Track-by-Track: Belle and Sebastian on “Third Eye Centre” Part 1

Stuart Murdoch and Stevie Jackson on Tracks 1 – 6 on Their New Compilation

Aug 21, 2013 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


For our Track-by-Track feature, we go in-depth with an artist about each song on their new album. This week we are featuring Belle and Sebastian's Third Eye Centre, and for the next three days we'll post commentary by the band on all of the album's songs.

In the lead up to the release of The Third Eye Centre, their second compilation of ephemera and B-sides, Belle and Sebastian's Stuart Murdoch and Stevie Jackson spoke to Under the Radar about the provenance, recording, and other interesting facts regarding the songs.

The record is carefully sequenced by the band, in direct opposition to 2005's Push Barman to Open Old Wounds, which collected the act's Jeepster singles in chronological order. This time Belle and Sebastian took painstaking steps to ensure the album sustained a mood, which it does, albeit one of the serendipity of hunting in a junk shop—you find some vintage treasure, esoteric world music flourishes, occasional detritus, and some failed experiments, but ultimately the fascinating sound of a band transitioning into a fully functioning egalitarian unit exploring myriad stylistic avenues, a contrast to Barman.

Here's part one, where Murdoch and Jackson discuss the first six songs on the album. Come back tomorrow for part two and commentary on the next six songs and again on Friday for part three and their thoughts on the final seven songs.

"I'm a Cuckoo (Avalanches Remix)" 

Stuart Murdoch: We commissioned The Avalanches to do that, because we wanted it to be quite a lot louder than the original. We wanted it to be a single in the U.K., but the label listened to it and didn't like it, so it was decided that it wasn't going to be a single. It's a completely different thing and a different take on the original, and it's something that I appreciate vastly.

"Suicide Girl"

Stuart: That was one of the tracks intended for Write About Love. It's a little too light in terms of the words and everything, but I like it. It has a nice feel. It's based on the old '90s phenomenon of The Suicide Girls, the website, which still exists, I think. A couple of the girls made a video for it and it's probably [our] most-watched video. The girls take their clothes off, so that probably has something to do with it.

"Love on the March"

Stuart: It has this ska kind of thing going for it, and it's about a curious thing that happens in Glasgow called the Orange walk, which is when Protestants march against the Catholics. It goes on in the summer. It was always very ill-tempered and very bitter. You could never cross the march even though it went on for an hour or two.

Stevie Jackson: The music was written by Mick [Cooke]. I had nothing to do with it. If it ever has a samba or a big reggae inflection, it was written by Mick. I sing on it. The whole thing about writing songs changed after the first few albums. Since about 2001 it's never entirely clear. Stuart's still the main writer, but there are songs where others wrote the music and Stuart wrote the words, and there are cooperative things like "Step Into My Office, Baby."

"The Last Trip"

Stevie: On the Write About Love sessions, we'd bring along bits of tunes and see what stuck. That was something I played and Sara [Martin] liked it a lot, but I didn't think much of it. It's kind of a companion piece to "Step Into My Office, Baby" in that it's very indebted to John Lee Hooker. I was trying to play something he'd play, one chord, but with pop changes. With that rhythm, when you play it with a band, it starts sounding like glam rock. But in my head it was never a contender or anything. It was fun to play.

"Your Secrets"

Stuart: It kind of has wonky beats. I kind of wrote it on accident. It was a bit of an old song. I think it was from 1994. It was about meeting up in the afternoon to talk about German philosophers. There wasn't much else to do back then.

"Your Cover's Blown (Miaoux Miaoux Remix)"

Stuart: We recorded that a couple years ago and we were quite happy with it at the time, but we thought it could be different so we got our friend in Glasgow to remix it. We lost the original master, so we had to re-sing some of the parts, but that was fine.

Check back tomorrow for part two.

www.belleandsebastian.com



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