Friday 4 July 2008

Review 100) Belle and Sebastian "Push Barman To Open Old Wounds" (2002)

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Belle and Sebastian "Push Barman To Open Old Wounds" (EP Collection 1995-2001)

"Compilation of early EPs really takes off on the 1st CD, full of punchy insight into believable characters and the madhouse that is the modern era. Low-key but massively important and inspirational."

“Dog On Wheels” EP: Dog On Wheels/ The State I Am In (Demo)/ String Bean Jean/ Belle And Sebastian “Lazy Line, Painter Jane” EP: Lazy Line, Painter Jane/ You Made Me Forget My Dreams/ A Century Of Elvis/ Photo Jenny “3…6…9…Seconds OF Light” EP: A Century Of Fakers/ Le Pastie De La Bourgeoisie/ Beautiful/ Put The Book Back Upon The Shelf plus an un-credited and un-listed last song Belle And Sebastian On The Radio (UK and US tracklisting – more tracks are included on disc two of the Barman compilation)



For The Record:

Ones to watch out for: Dog On Wheels, Lazy Line Painter Jane, You Made Me Forget My Dreams, A Century Of Fakers

Ones to skip: In true B and S tradition, A Century Of Elvis is guaranteed to have collectors all over the world looking at their CD players in unison and screaming ‘what?!?’ when they play this track for the first time. But if you have a surrealistic sense of humour and a CD with a skip button you do come to love it. Eventually.

The cover: Some people we don’t know try and talk to a barman with the extra words in the title graffitied onto a fire exit with the words ‘push bar to open’ printed on it. Err, perhaps I’d better leave it for you to see what’s going on in this cover, it’s hard to explain!

Key lyrics: “You work in the village shop, putting a poster up, dreaming of anything, dreaming of a time when you are free from all the trouble you’re in” “Lazy Line Painter Jane sitting at bus stops, wondering how you got your name and what you’re going to do about it” “Being a rebel’s fine, but you go all the way to being brutal” “You made me forget my dreams, when I woke up to you sleeping” “If you knew what’s going on in her life it would be a documentary on radio four” “They took your mould and burned it on the fire of history today” “She was tired of sleeping” “She made herself a pair of orthopaedic shoes – but she walked with a limp” “You wrote a book about yourself – the people left it on the shelf”

Original UK chart position: This album itself did not chart but individually the EPs all did, reflecting the growing word-of-mouth popularity of the band. Dog On Wheels made #59, Lazy Line Painter Jane reached #41 and 3…6…9..Seconds Of Light crept up to #32.

Official out-takes: None, with the ‘finished’ version of The State I Am In on Tigermilk the only alternate version.

Availability: The EPs themselves are quite scarce nowadays and were deleted long ago. The easiest place to find this material nowadays is as the first half of the set Push Barman To Heal Old Wounds (hence the listing above because this is the way most people will know these songs). This set is still on catalogue in ‘hardback’ and ‘paperback’ versions—if you’re wondering which to buy, the hardback edition looks lovely but is an absolute pain trying to fit on the shelf as it’s about an inch larger than the average CD box.

This album came between: This compilation covers the period from Tigermilk (1996, no 98 on the list), If You’re Feeling Sinister (1996, another strong, much more famous album), The Boy With The Arab Strap (1998, ditto) and Fold Your Hands, Child, You Walk Like A Peasant (very patchy, but with Family Tree and the surprisingly much-hated Waiting For The Sunrise representing B and S at their very best.)

