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Bellend Sebastian

Why I Love....British Sea Power

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1 hour ago, The People's Hero said:

Love BSP. Good thread. Is this to be a series? If so, I like it.

Why thank you.

 

It is to be a series, but hopefully not just of my contributions.  Nobody wants that. Get scribing, FTers!

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Saw their gig at the Leicester Festival in that plastic dome last year,they were excellent, playing Leicester again on their next tour , will definitely be going 

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Music chat needs more of this content and less spamming YouTube videos of 70s crap to be honest. 

 

Top bombing Bellend. Also, well done subverting expectations by not doing Belle and Sebastian. 

 

Shame BSP are shit like. 

Edited by Finnegan
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Quality Band! Especially love the random polar bears in the crowd:D Looking toward to their gig in Leicester again.

 

 

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On 24/07/2020 at 11:05, Bellend Sebastian said:

A band having a good name is of course no guarantee that the act itself will deliver on any level, but when I first heard mention of British Sea Power in the music press I really hoped that they wouldn’t disappoint.  Being old enough to have grown up when Airfix kits of World War II fighter planes were still very much a thing, and comics like Victor and Warlord somewhat bizarrely recounted exciting tales of daring from a war that had ended more than 3 decades previously to under twelves, the name struck a chord with me.

 

Although I read a few encouraging if confused reviews I hadn’t seen a picture of them or heard a note of their music before I saw them live, supporting The Flaming Lips at Rock City at the beginning of 2003.  I honestly cannot remember what I thought of the music, but I was sold pretty much straight away on the aesthetic, which mainly consisted of dressing up in clothes it looked like had been stolen from the Imperial War Museum and having lots of foliage and a stuffed owl on stage.  Finding myself face to face with band member Eamon, on a mid-song wander through the crowd with his marching drum further convinced me that there was something here of note.

 

It was a few months before I encountered them again, this time in video form on the then fantastic MTV2 channel who played the promo for the ‘Carrion’ single, a series of baffling and surreal images which OF COURSE looks like it was filmed on a 1930s home cine camera.  Naturally, this seemed to be a one off, and I didn’t hear hide nor hair of them again until, to my astonishment the very same track entered the great British pop charts at no 38 or something, meaning it was actually played on the chart run down on a Sunday evening when I just happened to be driving my racing green Astra through a mountain pass in the Lake District, which is about as British Sea Power a place as this could possibly happen in.  Needless to say, it sounded amazing on the radio, and completely at odds with everything else in the charts at that time and my love affair with the band began in earnest.

 

I bought their debut album soon after.  I loved and love it to this day, but one of the main reasons I am such a fan is that BSP from the word go have offered so much more than simply making music.  Even their ‘newsboost’ bulletins to their mailing list were works of art in themselves – penned by their then manager (the older brother of the two brothers in the band) in wonderfully flamboyant and enthusiastic language, peppered with recommendations of obscure books and films and frequently side-tracked by passionate accounts of rare bird sightings and the like.  The same chap went on to write ‘Do it for your Mum’, his similarly barmy and just as enjoyable book about the band’s rise to semi-fame, an account tinged by the disappointment of their tendency for duller acts that would at the time have equivalent or even lower billing (The Libertines and The Killers being good examples) overtaking them and going on to enjoy much greater success, and provides a sobering insight into how being in even a moderately successful indie rock band is a lot of hard work for precious little financial reward.

 

The music is in some ways the most conservative thing about them, which is in absolutely no way a criticism; it’s not especially original, but that’s fine if you do it well, and BSP always deliver theirs with vigour, both on record and live, and unusual subject matter (light pollution, sea birds, Antarctic ice shelves always keeps things interesting).  Like many of my favourite bands, mastery of both discordant noise and fragile beauty is achieved.  Hurrah!  And the drummer is ACE.

 

A tendency for playing gigs in unusual places (village halls, caves, libraries, ships, CERN), obsession with British wildlife, being frequently joined on stage by a bloke in a 10ft bear costume (previously the property of Hammer Films) a truly (despite their name) international outlook and an appearance on Country File may have sealed the deal for me, but are perhaps not the ingredients for mainstream success (whereas whatever it is the Killers do apparently is), and they’ve never broken through sufficiently to become even close to being a household name.  Happily, what they have done is found their level, a modest but loyal audience and through crowd-funding releases and branching out into other projects (their own mini-festivals, soundtrack work for film and computer games), a way of keeping the whole thing going and interesting for both themselves and the likes of me.

