while images of skateboarders weaving their way across London Bridge flashed on the screen above. Readers, I wept.

We shall be returning to our Saint Etienne theme on future occasions, but for now please revel in the beauty of Ready or Not.

Entered chart: was not released as a single

Who could sing this today and have a hit? OMG Nicola Roberts.

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