A chance mention of Belle & Sebastian by a colleague last week has sent me back to their records for the first time in really far too long. The key thing that strikes me is just how well I know those songs from the first two albums and the Jeepster EPs; just how deeply they have burrowed into my psyche, becoming, I guess, some essential part of my identity. It can be easy to forget how important some things have been in our lives after all. Time slips by, we move in different directions, lose sight of the moments that acted as catalysts. That doesn’t devalue them of course. It’s just the way of the world.
So it’s been lovely to reconnect with those records, those songs and those memories. When I mentioned it on Twitter someone immediately mentioned the old Sinister mailing list and I admit I too had been thinking of it. Looking back on those days now it strikes me that it was all very much at the moment where the ‘old’ analogue world met the new digital one. There were animated discussions online of course, yet it all supported (and was in turn supported by) very physical, social moments from picnics to meet-ups at shows. What feels especially strange looking back now is the way that we shared the actual musical moments. I remember the prize for the most posts in the first month of Sinister going live was a tape of some rare Stuart Murdoch demos and other assorted early Belle & Sebastian recordings and demos. Yes, a TAPE. Posted through the mail. Someone called The Duke Of Harringay won that. Heady days.
These days anyone can do a search and download some MP3s in the time it takes to make a cup of tea. Make of that what you will. Pros and cons. Ups and downs.
Now not having taken the effort or the time to do one of those searches myself I am not sure how readily available recordings of some of the earlier Belle & Sebastian demos and live shows are. Perhaps they have been available for a long time. Certainly those BBC radio sessions that we used to pass around on tape have long since entered the digital realm on CD and download. They are wonderful of course and I am not about to post them here for you really ought to have purchased them already. What I will do however is post some live shows, starting with the evening performance at Manchester Town Hall in December of 1997. I cannot quite remember who made the original recording (on mini-disc, I think) but if they, or the group object to having it available here just shout and I’ll delete the link.