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TOP 500 REVIEWERon August 27, 2013
It is always a happy day when the stupendous `Belle and Sebastian' release more of their beautiful music into the world. So I preordered this as did some of my chums. Then I got to listen to it on Auto rip before the disc arrived, and have been all over it like a proverbial rash ever since. This is essentially a compilation album that consists of rarities, collectibles and non LP tracks from the last decade. That is according to an email I received from the band's web site. It opens with a remix of `I'm a Cuckoo' remixed by The Avalanches and it is actually miles better than the original, just let it play out too as the song gets better and better with off kilter tribal backing vocals. Second track `Suicide Girl' is vintage Belle, if you half heard it from a distance you would know it is them, which is no bad thing at all.

There is a new track called `Your Covers Blown' a Miaoux Miaoux Remix and it is rather ruddy good, with a driving beat and disco esque back beats. There are19 tracks here and unless you quite literally have everything by them there will be loads new here for you. This is a perfect accompaniment to `Push Barman to open old wounds' in that it takes the story further. There are a few tracks here that are not fully up to muster, but considering that these are all non album contenders, there are some absolute gems. `Desperation made a fool of me' is just sublime with its tinkling piano back beat and the glorious vocals it is one of those tracks you fall in love with straight away and know it will be for a very long time.

Then we have the variety as ever and Stevie gets to stretch his tonsils on more than one occasion as does the lovely Sarah - check out the simply glorious `Heaven in the afternoon'. We also have a lovely homage to sixties guitar instrumentals in the shape of `Passion Fruit' and I just thought this is groovy without a shred of irony. `The Eight station of the Cross Kebab House' has reminiscences of ska, as well as trade mark fabbo lyrics with humour a plenty. That comes to the fore to in the penultimate track `Meat and Potatoes', which is a lovely ditty about hard core fetishes and is actually so melodic to avert your mind from the lyrics. The Richard mix of `I didn't see it coming' might be a bit of a 'Marmite' jobby as it goes all drum beats which reminded me of eighties numbers like that Band Aid one we can never forget. `I took a long hard look' is a sing along ballad type that is also instantly likeable.

These days we are often pleased if there are two or three decent tracks on an album, which might explain the popularity of the download option. With Belle there is always something new and even when there is a song that you are not over enamoured with, you know these songs are nigh on always superior to their contemporaries, Belle and Sebastian do not really have an equal and for that reason alone this was always going to get a five star rating. There is enough here to keep you happy for a while to come and hopefully will tide you over till they bring out their next one which will be another simply stupendous day.
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on October 11, 2013
Fans of Belle and Sebastian and Stuart Murdoch will find plenty to like on their new compilation album, and quite a bit to skip. There are B-side recordings to earlier hits that are as good or better than the original A-side releases. But there are also needless remixes, suggesting that B&S was determined to fill up the time allotted on a disc. Still, this album is worth it for the gems, particularly "Love on the March," "I Took a Long Hard Look," "Long Black Scarf," "Travellin' Light," "Passion Fruit," and "Blue Eyes of a Millionaire." B&S are at their best when they synthesize and blend genres of rock, seamlessly and always with a light touch, combined with their sparkling and often razor sharp lyrics. "Love on the March" is a catchy samba as only B&S could imagine it. In other tracks, you'll hear echoes of Paul Simon, They Might Be Giants, and even a Telstar-era instrumental. All in a good way. So, ditch the remixes, but, otherwise, enjoy the ride. Literally -- this is a great album to drive to!
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on December 22, 2013
Every three years or so Belle & Sebastian release compiliation albums of out-takes, b-sides, rarities, and assorted material that for one reason or another never appeared on a regular album. I tend to think of these albums as the musical equivalent of Christmas stockings. There may not be another that comes in a big package, but they can yield pleasures and delights as good as anything you might find under the tree.

That said, I don't believe "Third Eye Center (the name is taken from a contemporary art space that existed in Glasgow once upon a time) is quite the equal of "BBC Sessions," or "Push Barmen to Open Old Wounds," two other B&S collections. The material here, from their time with Rough Trade, is always enjoyable, but very little really stands out as say, a lost classic or even for the most part first-rate B&S efforts.

