Archive for the ‘Leonard Michaels’ Category


In Stuart David’s book, In The All-Night Café, he lists the songs on a mixtape that Stuart Murdoch gave to him when they first met.

Although I’ve been a fan of Belle & Sebastian for a long time, I knew almost none of the songs on this mixtape.  So, much like Stuart David, I’m listening to them for the first time trying to see how they inspire Stuart Murdoch.

In the book, David writes how much he does not like “rock,” especially music based around bluesy rock.  Most of these songs, accordingly, do not do that.  In fact, most of these songs are (unsurprisingly) soft and delicate.

The Servants are a band I’ve never heard of.  They released one album in 1990, Disinterest.  Band member Luke Haines said, “It is art rock … ten years too late and fifteen years too early.”  They recorded a second album, Small Time, but it wasn’t released until twenty-one years later–following the inclusion of Disinterest in Mojo magazine’s 2011 list of the greatest British indie records of all time.

Evidently, Stuart Murdoch liked singer-songwriter David Westlake’s music so much, he wanted to start  band with him (before Belle & Sebastian).

I listened to this song on Spotify and was really surprised by the recording:

Of all the songs on here, I think this one surprised me the most.  The recording is incredibly muffled.  It all sounds like it was recorded on a cassette player.

It opens with a thumping guitar note and a buzzy bass line meandering around a subsequent guitar line.  There are drums but they are only hitting on the beat with an occasional cymbal that sounds like it’s down the hall.  Westlake’s vocals are so muffled I can’t actually tell what he’s saying, but there does appear to be an occasional harmony vocal.

Interestingly, the music is pretty catchy once it gets going, you just can’t hear any detail as to what’s going on.

Then I realized that this recording is actually an early demo that came with a reissued album.  That’s why it sounds so terrible.

Hearing the version on YouTube (which I assume is the real thing–there’s virtually no information about this song online!), Murdoch’s appreciation makes a lot more sense.

The song moves along nicely with a pretty guitar and steady bass.  Westlake’s voice is low and understated.  I like the way the chorus reveals itself, almost as the end of the first verse instead of a separate part of the song

Stay with me
please don’t go, afterglow.

The song is jangly with a few nice guitar flourishes and a rather unexpected guitar solo.

It’s also two minutes shorter than the demo (and honestly sounds like a totally different song–I feel like something is wrong somewhere).

[READ: January 30, 2021] “Nachman from Los Angeles”

Nachman is, indeed, from Los Angeles.  His friend Norbert has just introduced him to Prince Ali from Persia.  Ali has a proposition for him.  At Norbert’s suggestion, Ali would like Nachman to write Ali’s metaphysics paper for him.

Ali took the class thinking that metaphysics had something to do with mysticism.  By the time he realized it didn’t, it was too late to drop it.  He needs this class to graduate and he has no head for this sort of thing.  Norbert said that Nachman was a great writer. Norbert did not say that Nachman was a mathematician who has never read Henri Bergson.

When Ali said that he would pay him $1,000, he took Nachman’s stunned silence as an agreement.

Nachman is mad at Norbert–who doesn’t even go to school with them.  Norbert got a tattoo which upset his father so much that he cut Norbert off, so Norbert can’t afford school.  But Norbert sees this transaction as a business opportunity–$1,000 a paper, imagine that.

Nachman settled in to read Bergson.  Ali seemed concerned that Nachman was reading instead of writing.  The paper was not due for three weeks, and Nachman obviously needs to learn about what Bergson had to say. (more…)

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