Time flies, and the older you get, the more that simple statement rings true. It’s hard to believe that it’s been 26 years since Belle And Sebastian released their album If You’re Feeling Sinister, which they dropped way back on November 18, 1996! As I’ve been unboxing my record collection on YouTube and occasionally writing accompanying posts here on the blog, I figured this one was due some coverage.
The Variations of OLE 296-1
I have in my collection one of the two known pressings released on Matador Records, Belle And Sebastian’s longtime US label, with the catalog number OLE 296-1. In my accompanying video, I outline a few of the other versions available while also noting some distinctions between the 2007 and 2011 pressings of OLE 296-1.
First, I know my copy is the 2007 pressing just by looking at the cover. There’s a price sticker from Easy Street Records in Seattle from October of 2008.
But, if you don’t have a sticker with the price tag on it, there are two key telltale signs that differentiate the two. The most notable is the barcode on the back; the 2007 pressing ends in 8 whereas the 2011 version ends in 1. The second is the vinyl itself. The 2007 version was pressed to 180 gram vinyl and the 2011 was pressed to 120 gram.
Personally, I’d go by the barcode.
Other differences may exist, like variations in the Matrix/Runout, but I didn’t dig quite that deep.
Unboxing the 2007 Matador Pressing
Take a look at my Unboxing Video for a full rundown on the 2007 Matador vinyl pressing of If You’re Feeling Sinister. It’s not all too long, and I do go a little into the variations of OLE 296-1 covered above. I’ll just touch on one or two things here and leave the rest for the video:
One oddity, especially for a gatefold sleeve, is that the lyrics are on the back of the sleeve rather than spread out in the inner gatefold. While not completely uncommon, lyrics on the back of the sleeve isn’t the norm. Still, I love the massive photo inside the gatefold; it has a religious Last Supper feel to it, which goes along with lyrics from the title track.
Discogs shows 14 versions available on vinyl as of November 2022. One thing I’ll point out is that the release notes on this version credits it as the “first ever US pressing on vinyl.” I’m not entirely sure that’s true, as there’s another pressing on Discogs for catalog number OLE 296-0 highlighting 1998 as the release date. Logic tells me that the cat number ending in -0 is probably the first, and it would make sense for the original US pressing to drop in or around 1998, especially given the first reissues of Tigermilk came out in 1999.
(However, I will point out that the 1999 reissue Tigermilk was given a -1 cat number as well despite it being the first pressing on Matador, so the fishiness continues…)
While the 2007 pressing is out of print, you can grab yourself a copy of the Limited Edition 25th Anniversary Pressing on Red Vinyl. Hell, I’m tempted to pick one up myself!
26 Years of If You’re Feeling Sinister
I remember first picking this up and not enjoying it as much as many of their other albums. It seemed to lack the greatness of albums like Tigermilk, The Boy with the Arab Strap, Dear Catastrophe Waitress, and even Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like A Peasant.
As it aged, it came to eclipse many of those.
Overall, it’s quite an amazing album with very few weak points. “Stars of Track And Field” is great. “Like Dylan in the Movies” is among my all-time favorite Belle And Sebastian songs.
“If You’re Feeling Sinister” and “Judy And the Dream of Horses” are truly wonderful! And “Seeing Other People” is not just a favorite, it seems radical for a band like Belle And Sebastian given it appears to be about some sort of non-monogamous relationship…and it came out in the mid-90s nonetheless! Give the song a listen below:
If You’re Feeling Sinister elevated what Belle And Sebastian began with Tigermilk, and they continued that for several albums before the quality began to fade. Now, I love Tigermilk, but looking back at 26 years of Belle And Sebastian releases, it was on If You’re Feeling Sinister that Belle And Sebastian truly began to flourish and define themselves as a name to be reckoned with in indie music.
Gloss over a few releases that didn’t quite land the impact of their first half-dozen or so, and that name remains just as powerful today as it was in the early to mid 00s. Proof is in the pudding: A Bit of Previous, their 2022 offering, is hands down their best new music since 2006’s The Life Pursuit. Not to mention that they followed it soon after with 2023’s Late Developers.
Here’s my video talking about how If You’re Feeling Sinister has grown on me since originally picking it up in 2008. Ignore how passionate and expressive I get. It happens sometimes…