Putting The Album In Context, Plus A Short Diatribe About Blooming Thieving CD Goblins:

IF ONLY there was an invention for making your home grow bigger in tandem with your collection, the world would undoubtedly be a better place. As a result of my declining floor-space and piles of CDs and tapes that never quite made it to their proper homes in time for a spring-clean, there have been a teeny tiny small handful of casualties over the years. Somewhere out there, in the magic land where the fairies live, surrounded by missing pen lids and left socks, lives my copy of the second CD of Push Barman To Heal Old Wounds. Anyway, my point is this. I can only review the first part of this great CD set because, well, I haven’t heard the second part for a long long time. I would leave this set out of the list but, well, the first half of it is just too good not to recommend. Luckily for both my sanity and your listening pleasure, it’s the first part I want to review anyway and rather than cheating the reader, it does seem fair to point out that there is a natural gap between the two halves of the set, with the songs on discs one and two released three years apart. Anyway, this review goes on for hours as it is without adding any more tracks to the mix. Before you point this out, I would go out and buy another copy of the album, especially as at the present time its amazingly still on catalogue and available in most shops, but unusually this set seems to be growing in price every year, not coming down into the bargain bins like it should. Also the last time I went and did exactly that (a new copy of Mona Bone Jakon to review for this very website, see review number 35) my old copy which had been missing for three years turned up suddenly the next day (I’m not kidding, it was blooming 14 hours after I bought the thing and it had been missing for 18 months, I counted!) The fairies must have a sense of humour, or really love my CD collection, or both, that’s all I’m saying. So for now I’m just going to sit tight and draw lots of magic fairy circles around my CDs whilst bowing to the God of missing records (CeeDelia?) for its safe return – expect an update added to this site if it does (and if my co-writer doesn’t kill me for giving him more to do in the future!)

Gripe over, you don’t really need to worry about the second CD anyway because while the later disc is an interesting curio it’s the first one you won’t be able to live without. Push Barman isn’t strictly an album you see – it’s a 2004 collection of tracks taken from EPs dating back to the very earliest stages of B and S’ development back in ’95-‘96.  For the under-40s, who might not know, an EP was an ‘extended player’ of three-to-five (but usually four) tracks which was king in the days of the 50s and 60s when people wanted to buy more than a single but couldn’t afford a whole LP (most record companies stopped selling them somewhere around 1970 but the CD format has resurrected it to some extent, with many ‘singles’ now offering two or three B-sides as added selling points. Interestingly, the ability to download individual tracks rather than whole albums mean the EP format is becoming even more common these days, with people owning a selection from an album rather than downloading the whole thing). It’s no co-incidence that two of the most ‘modern’ (the term is used loosely given that this album is already four years old) albums on this list are collections of oddities rather than high-falluting albums as such. Even more than in the 60s, a release by a big-name star (and even some smaller ones) has become an ‘event’, one heralded with a great deal of fuss that seems to drag on for months before and after an album’s release, with ever more pressure put on shoulders to succeed. When this happens, either an album will be so over-publicised and so successful that everyone will know about their origins—or they’re so terrible that they just get buried before the next trail-blazing best-seller comes along to steal their thunder. Very generally speaking, the best tracks for most artists – those that most represent the ‘heart’ of a band and what makes them different to anyone else without having to make a sop to whatever is in fashion at the time of release – are more and more likely these days to appear on B-sides and EPs, where bands don’t have to worry so much about what’s ‘in’ and doing their best to sound like what everybody else is doing. B-sides are a chance to experiment and divert ideas and writing templates down new, exciting roads. When an artist gets it wrong its horrible, music cul-de-sacs that sound like so much of a mess you wonder if they could possibly be by the same people who’ve just provided you with that awesome single you heard on the radio. When an artist gets it right, B-sides can be wonderfully exciting, offering far more promise than a carefully tailor-made A-side, with much more energy and a naturalness that offsets the experimental vein the tracks are in.

