Peter Sarstedt: England’s Lane

review sarstedt x1 cong

Sarstedt is best known for Where Do You Go To My Lovely, which he wrote, and reached number one in 14 countries. It features on the rather lacklustre Ab Fab film soundtrack, which we reviewed, but, curious as to where he was now, we found that this had been re-released earlier in the year and bought it. It’s excellent.

The album was recorded in 1997 with his childhood friend Brian Hodgson (The Rutles) and Altogether Now features Albert Lee.

We like everything about this album. They’re quality folk/pop tunes, the players (described as “the workers” in the sleeve notes) have links with many a classic hit tune or band over their careers and are top musicians, and it’s got a British self-deprecating feel to it. We like the fact that Sarstedt looks like the Fast Show’s Swiss Toni, too.

It’s Sarstedt’s voice that leads the way, smooth and poignant, a bit like the Canadian singer Gordon Lightfoot. Where Do You Go To My Lovely is not here but there’s a similar waltz sound on Biarritz, while Altogether Now is a rocking country tune with Lee’s trademark licks. The title track has a bluesy feel, and warms up nicely. As a whole, the album reminds us of Gordon Haskell’s gentle Harry’s Bar.

The album is out Angel Air, which seems to release back catalogues of classic tracks. Folk fans should buy this now — Sarstedt is in poor health and living in a nursing home. In 2011 he was diagnosed with dementia and in 2015 was diagnosed with progressive supranuclear palsy. He was too ill to contribute to the sleeve notes, a tragic end for someone who writes such pleasing songs.

About jerobear

Weekly newspaper editor in Cheshire, England. I blog my editorials and the CDs I write about. I play drums, drink coffee, play music, meditate. I hate filling in forms.

1 Response

  1. Chicho

    Hi,

    After reading your post and discovering “Biarritz”I can´t stop enjoying everytime I listen to it. Thank you for the tip.

    However I’m not a native english speaker and I’m having some trouble with a few words in the lyrics.
    I would really appreciate some help in claryfing and filling in some blanks.

    Here is my understanding of the lyrics of the song:

    *************************************************************************
    “Biarritz”

    When I’ll meet you in Biarrtiz next summer
    I’ll see you at the back of the train station
    and we will talk sadly about winter
    spent in the arms of some north country girl.
    And we will drink to our freedom
    never admitting how hard freedom can be.

    When if I don´t see you in Biarritz
    I´ll meet you in Paris behind the Notre Damme.
    Remember the first time in Paris
    we smiled together at each ???
    We used to drink to our freedom
    we were too young to know just how hard freedom can be

    ???? I wish we could say what we really intended to say
    Why must we always tell lies?
    and pretend it´s o.k.
    Ever I´ll meet you in Biarritz next summer
    Oh, let us not talk of the things
    that we both know can not be made ??lain?? of words

    ????? just like the birds
    ??????????? call of the seasons forever

    You and I know what we´ve done
    and what we must do

    You and I know what we´ve done
    and what we must do

    *******************************************************************************

    I think it´s a great and unkown song for many of us.

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