It’s difficult to rate a release of a band which has achieved adoration throughout the independent music world, especially when that release consists of various John Peel Sessions and a live recording in Belfast. However, the gauntlet has been layed down, thus the rating has been thrown out.
The compilations is made up of multiple discs, the first being the BBC Sessions alluded to in the title of the release. Now, Belle and Sebastian has always been a quiet band, especially if you listen to the mix of Tigermilk or If You’re Feeling Sinister, but on this disc you will find many of the classic songs from that era, such as “Judy and The Dream of Horses.” A lot of these songs haven’t really changed much from the original recordings, in fact, they stay exactly the same as the first time they came out of your speakers. Still, the quality of the recording is exceptional here, perhaps even better than the original recordings, so there is something to take away.
Overall, the first disc is a reminder of the band’s distant past, as the presence of Isobel Campbell is no more. Listeners will find beauty in the intro of “The Magic of a Kind Word,” but those sorts of reminders only show how far the band has come. Favorites still sound wonderful, such as “Sleep the Clock Around” and “Seymour Stein.” It’s a pleasant reminder, but the lack of variance leaves much to be desired for the most die-hard of fans.
Disc two is a live album, recorded in Belfast, which is right near Holywood, in 2001. It’s got a decent offering of songs, though they don’t really meander far from various other live recordings that have been thrown around for years. There are some pleasant surprises that come from the band’s past, like their covers of “Here Comes the Sun” and “I’m Waiting for the Man.” It’s a pleasant reminder of the youthfulness the band has maintained, always dancing the night away in your bedroom speakers. It also demonstrates the leaps and bounds the group has made in more recent live performances.
In the end, its a very decent offering of music for those who are in love with Belle and Sebastian. For those who haven’t steeped themselves in the history of the band, or are completely oblivious to their existence, they might find some value here, but all true fans know that there are much greater starting points to the history of one of the greatest bands in modern history.