This week I reviewed Stuart David’s memoir In The All-Night Café for the site Louder Than War and this immediately put me in the mood to hear some Looper as well as what Stuart describes as the ‘slightly shambolic magic’ of the first Belle and Sebastian album Tigermilk, which as I mention in my piece was robbed from my old flat which was situated just off Byres Road in Glasgow. Hopefully the scumbag who stole it was completely unaware of the fact that by this point it was already worth around five hundred quid and received only pennies for it when they sold it on.
Not that I’m bitter or anything.
In The All-Night Café brought back many memories of my time in the West End such as occasionally heading along to the Halt Bar for their open mic sessions, although I wasn’t there the time when a proto Belles line-up called Lisa Helps the Blind apparently once performed to a largely uninterested audience with Stuart Murdoch walking off the stage in the middle of Le Pastie de la Bourgeoisie because it didn’t feel right – and speaking of that track I remember the graffiti spray painted on the side wall of Greggs which inspired the song’s title.
There’s plenty of entertaining anecdotes in this portrait of the bassist as a young man including a tense incident at an early gig when it was discovered that the foot of Richard Colburn’s drum stool had cut through Stevie Jackson’s guitar amp which meant the actual drum stool had become live and Stuart also teases readers with an ongoing mystery that oddly enough involves boyband 911.
If you’re a Belle and Sebastian fan I would definitely recommend In The All-Night Café but it would also likely appeal to anyone who has ever been part of an indie band or even wondered what it would be like to be part of an indie band.
What I found most fascinating was Stuart Murdoch’s unwavering vision for the Belles and his steely determination never to compromise it. Also admirable is the refreshing honesty that Stuart David writes with throughout, even admitting that although happy, he still felt conflicted – and maybe a little jealous of his bandmate – in the wake of his own group Raglan Street Rattle splitting up and Belle and Sebastian, which was very much Stuart Murdoch’s band, beginning to take off. As he writes: ‘Somehow I was no longer writing songs, no longer had a band, and was quite aware watching Stuart arranging and mixing his songs with conviction that I didn’t have the singularity of vision to pull that off for myself there and then. It was a long way from the future I’d dreamt for myself as a teenager… ’
Stuart David made another three albums with Belle and Sebastian as well as four EPs. In 1998 he started Looper as a side-project and went on to leave B&S in 2000 to concentrate on that project and writing novels. Hopefully this was nearer the future that he’d dreamt for himself as a teenager.
These Things, a new career spanning Looper 5 CD box set with a 20 page booklet with sleeves notes by Tim Burgess of The Charlatans is out now. From it this is Mondo ’77, a track that some will have become aware of through its use on the Vanilla Sky soundtrack:
There’s also a number of mentions in the book on Stevie Jackson’s former band The Moondials, whose two EPs were also stolen from my flat come to think of it, albeit luckily enough I managed to replace both, the first of which you can see below. I’m not exactly sure why but I love this highly idiosyncratic cover.
As Stuart puts it: ‘singer Warren sounded like Joe Cocker and looked like Johnny Depp. I sometimes thought that if I looked like Warren, I would feel more confident onstage. And that I would maybe have been a pop star already. I couldn’t work out why Warren wasn’t a pop star already.’
Me neither, Stuart and I intend featuring The Moondials in the very near future but for now, here’s a track from Warren McIntyre’s current band, The Starry Skies. This is a live version of Let Love Come Back:
The Starry Skies will be playing at the Kelvingrove Bowl on Sunday June 7 along with The Wellgreen, Monica Queen and a bunch of other talented local musicians.
For more on Looper, click here.
And for more on The Starry Skies and The Moondials, click here.