Utah Saints are an English electronic music group based in Leeds, Yorkshire. The band’s members, Jez Willis and Tim Garbutt, were joined on-stage by additional musicians when they played live from 1991 to 2001. Since then they have performed as DJs.
They were notable for their pioneering use of sampling technology – in particular, their practice of manipulating samples from mainstream pop and rock songs and combining them with contrasting dance beats, using the samples in an entirely new contexts. The band wrote, produced and mixed all their own music.
They were one of the first electronic “rave” acts to play live and supported both The Shamen and U2 live at 10 stadium shows.
Utah Saints‘ self-titled full-length is full of joyous, electronic rave-ups. The album works most successfully when the band is using inspired samples toward their pop electronica goals. “Something Good” and “What Can You Do for Me” have to be the most popular moments extracted from the album. They are also, by far, the album’s best songs. Sampling alternative diva Kate Bush‘s airy vocals, from her song “Cloudbursting,” “Something Good” becomes a fast, fun ride. Jez Willis and Tim Garbutt warp and twist Bush‘s vocals of “I just know that something good is gonna happen” every which way they can, creating a mesmerizing rave-busting anthem to joy. The song is stunning in its power to get a dancefloor moving. Who would have thought a Kate Bush chorus could be turned into a first-rate dance song? “What Can You Do for Me” does the same thing for Annie Lennox that “Something Good” did for Kate Bush. The song sees Utah Saints sampling all sorts of vocal segments and musical elements from the Eurythmics‘ “There Must Be an Angel Playing With My Heart.” The song doesn’t take off with the energy of “Something Good,” but it’s still an aural treat, mixing moody, flanged vocals, a promoter’s screams, and a worthwhile beat. “New Gold Dream” attempts another reworking, this time of a Simple Minds‘ song, to lesser, but enjoyable effect. Another area where the band mines success is when they take to making near-classical compositions in the style of dance music. This area of the band’s sound is best represented by “My Mind Must Be Free” and “Trance Atlantic Glide.” “My Mind Must Be Free” sounds like it was recorded at a gospel dance party. “Trance Atlantic Glide” works like a dance version of a minimal, Michael Nyman score to a Peter Greenaway film; one can picture Greenaway‘s strange imagery, perhaps displaced to some bizarre rave event.
In between the sampled euphoria and the symphonic dabbling, there’s perhaps a bit too much filler. Utah Saints sound either spread a bit too thin or like an imitation of 808 State on a number of the weaker tracks, particularly on “Too Much to Swallow”; the song is a major misstep which sees a goofy, high-pitched, and synthesized trumpet sound playing around with a pathetic drum machine sound. “I Want You” is also a weak track, sounding like a halfhearted mix of industrial dirge and a cut-and-paste rap. While the album isn’t entirely worthwhile all the way through, there are enough innovation and pure energy to make it essential. With less filler, and perhaps a shorter running time, there would have been more cohesion. Still, there’s so much to love, between the ear-tickling electronics and the divinely inspired samples, that one can’t help but get lost in the mostly heady mix of Utah Saints.
1993 U.K. release
- “New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84)” – 4:29
- “What Can You Do for Me” – 6:07
- “Soulution” – 5:30
- “Believe in Me” – 5:13
- “Too Much to Swallow (Part I)” – 3:25
- “Something Good” – 5:55
- “I Want You” – 4:36
- “States of Mind” – 6:22
- “Trance Atlantic Glide” – 4:58
- “Kinetic Synthetic” – 4:15
- “What Can You Do for Me? (1926 Melodic Mix)” – 3:21
- “My Mind Must Be Free” – 6:58
- “Something Good” features a sample of Kate Bush‘s “Cloudbusting“
- “I Want You” features a sample of Slayer‘s “War Ensemble“
- “What Can You Do for Me” features samples of Eurythmics‘ “There Must Be an Angel (Playing with My Heart)“, Gwen Guthrie‘s “Ain’t Nothin’ Goin’ on But the Rent” and KISS‘ Alive II album
- “My Mind Must Be Free” features samples of Candi Staton‘s “Young Hearts Run Free“, Sylvester‘s “Do Ya Wanna Funk?”
- “Believe in Me” features samples of The Human League‘s “Love Action (I Believe in Love)“
- Design [Sleeve] – Me Company
- Engineer [Assisted By] – Phil Evans
- Mixed By, Engineer – Guy Hatton
- Photography By [Band] – Steve Double
- Producer – Utah Saints
- Rap [Utah] – Dr. Douglas
Released: 24 May 1993 (UK)
Style: Techno, Euro House, Experimental
Length: 61:33 (UK version)
Label – London Records