All Saints - All Hits

Rock and pop have forever painted one singer or band against another, typically with the notion of one being a favourite of the nation's housewives whilst the other is loved by their rebellious teenage daughters. So, whilst The Rolling Stones urinated against garage walls, upset the establishment and made innovative use of chocolate bars, The Beatles were lovable moptops who sang sweetly romantic pop and dressed in suits.

Similarly and more recently, Hear'Say, the first winners of Popstars were safe, bland and had singles bought by grannies, whilst the losers, Liberty X, took hold of an urban sound, a style equipped to appeal to thirteen-year-old girls and even released a couple of great singles including, Being Nobody, which cut The Human League's Being Boiled into Ain't Nobody by Rufus and Chaka Khan.

Going back a few years and against the cartoon-pop of the Spice Girls, All Saints were cast as the credible alternative it was okay for both pop-kids and album-buyers to love. Playing their cropped tops and combats against Union Jack mini-dresses and stack heels, All Saints were sassy, smart and, unlike the Spice Girls, knew not to outstay their welcome. Or rather, they couldn't help but split after two albums, both of which are alright but, really, this is all you'll ever need.

Given the short time they were together, for All Saints to have actually put together a greatest hits album will be a surprise to some. Yep, Never Ever, Pure Shores, Black Coffee, I Know Where It's At and Bootie Call are all here as expected but Twentyfourseven as an All Saints hit? It's inclusion ought to raise the cry of 'unfair' as it was really a hit for Artful Dodger and only featured Melanie Blatt on vocals. Whilst the song itself isn't bad, there is, well, a certain ethical question over its inclusion here and alongside the number of remixes and non-hits - I Feel You and Dreams, both of which are hidden tracks - there is the sense that the record company struggled to find anything approaching an album's worth of music before issuing this.

Then again, no one's really going to be buying this album for either War Of Nerves or All Hooked Up when it includes the seven or so tracks that matter and which are as good today as they were when first released. Never Ever is still wonderful - its build from slow singalong to thumping gospel is fantastic - as are the smooth and subtle Pure Shores and Black Coffee, both of which were taken from the band's second album. Even All Saints' version of Under The Bridge, which samples John Frusciante's original riff, is a smart cover that could have been much, much worse and shows a certain empathy with the original. As for their cover of Lady Marmalade, it's actually very good and better than the more famous cover released by Christina Aguilera, Lil' Kim, Pink and Mya to trail Moulin Rouge.

Whilst the songs that matter are great, there's far from enough here for most and even a cursory scan of the track listing whilst waiting in HMV or Virgin will cause most people to wonder how, with only eight out of a total of thirteen songs that well known, can an album call itself All Hits. Get over that and this isn't such a bad little album of a credible girl group.



out of 10

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