The Boy with the Arab Strap

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The Boy with the Arab Strap
Belle sebastian - the boy with the arab strap.jpg
Studio album by
Released7 September 1998
StudioCaVa Studios, Glasgow
ProducerTony Doogan
Belle & Sebastian chronology
3.. 6.. 9 Seconds of Light
The Boy with the Arab Strap
This Is Just a Modern Rock Song

The Boy with the Arab Strap is the third studio album by Scottish indie pop band Belle & Sebastian, released in 1998 through Jeepster Records.

Recording and production[edit]

Stuart Murdoch recalled the recording process for this album felt very different than the previous two. The group spent several months working on it versus the previous albums which were recorded in just a number of days. The music itself was somewhat more experimental as well as more collaborative with some tracks written by Stevie Jackson and Isobel Campbell and more members of the group contributing vocals. Stevie Jackson sings lead on both "Seymour Stein" and "Chickfactor", Stuart David gives a spoken word performance on "A Space Boy Dream", whilst Isobel Campbell sings lead on "Is It Wicked Not to Care?" and duets with Murdoch on "Sleep the Clock Around".[1]

The album's cover photo was taken by Murdoch and shows band member Chris Geddes. The photo was taken as the group spent an afternoon near the River Ayr near Auchencruive.[1]

The inspiration for the album's name came from the band Arab Strap, who are also from Scotland and briefly toured with Belle & Sebastian. An Arab strap is a sexual device for retaining an erection, a fact unknown to Stuart Murdoch at the time.[2] Arab Strap were reportedly less than pleased with their inclusion in the title of the album. When questioned about it, Arab Strap's leader/singer, Aidan Moffat, said "They have a sense of humour." Malcolm Middleton, the band's instrumentalist, added, "Because Arab Strap is quite an interesting name. The words go well together. That's why we chose it as a band name. We're friends with them, but there's a limit to putting someone else's name on an album. They're taking away something from us." He also mentioned that the album had been confused as a collaboration between the bands.[3]


Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4.5/5 stars[4]
Entertainment WeeklyA−[5]
The Guardian4/5 stars[6]
Los Angeles Times3.5/4 stars[7]
Pitchfork0.8/10 (1998)[9]
8.5/10 (2018)[10]
Rolling Stone4/5 stars[11]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide4/5 stars[12]
The Village VoiceA−[14]

In October 2011, NME placed the title track at number 130 on its list "150 Best Tracks of the Past 15 Years".[15] The album sold 200,000 units through 2006.[16]

Track listing[edit]

The Boy with the Arab Strap track listing
1."It Could Have Been a Brilliant Career"2:24
2."Sleep the Clock Around"4:58
3."Is It Wicked Not to Care?"3:22
4."Ease Your Feet in the Sea"3:35
5."A Summer Wasting"2:06
6."Seymour Stein"4:42
7."A Space Boy Dream"3:00
8."Dirty Dream Number Two"4:14
9."The Boy with the Arab Strap"5:14
11."Simple Things"1:46
12."The Rollercoaster Ride"6:36
Total length:45:27


Belle and Sebastian[edit]

Additional musicians[edit]

  • Ian MacKay – bagpipes on "Sleep the Clock Around"
  • Neil Robertson – bass on "A Space Boy Dream"
  • Gail Anderson, Claire Campbell, Eilidh Campbell, Euan Forrester, David D MacKay and Sarah Wilson – the string section on "A SpaceBoy Dream" and "Dirty Dream Number Two"


Chart performance for The Boy with the Arab Strap
Chart (1998) Peak
French Albums (SNEP)[17] 39
Norwegian Albums (VG-lista)[18] 7
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)[19] 30
UK Albums (OCC)[20] 12


  1. ^ a b Murdoch, Stuart. "Sleevenotes - The Boy With the Arab Strap". Belle & Sebastian.
  2. ^ "Belle & Sebastian: 'I Didn't Know An Arab Strap Was A Cock Ring'". 31 March 2014. Retrieved 19 February 2015 – via YouTube.
  3. ^ Laurence, Alexander (May 2001). "An interview with Arab Strap". Free Williamsburg. Retrieved 3 July 2006.
  4. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "The Boy with the Arab Strap – Belle and Sebastian". AllMusic. Retrieved 26 February 2016.
  5. ^ Tucker, Ken (11 September 1998). "The Boy With the Arab Strap". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 26 February 2016.
  6. ^ Sullivan, Caroline (11 September 1998). "Belle & Sebastian: The Boy with the Arab Strap (Jeepster)". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 June 2019.
  7. ^ Hochman, Steve (29 August 1998). "Belle and Sebastian, 'The Boy With the Arab Strap,' Matador". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 26 February 2016.
  8. ^ Mulvey, John (3 September 1998). "Belle & Sebastian – The Boy with the Arab Strap". NME. Archived from the original on 17 August 2000. Retrieved 26 February 2016.
  9. ^ Josephes, Jason (October 1998). "Belle & Sebastian: The Boy with the Arab Strap". Pitchfork. Archived from the original on 4 June 2003. Retrieved 23 February 2018.
  10. ^ Plagenhoef, Scott (18 February 2018). "Belle and Sebastian: The Boy with the Arab Strap". Pitchfork. Retrieved 18 February 2018.
  11. ^ Ratliff, Ben (17 September 1998). "The Boy with the Arab Strap". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 26 February 2016.
  12. ^ Wolk, Douglas (2004). "Belle and Sebastian". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. pp. 59–60. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  13. ^ Wolk, Douglas (October 1998). "Belle and Sebastian: The Boy With the Arab Strap". Spin. 14 (10): 140. Retrieved 26 February 2016.
  14. ^ Christgau, Robert (15 December 1998). "Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Retrieved 26 February 2016.
  15. ^
  16. ^ Plagenhoef, Scott (15 September 2007). Belle & Sebastian's if You're Feeling Sinister. ISBN 9781441194909.
  17. ^ " – Belle and Sebastian – The Boy with the Arab Strap". Hung Medien. Retrieved 26 June 2021.
  18. ^ " – Belle and Sebastian – The Boy with the Arab Strap". Hung Medien. Retrieved 26 June 2021.
  19. ^ " – Belle and Sebastian – The Boy with the Arab Strap". Hung Medien. Retrieved 26 June 2021.
  20. ^ "Official Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 26 June 2021.