UK release date: October 6th, 2003
Re released: May, 2011
Highest UK Chart Position: 21
Highest US Chart Position: 84 (Billboard “The Billboard 200” chart)
Catalogue numbers: CD – RTRADECD080 LP – RTRADELP080
Produced by Trevor Horn. Recorded at Sarm West Studios and Sarm Hook End by Julian Mendelsohn, except “Piazza, New York Catcher” recorded at Berkeley 2 Rehearsal Studios, Glasgow by Dan Vickers and Phil Tyreman. Horns for “Asleep On A Sunbeam” recorded by Darren Allison at Parkgate Studios, Battle. Mixed at Sarm West Studios by Robert Orton, Julian Mendelsohn and Dan Vickers. Additional mixing at CaVa Sound Workshops, Glasgow by Tony Doogan, assisted by Michael Bannister. Additional Engineering by Tim Lambert. Assistant Engineer Phil Tyreman. Mastered at The Town House, London by Frank Awkwright. Orchestra recorded at Angel Studios by Steve Price, assisted by Mat Bartram. Orchestral arrangements by Belle & Sebastian except “Step Into My Office, Baby” by Trevor Horn and B&S; “Roy Walker” brass arrangements by B&S and Trevor Horn. All arrangements scored and conducted by Nick Ingman. Orchestra contractor Isobel Griffiths, assisted by Charlotte Trinder.
Violin: Gavyn Wright (Leader), Perry Montague-Mason (Leader of 2nd violins), David Woodcock, Chris Tombling, Warren Zielinski, Jackie Shave, Patrick Kiernan, Boguslaw Kostecki, Julian Leaper, Kathy Shave, Benedict Cruft, Everton Nelson. Viola: Peter Lale, Robert Smissen, Bruce White, Gustav Clarkson. Cello: Anthony Pleeth, David Daniels, Martin Loveday. Double Bass: Mary Scully. Flute: Helen Keen. Flute/Piccolo: Kathleen Stevenson. Oboe: Chris Cowie. Cor Anglais: Sue Bohling. Trumpet: Mike Lovatt, Noel Langley, Derek Watkins, John Barclay. Tenor Trombone: Chris Dean, Jeremy Price, Barnaby Dickinson. Bass Trombone: Richard Edwards. Alto Saxophone: Jamie Talbot, Stan Sulzman. Tenor/Alto Saxophone: Philip Todd. Tenor Saxophone: Chris Davis. Baritone Saxophone: Jeff Daly. French Horns: Nigel Black, Richard Berry. Percussion: Frank Ricotti.
*Except “Asleep On A Sunbeam”: Trombone: Billy Rumfitt. Saxophone: Julian Nicholas.
Cover stars: Shantha Roberts and the band.
Pictures by Stuart. Design by Divine Inc.
Neil Robertson, Iain Waddell, Katrina House, Trevor Horn, Tony Doogan, Julian Mendelsohn, Dan Vickers, Phil Tyreman, Mark Trayner, Allen Johnston, Diarmid MacLennan, Michael Ritchie, Steve Broadfoot, Mr Thompson, Steve Cheyne, all at Berkeley 2, Perry Costello, John Smillie, Geoff Travis, jeanette Lee, Glen Johnson, Mog, everyone at Rough Trade Records, Kris Gillespie, Keith Wood, Charlie Pinder, John Best, Simon Blackmore, Chloe Walsh, Brad Hunner, Jill Sinclair, Joe Cokell, Mark, Mandy, Rob, Philippa, Liza, Peter and Aranxta, Isabelle and Melanie, Satsuki, Brendan, Cap, Kip, Max, Tess, Bubbles, Marco, Chris, Elory, Debbie, Helen, Barney, Mediaspec, Academy of Sound, Olivier Bilenne, Roxanne Clifford, Tris Vonna-Michel, Lindsey Young, Sylvia Monte, Roy Moller, Sean Hamilton, Diane Carnochan, Rozanne Suarez, Bill Colburn, Craig Stephen, Maurice McPherson, Sharon Colburn, Fiona Morrison, Neil Donaldson, Alan Miller, Robbie Smith Dempsey, Gill Dodds.
