Published Aug 28, 2013While Belle and Sebastian's sound is most frequently associated with the work of primary frontman Stuart Murdoch, the Scottish indie pop collective is by no means a dictatorship, as various members have taken turns on lead vocals over the years. This is particularly apparent on the band's latest compilation, The Third Eye Centre, on which more than half of the tracks are sung by someone other than Murdoch.
To celebrate the release of this rarities compilation, we've assembled a list of our 10 favourite Belle and Sebastian songs fronted by someone other than Stuart Murdoch. We should point out that many of these songs feature prominent vocal harmonies from Murdoch, but in every case, he largely takes a backseat and allows one of his bandmates a moment in the spotlight. That's why we left off the magical "Lazy Line Painter Jane," which finds Murdoch splitting vocal dutiies with guest singer Monica Queen more or less evenly.
So while Murdoch's songs remain the crux of Belle and Sebastian's catalogue, these tunes show that his collaborators have plenty of great ideas of their own and have always remained a critical component of Belle and Sebastian.
Top 10 Belle and Sebastian Songs Fronted by Someone Other Than Stuart Murdoch:
10. "Winter Wooskie" (Stuart David)
Former member Stuart David is known for his spoken word contributions to songs like "A Century of Elvis" and "A Space Boy Dream," but he tries his hand at singing on the charming "Winter Wooskie" from 2000's Legal Man single. His voice isn't strong or confident, but it's more than capable of carrying this pleasant bubblegum ditty.
9. "Waiting for the Moon to Rise" (Sarah Martin)
Multi-instrumentalist Sarah Martin's voice didn't feature heavily on the band's early works, but she stepped up to the mic for "Waiting for the Moon to Rise," one of the stronger cuts from 2000's hit-or-miss Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like a Peasant. The song's soft flute, acoustic plucking and subtle reverb give it a hint of baroque elegance that distinguishes itself from the band's usually plaintive folk and pop stylings.
8. "Legal Man" (The Maisonettes)
Belle and Sebastian's tendency for genre parody doesn't always pay off, but this psychedelic 2000 single is a wonderfully fluffy bit of fun. With pattering bongos, electric guitar twang and hokey group-sung hooks like "L-O-V-E love, it's coming back," it's only a shame that this came out three years too late to be included in 1997's Austin Powers. It's difficult to identify anyone as the singer of this one, since all the vocals are group-sung; the Maisonettes are named on the front cover, while singer Rozanne Suarez is listed in the credits.
7. "To Be Myself Completely" (Stevie Jackson)
Belle and Sebastian's 2006 album The Life Pursuit is perhaps their brightest, most pop-centric work to date, and Stevie Jackson's "To Be Myself Completely" embodies that sound perfectly. With peppy rhythms and sunshine-streaked vocal harmonies, it's perhaps his catchiest contribution to any of the band's LPs, in addition to being his most confident vocal performance ever.