The album opens with a remix of of "I'm A Cuckoo" by the Australian band The Avalanches that works in an African sound and children's chorus. It's an interesting experimental effort, but the kind of track that probably would have worked better coming at the end. "Suicide Girl" is right out of the B&S wheelhouse, a song with an upbeat, driving melody matched to literate lyrics about a with various emotional issues she even begin to understand. "Love on the March" features great vocal group harmonies. "Last Rip" is a well-meaning effort to emulate John Lee Hooker. (Didn't know B & S were John Lee Hooker followers? It's little nuggets like these that make these compiliations so much fun). Still, like several tracks on this album, it has an almost-second hand musical sound, and not enough of a "real" B&S sound.

"Your Secrets" fully captures the B & S sound of the early to mid 2000s, when the band was making a conscious effort to make more fully-prodcued, hopefully radio-friendly records. "Your Cover's Blown" has more of a dance-club vibe disco sound than is typical for B&S, that I don't think really plays to the band's strengths. At one point the song shifts into a mid to late 1960s Rolling Stones riff, demonstrating once again that B&S always has at least one more up their sleeves.

"I Took a Long Hard Look," a song that didn't make it onto "The Life Pursuit," is one of the true gems of this album. "Home in the Afternoon" evokes the "Fold Your Hands" period. "The 8th Station of the Cross Kebab House" is one of the album's true curiosities. Based on a trip the band made to the Middle east, "8th Station" is a song about romance across the barbed wire of the occupied territories. B&S take no political side here, their sympathies are with the innocent civilians on both sides of the divide, their emotional lives hostage to forces beyond their control. If the track sounds rushed, with production values and lyrics less polished than the typical B&S effort, it's because it had to be written & recorded within 24 hours to meet a deadline for a charity-record release.

"I Didn't See it Coming" is a dance-club sound remix of one of the singles off their last album, "Write About Love." Unlike many B&S songs, this one does lend itself to a disco remix. "(I Believe In) Traveling Light,"a song that was cut at the last minute, from "Dear Catastrophe Waitress," is this album's stand-out, one of those songs that really grabs your attention and holds it, and leaves you walking on a cloud. "Desperation Made a Fool of Me" is an enjoyable instrument track. "Blue Eyes of a Millionaire" is another stand-out, showcasing Stuart Murdoch's song writing craftsmanship and skills as a lyricist. Few modern pop songwriters (such as Paul Simon or Sting) can write songs that speak to both the mind and the heart while delivering an irresistible melody.

"Mr. Richard," a tribute of sorts to Keith Richard, has a driving-nails-into-the-floor-with-my-forehead beat and nearly nonsensical lyrics. "Meat & Potatoes" is a slow-beat, dead-pan look at a couple attempting to spice up their romantic life by delving into S&M, hilarity ensues. This a nifty before the fact dead-on parody of "Fifty Shades of Grey," The album concludes on an uneventful note with "The Life Pursuit," a song intended for the album of that name that they never really got quite right.

"Third Eye Centre" comes with a handsome booklet, feature photography, full song lyrics, and notes on each song by either Stuart Murdoch or Stevie Jackson offering background info on each song on the album, sharing a little bit of the creative process with their fans.

"Third Eye Centre" has much to recommend it, but the different musical styles (and the varying degree of quality of the songs) can make it almost disjointed listening experience at times. As such, "Third Eye Centre" is a must-have for hard core B&S fans and completists, but not necessarily for more casual B&S fans or those fans new to the group.
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on August 28, 2013
I almost regretted buying this album when "I am A Cuckoo" started. I did not like the remix at all. A few songs stood out for me such as Eighth Station of The Cross Kebab, I Didn't See it Coming (a little like a dance mix), Passion Fruit, and Mr. Richard. Your Cover's Blown was extremely intricate with variations all through.

There's plenty to like with plenty of different types of song styles. If you're a fan or even if you've never heard them before, I'd get it.
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on September 23, 2013
I really only started liking Belle & Sebastian with their Dear Catastrophe Waitress album. Prior to that their albums were quite drowsy so I was pleased that this collection of b-sides and non-album tracks has the 21st century "kick" that I enjoy. I only wish they would give more information on who sings and plays what instruments on their songs. I even have the Fans Only DVD and B&S' unintelligible mumbling and non-desire to be pop stars gives very little clue as to who plays what. I guess we have to take what they give (clever off-centre pop songs) and like it!
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on August 28, 2013
I would think most fans would purchase anything Belle and Sebastian put out there, so that will be a given with this release as with any other.

