The fact that All Saints' initial media exposure was accompanied by a teaser caption stating 'Don't mention the Spice Girls', is highly illuminating - add to this the fact that London Records' marketing of their first single stated 'sexier than the Spice Girls, smarter than the Spice Girls, sassier than the Spice Girls', and the marketing intentions for this London-based all-female vocal quartet were readily obvious. Their debut, 'I Know Where It's At', was released in August 1997. Some credibility was lent to their subsequent debut album by the involvement of Neneh Cherry and Massive Attack producer Cameron McVey. The quartet was also keen to insist that they had formed as early as 1993, originally as a duo featuring songwriters Shaznay Lewis and Melanie Ruth Blatt. Taking their name from the street in which their London recording studio was based, they signed with ZTT Records and released one unsuccessful single, 'If You Wanna Party'. By 1995 they had been joined by Canadian-born sisters Nicole Marie and Natalie Jane Appleton. They were eventually signed by London Records in November 1996.
Recorded in Washington and London, the predominantly mid-paced collection of songs that comprised their debut album held few surprises and betrayed little sign of invention beyond the central principle of cloning a successful formula. The single 'Never Ever' was a hugely successful UK number 1, however, and also climbed to number 4 in the US later in the year. The follow-up single, pairing cover versions of the Red Hot Chili Peppers' 'Under The Bridge' and LaBelle's 'Lady Marmalade', was another UK chart-topper in May 1998. They achieved a third consecutive UK number 1 in September 1998 with 'Booty Call', but their fourth single 'War Of Nerves' stalled at number 7 in December.
Although they were rarely out of the media spotlight, the quartet's new single 'Pure Shores', produced by William Orbit and featured on the soundtrack of the Leonardo DiCaprio movie, The Beach, didn't appear until February 2000. While Lewis was busy in the recording studio writing material for their new album, the three other band members made their acting debut in David A. Stewart's Honest. Orbit's distinctive sound was again in evidence on Saints & Sinners, which was premiered by the excellent UK chart-topping single, 'Black Coffee'.
Following the cancellation of their 2001 UK tour and ongoing dispute's between the four members, it was announced that All Saints had been put 'on ice' for the immediate future. Chief songwriter Lewis embarked on solo work, while Blatt appeared on Artful Dodger's UK hit single 'Twentyfourseven'. The Appleton sisters reached UK number 2 in September 2002 with 'Fantasy', released under their new recording name, Appleton. None of the quartet's solo work made much of a commercial impact, however, and it was no surprise when in 2006 they announced they were re-forming All Saints. Sales of their comeback album Studio 1 proved disappointing, however, indicating that the group's moment in the spotlight had passed.
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