Belle and Sebastian – I Didn’t See it Coming (Richard X Mix)
Do you ever find yourself scribbling a mental note that tells you to investigate a band because all signs point to them being the sort of thing you’d probably quite like? I do. Of course what usually happens is I forget, or have my head turned by something else and then somehow twenty years pass and I realise I never quite got around to them. And then I tell myself that they can’t have been that good otherwise I would have made the effort. And then I accidentally hear one of their records and it’s completely amazing and I realise I’ve made a colossal mistake.
That, essentially, is the situation with me and Belle and Sebastian.
I only have myself to blame for this, because I had every opportunity to be an early adopter. In 1996 I was living in Glasgow’s fashionable west end, and I was socialising with people who knew people and specifically, people who knew someone who was actually in Belle and Sebastian. I got to hear all about them before the NME got a whiff of them and I even bought an original vinyl copy of Tigermilk when it first came out – but only as a birthday present for someone else. I probably decided there weren’t going to be enough beats per minute for my liking.
It’s now 2016 and I am finally getting around to acting on that mental note and discovering that I do in fact really like Belle and Sebastian – and it’s all because for four minutes in 2011 they applied a glistening pop sheen to one of their songs, which I discovered just the other day by Googling “Richard X productions.” In turn, that has led to a whole lot of further listening and the revelation that I don’t always need glistening pop sheen to get excited.
That being said, let’s talk about that sheen, because it really does glisten. Here is the Richard X – and it really couldn’t be anyone else – remix of I Didn’t See it Coming.
Isn’t that just completely brilliant? Utterly gorgeous, poised perfectly in my favourite pop place, right between joy and sadness. I especially love how it spends fifty seconds quietly building before bursting out into technicolor widescreen pop – with chimes! I am on record as stating that chimes always improve a song and on this evidence I’m not wrong. And then – just when you think it couldn’t be any more perfect – there’s that very Trevor Horn-ish piano line right at the end that makes you go and play the whole thing again straight away, followed by the original version (which I also now love) and lots of other Belle and Sebastian tunes. It just goes to prove that dressing up as a proper pop star now and again is a great way to guide otherwise disinterested parties towards your extensive back catalogue.
More than anything else, this version of I Didn’t See it Coming resembles the kind of record Dollar might make if they were still pop stars and still speaking to each other – though of course David would never have allowed it because the Theresa part is far bigger than his. Nonetheless, it possesses buckets of Hand Held in Black and White-ish optimistic charm and as far as I’m concerned there’s really no higher praise than that.
Entered chart: did not chart
Who could sing this today and have a hit? Just about anyone. It’s that good. But I’d very much like a Christine and the Queens version please.