This week, the Late Night Tales mix CD series — which has boasted compilations chosen by everybody from Sly & Robbie to MGMT over the last decade — released their second collection to be hand-picked by Belle and Sebastian. The second B&S mix certainly doesn’t lack for variety. Any album that makes U.K. space-poppers Broadcast, jazz guitar giant Joe Pass, and King Crimson’s psych-prog offshoot McDonald & Giles flow together has got to get marks for effort if nothing else. But for all the ground the band covered over the course of the mix’s 79 minutes, it was still impossible to fit everything they wanted. Belle and Sebastian keyboardist Chris Geddes is apparently the band’s mightiest music geek, as he has ended up choosing the majority of the tracks for both mixes, so we asked him to detail the tunes that didn’t make the cut for the latest LNT.
1. Keith Richards, “The Harder They Come”
This slightly shambolic cover version of the Jimmy Cliff classic was Bob’s [bassist Kildea] first choice to go on the mix. Unfortunately, despite much searching, LNT were unable to track down the owner of the recording.
2. Shelagh McDonald, “Liz’s Song”
Gives me goose bumps whenever I hear it. It packs a lot of drama into a few words, and the musical arrangement is stunning. Every time it came in when I was listening through the playlist of possible tunes for the comp, I wanted to put it on. But in the end, with the songs from Trees and Bonnie Dobson, I felt that style of female folk rock was well enough represented and sadly this one didn’t make it.
3. The Wonder Who, “Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright”
This Dylan cover by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons [under an alias] is a big favorite of Sarah’s [violinist Martin] but even she admitted that the helium-squeaky lead vocal might be a bit much for our late-night listeners, so she let me include their equally brilliant and slightly more sensible “Watch the Flowers Grow” instead.
4. Augustus Pablo – “Havendale Rock”
It’s a bit of a shame there’s no reggae in the mix this time [beyond Ce’cile’s dancehall-pop track “Rude Bwoy Thug Life”]. This Pablo cut on the “Swing Easy” riddim has been a favorite DJ tune of mine for years. Unusually, he plays clavinet here rather than the melodica that was his signature sound. We had this one approved for the mix but in getting the balance right between vocal cuts and instrumentals there sadly wasn’t room to include it. There was a point when it was a choice between this and Mulatu [Astatke] at the same slot in the mix, and much as I love this tune, Mulatu was an absolute key track, and more relevant to the group, as he’d played at our All Tomorrow’s Parties.
5. Peaking Lights, “All the Sun That Shines”/Beth Jeans Houghton – “Golden”
Towards the end of working on the mix, LNT suggested it might benefit from a couple of newer things being included, so we had a think and gave them a few things we’d liked recently, which led to the Gold Panda, Remember Remember, and Toro Y Moi tunes being included, all of which I think are really great. These two were both put forward at the same time, and could easily have been included if the clearances had come in a different order. The Peaking Lights album is one of my favorites from last year, a great mix of spacey pop with dub and African influences. Stuart suggested Beth Jeans Houghton, although by coincidence I’d DJed at a couple of her early gigs when she did a single for Twisted Nerve. Either tune would have been just right in the mix but at a certain point I felt I had to stop taking off old favorites for the sake of getting new things on.
Late Night Tales Vol. 2 is out now.