 

One of the few things they have in common with a lot of the acts I like is that ability to keep doing what they clearly love to do where other bands have been less resilient in the face of not achieving the levels of success they might have once aspired to.

 

British Sea Power?  British Staying Power, more like! Ha ha did you see what I did there etc

What a great read. Incidentally, I remember 'Victor' and 'Warlord' - wasn't there one called 'Bullet' too? I noticed that the kids at school that bought them were invariably the same ones that read 'Scorcher' 'Roy of the Rovers' and 'Tiger'. 

 

Great recollections and observations. I adore the follow up 'Open Season' - such a clever piece of work - which I had on repeat for a week during lockdown. It's perhaps a more accessible sound than the debut which I also love...but the same infectious melodies are stirring under the simmering, stormy surface of "The Decline of the British Sea Power". 'Open Season' is perhaps the best invocation of 'Bossanova' era Pixies this side of the Atlantic, and this side of Modest Mouse.  

 

 

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On 24/07/2020 at 11:05, Bellend Sebastian said:

Being old enough to have grown up when Airfix kits of World War II fighter planes were still very much a thing

My friend at school was a member of the 'Airfix Modellers Club" which as I recall had Dick Emery as the president. 

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On 29/07/2020 at 07:48, rico said:

Saw their gig at the Leicester Festival in that plastic dome last year,they were excellent, playing Leicester again on their next tour , will definitely be going 

I was at that, think everyone (including the band) thought it was a weird set up at first but as usual it ended up being a triumph

 

On 24/07/2020 at 14:43, Blueman1967 said:

That's the band, that dress up as trees on stage at Leicester one time, that was different, was that friends of the earth

I don't think THEY dressed up as trees although there probably were some on stage. Had you had a drink? I know I had

 

On 01/08/2020 at 13:38, Line-X said:

My friend at school was a member of the 'Airfix Modellers Club" which as I recall had Dick Emery as the president. 

A quick Google reveals this to not be the result of a fever dream but completely true (the bit about Dick Emery, not whether your mate was a club member). I mean, who wouldn't join such an enterprise?

 

On 29/07/2020 at 13:29, Finnegan said:

Music chat needs more of this content and less spamming YouTube videos of 70s crap to be honest. 

 

Top bombing Bellend. Also, well done subverting expectations by not doing Belle and Sebastian. 

 

Shame BSP are shit like. 

Thank you and damn your eyes at the same time.

 

I may yet get to B&S but I can think of at least 3 turns I'd probably write about first

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On 01/08/2020 at 13:10, Line-X said:

What a great read. Incidentally, I remember 'Victor' and 'Warlord' - wasn't there one called 'Bullet' too? I noticed that the kids at school that bought them were invariably the same ones that read 'Scorcher' 'Roy of the Rovers' and 'Tiger'. 

 

Great recollections and observations. I adore the follow up 'Open Season' - such a clever piece of work - which I had on repeat for a week during lockdown. It's perhaps a more accessible sound than the debut which I also love...but the same infectious melodies are stirring under the simmering, stormy surface of "The Decline of the British Sea Power". 'Open Season' is perhaps the best invocation of 'Bossanova' era Pixies this side of the Atlantic, and this side of Modest Mouse.  

 

 

You're very kind.

 

Weirdly, it took me ages to notice the very obvious Pixies influence, given that I really like them.

 

I always suggest Open Season to new listeners for exactly the reasons you've described. Contains 'Please Stand Up', which could well have been a breakthrough hit if MTV hadn't removed it from their playlist after deeming some of the words a bit naughty (they're really not).

 

Yet more BSP misfortune

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On 01/08/2020 at 13:38, Line-X said:

My friend at school was a member of the 'Airfix Modellers Club" which as I recall had Dick Emery as the president. 

He was indeed. He had a page in Buster every week. Not that I read it, I wasn't really interested. 

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