Its 1996 and whispers on the streets are growing louder that an exciting, talented and innovative band calling themselves Belle and Sebastian have emerged from a group of students studying a music course at Stow College in Glasgow. By the time the whispers reach the ears of your humble scribe it is too late to pick up any of the 1000 copies of the debut LP Tigermilk that had been pressed by the college.
It’s hard to imagine in these days of instant access to mp3 files and the revolution these have brought to the music industry but unless you had a copy of the album, or knew someone who had and was prepared to make a cassette tape of it for you, it was near impossible to hear any of those songs.
Luckily enough, the band were snapped up by a new independent label called Jeepster Records which allowed a second LP to be released before 1996 ended and so my first exposure to the band was If You’re Feeling Sinister, one of the most critically lauded records of all time and rightly so.
Every so often in the world of indie/alt music someone comes along and becomes the role model or poster boy/girl for the indie kids the world over, usually for a period of around 4 or 5 years (which is coincidentally the time that a lot of indie kids spend at university or college). These role models capture the hearts and minds of those who are obsessive about their music and link it to every almost every aspect of their lives and the way they lead them. I’d cite, from the time when I became are very serious about my music, folk like Joe Strummer, Morrissey and Michael Stipe fitting that bill at different times. And from 1996 through to the turn of the century it was the turn of B&S frontman Stuart Murdoch to wear that particular crown.
To the late teens and early 20-somethings, being a B&S fan was about much more than the music and to this then 30-something there were times the whole scene got so twee and fanciful that it crossed over into pretentiousness. It was tempting to just reach across to those youngsters sitting near you in a bar, cafe or in a park or on a pavement bench and quietly tell them that reading classic literature and listening to obscure pop music wasn’t their invention….stopped only by the realisation that if someone had done that to me a decade previously when I was wittering on loudly and annoyingly about Wilde, Yeats and Mozza I’d have just looked back at the old codger dishing out the lecture with a sense of pity.
Instead, all I could do was accept that at 33 years old, my youth had gone forever (or so it seemed!). Should I turn my back on the music and ignore it?? Problem was……..it was far too good for that.
mp3 : Belle & Sebastian – Me & The Major
mp3 : Belle & Sebastian – Like Dylan In The Movies
mp3 : Belle & Sebastian – If You’re Feeling Sinister
mp3 : Belle & Sebastian – Judy and The Dream Of Horses
The band proved none of this was a fluke with an amazing set of EPs released in 1997 and then the equally as good LP The Boy With The Arab Strap. They’re still going strong today and I’ve had the pleasure of sharing a dancefloor with Stuart Murdoch on quite a few occasions in recent years….with one memorable time being when we were both guests at a mutual friend’s wedding reception and a song by The Go-Betweens began playing…..
But I don’t feature them much around here as any such postings on the old blog caused a lot of issues around dmca notices. Pity, cos they are rather good. I’m considering the option of making them the focus of a new Sunday series when I reach the end of the road with The Clash in a few weeks. Any thoughts?