Belle on the Ball


THE LIGHT PURSUIT: Murdoch, seated center, and band have made a mature record

It was a rare but gratifying moment. The arena rammed with music executives momentarily fell into a stunned silence. Then, the words: "And the 1999 Brit Award for best breakthrough act goes to: Belle and Sebastian" percolated through fogged brains, and noiseless shock gave way to intense chatter. Some questioned the result, but most just wanted to know, "Who the hell are Belle and Sebastian?" One exec thought they might be a firm of music lawyers. Pete Waterman, producer of Steps — the chart-topping pop puppets perceived as shoo-ins for the award — demanded an investigation. And so the bookish, reclusive...

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