AN IMAGINARY COMPILATION ALBUM : #165 : BELLE & SEBASTIAN

Belle and Sebastian. I’m surprised that nobody has thrown in a guest ICA by now….and with one eye on the next again World Cup (to be held in 2020 and featuring ICAs #151 onwards), I thought I’d have a stab. I’m assuming most readers will be vaguely familiar with the back story of a band which has released nine studio albums, six EPs and 12 singles over the past 22 years. The mainstays throughout time have been Stuart Murdoch, Stevie Jackson, Chris Geddes, Richard Colburn and Sarah Martin, all of whom have been present since the very earliest of days, while Bobby Kildea has been with them since 2000. There are also three past members – Stuart David, Isobel Campbell and Mick Cooke – whose contributions were immense in establishing the band critically and commercially.

It was only when looking at the bigger picture did it hit me that in terms of quantity, and indeed quality, the golden era of the band was a relatively short spell from 1996-2003. There’s only been three albums over the past 15 years, all of which can be described as patchy, certainly in comparison to the early years. If you’re ever for an example of a band coasting somewhat and relying on past achievements, then this could be your landing point. It led me to put together a fully chronological ICA, based on the order in which the albums/EPs were released with one track per record. (It was also put together without me listening to any of the new material released across three EPs in recent months). Despite such a self-imposed restriction, it still hangs together really well…..

Side A

1. The State I Am In (from Tigermilk, released June 1996)

Things have changed a great deal in the music industry over the past 20-odd years and so it is unlikely given the growth of social media as a platform for a band to emerge in a similar way to Belle & Sebastian via a music course at a further education college in Glasgow. A demo recording of four songs, which itself would be released later on as the band’s fame grew, had led to the college record label, Electric Honey, funding 1000 copies of an album. It sold out almost instantly and the band signed to Jeepster Records who re-released Tigermilk in 1999. If you’re desperate to get your hands on one of the Electric Honey pressings of this outstanding record, expect to have to fork out somewhere in the range of £450, and even then, you won’t get a mint copy!

2. Get Me Away From Here, I’m Dying (from If You’re Feeling Sinister, released November 1996)

If You’re Feeling Sinister was most people’s introduction to B&S, certainly outside of a few hundred folk in Glasgow. The formula adopted wasn’t much different from Tigermilk – back into the same small-scale studio with an approach to production which involved minimum overdubs. Jeepster Records were obviously delighted to get a facsimile of the debut, albeit this collection of songs was a notch-up on the debut given that Murdoch as a song-writer was growing in confidence and all of the band were improving as musicians and players. Without any imposed restrictions, there is no question that at least four, maybe even five of the songs on this album would make any ICA, but I’ve gone for the one which seemed to be the calling card….and which has an upbeat tune at odds with its title.

3. Dog On Wheels (from EP of the same name, released May 1997)

4. Lazy Line Painter Jane (from EP of same name, released July 1997)

The four-tracks that made up the demo had been released as Dog On Wheels EP in May 1997 and had sold enough copies to reach #59 in the UK singles chart, which was a remarkable outcome for a lo-fi recording by a relatively unknown band on a genuinely small and independent label with all the issues that were naturally present around pressing and distribution. The songs date from 1995 but the lead number somehow manages to convey more oomph than anything on the two albums thanks to Cooke’s trumpet playing being put front-centre.

The band was insistent that no singles should be lifted from the first Jeepster LP and instead agreed that they would work-up new songs for release as four-track EPs. Lazy Line Painter Jane utilises a guest vocalist in the shape of Monica Queen whose powerful and forceful delivery, recorded in a church hall, offers a tremendous contrast to the quiet and frail vocal of Murdoch. The result is an amazing duet that, vocally in style, brings to mind some of the great Country efforts involving Johnny Cash/June Carter and George Jones/Tammy Wynette while the swirling organ brings something new to the band’s sound, with the near six minutes being as far removed from ‘twee’ as can be imagined.