Belle and Sebastian gave in to record company pressure less than most (their label Jeepster remains one of the few companies that regularly releases ‘off-cut’ experimental albums in the vein of self-made companies like the Beatles’ Apple or Grateful Dead Records that folded a long time ago). However the band’s early EP tracks have a spirit and a bite that gradually gets lost a few years down the line, with the band’s distinguishable style firmly in place but with more curiosity about new sounds going on somewhere too. These EPs give B and S the chance to show off their wide spectrum of sounds; from rough early demos for important album tracks to some weird off-the-wall monologues about dogs called Elvis to some equally bemusing and confusing sleeve-notes, the bizarre and unusual is placed side-by-side with some of the most characteristic and most carefully mapped-out Belle and Sebastian tracks the band ever made. Stuart Murdoch is on great form, performing many of these songs solo on a piano. His lyrics are particularly strong on this collection, reading more like the mini-novelettes he writes about than traditional songs with verses and choruses, but featuring such gorgeous flowing melodies that they pass for great pop songs too. The rest of the band do Murdoch proud too, though, here more than on most releases, with the beginnings of the band’s democratic policy allowing guitarist Stevie Jackson and multi-instrumentalist Isobel Campbell a chance to shine from time to time. However, in common with most B and S albums, the band members don’t get a single writing or performance credit between them.

Push Barman is an intriguing release more because of what B and S don’t do with this album than what they do with it. Most bands with ideas this strong (modern inhabitants of modern cities left behind in the rush that everyone else seems to take to so naturally; confused outsiders trapped between falsehood and mundanity; the thin line between fantasy and reality, with the characters forever taking off on flights of fancy straight after verses of detailed observations of real life) release records with a great deal of record company ballyhoo, advertising strengths that albums just don’t have in a desperate attempt to sell records. This set crept out quietly, not once but twice: the first time around EPs were unusual products to market to say the least and came out at a time when the band had yet to reach out to most of their cult fan base. The second time around, with collectors clamouring for the middling-selling EPs to add to their collections, this double CD set came out without a fuss, suddenly appearing in record shop CD racks one day. Any other artists, even a cult one like B and S, would have gone to town over the fact that some of the band’s earliest and rarest records were suddenly getting a proper release. With B and S—who as ever did so few interviews for the record as to be practically mute—you had to keep your eyes peeled to know this set was out at all. But if ever a band were meant to be a cult, decidedly apart from the mainstream and passing trends, Belle and Sebastian are it and their adventures on this set are even purer and less tainted by passing whims than normal. A brave release, full of wrong notes, off key vocals and performed throughout with one-take bravado, the band do all they can to disguise their talents here and yet they still come shining through loud and clear. Not many people know about this set and it didn’t even influence people to the same extent as band LPs  Tigermilk and If You’re Feeling Sinister, but these three EPs are the true ’heart’ of the band and a s a result one of the most important releases of the decade so far.


The Music:

Dog On Wheels, the title track of the first of three EPs B and S put out in 1997, is a terrific place to start, being at once deeply heartfelt and downright bizarre. The narrator sounds, to all intents and purposes, as if he’s singing about his childhood sweetheart – he started off feeling ‘confounded’, then felt ‘indebted’ and seemingly is so affected by the object of his affections that ‘every song I sang is written for you’. The likes of Lionel Richie would then have got busy putting this sort of song into orchestral piano ballad-come-lift music territory, but Murdoch chooses to record his song as an edgy, restless rocker that turns into something akin to a Spanish bullfight thanks to the trumpet solo in the middle. The second verse, with the narrator reaching out to the beautiful mountains he can see outside his window that represent his escape from mundanity, is a classic  set of lyrics– with the poor harassed friend there to ‘save’ him, not only when he finds his dreams aren’t real but when he falls out of the window trying literally to reach for the stars! B and S love pulling the floor from underneath you just when you think you’ve got things sorted out and in case you’re wondering where the dogs on wheels in the title has come from, the narrator reveals at the end that he’s actually been singing about his favourite childhood toy, the only person to whom he feels secure enough to tell his secrets. That revelation comes dangerously close to making this a quirky novelty record, but the band delay the punch-line for so long and give such a dark and brooding performance with everyone taking the song absolutely seriously they just about pull it off. The result is a tense, punchy rocker punctuated by shrill outbursts on the trumpet, the only true licks of colour in this very dark and shadowy song.

