Monday, 15 April 2013

Desert Island Discs 21 Dear Catastrophe Waitress by Belle and Sebastian

21 Dear Catastrophe Waitress by Belle and Sebastian 2003

Much too wet and winsome for many , the kings and queens of twee right from the kid's tv referencing band name and I love them.

Their strength is in Stuart Murdoch's song writing which was never more apparent than then previous lp to this when those duties got shared around the band and it is the worst thing they've made (with Murdoch's songs by far the best things on it). A lesson that democracy in music doesn't usually get results.

To the surprise of many Trevor Horn was brought in as producer. I've read it was his daughter who kept pestering him to work with the band and that every time she played them at home he couldn't believe how badly recorded the singers voice was.

Those that were expecting a Two Tribes make over were disappointed , what Trevor Horn did was to produce a smoother and warmer sound and to his word Murdoch's voice never sounded as good.

Belle and Sebastian inhabit their own world , from the covers , to the videos to the lyrics , they all come form the same slightly skewed place

The biggest sing along moment comes form the Boys are Back in Town "inspired" I'm a Cuckoo.  I'm not sure how much it relates to Murdoch's ex Isobel Campbell leaving both him and the band but the "I lost a singer to her clothes" is about as bitter as Belle and Sebastian get.

The video is worth watching for the price of Alan Well's star turn alone!

In amongst all the catchy tunes is one bit of gorgeous summery music whose chorus kind of sums the band up

If I could do just one near perfect thing I’d be happy.
They’d write it on my grave, or when they scattered my ashes.
On second thoughts, I’d rather hang around and be there with my best friend,
If she wants me
If She Wants Me Belle and Sebastian

You can buy Dear Catastrophe Waitress here


  1. I have The Boy in the Arab Strap and Tigermilk. Have to say that they haven't aged well; maybe it was something to do with the production.
    Haven't heard Horn's effort... must investigate. Meanwhile, I have to put the golf to bed. Rock 'n' Roll eh?

  2. Pleased for Scott but like the fact that a rotund cigar smoking old man shows it isn't all about visits to the gym

    1. went off piste and started to think of the golf. It seemed on the tv that the popular choice was adam scott after what happened at the open. However I've a soft spot for Cabrera who seems to come form a bygone age. I remember that when he won his first major Tiger was in his prime and it was a bit of a tortoise and hare situation. Everyone expected him to blow away the fuller of figure Cabrera but he hung on in to win. I liked the fact that American tv struggled to show any between shot images as he always had a fag in his hand.

    2. Agree. They kept mentioning the turmoil of his personal life so I was rooting for him too.
      I also like the chubby Spaniard with the ponytail and the stogie; who my friends in the trade reliably inform me is a 'shag monster'.

  3. Welcome back! Good choice. Horn does wonders with Murdoch's homely vocals and as usual his production is impeccable. "If She Wants Me" is just wonderful, and the tunes you've posted are stand-outs, but the rest of the LP a bit patchy for me. I'm not a huge B&S fan but this is my favorite of theirs by far.

    #21 - AZTEC CAMERA - "STRAY" (1990)

    - Hope this doesn't step on too many toes... Most folk seem to go for the early jangle, which I do like; but 'Love' was a massive misguided turd (Yikes, that oughta stir some banter!). I screamed MOR sell-out, & feared it was all over... So 'Stray' was a delightful surprise, seemingly perversely designed to dump recent converts. A diverse stew of musical styles, combined with some uncharacteristic cynicism. Has it all... soulful ballads, jazzy noodling, and foot-stomping rockers!!! Roddy cranks up the guitars and unleashes a couple of my favorite solos of all-time on "Crying Scene" and "How It Is". Goosebumps!!!

    Crying Scene (video):
    Good Morning Britain (video):
    Notting Hill Blues:

  4. 'Love' a misguided turd?
    Duck TT!
    I'm actually with you on that album; cannot listen to it anymore.
    'Stray' wanders a little too much for my loving (sorry!); a bit like a Squeeze album; too many impressive style changes, too little focus.
    Easy to admire, hard to love...

    1. Yeah, I'm expecting a letter-bomb from Phil...
      As for lack of focus? I think I've probably got a mild case of attention deficit disorder, so I enjoy the potpourri of Stray. Not a one trick pony...