5. La Pastie de la Bourgeosie (from 3.. 6.. 9.. Seconds of Light, released October 1997)

Lazy Line Painter Jane had continued the upward projectory with a tantalising placement of #41 on the charts. It was just three months later, on 25 October 1997, the latest EP entered at #32….not bad for a band whose debut album just 15 months earlier had come out on a college label and whose follow-up, while selling in gradually increasing numbers, hadn’t shifted enough in any given week to scrape into the Top 100.

B&S were the new kids on the indie block and every magazine and broadsheet newspaper wanted a piece of them, and in particular their enigmatic frontman. The four songs on the EP typified the band at this stage of their career, with a folk-like number the lead track, a ballad and a spoken word effort sitting alongside a song that was a guaranteed floor-filler at your indie disco. With a lyric which references children’s author Judy Blume early on, namechecks a work by JD Salinger that is of most appeal to adolescents before ending with a mention of Jack Kerouac, the name most likely to be dropped casually into conversation by college/university students, La Pastie de la Bourgeosie is essentially an escapist number from the perspective of someone who has a romantic and unrealistic view of America…which is why so many journalists were desperate to land an interview with the frontman to probe him on where his ideas and inspirations came from me. Me? I’d have asked why do you write so many slow songs when you’ve killer tunes like this to unleash on the public.

Side B

6. The Boy With The Arab Strap (from album of the same name, September 1998)

I’m sure this will always be my favourite B&S song. Great tune and a great backstory in which Stuart Murdoch has a bit of fun at Aidan Moffat’s expense around the latter’s infatuation with a friend of Isobel Campbell – which Aidan himself had previously referred to in I Saw You (see yesterday’s song as short story entry).

7. This Is Just A Modern Rock Song (from EP of the same name, released December 1998)

This was the song that really made me think B&S were on the verge of real and sustainable greatness.  It deserves to be called epic, and not solely for the fact it is seven-plus minutes in length, but for the fact that  grows and develops from a softly-sung number by one man and his acoustic guitar into something which soars into the perfect anthem for this brand of indie-pop with its refrain of:-

This is just a modern rock song
This is just a sorry lament
We’re four boys in our corduroys
We’re not terrific but we’re competent

Four lines which seemed to capture everything I had loved about music since my teenage years.  Sadly, the EP marked the end of what I now regard as the golden and prolific era for the band in which forty-six pieces of music had been released across three albums and four EPs in less than two and half years. If they had called it a day there and then, they would still be recalled very fondly for the quality and bravado of their work.

8. Legal Man (from single of the same name, released May 2000)

Little did we know that the band would go into a bit of a hiatus after This Is Just A Modern Rock Song and that their return would be marked by the release of their first ever 45, with a lead song that was nothing like they had ever recorded before.  It also was the first release after the band had come to the attention of a wider public in a way that, all these years later, still seems surreal.

The Brit Awards 1999.  Belle and Sebastian are on the shortlist for ‘Best British Newcomer; despite the fact they were not a new act and that they disn’t have a major label lobbying on their behalf.  The ceremony, on 16 February, is broadcast live to a TV audience numbering more than 10million.  The category they were up for was one of the few not at the behest of a panel of judges, instead being given to the winner of a public vote via BBC Radio 1 that had been heavily promoted through tabloid newspapers, all of whom gave much space to a number of emerging pop acts who had enjoyed huge success in the singles charts with our Glasgwegian heroes getting just the merest of passing mentions. It was bizarre that were even on the shortlist given that, outside of evening shows, B&S would never have been played by the station…

Nobody had actually taken much notice that the award utilised a then largely untried method of electronic voting. The B&S fanbase mobilised as one, many of them making multiple votes through personal accounts, along with work/learning based e-mail addresses, leading to them winning the award to the astonishment of everyone concerned, including themselves.  It led a hilarious and rather childish reaction on the night from folk associated with the losing acts followed by the inevitable ‘Bell & Who?’ in the press the next day.