From the same EP comes the band’s earliest recording in existence (as far as I know anyway) – the demo for The State I Am In, the band’s first major song and a landmark in 1990s songwriting, even if very few people heard it on first release. The final version of this song ended up on Tigermilk (see no 98 on the list) and while that recording is impressive, with all of the wrinkles ironed out and the drama building evenly throughout the song, this early rough version probably has the edge. The guitars and vocals slide around, the drumming is hesitant, the backing vocals awkward and Murdoch even clears his throat noisily partway through the second verse but it doesn’t matter – such is the thrilling atmosphere when the band suddenly realise for pretty much the first time that actually, yes, they can pull this sort of thing off that the whole thing might be the best performance on the record.

String Bean Jean is one of the band’s largely unique ‘social observation’ songs of the 1990s, a gentle rocker with a gorgeous melody line which seems to add grandeur to the character’s often boring daily lives and make them sound like the soundtrack of some epic film. The title character is another of the narrator’s many friends, whose demeanour is as open as her house, so carefree and easy-going its ‘like your holidays whenever you go around’. However, the character’s ‘real’ inner personality isn’t what she displays on the outside at all, full of hidden neuroses and jealousies that cause her to compete with her friends and seek to be dangerously thin (hence her nickname, taken from the fact that her jeans size reads ‘7-8 years old’). Small of body but big of heart seems to be the theme of the song, with Murdoch keen to point out that the character’s personality means that all her friends love her far too much to care what she looks like. Jean is another of Belle and Sebastian’s early period character songs, one that’s actually quite depressing and troubling when you analyse it, but is dressed up in such pretty bright colours and zest for life that it just sounds like a strong pop tune with a neat hook the first few times you hear it.

The last track on the Dog On Wheels EP is Belle and Sebastian’s own song called, erm, Belle and Sebastian. It’s nothing like the true tale of how B and S got their name by the way (the band really ‘borrowed’ it from the children’s books by Mmle Cecile Aubrey because they thought it sounded interesting – the author is credited under the ‘thankyou’ list of most of the band’s CDs from this point onwards for granting her permission for them to use it) and seems to be a deliberate attempt to ‘dress up’ the myth of the band with a nice-sounding rock and roll story, creating a myth that isn’t there so openly that it seems like a spoof of all the bad rock and roll mythologies that have sprung up over the years. There’s still plenty of sweet and very B and S moments in the song, however, with Sebastian -  a troubled soul weighed down by all the innocuous mistakes he makes but he worries are of world-shattering importance - one of the band’s most believable and likable characters. He’s also a great contrast with the worldly wise Belle who seems to be take life in her stride and helps takes him under her wing. Murdoch’s singing gets a bit off-key in places and the band haven’t quite got to grips with the song to the same extent as most of their other early material yet, but frankly with all the production layers that usually go on in B and S’ work in a few years’ timeit’s a joy to hear this recording with the rough edges left in. 

Another well-loved band character is Lazy Line Painter Jane, a youngster whose fall from grace when she falls pregnant is created with such vivid visual imagery and such surrealistic observations that it feels like you’re watching a very odd film late at night on channel four. B and S pull this tough, weighty song off very well, half sympathising with their poor loner character and half accusing with the cold detachment of her peers and family (both Murdoch’s gentle lead and Stevie Jackson’s ominous overlapping vocals are among the band’s best work, setting up the song for a showdown that only actually happens in the narrator’s head). From the song’s barely audible start to its shrieking strident chorus and Jackson’s all-seeing narrator’s pronouncement that ‘you will have a boy tonight on the last bus out of town’ in the middle-eight, Lazy Line juggles several different styles, most of them successfully (in another B and S twist, the listener naturally assume that the boy Jane is ‘having’ is a date of some sort—until the second verse comes in and tells us plainly that she is heavily pregnant). The song is made even better thanks to a one-off appearance by guest singer Monica Queen three verses in, sounding half-celebratory and half-desperate – her line ‘And you hope that they will see’ is perfect, poised halfway between Jane still trying to convert others to her point of view and a fed-up think-what-you-like-about-me rejoinder. The backing does its best to re-create the ‘club atmosphere’ present on many a pre-Beatles British 60s song (although the mop tops’ Mister Moonlight cover goes on to return the compliment) but with a contemporary edge – there’s handclaps, rumbling bass riffs, a chirruping organ, 90s jangly guitar and an extremely claustrophobic, echoey mix (this song was recorded in a Scottish church-hall in order to get the sound just so) that really adds to the danger and desperation in the song. In short, Lazy Line is one of B and S’ tightest, cleverest mini-dramas that no other band would even have considered writing and one of the highlights of this set.

