Belle & Sebastian – The Jeepster Years

This month, I will be focusing on Belle and Sebastian, as well as the solo career of past member Isobel Campbell. I think the first time I heard of this band was when they won the British Breakthrough act at the Brit Awards in 1999. I did ask myself who they were especially as their victory annoyed Pete Waterman who felt that Steps, a group he produced should have won claiming Belle and Sebastian had rigged the online vote to win. The Brits checked the votes and found nothing wrong, but any band that can annoy Pete Waterman is alright with me. It was not long after this that I read that their first album from three years before was going to be re-released. I was also interested in this release because ‘Tigermilk’ which was the name of the first album had only originally been released in a limited edition of 1000. I went down to my local Our Price (remember them?) and ordered it. 

‘Tigermilk’ was a lot more twee than the majority, if not all of the records I owned up to that point but I loved it. It is one of the few albums I can put on and play all the way through without wanting to skip over a single song. From the opening song, ‘The State I Am In’, I was hooked. Considering this album was made as a college project, it is better than a lot of more famous albums that had a lot more money thrown into its production. Just goes to show you that money doesn’t buy you everything. After the first play through, I knew had to find out what other records they had made. 

At that point, it included three albums and four EPs which rather quickly made their way into the Squire Archive. The first two albums were both originally released in 1996 and the second was called ‘If You’re Feeling Sinister’. I found this album a bit hard to get into initially but with perseverance, it paid dividends. The band spent 1997 releasing a number of EPs instead of an LP. The first one was ‘Dog On Wheels’, which is essentially the demos that the college heard which lead to the recording of ‘Tigermilk’. Two more EPs followed, each with a number of classy songs but would show the way forward for the group as they contained songs not written by main writer, Stuart Murdoch. This democratic approach would continue into their third record, ‘The Boy With The Arab Strap’.  

With all this great music blaring out of my stereo system, I began to look forward to the next album. I did not have to wait long for. “Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like A Peasant” came out in 2000 and I remember being very disappointed with it but there were still a couple of good tunes on here for me to enjoy. The band ticked over between this and their last album on the Jeepster label by releasing some singles, none of which appeared on any of the LPs. You cannot accuse Belle and Sebastian of not giving their fans value for money. This view all came crashing down with their last album on the Jeepster label which was called ‘Storytelling’. The album was meant to be the soundtrack to a movie of the same name, but only six minutes of music was used. Without looking at it too much, I’m sure I did not use that much more on this compilation either. It was an album of musical cues and most probably a contract filler. The band would sign with the Rough Trade label for their next release.

Even though they could not maintain the quality of the songs (what band can?), there was so much great material during the years they were with the Jeepster label that I could produce a three disc compilation. I love this era of the band and I especially love the music contained on the first two disc. It brings back lots of memories of a time in my life and in their win at the 1999 Brit Awards, showed that manufactured groups did not always get their own way.  All of these songs were available on Spotify so the playlists are available to listen to. 

Disc 1

  1. The State I Am In
  2. Expectations
  3. She’s Losing it
  4. You’re Just A Baby
  5. Get Me Away From Here, I’m Dying
  6. If You’re Feeling Sinister
  7. I Don’t Love Anyone
  8. Photo Jenny
  9. I Know Where The Summer Goes
  10. Mayfly
  11. I Could Be Dreaming
  12. Lazy Line Painter Jane
  13. My Wandering Days Are Over
  14. Mary Jo
  15. Ease Your Feet In The Sea
  16. Like Dylan In The Movies
  17. Beautiful
  18. The Rollercoaster Ride

Disc 2

  1. It Could Have Been A Brilliant Career
  2. Is It Wicked Not To Care?
  3. Seeing Other People
  4. The Loneliness Of The Middle Distance Runner
  5. The Model
  6. Don’t Leave The Light On Baby
  7. The Boy With The Arab Strap
  8. Chickfactor
  9. I Love My Car
  10. Seymour Stein
  11. Women’s Realm
  12. Waiting For The Moon To Rise
  13. A Summer Wasting
  14. Marx & Engels
  15. The Gate
  16. Take Your Carriage Clock & Shove It
  17. We Rule The School
  18. The Chalet Lines
  19. Judy & The Dream Of Horses
  20. Electronic Renaissance
  21. Songs For Children

Disc 3

  1. I Fought In A War
  2. Black & White Lines
  3. Storytelling
  4. Wandering Alone
  5. La Pastie De La Bourgeoise
  6. Me & The Major
  7. Nothing In The Silence
  8. Big John Shaft
  9. The Wrong Girl
  10. There’s Too Much Love
  11. Put The Book Back On The Shelf
  12. Simple Things
  13. Dirty Dream Number 2
  14. Winter Wooksie
  15. A Century Of Fakers
  16. Nice Day For A Sulk
  17. Family Tree
  18. The Boy Done Wrong Again
  19. The Magic Of A Kind Word
  20. The Fox In The Snow
  21. You Made Me Forget My Dreams
  22. This Is Just A Modern Rock Song

The front cover is the same as the cover to the ‘Dog On Wheels’ EP. 

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