God bless Denholm Robertson-Bradby!
THE WAY OF THE EGG
A fine day in Glasgow. Feels like it’s all kicking off. I don’t think I’ve ever been so busy with band stuff, but then maybe I’m just kidding myself. The stuff that I’m busy with is stuff that I just make up and then feel a compulsion to do. My overall project just now is akin to Chicken Licken in the nursery story. You remember Chicken Licken? He got a fright or had a small accident or something, and he decided the sky was going to fall on his head, so he went off to find the king. He was a major panic merchant. He alerted the whole countryside to his lunatic raving. But everyone he met was as daft as he was. And, crucially, they all had nutty rhyming couplet names like Licken did, only according to their species. So we had Henny Penny, Cocky Locky, Turkey Lurkey, Goosey Loosey, etc. And each one of them as mad as the little Chicken fellow. They went for his story in a big way, and dropped everything to join the lunatic band.
Ok, my analogy has gone a little far. Now that I got into the story of Chicken Licken I realise that. But there’s a couple of things about the Chicken I like. I like the fact that he’s trying to keep the momentum up. He’s trying to keep the party going. You don’t see his friends complaining much, do you? Fact is, it’s probably the most excitement they’ve seen around the farmyard for quite some time. They’re totally into it. They’re getting a day trip out of it and it’s costing them nothing.
I’ve been taking pictures and knocking about on my bike bumping into one person after the next and drinking tea and trying to get things going. Feeling a little like Chicken Licken, specifically. But one has to be careful. In the end the chicken gets eaten by a fox. I wonder if I’ll reach a foxy end?
Actually, I don’t care because I’ve been having a lot of fun. Glaswegians are nuts to want to leave this town at this time of year, when the city is reaching its most sublime point, where the sandstone and vegetation combine to create one big indie playground. That’s how I found myself describing it to a friend the other night. She admitted to being ‘geeky’ about the town as well. I don’t know why I used ‘indie’ as an adjective here, but then as I mentioned elsewhere, there are moves to keep changing the meaning of that word until it either doesn’t mean anything or it means all things to all people!
And that reminds me, one of the ‘lunatic band’ I bumped into during photographic adventures last week was Jason from V-Twin. Actually I bumped into him a couple of times, once in the caff with V-Twin Donald and Michael, and once when he was walking Fawcett, admittedly the cutest little indie raver of the lot. (Fawcett is a West Highland Terrier.) We got talking about our favourite words. I can’t remember the context, but Jason’s was ‘obsequious’ or ‘meticulous’ or one of those ‘ouses’. (Shit, sorry Jason, I can’t remember which one exactly.) Whatever, you can bet the conversation did nothing to contribute to the GNP of the Glasgow area. There was nothing economy bolstering about that hour and a half. We were just shooting the breeze over expensive coffees just like we’d been doing since ’93 when I first knew Jason. I don’t see him around so much anymore since he switched caf’s.
There is a boring stereotype going around that says that guys don’t talk about stuff. If you get the right combination of people though, you can have a good old chat. It just takes a couple in a group to get it going. And I like Jason because he likes to pull the barriers down anytime anywhere. It can be nine fifteen in the morning at a rainy bus stop and he will be grinning from under his parka hood, talking about girl trouble, band trouble, dog trouble!
Justin Currie from Del Amitri was knocking about the caff. Different era from us lot. It’s funny that we still sit about chattering about people like kids. I should grow up a little. I can’t imagine having a coffee with Justin Currie. Not in this present situation. Well I could, of course. But I’d have to behave myself a little and not talk rubbish. I put him in with the Lloyd Cole brigade, with Edwyn, Horne, Bluebell, Kirk. It’s a different generation! It’d take being drunk at a wedding to really break the ice.
Anyway, Jason said a funny thing. ‘Del Amitri are really underrated. They really had their moments. ‘Always the Last to Know’. It’s a great song.’ Then he proceeded to quote the lyric, like John Gielgud on Radio 4 or something. What was equally disturbing is that Donald was quietly but steadfastly backing him up. I just don’t know where I stand! I had ‘Sense Sickness’ which was like early Orange Juice. That’s about it. What was funny was that Jason said ‘I mean, you’ve got to hand it to him, he’s a big fucking handsome dude! If I was a girl, I’d bang him!’ Ha ha!
