Belle and Sebastian Belle and SebastianLateNightTales (Volume 2)
Looks like the Scots still had some ammo left after delivering their first mixtape for the LateNightTales series in 2006 (number 14, after The Flaming Lips and before AIR), on which they included Demis Roussos' fizzy “O My Friends You've Been Untrue to Me”, Stereolab's “French Disko”, Steve Miller Band's “Fly Like An Eagle”, and Donovan's “Get Thy Bearings”. Essentially, a fistful of good pop tunes, more or less retro, with a distinct autumnal, rainy (and, obviously, nocturnal) feel. Six years later, Belle And Sebastian go in for a second round; the first band to do so in ten years. They take care of number 26, opening with none other than Broadcast's incorporeal “Ominous Cloud”. Somewhere between spectral and hopeful, it was one of the highlights from 2003's “Haha Sound”. It's followed by The Wonder Who?'s delicious and very Beach Boys-y surf-pop song “Watch The Flowers Grow” (from the same era as “Pet Sounds”). Next we suddenly find ourselves halfway through the past century, listening to the bop of Joe Pass' guitar ( “A Time For Us”). Moments later, we're in a Jim Jarmusch film with Mulatu Astatke's Ethio-jazz, only to travel to Brazil next with Milton Nascimento and Lô Borges and their “Tudo Que Você Podia Ser”. After that fusion jazz moment it's on to Europe, entering through France with Margo Guryan's version of “Sunday Morning” (performed by Marie Laforet). It's followed by a fragile and, in its own way, terribly vintage (epic 70s romance) “Bird Of Space”, by Bonnie Dobson.
Up to this point, everything fits. The movements have been subtle: they went from surf-pop to be-bop to jazz and back to angora pop. However, we then enter the fields of psychedelia, with Dorothy Ashby's “Soul Vibrations” (space, and a piano), progressive (more 70s, and an anarcho-ambient track called “Tomorrow's People”, by McDonald & Giles), electronica (Gold Panda's micro-house, Toro Y Moi's chill-wave, Ce'cile's first hit - yes, that's right, Belle & Sebastian spinning “Rude Bwoy Thug Life” - and, once again, Broadcast) and even funk-punk (The Pop Group and their ecclesiastic “Savage Sea”, which goes perfectly with the song that follows, The Stan Tracey Quartet's delicate “Starless And Bible Black”). And it goes on. From jazz it goes back to 60s sweetness (The Lovin' Spoonful's “Darling Be Home Soon”), making a stop in Coventry, 1988, to offer us their version of The Primitives' hit “Crash” - turning the mainstream punk of the original into their own classic brand of chamber pop ( “na-na-na-nas” included). It's a declaration of intent, a successful attempt to connect the dots between a fistful of melancholic classics from the past century and some hyped-hits from this one. Who said sequels never rock?