It took a long while for the band to release anything new – it was almost as if they wanted the fuss to die down and for them to get back out of the spotlight. The comeback 45 was a dramatic shift in sound and the upbeat nature led to a reasonable amount of daytime play. It also sold enough to hit the charts and give the band a debut appearance on Top of the Pops!

Legal Man was probably the first ever B&S purchase for many folk. If they liked what they heard and went out the following month to but the new LP, Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like A Peasant, then they were bound to be left scratching their heads given it was more whimsical and introspective than all of their previous work – indeed it was a record that many long-term fans felt was a backwards step that lacked the ambition and freshness of much that had come before and the first ever step backwards.

9. I’m Waking Up To Us (from single of the same name, released November 2001)

The 18 months between Legal Man and this single was a period where the band didn’t do much for me. Fold Your Hands… was a disappointment and the next again single Jonathan David was rescued only by decent b-sides. What came next was jaw-dropping, not so much for the music (although the heavy use of strings and woodwind took the pastoral feel to a whole new level) but the subject matter.

There’s break-up songs and then there’s this. The singer’s well-publicised romantic relationship with a fellow band member had run its course and he in all likelihood expected she would make things easy for everyone by taking her leave. It doesn’t happen and so he pens a really nasty lyric for the next single and insists on her performing on the record and taking part in all the accompanying promotional work, including TV appearances which must have been excruciating for her.

Cruel and humiliating for Isobel Campbell, she would gain a partial revenge the following year by quitting the band in the middle of a ground-breaking tour of the USA, and putting Stuart Murdoch on the edge of a nervous breakdown. It’s a song where the listener is best advised to put to one side the personal circumstances that gave rise to the work and enjoy it for what it is, and that’s an outstanding piece of music.

10. Stay Loose (from Dear Catastrophe Waitress, released October 2003)

The departures of Stuart David and Isobel Campbell, together with the lukewarm response to Fold Your Hands…, left the band at something of a crossroads. There were further faltering steps with Storytelling, an album released in June 2002 as the underwhelming soundtrack to an equally underwhelming movie. Looking back now, what happened next was quite drastic and almost a make-or-break period for the band with the decision to leave Jeepster and sign to Rough Trade and to agree to the label’s suggestion of bringing on board an experienced producer to help mould and shape the diverse sounds that everyone was bringing to the party.

There are some fans who were bitterly disappointed with the impact Trevor Horn had on the band but I’m someone who thinks Dear Catastrophe Waitress is among their strongest pieces of work. It was certainly a huge return to form, albeit with a sound that was more pop-orientated than before, and I don’t think any of the subsequent albums have over the past 15 years have been consistently as enjoyable a listen and it was a no-brainer to include something from the LP on the ICA.

There were a number of strong candidates but at the same time I was conscious that what had come before meant that the track from DCW would have to close the ICA and so the decision was, in a sense, made for me. Stay Loose, in the words of one reviewer at the time is ‘innovative, funky, and twinkling with subtle electronica that thrums with a newly found confidence’. It made a perfect ending to a wonderfully unpredictable album.

So that’s my stab at a B&S ICA…..anyone inspired to offer up a second volme with ten completely different songs?

JC

B&S ON SUNDAYS (14)

I’ve spent the last three Sundays bemoaning the horrendous drop in quality of the Belle and Sebastian singles/EPs in comparison to what they were producing back when they first appeared on the scene.  Parts 11-13 of this series took in the singles from The Life Pursuit, the LP released in 2006.  Part 14 is going to attempt to wrap up the past decade.

The reason for this is primarily that while singles have been released (as such), they’ve mostly been digital downloads and the idea behind this series was as much to draw attention to b-sides as anything else.

