I'll never listen to the cheery 'Full Moon Empty Heart' in the same way, now I know...
Lucy Davies 2002
Belly, American indie band of the 90s, released only 2 albums before splitting up. But this is a "best of" with a difference: it's more of an introspective view than one geared towards ratings.Included are B sides, radio mixes and live tracksina selection hand-picked by singer and frontwoman Tanya Donelly.
The crowd pleasers are there: "Feed the Tree" and "Gepetto", with sugar spun verses with rollicking trademark choruses, with the bonus of explanations in the sleeve notes. I'll never listen to the cheery "Full Moon Empty Heart" in the same way now I know that it's about a woman who throws her child and herself out of a window. But that's the way with Belly; they have a habit of mingling the most cheerful tunes with the most sinister story lines.
We hear Jimi Hendrix and Gram Parsons given the Belly treatment with varying success: Gram's "Hot Burrito #1" fits perfectly, but "Are You Experienced?" is a little unconvincing. It's enlightening to know that the band's appeal wasn't just in their home country: of the title track, Tanya recounts a moment in Tel Aviv: "I cried onstage (for the first, and, hopefully last time) to hear so many people sing it with me."
Of course, there'll be moments of debate between fans: my particular gripe was initially "Judas Mon Coeur": sung in French-and the accent's not great. This is Tanya's favourite Belly song: would it have made it there at all in any other circumstance? I changed my mind after a few listens however- it's one of those growers. And that's the point of this compilation: it's the "best of" from those who know the best, giving an idea of what it was like to be in the band,what was good to play,as well asto listen to, and which songs transcend language and culture.