I think that this album is a really nice collection with a lot of variety, so it would be good for newcomers as well; especially with some of the remixes and reinterpretations of songs- they seem that they may be more appealing to a wider, pop kind of audience. But all of the old favorite sounds are there as well, so I can't be disappointed! It was a good listen (I've only been through the whole album once so far) and I'm sure I'll listen myself sick of it very soon because there's a lot of really interesting stuff here.
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on January 19, 2014
This is not a "proper" studio album by Belle and Sebastian, consisting of mainly B-sides and remixes, but it's nevertheless a delicious mixed bag of musical treats. Listening to these tuneful little pop masterpieces reminds me of why I love this band so much. These songs make me sing, make me smile, and make me feel good about this crazy old world. And for me, that makes this CD a definite keeper. Maybe the album doesn't "flow" like a regular studio album, and maybe there are a few tracks that don't shine as bright as others, but it still contains more than enough highlights --- and outstanding highlights they are --- to justify purchase.

The booklet that comes with the CD is also a nice bonus, containing capsule descriptions of each track and lyrics to all of the songs. If you're a fan of Belle and Sebastian this CD should be a no-brainer: get it! And if you are new to the music of this incredibly talented outfit, this is as good a place to start as any.
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on August 27, 2013
1. the flow just isn't there. Whoever ordered the songs should've put more thought into it. One example of this is starting off the whole cd with the remix of I'm a Cuckoo. It simply isn't a strong starting song for it lacks energy.
2. Stevie Jackson's contributions are just bland. "I took a long hard look," "Long Black Scarf," "I believe in Traveling Light," and "Mr. Richard" are either too slow, not very interesting musically or, in the case of Mr. Richard, just plain silly in the conga line sense. Traveling Light is the best of the lot for Stevie, though in my opinion his absolute best song is Jonathan David (not on this collection).
3. I Didn't See it Coming is not a very inspired remix. The album version is far superior as its feel is more consistent.
4. The Eighth Station of the Cross Kebab House seems to be looking for its way towards a final version- it has the feel of a demo song that might have sounded more believable had it been a crappy recording in a hotel room. It simply sounds incomplete musically.
5. Passion Fruit is an instrumental and, though it is sort of a fun surf rock type tune, I feel that rock and roll bands should stay clear of instrumentals. Either they end up being masturbatory 11 minute excursions a la Rush or Yes or they end up being repetitive and unnecessary a la The Cure or this song by B and S.

So, what is good about this album? The songs that really stand out as energetic and/or melodic in a recent B and S sense are Suicide Girl (a tip of the hat to bands like Aha or Berlin) , Love on the March (a bossa nova feel with a catchy melody), Your Secrets (a poppy, bouncy "don't get me wrong" by the Pretenders or "close to me" by The Cure type song), Your Cover's Blown (a dance, euro pop, disco tune)and Desperation Made a Fool of Me (which Stuart says is the second oldest song he's recorded- it feels like a nice bridge between older B and S and newer- the reason for that is, while it is an old song, it was recorded recently). The good songs on this album are really good and deserve to have been ordered better and surrounded with similarly strong songs. The liner notes are fun as they hold not just the lyrics for each song but notes from Stuart and Stevie about the songs.
Overall, I'd say get the album (especially if you're a big fan) but don't expect the cohesiveness and strong quality that made Write About Love, The Life Pursuit and Dear Catastrophe Waitress. With this, you're looking at more of a mixed bag like Fold Your Hands Child. If I were to compare this album of oddities/ rarities to its predecessor Push Barman, I would say that, due to the fact that there are fewer songs and fewer strong songs, this one is inferior. If Push Barman was a well planned three course meal, Third Eye Centre is more of a hit or miss buffet. Where Push Barman had songs that made me wonder how they never made it to an official album, Third Eye Centre has songs that made me say, "Yeah, I can see how that never made it to an album."
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on October 3, 2013
Its still a fun album and I'll always love B&S but this album is a little more laid back and less fun than their prior albums. I still need to give it a few more listens, but so far i'm not blown away!
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on February 21, 2014
I have been a huge fan for many years, though this album does not do much for me. If you are just getting into B&S, I would recommend buying every other CD before this one.
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