Things chill out considerably for You Made Me Forget My Dreams, an unusual piano, keyboard and ‘deep sea’ guitar-based ballad, with one of those lovely McCartneyesque tunes that sounds like its been around for at least a century, not just a  decade or so. Again, on first hearing this song is gentleness personified – but dig a little deeper and this is another horrifying song, with danger lurking and waiting to pounce once the narrator wakes up and the soothing dream-state is destroyed. Far from being the romantic tale its title and melody would suggest, the lyrics are actually quite bitter – dealing with another loner who gets angry when he gets woken up just at the point when his dreams are about to give him some great insight into life. The ‘blood on the sheets’ at the end of the song and the regretful line ‘think I’d better make a move’ implies that his waking relationship is heading towards domestic violence, but so gentle and dreamlike is the backing and so understated the musicians that its hard to come to terms with what you’ve just heard, as if the narrator is in a hypnotic trance that he can’t break while he’s awake. The song ends abruptly, with some nasty modern trance type riff breaking through, completely at odds with the rest of the song and successfully hinting at the sudden danger that might happen the next time the narrator wakes up.

A Century Of Elvis is quite a contrast – a terrifically commercial backing track over which Stuart David (later to make a pretty good B and S spin-off record with his girlfriend Karn under the alias Looper) and his broad Scots accent tells us that he has seen Elvis and he is alive and well. Even this revelation isn’t what it seems however: when Elvis turns up announced at the narrator’s home and stares at the TV with his tongue hanging out, it becomes clear that Elvis has been re-incarnated as a dog (makes sense to me! is he a hound-dog?!) and is something of a wish fulfilment for the narrator who spent years thinking his dad was Elvis too. Another of those tracks which no other group would even begin to consider writing, it’s finished off with some sumptuous string-guitar duels which were the making of many a B and S record in this period. In a typically bonkers album archives twist, Neil Young really did have a dog he named Elvis, who had only just died when this song was recorded (Neil’s own tribute to his ‘hound-dog’ can be heard on Old King from the Harvest Moon, although the name of the dog was changed slightly in case fans got the wrong idea about him rolling over and playing dead!) All this speculation is nonsense however: as any Lindisfarne fan will tell you, Elvis is alive and well but he isn’t living in Scotland –he’s on the far side of the moon. Uh-huh.

Just as Elvis leaves the building, Photo Jenny returns us to more traditional B and S mode with another of their mini mini-dramas. This one mixes some innocent pop fun and a particularly catchy riff, going one better than the last few tracks by having the narrator pretending that he really is making up a film about the people he meets during a particularly boring day. The attention to detail in the song is a delight, although typically we never actually get to meet the title character who doesn’t even know she’s being imaginarily filmed. The music makes it sounds like a lot of fun, but again there’s some dark lyrics here, especially those that seem to be about the pressures of taking drugs (although in truth they could be about anything!) Murdoch is typically ambiguous about his stance here, telling us he doesn’t ‘want any….(big gap)..more/all that I want is a photograph of Photo Jenny’ – although its worth remembering that Murdoch was himself an aspiring photographer if the sleeve-notes to Tigermilk are to be believed (and like his other sleeve-notes, there’s no reason why they should) and the drugs he’s referring to here might well be photographic ones. Forget the lyrics if you want to though: this song is still pretty special just for being the great pop song of 1996 that never was, with the spectacular CSN-ish three-part counterpart harmonies– just as the track goes through two sudden and unexpected key changes –the undoubted highlight of the track.

