6. Utah Saints – Something Good
Another mainstream chart hit for Rave ’92, one which has cemented itself into the consciousness of the Great British listening public thanks to that stuttering name-check announcement.
The prim & proper Royal Doulton strings are joined by blasts of distorted kick drum and crowd noise, and the cry of “Utah Saints! Utah Saints! Utah Saints! U-U-U-Utah Saints!” The overall result is an enormous monolith of sound crammed into a few short bars, before suddenly dropping to a tinny computer game end-of-level twiddle riff. But there’s no pause for breath: the gut-rumbling bass and pounding drums bash you round the head straight away and launch off into the stratosphere.
It’s an incredibly busy record, but each sound is clearly distinguishable: the ticka-ticka-ticka of the underlying tech beat propelling the song forward, weaving in and out of syncopated piano chords and wiggling synths; the meaty electric guitar compressed to within an inch of its life; the gothic organ waterfall trickling between build-up and chorus. All the parts have a common theme of fast-paced, stoccato notes – short arpeggios, punchy beats, even the phrase “U-tah-Saints!” is spat out like gun-fire. Not only the notes are short – each section is only given a few bars to prove its worth before tipping into the next. And before you know it, the track is winding down to the outro: the energy spent, a chance for the more extravagant dancefloor inhabitants to get their breath back before the next song.
Utah Saints were the sample kings: Kate Bush’s vocal is completely shorn from the ‘Cloudbusting’ backing and twisted to fit their pattern. ‘Something Good’ could almost manage as an instrumental: Bush’s euphoric optimism is the icing on the cake – a subtle garnish rather than a foundation for an entire song (very difficult to achieve when the sample is a famous vocal). It’s interesting to contrast ‘Something Good’ with its neighbour, Messiah’s re-recorded hyperdrive version of ‘I Feel Love’, which still relies on the original for its name and underlying tune without sampling it directly.
‘Something Good’ is perfectly constructed piece of uplifting ‘stadium house’, and deserves to be one of the defining records of the rave era. Such was its impact on me as a force to be reckoned with, I had no idea that the song had sampled ANYONE famous (let alone Ms Bush) until I bought the Saints’ debut album eight years later and looked at the liner notes. Kate who?