I know preorders can sometimes take a while, and vinyl production is slow in non-pandemic times, but the journey that my copy of Belly’s new rarities compilation Bees took to reach my turntable was a long one, in both space and time.
The begin with, although Belly only had two albums in the ’90s, my collection of their releases numbers around a dozen. I made it a mission to try and find all their 4AD EP releases – and am now reminded I never got my hands on Super-Connected or Sun, dammit – and in those days, internet shopping was not such a thing so it was not easy. But why? Because Belly b-sides rocked, in many cases they were as good or even better than the material that made the albums and I had to have them. Not for nothing has Sweet Ride, their 2002 compilation of hits and rarities, gotten as much rotation if not more than their studio albums.
It was initially announced as a candidate for Run Out Groove’s reissue series last October, and as the winner, went up for preorder in early November. Being limited to only 1000 copies, my order was in right away even though it wasn’t due to be released until late May of this year. That’s okay, I can be patient.
And I’d have to be. The May release date came and went without any kind of update, and after inquiring, was told that it had been pushed back to late August. Which happens, I guess, but the delay was made extra galling by the fact that 4AD was preparing their own edition of the compilation for non-North American markets (Run Out Groove represented the Sire/Rhino NA efforts) for Record Store Day in June. Meaning that it would be out before the one I bought eight months prior. Which is simultaneously not that big a deal but also not right.
So August comes – the band are on social media apologizing for the delays and explaining it’s out of their hands – and finally, three days past the release date, I get a shipping email and a tracking number. And I follow the tracking number. And after four days, the record lands in a USPS sorting station in Los Angeles and… it stops moving. For over two weeks. Run Out Groove won’t entertain the idea of a lost package for eight, so I sit and I wait and I wait and then on day 18 of no updates, the record shows up on my doorstep; the tracking number still says LA.
So all’s well that end’s well, yes? The record sounds magnificent, a few of the recordings are different versions than were on Sweet Ride, which adds some unexpected freshness to the release. And as a perfect reading companion to the listen, this article at Goldmine where the entire band reminisces and annotates the selections that made it onto Bees, which incidentally will be getting a CD release next week, if digital is your thing.
And to offer a little AV support to this post, a few favourite selections from Bees; this Hendrix cover from the Stone Free tribute album that also led off their Moon EP and garnered them an appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno in 1994:
This Flying Burrito Brothers track which may be my favourite Belly recording of them all, which is saying a lot: