One of the most successful girl groups in Britain in 1990s, All Saints were originally a trio of Melanie Blatt, Shaznay Lewis and Simone Rainford before evolving to a quartet with Nicole Appleton and Natalie Appleton following the departure of Rainford in 1995. Their self titled debut album (1997) charted at No. 2 and went 5X platinum in the UK, making it the UK's third best selling album by any girl band to date. The follow up “Saints & Sinners” (2000) topped the UK Albums chart and was certified double platinum in the country. All Saints had five No. 1 hit singles from both records, namely “Never Ever” (1997), “Under the Bridge/ Lady Marmalade” (1998), “Bootie Call” (1998), “Pure Shores” (2000) and “Black Coffee” (2001), as well as three Top 10 hits: “I Know Where It's At” (#4), “War of Nerves” (#7) and “All Hooked Up” (#7). The group disbanded in 2001, and each member of the group went on to pursue solo careers. They reunited in 2006 for a third album, “Studio 1.” However, the album it failed to achieve the same success of its predecessors. The group split up for a second time in 2009, with Blatt stating that All Saints will never reform.
Childhood and Family:
Both Melanie Blatt (born Melanie Ruth Blatt on March 25, 1975, in Camden, London, England) and Shaznay Lewis (born Tricia Marie Lewis, on October 14, 1975, in London, England) began as backup singers at ZTT Recording Studios, near All Saints Road, London. The two hooked up with R&B vocalist Simone Rainford, and they were signed to ZTT Records in 1993 as a trio named All Saints 188.8.131.52. After Rainford departed the group in 1995, the group recruited Nicole Appleton, and Nicole's sister Natalie subsequently became a fourth member of the group.
The original members Melanie Blatt, Shaznay Lewis and Simone Rainford first performed as All Saints 184.108.40.206. at the Touch Magazine stage at the Notting Hill Carnival in 1994. The trio released a cover of Atlantic Starr's “Silver Shadow” as their debut single in February 1995 in the UK, but it failed to chart perhaps due to small promotion. They recorded an additional single called “If You Wanna Party (I Found Lovin)” before Rainford left the band because of disagreements with the musical direction of the group. ZTT Records then dropped the remaining duo from their label. Blatt and Lewis later re-grouped and recruited native Canadian sisters Nicole and Natalie Appleton to make All Saints a quartet.
All Saints signed a contract with London Records in November 1996. The girls recorded their debut album, “All Saints,” with producers such as Cameron McVey, Magnus Fiennes, Karl “K-Gee” Gordon, John Benson, Johnny Douglas, and Nellee Hooper. Released on November 24, 1997, the album entered the UK Albums chart at No. 12 in December 1979 before rising to a peak of No. 2 in January 1998, where it stayed for three consecutive weeks. The album sold over 1,330,000 units in the US and has been certified 5x platinum by the BPI (British Phonographic Industry). It has become the third best selling album by any girl band in the UK to date. “All Saints” also scored within the Top 40 in many international countries and made it to the Top 10 in New Zealand (#2), Swiss (#3), Australia (#4), Canada (#10) and Netherlands (#10). In the United States, “All Saints” peaked at No. 40 on the Billboard 200 and was certified platinum by the RIAA for selling over 1 million copies.
The album's first single, “I Know Where It's At” (released: August 1997), reached No. 4 on the UK Singles chart in September 1997, making it the group's first Top 10 hit in the UK. All Saints, however, did not have their first UK No. 1 hit until they released “Never Ever” (1997), which Shaznay Lewis wrote with Sean Mather. The song debuted at No. 3 on the UK Singles Chart in November 1997 and remained in the Top 5 for eight weeks before rocketing to No. 1 in January 1998, where it stayed for a week on the post. The song brought the group two Brit Awards for Best British Single and Best British Video and an MTV Europe Music nomination for Best Song. In the US, “Never Ever” was released in July 1998, with a new music video. It peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100. A very successful worldwide hit, “Never Ever” also reached the top of singles charts in Australia and New Zealand and charted within top 1o in Belgium, France, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Swiss. The double A-side “Under the Bridge / Lady Marmalade” was released as the third single from the album in April 1998 and became the group's second No. 1 hit in the UK. The single went gold in both the UK and Australia, where it peaked at No. 5. The fourth single “Bootie Call” (released: August 1998) reached the top of the UK Singles chart in September 1998 and marked the group's third consecutive No. 1 hit. The fifth and final single “War of Nerves” (released: November 1998) peaked at No. 7 in the UK Singles chart.
