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Boy With the Arab Strap

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Audio CD, September 8, 1998
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The best pop groups want to change the world. They want to leave an imprint that no one forgets, to do more than check out as a minor statistic in the Guinness Book of Hit Singles. They want to change the world of pop, and to engage with the politics of pop. Belle & Sebastian have re-invented the pop festival; they signed to a tiny independent label but still beat Steps to a BRIT, before ... Read more in Amazon's Belle & Sebastian Store

Visit Amazon's Belle & Sebastian Store
for 187 albums, 6 photos, 4 videos, and 3 full streaming songs.

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Boy With the Arab Strap + If You're Feeling Sinister + Tigermilk
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 8, 1998)
  • Original Release Date: September 8, 1998
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Matador Records
  • ASIN: B00000AFHM
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (161 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #14,809 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. It Could Have Been A Brilliant Career
2. Sleep The Clock Around
3. Is It Wicked Not To Care?
4. Ease Your Feet In The Sea
5. A Summer Wasting
6. Seymour Stein
7. A Space Boy Dream
8. Dirty Dream Number Two
9. The Boy With The Arab Strap
10. Chickfactor
11. Simple Things
12. The Rollercoaster Ride

Editorial Reviews

Product Description


This highly anticipated album from Belle and Sebastian arrives with every hope satisfied. Each song is a cunning short story that wraps itself around you like a cozy couch throw. The loose theme running through this 12-song reverie is seduction. It plays out in both the drowsy sexual hopes of principal songwriter Stuart Murdoch's idle protagonists and the giddiness of bandmate Stevie Jackson's "Seymour Stein" and "Chickfactor," which document his bewitchment by the city of New York and its beautiful girls and florid pitchmen. The complex arrangements favor a whimsical diversity best experienced in "Sleep the Clock Around," which features synthesizer bloops, trumpets, and bagpipes! If you haven't figured out that this Scottish eight-piece deserves every iota of hype it's receiving, it's time to have your ears checked and your record collection gone over by a certified professional. --Lois Maffeo

Customer Reviews

'Seymour Stein' is a glorious, mini-epic (I particularly love the line about the 'north country girl'!!!)
IF YOU'RE FEELING SINISTER was a brilliant album, one that I listen to a lot, but THE BOY WITH THE ARAB STRAP is probably as good as the band is ever going to get.
One of the best albums of the year - a friend introduced me to this band and they have been on my CD player ever since.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Tyler McGaughey on April 9, 2003
Format: Audio CD
I first heard about Belle and Sebastian from a friend of mine who had also turned me on to Kings of Convenience. I went out and bought this CD as soon as I could. I didn't really get into it at first and I didn't really understand what some of the songs were about. But the album grew on me. The songs are timeless, they conjure up the ghosts of late 60s pioneers like Love and Nick Drake, while always sounding modern and in touch with today's alienated youth. But now that I have listened to these twelve songs thousands of times, the thing that draws me back the Boy with the Arab Strap is the MOOD. Autumnal, like leaves falling but with a hint of summer still lingering and winter waiting at the door. Like "The Graduate" or a Wes Anderson movie, graceful and beautiful, with equal measures of humor, sorrow and tenderness.
If you haven't already, buy this CD and prepare yourself for the most subtle and gorgeous forty-five minutes of your life.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Adam Richman on April 22, 2000
Format: Audio CD
Every so often, you buy a CD that is a "press play, leave on" CD - one that has enough enjoyability and variety to be listened to the whole way through...I found that here. Some people have a hard time considering music with vocals of such softness - rock; but the simple fact here is that this is an album where most of the power comes in the lyrics - which could stand alone as poetry, and in the subtle and clean instrumentation - which is nothing less than perfect. I know that it is already hard to imagine an alnum so good through all of my flowery, fawning words, but - one listen straight through and you too will be sold. This album has out and out, impossible-not-to-dance-to songs (Dirty Dream #2 and the title track), breathy atmospheric gems (Ease Your Feet in the sea, Chickfactor, Seymour Stein- a brilliant song) as well as grinding, undefinable, songs with no genre or label (the amazing "Simple Things," and the equally great "A Spaceboy Dream"). This is one to buy, because there really is nothing quite like it available anywhere from anyone - and as the band shy away from public acclaim (turned down several major-label deals to sign with small Scottish label "Jeepster") they strengthen the unique nature of their sound which has only gotten better with each flawlessly produced album. Maybe not pure mosh, pyrotechnic, guitar smash rock, and maybe not pure troubador ballads - but a great piece of arranged music nonetheless and an entirely enjoyable addition to any collection.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Kaiser on March 1, 2001
Format: Audio CD
I decided to check out the music of Belle and Sebastion simply based on the description they were given by other people. I figured any band that is often mentioned in the same sentance as The Smiths couldn't be all bad. It didn't take me long to realize why a lot of people consider the two bands so similar. Both weave abstract stories using themes of melencholy, sexual frustration, and everything in between. Both contain a timeless sound that can be appreciated by lovers of any musical genre.
Though there are simularities, Belle and Sebastion is certainly a band unique in themselves. Listening to their music is like sitting alone on a grassy hillside on cloudy day. For the most part it is peaceful, but every so often a gust of wind will blow past you so fast its gone before you realize its there. Lyrically they display a maturity that has unfortunatly become a rare thing in modern music, and the musicianship is so solid it almost sounds effortless.
Belle and Sebastian is a fantastic band and I hope to hear many great things from them in the future.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on July 25, 2002
Format: Audio CD
I've had this CD for about a year and I just found out what an
Arab Strap is a few days ago.

An Arab Strap is a contraption that is designed to fit over a man's genitals and is usually made of leather.

I think I have gone into enough detail for most people. Just wanted to tell you.
(By the way, get the CD. It's really really good.)
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Captain Eclectic on December 20, 2004
Format: Audio CD
The Boy with the Arab Strap moves like the tides. It's the aural equivalent of napping on the beach too close to the water, as it cycles among feelings of baking in the sun, to the gentle lapping of water against your toes, to the soft crashing of waves washing over. And back out again. If I had to list the best "fall asleep with the headphones on" albums of all time, this album would be right at the top with the Cure's Disintegration, and Pink Floyd's Meddle. One of Belle and Sebastians finest works.

It could have been a brilliant career - 4/5 Great opener. It's not uber mellow, but it is ubermelodic.

Sleep the Clock Around - 5/5 A wonderful, bouncy song that's hard to describe. After all this time I still have no idea what it's about, because I haven't ever tried to assemble the lyrics into any coherent story. When I first listened to it I loved it but assumed that due to it's simple melody, it would become repetetive, but I was wrong.

Is it Wicked not to care - 3 One of Isobel Campbells few self-written songs. I've never been a huge fan of her voice (When not used in a backing capacity) and her song writing isn't particularly good either, but this is not too bad. The melody seems a bit sophomoric, and seems to sound like a theme song for a BBC children's show from the 80's.

Ease your feet in the sea - 4 I love Stuart's vox in this one. Nothing about this tune is meant to be riveting, just a simple song about the ocean. It fits in well with the imagery evoked by the music and lyrics of the rest of the album.

A Summer Wasting - 3.75 Another summery tune (obvious?) that seemed like a low point at first but grew with my love for the album.
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