The tour to promote The Life Pursuit was an exhausting one. The first show of the year was in Glasgow on 15 January.  The last was in September in Dublin after almost 90 gigs across the globe, taking in Europe, USA, Australia and Japan, including all sorts of appearances at many of the summer festivals.  It would be four years before the band resurfaced, with the release, in September 2010, of the LP Belle and Sebastian Write About Love, again on Rough Trade. (although in the intervening period, a very welcome release in the shape of  The BBC Sessions, a compilation of unreleased recordings recorded between 1996 and 2001, kept fans happy).

The new album wasn’t preceded by any single. In the end, three tracks could be found outwith the album with Write About Love and I Want The World To Stop issued as digital downloads in October 2010 and February 2011. Then in July 2011, a very low-key and nowadays difficult to find EP was issued on 12″ vinyl by Rough Trade with these four tracks:-

Come On Sister (Tony Doogan Mix)
I Didn’t See It Coming (Richard X Remix)
I Didn’t See It Coming (Cold Cave Remix)
Blue Eyes Of A Millionaire

The last of these was the only new track (although it had been available as a bonus track for those who had bought the download of the album):-

mp3 : Belle and Sebastian – Blue Eyes Of A Millionaire

It’s a rather lovely little number and a real step up on the b-sides of the modern era.

The next few years were dominated by Stuart Murdoch dedicating himself to God Help The Girl and it wasn’t till January 2015 that new Belle and Sebastian material emerged. By this time, one of the key members, Mick Cooke, whose trumpet playing on the records and in the live setting really helped make things special, had departed the band to spend more time with his young family and do some film composing.

The new material was another LP, Girls In Peacetime Want To Dance, which was released on Matador Records. No singles were officially lifted from it although three tracks – The Party Line, Nobody’s Empire and Allie – had digital/promo releases. All of the available songs were made commercially available to fans, although you had to shell out for a limited edition, quadruple LP to get some otherwise unavailable extended mixes and these bonus tracks:-

mp3 : Belle and Sebastian – Born To Act
mp3 : Belle and Sebastian – Two Birds
mp3 : Belle and Sebastian – Piggy In The Middle
mp3 : Belle and Sebastian – A Politician’s Silence

These would have made a marvellously diverse and entertaining 4-track EP almost up there with some of the really early material, albeit the songs demonstrate just how much Belle and Sebastian have evolved over the best part of 20 years.

And that seems a good way to draw this particular mini-series to an end.  Hope it’s been enjoyable for everyone somewhere along the line.

B&S ON SUNDAYS (13)

R-719154-1154161121.jpeg

From wiki:-

“White Collar Boy” (as shown on the album or “The White Collar Boy” as labeled on the single) is a song by Belle & Sebastian from their album The Life Pursuit. It was the third single from the album. The track was released on 26 June 2006 on Rough Trade Records, and was produced by Tony Hoffer. Upon release it failed to make the top 40, only charting at #45. It is the band’s first single not to make the Top 40 since “Lazy Line Painter Jane”. The model on the cover is Catherine Ireton, who later became the lead vocalist for Stuart Murdoch’s God Help the Girl project.

It’s not that great an effort and I suppose most fans were a bit hacked off that the band now seemed to be like so many others, content with lifting a number of singles from an album rather than making each release seem precious or of value.

As with The Blues Are Still Blue, I didn’t buy this single at the time which came out, like the other two lifted from The Life Pursuit, on CD, 7″ vinyl and DVD.

mp3 : Belle and Sebastian – The White Collar Boy

However, many years later I found a copy of the 7″ in a charity shop and picked it up.  I remember being gobsmacked at the choice of b-side, hoping somehow it wasn’t the Rod Stewart cover I dreaded it being.  But it was….

mp3 : Belle and Sebastian – Baby Jane

The original was awful and this was a million times worse.  I recall saying as much on the old blog and giving it a real kicking.  It provoked one of the most vitriolic comments I’ve ever been on the receiving end of, with the contributor accusing me of all sorts in terms of my taste in music and that I had no right nor was I qualified to pass judgement on the band.  Maybe it was a coincidence but that particular past was very soon afterwards the subject of a dmca notice – as indeed were a number of other more glowing posts that I’d given the band and within a few weeks the accumulation of such notices in such a short period of time led to google taking the decision to abruptly close down The Vinyl Villain without giving me the chance to salvage anything.

