Bob Stanley (St Etienne) – top ten influences

The deluxe editions of St Etienne’s Casino Classics and Sarah Cracknell’s Lipslide were re-issued this week and to coincide with the release we caught up with Bob Stanley about the ten albums that influenced him most.


Earl Bostic – Cherokee

A friend recommended Earl Bostic to me last week as someone who was quite clearly making rock’n’roll records before the term was recognised. I automatically kick against the canon, and the accepted trad history of rock as projected by Mojo, so when I find fabulous records like this – a honking sax instrumental, with vibes carrying the melody – I remember that I’m not just being contrary. Never accept received wisdom.

Ennio Morricone – Metti Una Cera A Cena

It was his 84th birthday last weekend. I went to see him in Hammersmith a few years ago. It was mindblowing to hear this played live and see the maestro in person. My girlfriend started bleeding during the show – it wouldn’t stop, and we had to rush her to A&E. That has somewhat altered my mindset whenever I hear this.

The Hollies – Bus Stop

Every day observation, succinctly done, melancholy Jewish-influenced melody, harmonies that foreshadow Abba, and I think Tony Hicks is playing an acoustic twelve string. All impossibly good. Graham Gouldman (who wrote this) played at a show we put on at the Festival Hall a couple of years ago. I probably looked quite stern when I was talking to him, but I was trying to contain my emotions.

Dexy’s Midnight Runners – Plan B

Songs about music was the theme of our last album, but no one does it better than Kevin Rowland. This is (I’m guessing) about the first Dexy’s line-up leaving him en masse apart from Big Jim Patterson who gets a special shout-out on this wonderful single. “Bill Withers was good for me, pretend I’m Bill and lean on me.”

ESG – You’re No Good

It was odd when ESG became a household name. I remember this being an NME single of the week in 1980 and I bought it because it was described as a futuristic Supremes. It’s definitely more girl group than most of their recordings. I’ll use this opportunity to say Martin Hannett is possibly my favourite producer ever.

Shocking Blue – Rock In The Sea

The best (old) record I discovered this year which may well be on spotify or itunes but – without wanting to sound like a Luddite – I’d probably never have discovered it that way. Instead I picked up a 45. Shocking Blue are amazingly consistent. This sounds like a proto-Strokes doing the Beach Boys’ Til I Die. Amazing!

The Monkees – Head

The film and the album were both a major influence on me and Pete. This, we thought, is how a pop group should look and sound, including ridiculous in-jokes and chunky polo necks. They sound like summer.

The Fall – New Face In Hell

Probably our other biggest influence when Saint Etienne started. Like Bus Stop, it tells a story and sounds very northern – it’s from the Grotesque album which references Haslingden, Roundtable, and mistrust of “fancy groups”. Mixing horror stories (like this) and satire with lo-fi production and real excitement. It’s so atmospheric. Moral: don’t be afraid to use a kazoo and never spend too long working on a song.

Giorgio Moroder – From Here To Eternity

I had this on a 7″ and was quite disappointed when I finally found the album (in a charity shop in Windsor – it’s etched on my memory) as what I assumed to be quite surreal jumps and chord progression were just ham-fisted edits. I Feel Love is untouchable, but this gives me a bigger thrill, maybe it’s that oddly eastern string line.

Van Der Graaf Generator – Refugees

“West is Mike and Suzy” is a perfect, evocative lyric. I’ve always wanted to meet a couple called Mike and Suzy. If only all prog was as beautiful as this – no solos, no showing off, but multi-part and very cinematic.

Words by Bob Stanley. Find out more about the re-issues of Casino Classics and Sarah Cracknell’s Lipslide here. 

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Sarah is a former editor of Louder Than War and a freelance music writer for numerous other publications online and in print. Co-owner of Reckless Yes Records she has put out music by LIINES, Pet Crow and lots of other awesome bands as well as put on shows by bands including Bivouac, Mark Morriss, Desperate Journalist and Dream Nails. She's an author, user experience designer and digital content strategist, as well as an occasional broadcaster. Sarah is a compulsive collector of coloured vinyl, a believer in the boogie and is in love with possibilities.


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