The third B and S EP 3…6…9..Seconds Of Light never had a title track to go with its title. Instead for an opener we get A Century Of Fakers, which uses the identical backing track from A Century Of Elvis, but this time with a more straightforward song being performed over the top (** see note). Less immediate than the other tracks here, Fakers is still among the best things the band ever did, with another gloriously gentle and melancholic tune matched by lyrics that are actually quite angry, vehemently accusing the rich of failing to help the hungry and homeless around the world. Fed up of seeing people he sympathises with get fed tit-bits by a world of wealthy people who could afford to give more (this was a band who came to fame and fortune late, after all, after experiencing hardships themselves growing up for the most part), Murdoch turns his attention on the faceless controllers of the 20th century who tell us that to feel satisfied we should be rich and own lots of status symbols, otherwise we are failures—pointing out that a peasant in ‘our’ world would be a rich man in ‘theirs’. As Murdoch explains ‘you’re making blinkers fashionable’ and in our haste to get to the top we’ve forgotten about the people at the bottom, a state of mind that only makes us artificially happy and turns us into a ‘century of fakers’ (although, to be fair, the Victorians were just as bad if not worse than ‘our’ century ever was). The lyrics to this song are among the best and certainly the most serious and passionate that Murdoch ever put together (to date, anyway) but, typically B and S, his vocal is mixed so low that you can’t hear them very well. 

One complaint often made against B and S is that the band are a little bit twee when it comes to rockers and although they do more than their fair share of ballads, their occasional up-tempo songs generally come loud and fast instead of the wimpy stuff the likes of the Spice Girls put together. The critics who give this witticism/ criticism have obviously never heard Le Pastie De La Bourgeoisie, a song which is a classic out-of-control monster, recycling Simon and Garfunkel’s funky riff to We’ve Got A Groovy Thing Goin’ but playing it at about five times the speed so that instead of sounding slightly edgy and dangerous it sounds completely unhinged. The song soon turns into a hellish journey about the pressure a young narrator feels to keep up with his peers and finding solace in stories of other loners and misfits down the ages, from Kerouac’s tales of life on the road to Salinger’s Catcher In The Rye, in his desperate search for a ‘connection’. The ‘realness’ of these characters comes in contrast to the artificialness of the world around them, with people who ‘love like nobody around you’ on the surface but not underneath, as the desperate under-currents of emotion on this track make clear. The exhilarating ride can’t find a resolution musically or lyrically, getting gradually faster and louder until it suddenly implodes in on itself, leaving the squealing last note ringing in your ears. An intriguing attempt at recording a new sound and a welcome chance to break up the often slow and muted songs on this EP.

Beautiful chills things out again with another glorious ballad complete with a wide double-octave wingspan, this time featuring a B and S regular character called Lisa. Neglect from doctors caused her to go blind, but a worse neglect comes from the ignorance and teasing of people around her who in truth are far more blind in their prejudices than the wide-minded and considerate Lisa will ever be. Dismissed by those around her as ‘beautiful, only temperamental’, the people saying this to her don’t seem to realise that ‘beauty’ no longer holds any meaning for Lisa now that she can’t see what people look like and only goes by inner ‘spiritual’ beauty. Murdoch’s sympathy and his growing indignation about his character’s treatment at the hands of her so-called friends is rather undone by some of the puzzling rhymes (not many songs rhyme ‘fashion blues’ with ‘orthopaedic shoes’ for instance), but even so this track is another hidden gem that rarely gets the respect it deserves from B and S fans. The song is given an added edge by way of the band’s under-used horn section, whose brassy glare adds much to the sighing quality of the song, especially near the end where B and S build up to one of their thrilling climaxes all over again.