If I didn’t have any time at all for the cover version back then on, you can imagine my feelings now after all that!

I’ve tracked down the two tracks that were on the CD single.  Please excuse me if I simply post them without giving them a listen.

mp3 : Belle and Sebastian – Long Black Scarf
mp3 : Belle and Sebastian – Heaven In The Afternoon

See those posters who despaired of me persisting with the series of James and Cinerama singles??? They may have had a point. But I’ll keep going as we’re almost at the end.

B&S ON SUNDAYS (12)

Belle-blues

 

Last week, Martin left the following comment:-

“…..this song, funny little frog, might be the worst song ever recorded. by anyone. ever.”

Be prepared Martin.  Be prepared.

From wiki:-

“The Blues Are Still Blue” was the second single from the Belle & Sebastian’s The Life Pursuit. The track was released in April 2006 on Rough Trade Records, and is produced by Tony Hoffer. The single reached #25 in the UK singles chart.

The wiki entry is very abrupt in comparison to many of the other singles.  And no wonder, as it’s a travesty of a 45.

There were a number of possible candidates for the all-important follow-up single after the album had been released to mostly positive reviews, but very few of which considered it to be the band’s finest body of work.  It was generally considered to be a 3/3.5 out of 5 body of work which was, to the casual listener, probably a generous mark if you were going purely by The Blues Are Still Blue, with its nonsensical lyric set to a tune that seems a partial tribute to glam rock.

I just can’t find anything endearing about it.  All of which means I didn’t buy the 45 at the time  – again released in CD, 7″ and DVD format  – and so as I find the tracks out there on the internet, it will be the first time I hear them.

CD single:-

mp3 : Belle and Sebastian – The Blues Are Still Blue

mp3 : Belle and Sebastian – The Life Pursuit

Strange that the track after which the album was named was reduced to being an obscure b-side when in fact it is much more obvious a B&S number than many of its contemporaries; it’s certainly better than the a-side

mp3 : Belle and Sebastian – Mr Richard

Please make it stop.  A pastiche of Paul Simon‘s Me and Julio Down By The Schoolyard is what comes to mind.  Or a ‘comedy’ number by your in-house entertainment crew on an 1980s package holiday

7″ b-side

mp3 : Belle and Sebastian – Whiskey In The Jar

Limp and lifeless and pointless cover of a cover in a nod to the band referenced in I’m A Cuckoo.  Oh dear.

The DVD had a live version of Roy Walker, again taken from the Botanic Gardens gig of June 2012.  I can’t be bothered to track it down.

Strange how the band were now more popular than ever but the new material was sadly lacking……

B&S ON SUNDAYS (11)

FunnyLittleFrog

From wiki:-

“Funny Little Frog” was the first single lifted from Belle & Sebastian’s The Life Pursuit. The track was released in January 2006 on Rough Trade Records, and is produced by Tony Hoffer. The single became the band’s highest-charting single in the UK so far, reaching #13. The artwork for the single features Julie Coyle and Marisa Privitera.

A different version of the song “Funny Little Frog” appears in Stuart Murdoch’s project “God Help the Girl”.

Fair play to the band for moving the sound along again in a different direction with the single that pre-dated the release of The Life Pursuit by around a month or so.  My problem was however, that it just didn’t excite me in the way that earlier releases had.  It’s not that Funny Little Frog is poor or a total let-down, but it wasn’t one that stopped me in my tracks or made me want to listen to it on heavy rotation.  Having said that, it was clearly one for radio play and the idea of its release date was to create a bit of excitement around the new LP;  it didn’t fail on either count with, as wiki states, becoming the band’s biggest 45 and paving the way for the LP to debut at #8, which again was a watermark achievement.

