Saint Etienne’s first single, a cover of Neil Young’s Only Love Can Break Your Heart, topped the Billboard dance chart for two weeks in late February 1992. The song was Young’s first Top 40 hit as a solo artist, reaching #33 in 1970. The vocals on Saint Etienne’s version are by Moira Lambert of Faith Over Reason, current lead singer Sarah Cracknell joined the band later. I was fortunate enough to attend one of Saint Etienne’s rare U.S. performances in 2006 at NYC’s Irving Plaza, my review is here.
CATALOG: While Saint Etienne has long been a gay favorite in the U.S., they have had scant chart success here, only hitting the dance charts with a handful of singles, most notably with 1993’s Who Do You Think You Are? (#5) and 2006’s Stars Above Us (#6). Only Love Can Break Your Heart was their sole entry on the pop charts, petering out at a miserable #97. However in the UK the band has been tremendously popular, scoring 17 Top 40 pop singles to date. One of their biggest UK hits was my personal favorite Saint Etienne track, 1995’s gay nightclub anthem He’s On The Phone (#11 UK pop.) If you are a Saint Etienne newbie, I recommend checking out their 1994 album Tiger Bay, which is easily one of my favorite albums of all time. And for fun, check out their cover of Right Said Fred’s I’m Too Sexy, which was done as an AIDS fundraiser for the Terrence Higgins Trust.
TRIVIA: Only Love Can Break Your Heart has been covered by several noted artists such the Mint Juleps, the Corrs (lovely!), Elkie Brooks (in 1978 and kinda disco-y) and Psychic TV. Australian act Damien Leith took his version to #1 there. My favorite cover (aside from Saint Etienne’s) is by former House Of Pain lead singer Everlast, which was on the Big Daddy soundtrack.