My favourite word… actually I have two just now, but one of them would give away my present unhealthy obsession. My favourite word has a Gielgud connection. (Two in one diary!) He used to read the Bible on Radio 4. I mean, right from the start. They had him on for ten minutes everyday reading from Genesis onwards. I like the word ‘creepeth’. It’s one that you would have trouble fitting into everyday conversation. But he just used to roll the ‘r’, and it was good. Back in Genesis, everything and everyone was always creepething around when everything was dark and lush and overhanging, and the snakes talked and you strucketh your brother for the smallest of reasons, and the smallest of smotes would almost always kill! I’ll try and fit that word into the next few diaries. And because you’ve read this you will be in the know. Everyone else will probably think I’ve just lost my head for a minute.
Like I was meant to say something at the John Peel Christmas Party thing that was meant to be a secret signal to my friend Marisa. She gave me a list of words that I had to use so she would know I was signalling her. But I didn’t manage it. I can’t remember the words right now but I remember we did have quite a funny time devising them. It would have been just too unlikely. I would have been wheeled away!
It’s absolutely pouring down outside. ‘Here comes the juice!’ the punters cry. Typical Glasgow Fair Monday. It always rains.
So, like I was saying, my major thing in the last few days was taking pictures. I had the shoot for the front cover of the lp on Friday there, and for the single, on the Tuesday before. And the whole week I was toying with the idea of buying a new camera. Now this was quite a big deal to me. I knew the advantages of having this camera, but to be honest I didn’t know how to work the frigging thing, and even going into the shop to buy the thing was proving an ordeal. I mean, the first time I went into the shop the guy did everything in his power to not sell me the camera. He didn’t even get it out the case! And all the time I’m standing there sweating like a paedophile in a creche! Like I was going to be found out as the non photographer I so clearly am. What the hell would I want with a Hassleblad?
I think I went in there about four times before I actually got the thing. And each time I took a different person to chum me. It must be said, the underground artsy camera set in Glasgow rallied to the cause last week. Stand up Martin, Roxanne, Tris and Ian at the lab. And Marisa of course, though she’s in Boston.
Marisa’s pretty much the perfect subject. She hands you the camera, primed and ready to shoot. Then she strips off and poses meticulously. It was she that opened my eyes to the possiblity of the medium format. Usually I would imagine professionals are sniffy about lending equipment or handing over their tools. But Marisa must just be comfortable in the knowledge that she can do it either side of the lens. And she can, she’s a talented girl.. Sorry, I know I’m being a bit cartoonish here, but being able to pose is a definite skill, and one that I admire all the more because I can’t do it. I’m lucky to be around such photogenic people.
The day I actually bought the thing I was meant to meet an acquaintance of an acquaintance, the aforementioned Tris, so he could give the camera the once over, and talk knowledgeable bollocks to take the heat off me. But he stood me up! Later on, his friend Roxanne told me that his aquarium had broken, which is a hot one! I’m going to use that the next time I can’t make it to something. Though I’d never be able to not giggle. It was true though, his aquarium had broken, threatening both flat and guppy. He came along to the shoot on Friday to make up for it, and for a bit of moral and technical support. As it turns out, everyone that I had spoken to the previous week turned up, so there was an embarrassing surfeit of the knowledgable and the artsy. Thank God we got some beers in. I felt a little self conscious as I ponced about on top of a table, ordering the group around. They were very, very good.
Trouble with Glasgow at this time of year is that you never know how many layers to put on when you leave the house. Now, I’ve had to become a layer expert over the years on account of my eskimo blood. And in Glasgow the sun can go in and the wind can blow up in minutes. And you can go from one to four layers accordingly. At least I can. Why can I already anticipate my own kids taking the piss out of me? Imagine I raise a real bruiser who has just no sympathy whatsoever? I would have nowhere to hide.
