RECOMMENDED // 25 years of Saint Etienne revisited in new book of photographs

Photo By Joe Dilworth

A weighty new coffee table book sees the rich history of dreamy London electronic band Saint Etienne documented in a whopping 150 photographs.

From their origins in 1990 to their recent album Words and Music, each era of the band is painstakingly captured in this collection of impressive snaps. The individually numbered 2,000-run volume contains both celebrated and previously unpublished photos of the group by some big-name music and fashion photographers, as well as many previously unseen images from the group’s personal archives taken by friend and filmmaker Paul Kelly.

Fans of the band will want to see shots of Pete Wiggs and Bob Stanley chatting in front of Mornington Crescent’s shabby Hotel Splendide in 1990. Pete recalls the era: “Bob and I met when we were toddlers before going to school together. Our mums met outside the butcher’s when our prams bumped together!” The evocative picture was snapped by Joe Dilworth, who inspired the band to pen Dilworth’s Theme on album Foxbase Alpha.

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Turn a few pages and it’s quickly evident that Saint Etienne is a band that loves to pose. Even from their early days, the combination of a photogenic group and top London photographers created some wonderful results – whether rocking it live on stage or lounging in an obscure cityscape. Pete casts his mind back again: “We bought a lot of our clothes from Cenci in Monmouth Street in Covent Garden, which was opposite the Heavenly office. They had lots of Italian clothes in small sizes. We ended up with lots of ill-fitting outfits! We used to take costume changes to photo shoots.”

In addition to the hilarious photos of the band bowling in Berlin in 1999, the book also boasts a complete discography and commentary by Sarah, Pete and Bob, while elusive friend and musician Lawrence (Felt, Denim, Go-Kart Mozart) has contributed an eloquent foreword. It’s the fourth limited-edition music tome from publisher First Third Books, following Felt, Punk+ (photographs of the early London punk scene by Sheila Rock) and GENESIS BREYER P-ORRIDGE.

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