Mogwai - Central Belters

by Brian Lange. Rating:10 Release Date:2015-10-23

When I arrived home to my apartment building the other day, I saw a package atop the row of mailboxes in the entryway. One of them, addressed to me, was square shaped and I immediately knew what was inside.

Like a child who receives a present on Christmas Day, the one that he had asked for and waited all year to receive, I ran up three flights of stairs to my apartment and ripped open (carefully opened with white gloves, a dust mask, and delicate instruments) the cardboard that housed the beautiful gray buckram box with the minimal yet prominent modernized Young Team logo and MOGWAI CENTRAL BELTERS placed above the logo in Helvetica - all in black of course.

Let’s assume, for the sake of this review, that most readers have heard a few Mogwai songs in their day, or in the very least are familiar with the band.  This glorious set commemorates 20 years of Mogwai with 34 (previously released) songs into a wonderful package.  It is fair to say that I have most of Mogwai’s previously released material already, so why spend money on a “best of” collection if I already have it, you might ask? 

A fair question.  I would urge potential buyers to opt for the vinyl box.  Let me further assume that 95% of people that purchase Central Belters are already fans of Mogwai.  You know you’re not getting anything particularly new, but it still feels that way.  My amateur ear may not be the most qualified, but this does seem to have minimal amounts of re-mastering done. It just pops a little more somehow.  The 34 songs are not arranged chronologically, so if you’re like me, you’ll enjoy putting on each record without knowing exactly what is in store.  The vinyl collection was definitely arranged with that format in mind, as each side seems to end conceptually in the right place.  At an average of just three songs per side, you are thrown into the ritual of vinyl listening.  Perhaps you will find yourself sitting cross-legged on your carpet, flipping through the book insert and listening to each song as if for the first time, smiling as you flip to a new side or pick up a new sleeve, each one a bold color with a stylized letter that will spell out the name of the band. 

Another reason that makes the vinyl set trump the CD or digital download is the booklet that is included.  A wonderful interview and retrospective of sorts by Keith Cameron introduces the genesis for Central Belters before providing us with a treasure trove of photographs of the band in years past, some of which are so outdated Stuart still has hair!  There’s nothing quite like getting a glimpse of the band in their earliest incarnation; never before seen photographs from past and present.  Even more, there is a dual page spread filled with ticket stubs and gig posters from performances that date back to the mid 90’s to as recently as the summer of 2015.  Yet another page has images of various set lists over the years with the corresponding date and location of the performance. 

This is, in the end, a beautiful collectors item.  Buy directly from Mogwai’s store and they’ll also include a film cell (a strip in my case) from the video shoot for “Helicon 1”.  Mogwai can do no wrong. 

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