Well this particular sensitivity has even put the strain on that most tolerable of friendships, that between a boy and his best friend. Even Ciara feigned to lose patience with me this one particular incident. I had gone into town, it had been a little overcast. But the sun came out and showed no sign of going back in and I felt a little ripped off that I should have to lug my jacket around all day while I did my indie errands. So I went to the post office and bought a sheet of brown paper and posted my jacket home. That was a few years ago now though, and I was less robust than you thankfully find me today.
It was a beautiful three button jacket of my dad’s that I posted. I subsequently lost that jacket, and of all the things over the years I have lost it is the one I have come to miss the most. Such a perfect item, I’ve never seen its like since, though I have searched. And all the more annoying that it should have been my dads. I left it in a football changing room. It disappeared instantly. It’s definitely in my Top 5 items of clothing of all time. Now even I might hesitate to list that list in this diary as that would surely put a strain on your readership. Maybe we can swap Top 5’s and the stories they contain? That way I wouldn’t feel so bad about talking about something which can’t possibly have any interest to anyone but me. Ok, tell you what, send me your Top 5’s and a few lines on each if you are so moved.
I just came back to the house to have a little lunch and there’s a package here from Bob, who’s making a little film that I’m helping with. He’s sent me a Felt dvd called ‘A Declaration’. This to me is very interesting. It’s almost too much to take. Lawrence looks so good, it’s too much, it’s like a dream. I can’t believe this band ever existed. They’re so perfect. Fuck the Smiths, fuck Orange Juice, Felt, FELT, FELT!! I have to stop watching. I feel like I’m going to have a heart attack today. They just take me to a different place. ‘I wasn’t fooling when I said. All the people I like are those that are dead’. The dvd’s shit quality by the way, so don’t go there unless you can join the dots for yourself.
Larkin, Cohen, Lawrence and Moz. The rest of you boys can leave your quills in your tunics.
Oh, no, I’m in the park and I’m being checked out by a baldy headed guy. I must be in the pick up zone. Serves me right for saying how beautiful Lawrence is. C’mon, you know what I meant. I’m a bit nervous actually. What if he tries to wrench the laptop from me? Why do I never get propositioned by women? I suppose it’s a law of nature. It would make life too easy, huh? Like, what is the point of feedback? Why can’t we just make everything louder without the squeals? Like, what is the point of depth of field? Why can’t the lens just capture everything flat, no matter how dark it is? But then we wouldn’t strive. Digital has made a lot of things easy, but then without having to strive, the art has become worse. Apart from the art that is digital to the core. Like computer games and such. Am I wrong?
So I rambled on to the steps to Park Circus, and on the way I bump into Allen, our drum tech, and his two mates, Robin and Edgy. They are in exactly the same spot as I saw them in the last time I was in the park a few days ago. They realise this and are a bit bashful as I approach.
‘You are the Three Coins In The Fountain.’
They laugh. They are perched on the edge of the fountain. They had just been to the transport museum, but they were disappointed the man wouldn’t let them get in the cars and blow the horns. The subject moves round to ‘The Two Towers’.
‘I mean, what were the Two Towers anyway? In the film it makes out they were Saruman’s bit and Sauron’s bit. I always thought it was meant to be Minas Tirith and Minas Morgul.’
I kind of agree with him. That would make the most poetic sense. There are four towers to choose from though. Orthanc, Morgul, Tirith and Barad-Dur.
‘I’m surprised Tolkien didn’t give the Hobbits a tower as well.’
Well they had a sort of mound.
They are twelve ways you can pick two towers from four, right? Pick one from four then one from three remaining. Three times four is twelve… I got to get out more. But I am out! Maybe I’ve got to stay in.
Allen is one of the gang I was talking about earlier. He was helping me with both the pictures. We were in the same spot last Tuesday, the bandstand, where the baldy guy was trying to pick me up. Me and Allen, and Katrina, Roxanne, Hannah and Bob, who were all modelling. Bob was wandering about in a straw hat smoking a rollie. Allen motioned towards him, and says to me:
‘Look at Bob, man. He just walks this land!’
And it’s true. He just walks this land. Which reminds me, I was going to try and talk a bit about the other dudes in the group for a while, but I’m going to go and make dinner for a friend, so it will have to wait.
I may be a lousy cook, but at least I’ve learned the way of the egg.
21st July ’03