It was released on CD single, 7″ and DVD format, and you had to buy all three formats if you wanted all the b-sides.  Changed days indeed.

mp3 : Belle & Sebastian – Funny Little Frog
mp3 : Belle & Sebastian – Meat and Potatoes
mp3 : Belle & Sebastian – I Took A Long Hard Look

That’s the 3-track CD for you. Meat and Potatoes is is the tale of a couple’s attempts to spice up their sex life set to a tune that borders on a C&W ballad. It’s as dreadful as the words I’ve just typed up would have you imagine…..

I Took A Long Hard Look is Stevie Jackson by numbers. There’ll be loads who love this. I’m not one of them.

That’s the first time in nearly ten years that I’ll have played these songs. Still haven’t changed my opinion.

mp3 : Belle & Sebastian – The Eighth Station of the Cross Kebab House

This was the b-side of the 7″ vinyl. Also made available as a track on a fundraiser album for a children’s charity. I don’t think it would make too many ICAs compiled by even the most hardcore B&S fan…

mp3 : Belle & Sebastian – Lazy Line Painter Jane (live at the Botanics)

Back in June 2004, the band had played a special gig in a Glasgow park as part of a local festival. I remember the day well as it was the occasion summer visited the city that year – gloriously hot and sunny. I didn’t bother with the gig as I’m not a huge fan of the outdoor variety – and besides, it was a day best spent on the golf course. It’s a speeded-up version of the old song from the Lazy Line Painter Jane EP, but it does feature the magnificent Monica Queen on co-vocal so it’s well worth it.

Enjoy.

B&S ON SUNDAYS (10)

Books

from wiki

Books is an EP released by Belle & Sebastian in 2004 on Rough Trade Records. The EP features “Wrapped Up in Books” from Dear Catastrophe Waitress, two new songs — “Your Cover’s Blown” and “Your Secrets” — and “Cover (Version)”, a remix of “Your Cover’s Blown” by the band’s keyboardist Chris Geddes. The front cover features Alexandra Klobouk. The EP reached #20 in the UK singles chart.

from all music

Books is the third single from Belle & Sebastian’s 2003 album Dear Catastrophe Waitress. “Wrapped Up in Books” comes from the album. The other three songs are exclusive to the EP.

While the charming, low-key “Books” is a fine song, it is firmly in the B&S tradition. “Your Secrets” is also pretty typical fare, but very strong and catchy with the added perk of some lovely weeping pedal steel guitar. The real interesting track here is the mini-epic “Your Cover’s Blown.” It starts off as a slinky disco number with some wonderfully sexy vocals from Stuart Murdoch, has a lovely sunny chorus, and a spooky spy music bridge. Add to it typically literate and funny lyrics and you have a winner that is equal parts Pulp, Squeeze, and always uniquely Belle & Sebastian. The group’s creative renaissance continues to amaze. “Cover” is a funky remix of “Your Cover’s Blown.” The band’s Chris Geddes is responsible and he turns the track into a glittering dancefloor confection that wouldn’t sound out of place between the Rapture and !!! on indie dance night, or even in a Larry Levan mix.0

This is everything that the previous single wasn’t.  It’s got a brilliantly catchy and enjoyable lead track (one of many excellent songs on Dear Catastrophe Waitress) while the three other songs have a certain wow factor.  Your Secrets is a quality b-side, one which is up there with some of the earlier material, but as the reviewer indicates, the real joy is to be found in the funky and groovy Your Cover’s Blown and its remix.  This was the band taking a chance and really pulling it off.  One of my favourite B&S tracks simply for the fact it’s such a departure from the norm and so well pulled off.

mp3 : Belle & Sebastian – Wrapped Up In Books
mp3 : Belle & Sebastian – Your Cover’s Blown
mp3 : Belle & Sebastian – Your Secrets
mp3 : Belle & Sebastian – Cover (version)

Enjoy.

