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    Beta Band

    The Three Ep's ( 1998 )
    Dry The Rain / I Know / B+A / Dogs Got A Bone / Inner Meet Me / The House Song / Monolith / She's The One / Push It Out / It's Over / Dr Baker / Needles In My Eyes

    First things first. The Beta Band have some great grooves. They may not have any great songs but they do have some great grooves. They are loosely similar to Beck in that they take their influences from a wide range of sources. What it actually sounds like is a bunch of Hippies at the Glastonbury festival. Good, musical hippies, granted! And, 'Dry The Rain' is a decent song! Yes, after all that Iíve just said! The singer doesn't have a great voice. But, this is full of interesting musical things, it's laid back and the groove is addictive. When distorted guitars kick in around half way you may even start to get excited. Another minute or so would have wrapped things up nicely but they do go on. And on. 'Monolith' for example is aptly titled because its fifteen minutes long! Prog revivalists! More on 'Monolith' later. 'I Know' again does interesting things musically that wouldn't seem out of place on one of Beck's more experimental album releases. It's a fairly decent song. A good start to the record.

    But, god, does this plod in places! 'B+A' is absolutely nothing of anything. The aforementioned 'Monolith' is pretty much unlistenable and in any case is an art rock lo fi monstrosity of the very worst order. 'She's The One' and 'Dogs Got A Bone' both do interesting musical and melodic things however. 'She's The One' even features interweaving vocals. The final four songs that made up the third ep are a great example of the problem this band seem to possess. A couple of good songs, a couple of mediocre songs. Their subsequent album releases proper seem to follow this pattern. Sometimes you feel the ambition they have isn't matched by the quality of the vocals. Mostly tuneless vocals all in a very narrow range. Makes Lou Reed seem like an opera singer! I'm being slightly harsh. The vocals do actually suit many of the songs here but I just wish some of the experimentation would extend to the vocal side. 'Its Over' benefits from either harmonies or double tracked lead vocals and works well. They do have potential that they've yet to live up to, of that I am sure. We shall see.

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    Readers Comments

    Simon Craft craftsimon@minstermen.zzn.com
    6 and a half? Are you joking? This is easily one of THE greatest "albums" ever released! As for insulting Steve Mason's vocals, sure he may not have much of a range but he sings with pure emotion and I personally think his voice is beautiful. As for their supposed lack of quality control, I suggest you dig out "Hotshots II" and listen again to one of the most finely constructed albums of all time. OK, it may seem like I'm exaggerating the Beta Band's greatness (not possible), but I was reading your reviews of Felt and The Smiths thinking "This guy knows his music" - and then I come to this! Have you heard their latest album? I think you should give the Betas another chance, their is much wonder to be taken from their songs.

    Gaynor gemmergmr@hotmail.com
    Now I really like most of the content on this site, but I have to take issue with your comments here. The Beta Band are one of the most innovative and exciting bands of the last decade with albums filled with beautifully crafted, melodic songs. The vocals are all they should be with the vocal harmonies the key rather than individual voices. The Beta Band gave up because too few people bothered to give them a proper chance (and a proper listen). It saddens me to recall their lack of impact on the charts, particularly having seen them live a number of times where they were always, quite simply, one of the most fun, mad, vesatile and dynamic groups I have ever watched. Hot Shots II and Heroes to Zeroes are outstanding albums that hang together with coherence and brilliance. So what if 3 EPs is a bit disjointed - it was never intended as an album and even the more inpenetrable tracks like Monolith have much to recommend them. I know that their star will rise again in the yea! rs to come and that we will all start to mourn their demise and crave once more their experimental doodlings.

    gazza garyhess44@hotmail.com
    Im convinced people will come back to this in years to come as a classic of its time in the same way people came back to recognise say "piper at the gates of dawn" ok monolith goes on a bit but the rest of it is lovely mellow stoner pop rock with a unconventional production and vocal harmonies. Incidentally dry the rain builds in a identical way to hey jude . Love the piano on dr baker , the groove of shes the one melting into those helium effect voices . My fave is inner meet me though. What a shame they never fulfilled their early promise

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    this page last updated 16/02/07

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