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Not Great, But A Number Of Standouts
on 23 September 2013
Unsurprisingly I guess, given that the Third Eye Centre is (merely) another Belle And Sebastian compilation of single b-sides, remixes and other 'rarities', it doesn't have the consistent quality of (what we would expect from) a new collection of songs, but, speaking as someone who doesn't own all the old singles, there is enough varied and impressive material here for me to warrant a purchase.
Of the three 'remixed' songs here - all classic songs in their own right, which, it could be argued, should just be left alone as their original versons! - I find Aussie electronic band The Avalanches' 'light mix' of I'm A Cuckoo nicely uplifting (including the 'Sudanese village' vocals near the end) and the Miaoux Miaoux mix of Your Cover's Blown rhythmic and invigorating, whilst merely adding a disco backing to I Didn't See It Coming doesn't really seem worth it to me. Elsewhere, the band produce great examples of their mid-tempo splendour on songs like Love On The March, Your Secrets, Heaven In The Afternoon and Desperation Made A Fool Of Me, the latter being a particularly beautiful and intimate tale of self-discovery. Subtle, heartfelt ballads also get a look in, in the form of I Took A Long Hard Look and Blue Eyes Of A Millionaire.
Pulsating pop sounds return (ironically, no doubt) on Write About Love bonus song, Suicide Song (an album highlight for me - with its great guitar break) and on closer, The Life Pursuit, the 'album title song' that was (surprisingly) dropped, with its (according to Stuart Murdoch's sleeve notes) unconventional song structure. Style-wise, the band enter into Lovin' Spoonful territory on Stop, Look And Listen (with its 'summer in the city' reference), which segues into the marvellous Shadows-like instrumental, Passion Fruit. Lyrically, two of the most interesting songs are the reggae-influenced, and overtly (more) political, The Eighth Station of the Cross Kebab House and the hilarious take on sexual 'adventure' in Meat and Potatoes, with its talk of whips, chains, handcuffs and dairy allergies.
Of course, such compilations as The Third Eye (i.e. of material the vast majority of which is available elsewhere), are often subject to criticism as being merely another way of a band making extra dosh with little effort, and, whilst there is obviously truth in this, I feel they can still serve a useful purpose in bringing together (often unheard) material in one place.