3.. 6.. 9 Seconds of Light was Belle & Sebastian’s third EP, released in 1997 on Jeepster Records.
The lead track on the EP, “A Century of Fakers,” uses the same backing track as “A Century of Elvis” from Lazy Line Painter Jane. Another song, “Songs for Children” (sometimes known as “On the Radio”) plays directly after “Put the Book Back on the Shelf” (on the same track) on both the CD and 12″ versions of this release. The front cover features band member Stuart Murdoch with Victoria Morton.
The EP was later re-packaged as part of the Lazy Line Painter Jane box-set, and all four tracks were collected on the Push Barman to Open Old Wounds compilation. Both NME and Melody Maker made the release their Single of the Week, and the EP became the band’s first to reach the UK top 40 singles chart, peaking at #32.
On-line review from allmusic:-
3.. 6.. 9 Seconds of Light concludes Belle & Sebastian’s streak of three extraordinary EPs in 1997 in grand style, offering four remarkable songs from Stuart Murdoch. “A Century of Fakers” has different lyrics and a melody than Lazy Line Painter Jane’s “A Century of Elvis,” which consisted of the same backing track and a spoken story. “Le Pastie de la Bourgeoisie” is a reverb-drenched song that is the closest the band has ever come to rock, and “Put the Book Back on the Shelf” is a typically lovely slow number, but “Beautiful,” with its graceful, lyrical melody, ranks among Murdoch’s best ballads.
It is true – this was the third extraordinary EP in succession. The lead track in this instance however, is probably the weakest of the four/five tracks. Le Pastie….is the standout on this occasion and which to this day still gets a huge ovation whenever it is played live.
Again, this EP came with a short story in the sleevenotes. This one could be made into a great short film…….
It was a day like today, really warm, when everybody is out of doors, happy to be lying around. Jim had something going. A little project that involved making posters for concerts that would never happen, and record sleeves for records that never existed. He had got up at around six am. Sprung out of bed as if the thought of sleep scared him. The sun was coming directly against the wall just beside his bed. There was a picture of Echo And The Bunnymen. It was very quiet apart from that.
He didn’t wonder what would happen today. He was going to make things happen. He felt like his enthusiasm would rip his heart out of his chest. He worked himself up into a state of excitement. The possibilities of the day were endless. He has nineteen and limber, and the sun sparkled through his tea as it splashed into the cup.
He lined up his various papers and packed them into his bag. He sat at his desk at the window and arrayed his athletes’ breakfast in front of him. He listened to Radio Four for a bit, and then he set to work with his blunted pencil and rub down transfers. He kept what he was trying to say in a straight line by using the edge forged Matriculation Card. As far as the University authorities knew, his name was Arthur Cooke.
Pretty soon, with all pressing matters blissfully set aside, he fell into a reverie the type of which could go on all day if you let it. he gladly let it because it echoed a dream he had once had, and dreams were as close as he ever got to matters spiritual. He had known a girl once who had a tent. They talked about going camping into the country one summer. He was fond of the girl and he was fond of her friend both. Her friend was nice and though studied architecture in another city was around often enough to be in on their plan. When they were around Jim often looked straight at his boots and wondered at the gifts the girls had for their various brainy pursuits. He was a bit ashamed. He was older than them, but was a bit of a flop in the brain department. His reverie involved the tent, the dusk, the smell of hot trainers and not much else. He never managed to the country with them.
Jim woke up again, his plan for the day lying in tatters he thought. It was a quarter past twelve. he had fallen asleep in a pool of sunlight and he had been woken by a ring at his neighbour’s door. He was drowsy and his head full of false literature of dreams and failed schedules. He dressed with not much care. When he flicked on the radio a song was playing that he found unexpected pleasure in. This was very, very lucky. His bag was packed for a quick getaway which was lucky too. So out and over the hill to the busy arcade where he did his photocopying. He was lucky on a day like today that he lived in an area of schools, tenants and flowering cherries. In the winter it was dour, but his one room flat was ok as long as he had outside to step into. He stepped along the street and noticed the heat off the pavement through his black plimsoll boots. He wondered, if he painted them with hot tyre rubber if they would last him till his housing cheque came through.
Jim came to the steps of the arcade. It was cooler for a second or two, but the hotness was replaced by the dry heat of photocopy fans. He waited in the queue of students and small business women, and he felt endless sympathy for the men that worked the machines.
Photocopying was all the rage that year so there was quite a queue of young trendies and h——-s. A man with the forward slanting mother of all pudding bowl haircuts struggled to see what he was doing. His machine was throwing out endless prints of psychedelic swirls. Chatty undergraduate girls warmed to the new craze. Jim wished slightly that he could have beaten the rush. But at least he recognised another boy at the copy shop. He watched in a trance as the boy’s illustration of a cat banging a drum got bigger and bigger.
Soon it was his turn to get on a machine. He was there to make a picture for his room. He had a tiny photography that he kept in a keyring. He had found it in an art college when he was working as a cleaner. It was only a test for a real photograph he thought. He didn’t think they would miss it.
It was a picture of a boy and a girl on a beach. Jim took the picture and put it in the machine. He booted the enlarge up to as far as it would go. He pressed print and the light flashed across the picture. He wondered if it would come out at all but it looked pretty good, about the size of a bank card. He did the same thing twice over. He was pretty excited. The picture was terrific, burnt out and grainy, he thought it didin’t look like real people at all. He felt much better now. He started to look around the little copy shop.
He noticed a paper lying underneath one of the machines. He stooped down to pick it up. It had stuff written on it. He picked it up and started to read.
“Claire and I decided to devise a music workshop for a group of 20 children around the age of five. It could be carried out in a school or in a community centre. Children of this age are still very uninhibited and energetic, which potentially provides teachers or workshop leaders with a vast and unlimited musical scope. The idea of our workshop is to introduce some very simple movements (such as hand-clapping and marching) that will effectively relax and improve the childrens’ overall coordination and concentration. Alongside rhythm, melody and movement, we would also like to draw the childrens’ attention to musical dynamics and tempo. To demonstrate, we will get the children to perform their warm-up and song at varying speeds and volumes. The workshop will finish with a performance of the song.
To introduce the workshop we will begin with a warm- up, lasting about seven minutes. The children should be instructed to form a spacious circle. We will then demonstrate marching and clapping along to a basic 4/4 rhythm. This game can be a lot of fun. Whilst maintaining the clapping and marching along to a beat, individuals take it in turn to create any sound, at any pitch, of any length, with any words. The only restriction to the game being that they can only make their sound when it is their turn, and it must always be the same. They have to remember their own personal sound.”
The report reminded Jim of the time when he was an administrator of the sick and young. He wanted to think about that for a while. He took his thoughts to the cafe nearby.
It was busy with people eating and talking in booths. He got some coffee and watched a man and a girl in the next booth. He thought they had been there for quite a while. There was books and paper scattered on the table, along with debris from cup after cup of coffee. They weren’t aware of him watching. They weren’t aware of anything as the girl was writing, while the boy read a magazine.
A another table, a girl stared solemnly into her cup. Jim wished he could’ve taken her picture. But then he was afraid that he might steal the moment away from her…
mp3 : Belle and Sebastian – A Century Of Fakers
mp3 : Belle and Sebastian – Le Pastie De La Bourgeoisie
mp3 : Belle and Sebastian – Beautiful
mp3 : Belle and Sebastian – Put The Book Back On The Shelf/Songs For Children
The fact that a little know band, with next to no radio play, on a tiny independent radio could take an EP (which retailed for slightly more than a standard single) into the Top 40 of the UK charts was a significant achievement.