Thanks to the success of “All Saints,” the group was handed the MTV Europe Music Award for Best New Act in 1998. The girls also received the nominations for Best Album and Best Group at the same gala, and a nomination for Best British Breakthrough Act at the 1998 BRIT Awards. In 1999, the group also was nominated for a BRIT Award in the category of Best British Dance Act.
All Saints returned with the second studio album “Saints & Sinners” on October 14, 2000. The Album reached No. 1 on the UK Albums chart and eventually went double platinum there. The album also charted in Australia (#20, received gold status), New Zealand (#8), Swiss (#7), Sweden (#10), Netherlands (#16), Germany (#14) and France (#36).
The lead single “Pure Shores,” written by Shaznay Lewis and William Orbit, became the group's fourth No. 1 hit in the UK and also was their second best selling single of 2000, with 600,000 units sold. The song also became the group's first and only No. 1 hit i Ireland and was a considerable hits across Europe and Australia. “Pure Shoes” earned the group the 2001 Ivor Novello Award for Most Performed Work and two BRIT nominations for Best British Single and Best British Video. All Saints performed the song at the 2000 MTV Europe Music Awards, where the group won the Best Pop Award. The second single “Black Coffee” gave All Saints their fifth No. 1 hit in the UK. The song also made the Top 10 in Ireland, New Zealand, Netherlands and Sweden. The third and last single “All Hooked Up” peaked at No. 7 on the UK Singles Chart.
Meanwhile, in 2000, Blatt and the Appleton sisters made their film acting debut in “ Honest,” a British black comedy directed and co-written by David A. Stewart. Nicole and Natalie made topless appearances in the film, and their acting were widely panned by critics. The three girls also contributed to three songs on the film's soundtrack.
In February 2001, All Saints took a break up, with Blatt saying later that year that it was uncertain if they would reform due to difficulties with the financial and business aspects of the group. Later that same year, All Saints was nominated for a BRIT Award for Best British Group and a NME Award for Best Pop Act.
On November 5, 2001, London Records released a greatest hits compilation album, “All Hits,” which also featured featured a song by Melanie Blatt and The Artful Dodger called “TwentyFourSeven.” The album reached No. 18 on the UK Albums chart, No. 24 in New Zealand and No. 38 in Ireland , and was eventually certified gold by BPI.
After the group disbanded, Blatt became the first member to enter the recording studio when she collaborated with Artful Dodger on the track “TwentyFourSeven” in September 2001. The song which peaked up No. 6 in the UK. It was followed by “I'm Leavin'” (2002, #42) and “ Do Me Wrong” (2003, #18). Because poor sales, Blatt was dropped by her label, London Records. She would later return to the music industry with a new single, “See Me” (April 2005), which was included in the soundtrack of the film “Robots.” The track peaked at No. 78 in the UK. She was working on an album with Swollen Ankle Ltd, but the album was shelved when All Saints reunited in early 2006. After the split, the Appleton sisters returned to music by forming the duo Appleton in 2002. their debut album, “Everything Eventual,” was released through Polydor on February 24, 2003. It spawned three singles: “Fantasy” (UK #2), “Don't Worry” (UK #5) and “Everything Eventually” (UK #38). They were dropped by the label due to low sales. They then signed with Concept Music in late 2004. Another member Shaznay Lewis released her debut single, “ Never Felt Like This Before,” in July 2004. The single peaked at No. 8 in the UK. Her album, “Open,” followed two weeks later through London Records and reached No. 22 in the UK. She was involved in the the Band Aid 20 in the re-recording of “Do They Know It's Christmas?” (2004).
In January 2006, All Saints reformed and signed a contract with Parlophone. The girls released their third studio album, “Studio 1,” which also marked their first and only record on the label, was released pn November 10, 2006. The album peaked at No. 40 in the UK Albums Chart and eventually received gold status in the UK. The first single “Rock Steady” (released: November 6, 2006) peaked at No. 3 on the UK Singles Chart. The second single “Chick Fit” failed to chart inside the UK Singles Chart. After the low sales of their album, All Saints were subsequently released from their contract with Parlophone,and they canceled their planned UK tour.
In August 2009, Melanie Blatt stated to the London Lite, “All Saints are never getting back together again. I never want to sing again. I recently did the Brits with Nic and we just went round chatting to people and then got drunk. That's my goal—to get paid for chatting to people and getting drunk!”
A second compilation album, “Pure Shores: The Very Best of All Saints,” was released in through London/Parlophone on September 27, 2010.
Ivor Novello: Most Performed Work, “Pure Shores,” 2001
MTV Europe Music: Best Pop, 2000
BRIT: Best British Single, “Never Ever,” 1998
BRIT: Best British Video, “Never Ever,” 1998
MTV Europe Music: Best New Act, 1998