CD one ends, officially at least, with Put The Book Back On The Shelf and the lyrical return of Sebastian, whose attempts to be understood by the world at large by writing a book about himself are dashed when the public choose to ‘put it back upon the shelf’ and ignore it. This isn’t B and S’ greatest song by any means, but it does feature another of those bright and breezy tunes that seem to dominate this record and its tale of mild comic disasters when the narrator tries to copy ‘modern life’ so naturally indulged in by his friends is worth a listen. Listen out, however, for a brief hidden track tucked away at the end of the song, which features Murdoch, a guitar and a mouth-organ heading off on a great blues jam improvised around the phrase ‘Belle and Sebastian on the radio’. With its murky bootleg-type sound quality, it’s a very B and S anti-star type way to end the first half of their ‘EP era’ and a suitably low-key end to a low-key collection of songs which, even amongst B and S’ growing numbers of fans, aren’t all that well known even now.

A short synopsis of side two for you: highlights are ‘The Gate’ (a moody ballad from Sarah Martin full of her characteristic breathy vocals), ‘I Love My Car’ (Murdoch’s truly off-the-wall take of a sort of nursery rhyme list of his favourite things – listen out for the spot-on Beach Boys reference ‘I love my Carl, I love my Brian, my Dennis and my Al, I can even find it in my heart to love Mike Love’), ‘Slow Graffiti’ (about the closest B and S ever came to recapturing the verve and wordplay of their early period on a later recording) and ‘Legal Man’ (a demented and rowdy pop rocker urging us to ‘get out of the office and into the spring time’). You don’t really need to give the rest anything more than a cursory glance, however.

Whilst they will remain a cult favourite to the end probably, B and S’ followers are growing 10-fold with every release as word of their music gets out, so its fair to say that at this rate the band will be taking over the planet by about 2050. Well, I can think of worse things that might happen – with their pertinent social commentary and strong belief in making the planet a better place B and S would make the greatest world leaders after CSNY (two of which genuinely did stand for American presidency by the way – how the hell did Bush beat them; bet he can’t even spell déjà vu never mind write about it?!) Whether pretty pop or daring protest songs is your thing, this album is more than worth a listen and a wonderful virtual soul-mate to own when the modern world is getting you down and you seem to be the only sane being on the planet. Press play to heal old wounds. 


** Note: Did this version of the song give the band trouble, perhaps? They sound un-naturally uncomfortable with this song here both musically and vocally, which is unsurprising given that this is one of the most complex pieces the band put together, in this early period at least – could this be why they gave the song over to Stuart David earlier, because they were forced temporarily to admit defeat and had nothing else to use? Or were they just feeling mischievous and wanted to confuse their fans by giving them almost the same song in ‘highly serious’ and ‘jokey’ versions? If the band had planned this, however, it seems odd not to release both versions of this track on the same EP to emphasise the point, which suggests that both versions were finished at two different times. Then again, perhaps B and S wanted to put some distance between the two versions of this track so that they both had a life of their own?

A Now Complete Link Of Belle and Sebastian Articles Available To Read At Alan’s Album Archives:
‘Fold Your Hands, Child, You Walk Like A Peasant’ (2001)
'Storytelling' (2002)

'Push Barman To Open Old Wounds' (EP compilation 2003)

'Dear Catastrophe Waitress' (2004)
'The Life Pursuit' (2006)

'Write About Love' (2010)
'God Help The Girl' (Stuart Murdoch Film) (2014)
Girls In Peace Time Just Want To Dance (2015)

Belle and Sebastian: Existing TV Clips
Belle and Sebastian: 12 Unreleased Songs
Belle and Sebastian: Non-Album Songs
Belle and Sebastian: Solo/Live/Compilation/Rarities Albums
Essay: B and S Talkin’ ‘Bout My Generation
Five Landmark Concerts and Three Key Cover Versions


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