B&S ON SUNDAYS (9)

cuckoo

From wiki

“I’m a Cuckoo” was Belle & Sebastian’s second single from Dear Catastrophe Waitress, released on Rough Trade Records in 2004. The track was produced by Trevor Horn. B-side “Stop, Look and Listen” merges into “Passion Fruit” at the end of a song – an instrumental piece which was performed live prior to its release. The front cover features Shantha Roberts. The track fared better in the UK singles chart than previous single “Step into My Office, Baby”, reaching #14. A reviewer described the track as being “like the indie pop version of Thin Lizzy”,[1] who are also mentioned in the lyrics.

From all music

I’m a Cuckoo” is one of the highlights of Belle & Sebastian’s fabulous comeback of sorts, Dear Catastrophe Waitress.

Coming on like the indie pop version of Thin Lizzy (who get a mention in the lyrics), the song is a laid-back, strummy ballad with low-key harmony lead guitars, a wonderfully loping beat, a surprise horn section on the bridge, and lazily drawled lyrics. Easily the equal of anything they have done up to this point, it is a perfect example of the band’s rediscovered attention to arrangement and sound. The other tracks on this EP are no tossed-off space fillers, either. “Stop Look and Listen” is a rollicking, shaggy dog tale that evokes pleasant memories of the Mike Nesmith tunes in the Monkees discography before shifting to a weird surf/spy guitar coda. “(I Believe In) Travellin’ Light” was recorded during the same sessions as Dear Catastrophe Waitress with Trevor Horn at the helm. It is a short, sweet ballad with wonderful lead vocal harmonies that call to mind past B&S ballads, and it was probably left off the album for that reason alone. Luckily, it wasn’t buried in the vaults, and serves as a great EP track. The remix of “I’m a Cuckoo” by the Avalanches is a dazzling piece of musical Cuisinarting, juxtaposing Stuart Murdoch’s very precise vocal with the exuberant background chanting of the Southern Sudanese Choir. Add to that tribal percussion, chirping flutes, and a general sense of joy and you come up with something you rarely find in indie pop (or any other kind of music), a truly surprising and inventive song.

Chalk this EP up as a triumph for the band and for indie pop in general. Those who may think it is twee, parochial, or humorless only need give it a spin and they will be begging your pardon with many thanks for opening their ears and minds.

I’m in total disagreement with the reviewer as I think Cuckoo is just about the worst thing on the album but given that it was such a big chart hit, then I’m probably alone in holding that opinion. I also think the comments on the b-sides are well wide of the mark.  Stop, Look and Listen has good intentions in that it sounds like nothing else the band had released up to that point but it is just too shambolic to be enjoyable, although I will concede that the instrumenatal that it runs into – Passion Fruit – is enjoyable and if played on its own would take quite a few guesses before anyone said it was being played by B&S.  Travellin’ Light is NOT a patch on past B&S ballads…..it’s a bog-standard Stevie Jackson song but then again there’s a few who like that sort of thing.

Oh and I nver thought B&S would ever go down the remix route to pad out singles/EPs. The work by The Avalanches doesn’t rescue what I think is a crap song.

I suppose there’s one bright note. The single edit is almost 90 seconds shorter than the album version, so it’s over and done with that bit quicker.

mp3 : Belle & Sebastian – I’m A Cuckoo (single edit)
mp3 : Belle & Sebastian – I’m A Cuckoo (Avalanches remix)
mp3 : Belle & Sebastian – Stop, Look and Listen
mp3 : Belle & Sebastian – (I Believe In) Travellin’ Light

File under teduous with a big raspberry from JC. (I’ll get lynched by the Glasgow indie crowd for such blasphemy).