  5. One Trick Pony?
    On 'Stray' he seems like he's always changing horses mid stream...
    Hate to be a horses ass but this one could canter and canter...

  6. I have all Belle and Sebastians albums and there's not one I dislike but if I had to pick a least favourite it would be this one. It has one or two great tracks but quite a few that I can easily skip....everyone to their own!
    Tim - Same goes for 'Stray'. In a 'real' top 100 favourite albums (where more that one album per artist is allowed)I'd have all of Roddy's output in there, but this one is a bit 'all over the place'.
    Now , as for 'Love' being a 'misguided turd'. Production wise, I have to agree with you. It really hasn't aged well at all, but those songs! Come on, these are some of the best of his career. 'Killermont Street' is my absolute favourite, and 'How Men Are' is a close second, add to that 'Working in a Goldmine' and 'Deep and Wide and Tall' and it's already a fantastic album. Even the terrible silky smooth production can't destroy my love for , er,'Love'
    #21 Sugartown - Swimming in the Horsepool. This band ran along side Cowboy Mouth in the mid ninetees. Same musicians involved, but the croon of Skinner is replaced with the world weiry country/blues vocals of Gwen Stewart.
    Most of the songs were written by Guitarist Douglas MacIntyre and on this showing he should be writing more.
    There's a couple of songs co-written with James Grant that have just recently been recorded for last years Love and Money album.
    An album full of love-gone-wrong songs backed by a band that really do know their business. The McCluskey Brothers also join in along with guitar legend Mick Slaven. Pure genius.
    Searched the net for some sounds but to no avail.The album and it's follow up'Slow Flows The River' are now deleted, so this really is a lost classic.

    1. Searching now Phil.
      Liking the Mostar album; waiting for the love to kick in...

  7. Hi Phil - different strokes etc. I'm surprised this is your least fac B and S one. The one I think is their weakest is Fold Your Hands although having said that it does have Womens Realm one of my fav B and S songs.

    I'm going to sit on the fence - I love Stray (especially the title track) and though some of Love has dated badly , it does have some great songs on and 3 of the tracks Deep and wide / Goldmine / Killermont more than survive their production.

    I've gone for a much more predictable one - however I think his "lost" gem is Dreamland - a bit bland for some but a top notch set of songs

  8. Great that we are disagreeing for a change.
    Music eh?
    Love it!

  9. Must listen to more B&S. I have a couple of albums (Fold Your Hands & The Life Pursuit) and I enjoy both but I've never really pursued them any further. I instinctively like the feel of their music.

  10. Wow, Belle and Sebastian and Aztec Camera... this string is really in my wheelhouse. I'll bite and my tongue and just say I like moments on every one of B&S's albums, and that even includes the maligned Write About Love. As for complete albums, I only give love to two from beginning to end. Your choice is one of them. The other is The Boy With the Arab Strap. Even if I didn't like anything else by the band I would consider B&S one of my favorites based on my admiration for these two albums.

    And that brings me to Aztec Camera. Hmm, on second thought, I had better not. Roddy is brilliant, probably in my Top 15 all-time artists, but I don't love him blindly. He has had some moments on wax that are almost unforgivable.

  11. Strong stuff Brian ! What are the worst offenders?

  12. Hi again. Let me start by saying I have gone on the record that High Land Hard Rain is my favorite record to ever come out of Scotland, and my two Postcard singles from AC are quite are my most treasured vinyl. The crimes are parts (but not all) of Love and Dreamland. The only album where I find no redeeming qualities is Frestonia. OK, I'm ready for the rotten vegetables that are bound to be heading my way. Oh, and Surf is beautiful. In regular rotation right now.

  13. I should add one more thing. Songwriting is not the problem. I often like the songs when performed live, especially when stripped down to guitar and voice. My problems with parts of Love and Dreamland come down to instrumentation and production.

  14. Hi Brian - I'm with you on Love but going to have to disagree on Dreamland 9 I really like this one even if the backing is a bit bland) and Frestonia. Jealous you have both the postcard singles!

  15. I have to agree with Brian on some of the smelly productions.
    Love in particular.
    Great songs gurned.

  16. Thanks for not stoning me. For that, I'll listen to Frestonia tonight. It's been a long time. Looking forward to your next selection.


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