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Album review Scottish albums

Belle and Sebastian

Although they never appeared in person on a Peel show until well into their career, the Glasgow six-piece (at that time) were firm favourites at the Beeb, via early airplay on Beat Patrol and later, sessions for Mark Radcliffe.

However, this takes us back – not quite to the beginning, but certainly to a time when, if you want to define an era in the Glasgow supergroup, “when Isobel was in the band”.

So what do you get in what is a brief history of a multi-session career? 14 songs which go right back to sophomore album If You’re Feeling Sinister, with a Radcliffe 4-song set including ‘The State That I Am In’ – the tunes not sounding markedly different from the album versions but probably nice to have as a document of the band’s progress.

The interest levels step up a bit as their Steve Lamacq debut session has not only what could be described as a “definitive” version of ‘Slow Graffiti’, but also a version of ‘Lazy Line Painter Jane’ – without Monica Queen, but with glockenspeil.

However, the main attraction here at least from a completists’ point of view is the 4 track up until now unreleased (but much bootlegged) set that rounds off the album. Cynics might suggest that they remained unreleased for a reason but certainly ‘Shoot the Sexual Athlete’ is on a par with what goes before it and these 4 tracks from their Peel debut do mark the route that the band took in those AI (After Isobel) days, even if the chronological nature of the album means that any climax in the album is from the frisson of the new material rather than these being the best tracks of the 14 here.

There’s a disc 2, a Christmas show, but NOT the BBC one from Maida Vale – this is a a gig live from Belfast including a good slew of (non-festive) covers like ‘Here Comes the Sun’. This wasn’t part of the promo so I can’t comment on it further.

But whether as a casual introduction or a trainspotter’s paradise, the first disc is the important one – now, let’s get the rest of the sessions, including that Xmas show, released…