Arab Strap call it a day and release a Best Of...
After six studio albums, three live albums and countless gigs, Arab Strap are to split up. A book-end compilation album and a celebratory farewell tour will mark the end of Aidan Moffat and Malcolm Middleton’s ten year relationship. The Last Romance, released in 2005, will remain their final studio offering.
"There’s no animosity, no drama. We simply feel we’ve run our course," explains Aidan. "The Last Romance seems the most obvious and logical final act of the Arab Strap studio adventure. Everybody likes a happy ending."
Titled Ten Years Of Tears (a nod to the critics who frequently pegged Arab Strap as ‘Falkirk miserablists’), the compilation is by no means a traditional ‘Best Of’ collection. Comprising B-sides, demos, remixes, new recordings, live tracks and Peel sessions, it’s a handpicked selection designed to give a full picture of this unique band.
"The idea of the compilation is to capture the essence of the band over our ten year career," says Malcolm. "Sometimes the albums were a bit stifled because we were worrying too much about making a good album. I think that live versions of songs and b-sides etc show a truer, more relaxed side to the band. Ten Years Of Tears can serve both as an introduction to Arab Strap and also a fitting finale to those people who have followed us along the way." Acquaintances on the Falkirk scene, Aidan and Malcolm became friends in 1995. They soon began making music together, telling twisted tales of messy sexual encounters, shit jobs, titanic drinking sessions and the twisted chemistries of human relationships. They called themselves Arab Strap after a sex toy Aidan spotted in a porn mag.
And it wouldn’t be the same without a farewell tour, ending appropriately at the venue where the Strap played their first gig:
1st NOTTINGHAM RESCUE ROOMS
3rd NORWICH ARTS CENTRE
5th PORTSMOUTH WEDGEWOOD ROOMS
6th LIVERPOOL THEATRE
7th BRISTOL THEKLA
8th LONDON SCALA
29th MANCHESTER ACADEMY 3
1st EDINBURGH CABARET VOLTAIRE
2nd ABERDEEN TUNNELS
3rd GLASGOW KING TUTS
4th GLASGOW KING TUTS
Signing to Chemikal Underground, they released their debut single, The First Big Weekend, a tale of Aidan and Malcolm’s adventures on the weekend Scotland were knocked out of Euro ’96, in September of that year. A cult classic, it’s included on this compilation along with a recording from their debut live performance. Over the years that followed, we were given countless glimpses into the intimately private lives of our two protagonists, whether they were pondering the risk of STDs (Packs Of Three) or wondering if they’d get to shag that friend of the cellist from Belle & Sebastian (I Saw You).
"No one really writes honest, hateful love songs," Aidan once said. "The kids never hear it like they should hear it. They should know of the farting, the fighting and the fucking. The pain and the pleasure."
Together, Aidan and Malcolm have created some of the most beautifully observed and brutally painful music of the last ten years. The album ends, appropriately enough, with the triumphal There Is No Ending. The story continues with Malcolm’s solo career (he’s currently recording his new album with Tony Dougan at The Castle Of Doom in Glasgow) and Aidan’s recordings as his alter ego L. Pierre (new album ‘Dip’ released early 2007) and a spoken-word album and tour in late 2007. And then there’s this album, which serves as a key to that astonishing back catalogue. Future generations who want to know about the farting, the fighting and the fucking will hopefully know where to look.