SAINT ETIENNE – “Wilson” (from the Foxbase Alpha CD)
I was under express instructions not to mention this in my main article, which is a shame, because in a way “Wilson”‘s the most English (and best!) thing on the record, a two-minute nugget of psychedelic studio nonsense which sounds like the band have tape-recorded a child’s dreams. In 1971, Britain decimalised its coinage, switching from pounds, shillings and pence to the current 100 pennies in the pound system. Records were produced to ease the nation through the change, and it’s cut-ups from such a record that you can hear on “Wilson” – a plummy Auntie and a cheeky Nephew, trying to figure out the “new money” in a sweetshop. The old money was always abbreviated as L, S and D, a beautiful cultural coincidence which Saint Etienne exploit to the full, turning “Wilson” into their most blatantly ‘trippy’ track, a fragmented picture of a country being dragged into modernity by drugs and the metric system. You could do a similar thing with Ecstasy and the Euro: now there’s a thought….