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Published: 2006/02/17
by Randy Ray

Belle and Sebastian- The Life Pursuit (DVD bonus disc)

_You Enjoy Myself? _
_ You bet, Tweezer. _
_He wanders from the light and waltzes back into the darkness _
_Somewhere, a Liquid Turkey calls him on the phone: _
_Security. _
_Temptation. _
_ Home, Gordon. Git your ass home. _
_- Haight & Warped Mind Journeys, _ R. Ray, San Francisco, 2001
Scottish Gordon. I worked with the graphic designer in San Francisco for about a year back in the early 2000s. He drew wildly inventive design that somehow always carried the hook for clients. I wrote and edited copy and brainstormed ideas embedded in the creative process. Gordon teased me that print was dead when we first met and then proceeded to use me on every single assignment that required any literary input. I was the heady intellectual hippie book worm with an occasional taste for coke and Gordo was the Diesel Jeans and $50 T-shirt wearing, expensive European motorcycle riding, womanizing, manic depressive, shaved head superstar who had an occasional taste for the mighty disco biscuit. We were small stars, drank an ocean of alcohol on weekends, burned out and drifted away to pursue other milestones.
One of Gordos favorite haunts was at a dive bar a couple of doors down from the famous Amoeba Records on Haight Street in the city. He always dragged me to this place because he could get PBR for a dollar a pint. Never mind the fact that it would take ten beers to get a buzz and we could afford a bit more than a dollar a pint. Gordon also loved all kinds of eccentric and weird music and we turned each other on to all kinds of various tunes from all corners of the CD jukebox globe. We used to play Radioheads Kid A at the design studio when that hit the hiatus scene. The wonderfully eerie organ would kick off Everything In Its Right Place, Gordon would inevitably turn around and grin and I would nod back to my Scottish friend. He also loved sublime melodies and the odd fuck this and fuck that and fuckin hell. You can take the shite bastard out of Glasgow but you cant take the Glasgow out of the loutish lad. And god bless him for that.
Which brings us full circle to the excellent new 30-minute DVD that is included in the landmark CD release, The Life Pursuit, by Glasgows finest Belle and Sebastian. I practically wept when I threw this baby into the laptop. Witty, catchy, hook-laden, sublime, outrageous and gorgeously profane everything I loved about dear ole Gordo. Six songs from the CD are included in the bonus DVD, which was filmed in a UK television studio that was designed like the cool British shows from the 1970s like Old Grey Whistle Test according to the narrator, lead singer and songwriter, Stuart Murdoch a gloriously foul-mouthed gentleman in button-down white shirt, black slacks and dress shoes and an astute ability to match incredible melodies with choice fucks from out of nowhere. Murdoch even apologizes at the beginning of the program by saying that the six jingly-jangly songs chosen just happen to be the ones on the album with the most foul language specifically, fuck.
The Life Pursuit Bonus DVD is a jaunty romp through 60s-era pop rock with modern technology, witty lyrics and ribald language. Whereas some cultures use so-called foul language as an emotional dodge the first violent response when one is intellectually dim-witted the Scots, especially Murdoch, throw out the casual fuck and arsehole as a casual exclamation point in lyrics that reek jaded bitterness but are couched in nifty hooks out of Beatleland Lennonesque truth potion blended with Macca warmth.
Now thats certainly over-the-top and lofty praise, eh? Wellwhen I whip out the Beatles tag, I do it both rarely and with careful analysis. These Scot chaps (and one lass on various instruments ranging from violin to backing vocals) are clever, have a great Kinks ear and a grand sense of the album as an art form. Murdoch states in a humorous monologue that the sequencing was given quite a bit of thought on the album. Seems like that frame of mind was also followed in the film tracking from the dreamy Another Sunny Day to the funky To Be Myself Completely to the outrageous venom of White Collar Boy soaked in pure pop joy. Preceding the tracks are six brief Murdochisms that detail the decade of Belle and Sebastian in fine nutshell fashion.
The film is designed, as previously mentioned, with a clever nod towards the British music television shows of the past with a very modern and timeless look. The audience is also adorned with retro threads intended to replicate fashions from the 60s, but which are more likely from overpriced vintage boutiques. Then again, on a second glance, has our modern fashion come full circle is retro the new post-mod look? 1966 is 2006 the single via the iPod is king again? Murdoch is charismatic but so is the band very UK pale, plain and faceless. Indeed, on the contrary, the band has incredibly restrained charm that comes off very well on film when one considers that the songs seem to overpower the band and lift the imagery off of the screen like an unintentional 3-D video.
The hooks are breezy, complex and euphorically human. In one of the highest peaks and largest goosebump moments of the film, the band reaches an epic melodic height before Murdoch mutters, they act so discreet, they are hypocrites so fuck them too! And then the melody dips into a gorgeous trumpet solo and I shake my head and think: match THAT, Radiohead! Stay tuned as 2006 looks like the return of the album as art form. Speaking ofif the reader is looking for more critical goods on, say, the album itself, _The Life Pursuit_well, no worries your friendly neighborhood writer, yours truly, will have a review in the March issue of Stay tuned.
Sin is my game
_Well all be lined up _
Irrelevant fame
Next to the broker, the nurse and the drunk
I was a joker, the wannabe punk that got lucky
Had a good timeMornington Crescent, Belle and Sebastian

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